Mike moved his wife and three children to St. Joseph, Missouri in October of 1991 from a very small farm town in southwest Minnesota where he was the general manager of a local cooperative.
He was recruited and hired by one of the largest fee-based financial planning companies in the country. He was hired to work with some of the remaining clients that were in the area from an office the firm once had in town years earlier.
It Started with a Card Table
Mike had no office to work from, so he worked from his home basement on a card table, a folding chair, and a phone.
He would call people who had completed a questionnaire indicating they were interested in financial planning services and try to set an appointment to meet with them.
He met with people in their homes, whenever they had time to meet, which meant late nights, early mornings, and weekends. It also meant living on a lot of mac-and-cheese and hot dogs for him and his family.
A Long, Hard Road
He believed in helping clients by doing fee-based financial planning before investing because without looking at a complete financial picture beforehand, investing was not in the client’s best interest.
He found that if they were willing to work on a financial plan before investing, they were serious about building a successful future for themselves and their families.
It was a long hard road, but he was able to build a successful business by putting clients’ needs before his own, one client at a time, and getting referrals from happy clients. He opened an office in St Joseph, hired, and trained other advisors.
He was recruited by a local brokerage firm in 1997 to advance his career and offer his clients a much larger choice of investment products. He left the financial planning firm, where he was a captive agent, with the hope of bringing more value to his clients.
Leaving the Brokerage, Finding the Perfect Fit
Mike realized that the brokerage world was not what he was looking for and he left the brokerage firm in 2002, frustrated.
He worked for other firms in management capacities, having to make do with what they had available for financial advice and fighting the culture of selling investments and not advising.
Mike didn’t find the perfect fit until 2018 when he was able to partner with his career-long coaching company Carson Group to open his own advisory firm Gertsema Wealth Advisors with his son Nick and long-time friend and work associate Jackie Heater.
With the partnership of Carson, Mike was able to utilize his work experience with the best technology available for financial planning, portfolio risk management, tax planning, protection planning, and estate planning, as well as having an investment menu of professionally managed investment strategies to fit his client’s needs.
Being independent allows Mike’s loyalty to be with his clients and not to a corporate office. Independence allows him the flexibility to move quickly by avoiding corporate bureaucracy, keep clients educated and informed, and provide better service and advice overall.