Wealth Protection


Recent revelations that Wells Fargo sales teams created up to 3.5 million fake bank and credit accounts as they struggled to meet what the company now describes as “unrealistic quotas” have, once again highlighted how high-pressure financial services firms often fail to put clients first. The Wells Fargo scandal — originally thought to encompass 2.1 million fake accounts, a number that climbed higher as subsequent audits found more — prompted an apology from the company’s chief executive officer and a sharp rebuke from Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a long-time Wells Fargo critic.

And while Wells Fargo’s latest troubles stem from bank and credit card accounts, other financial products likely are not immune from the same high-pressure sales environments and quota systems.

“My big complaint about the industry has always been that most people in the industry are salesmen,” said Jeff Gollehon, CLU, ChFC, the president of JG Financial Consulting. “They’re not advisors. If you put somebody’s tax return in front of a, supposedly, financial advisor, most of them wouldn’t be able to interpret a simple tax return.”

Based in Aberdeen, North Carolina, JG Financial Consulting provides retirement planning and wealth management for senior clients either in, or close, to retirement. The firm has no “hard and fast” minimum, but Gollehon prefers clients with $250,000 in investable assets.

JG Financial Consulting holds itself to a fiduciary standard, meaning that clients’ interests come before commissions and firm profits, Gollehon told “Advisors Magazine,” adding that he takes his fiduciary responsibility seriously, and has developed a comprehensive knowledge of investing, estates, Social Security, and taxes, so that clients can receive tailored advice.

“I am not an estate attorney or a CPA, but I have enough experience to be able to identify a potential problem and refer them to a local professional who is,” Gollehon said. “To work with someone who’s strictly a stock jockey, they aren’t doing those people any favors.”

JG Financial Consulting has “two sides” to it, according to Gollehon. The first is the “low-risk, fixed” side that serves soon-to-be and current retirees with safer investment products such as fixed and indexed annuities; the goal there being to protect wealth and pass it on to the next generation. The second side of the business is the moderate-risk, moderate-return AUM side, and JG Financial Consulting works with several wealth management firms who work to help clients manage their retirement savings and give them a better chance for successful results.

Market collapses like the 2008 financial crisis pose the biggest threat to clients’ retirement funds, he added. That is especially true now that lifespans are growing, and many retirees realistically may live to 90 or even longer.

“The biggest thing that can derail somebody’s perfect plan for retirement is if there’s another 2008 or 2001 where the market corrects 40 or 50 percent,” Gollehon said. “In 30 years of retirement, it’s likely you may go through three, or four, or even five recessions where even a 15 or 20 percent correction will be bad.”

Even smaller, but significant, downturns can badly mangle carefully laid retirement plans.

“If you have a traditional brokerage account … And your 100 % invested in stocks or stock mutual funds, and you’re drawing 4 percent a year or 5 percent a year to supplement your pension or social security and, all of a sudden, the market corrects 40 percent, and you’re $1 million portfolio that you were drawing $50,000 on is now a $600,000 portfolio, you still need to withdraw $50,000,” Gollehon said. “Now, all of a sudden, your draw percentage went from 4 percent to 9 percent, and that’s not sustainable at all. No matter how long it takes the market to recover, you will never recover.”

Gollehon often finds himself serving as a teacher to clients who struggle with the complexities of retirement planning.

“Part of my job is to be a teacher, I tell them what we have, why, and explain to them how it works. We try very hard to be different from our competitors,” he said. “Ninety percent of the public doesn’t know what they’re doing … That doesn’t make them different from anyone else, that’s why they’re talking to me. We try to guide them through the choppy waters.”

Each client has different needs, and JG Financial Consulting works to develop customized solutions that can help investors reach their financial goals. Gollehon works to present clients’ their financial plans in “plain English,” eschewing much of the industry jargon that litters advisor-client conversations, making life more difficult for lay-investors who already feel unsure of what to do. Setting client priorities also matters, he said.

“First and foremost, safety,” Gollehon said. “The return of your money, when you’re 75, is much more important than the return on your money.”

JG Financial Consulting also communicates frequently with clients, helping to ensure their plans stay on track.

“We don’t forget about them, we don’t desert them. I tell my clients they might get sick of me,” Gollehon said.

Frequent communication, a broad knowledge of different financial products, and a commitment to a fiduciary standard is what sets JG Financial Consulting apart from its competition. The new Department of Labor rules stipulating that all financial professionals act as fiduciaries was welcome news to Gollehon, who believes that the industry now can focus on providing more thorough, honest service.

“I think that’s why the DOL rule is good, because it’s going to force these people to either be compliant or get out of the industry,” Gollehon said. “If you take care of the client first, then eventually you will also take care of yourself.”

For more information see www.helpingseniorsplan.com

Investment advisory services offered through Horter Investment Management, LLC, a SEC-Registered Investment Adviser. Horter Investment Management does not provide legal or tax advice. Investment Adviser Representatives of Horter Investment Management may only conduct business with residents of the states and jurisdictions in which they are properly registered. Insurance and annuity products are sold separately through JG Financial Consulting. Securities transactions for Horter Investment Management clients are placed through Trust Company of America, TD Ameritrade, and Jefferson National Life Insurance Company.


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