Investing the SAFER Way with Jerry Slusiewicz, Pacific Financial Planners
I’ve heard it said that when Michelangelo was sculpting David, his attention to the stone was focused internally: because the statue was already inside.
He just had to reveal it. Genius never appears the same way twice, and yet there is always the presence of unique, robust, innate knowledge. But what most forget is that anything that looks simple is the product of practice: and practice, and practice. And more practice.
Attention and delicacy can be ascribed to many things – but not so often do we hear about it in relation to financial planning. Perhaps more in the last ten to fifteen years we might attach those practices to the whims of the market, as one unprecedented event seems to follow another. But most certainly, attention and delicacy follow expertise. And in the world of financial planning, Jerry Slusiewicz is an expert.
More than three decades have passed under his watchful gaze, and not one moment when he has not been working to improve his practice. For most these days, getting to retirement is one thing. Saving enough to enjoy it is entirely another. Maintaining your budget in a rising cost environment, higher taxes, concerns regarding less Social Security Benefits, more out of pocket medical costs and the potential onus for paying for your own long term care drive the meter through the roof.
As we age, aches and pains come on. One of my colleagues had his knee replaced last year. Setting the cost of such a procedure aside, when it came time for him to go under the knife, he’d selected a surgeon with years of specialized experience. He wasn’t hoping his General Practitioner or the fix-it clinic down the street would be able to patch him up and send him along. Similarly, when it comes to retirement, my husband and I are not gambling with Joe Fiscal on some app that saves us an extra few bucks a month after our subscriptions roll over. We’re hoping we won’t be a burden on our kids, because we planned appropriately for a long retirement for us and still have an estate left over to pass along what we hopefully will have left over.
The path to becoming a surgeon seems pretty plain: lots of school, practice as a resident, mentorship and tutelage under an extremely rigorous programming and then years of practice! What about becoming a financial income specialist? Which is what sets Jerry apart from others in the industry. It is a completely different approach, a specialization, to help people replace the paycheck they give up once they retire.
It is a completely different approach, a specialization, to help people replace the paycheck they give up once they retire.
“No matter who you are, people invest for total return. There are two ways to get a return. It either comes from investing for Growth or Income,” he says. “The vast majority of people invest for growth, because that’s how you start out in your 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. You need to grow your investment pool to have more money for everything you want. However, as folks get closer to retirement, they usually have the most amount of money they will ever have because they have saved all those years. So it is critical to make a shift in strategy from growth (and risk) to income (and safety) because when you have the most capital in your lifetime you do not want to lose it! You have less time to make that money back should a bad market or economy come along. Investing for Income ensures surety.”
It’s a simple formula TR = I + G (total return = income + growth). You can mathematically make even more money with less risk focusing on the I and not the G. Jerry can map out exactly how that can work for you at each phase of your financial journey. Have less time in your job to generate growth or less appetite for risk? Invest for more income! Once you lose your paycheck, you lose that money. Social Security was never designed to be enough to live on. Very few people these days have pensions. How are you going to replace the income from your job? “My strategies are designed to take less risk and create safe income immediately or down the road.” It’s the S.A.F.E.R. Money System which stands for Sound Advice for Everyone’s Retirement.
Temple Grandin is one of the most well-known spokespersons for a type of reasoning called visual thinking. Also called spatial learning, or sometimes picture thinking, this cognitive approach allows those who have it to think in mental images. Not unlike the MRI which took a picture of my colleague’s knee to determine what approach to surgery would offer him the best possible outcome, your financial future can be broken out into a series of cascading imagery in Jerry’s mind. Perhaps it is a side effect of being on the radio for so many years. One analogy for the Income method of investing with capital preservation is farming; think chickens and eggs. Investing for growth is like trying to raise more chickens to eat in retirement. Investing for Income is like eating the eggs and preserving all the chickens for a long life and a lasting legacy. Investing in Rental Property for Income versus flipping houses for growth is another way to visual the Income Investing strategy.
In other words, Jerry is able to articulate the nuances of financial planning in a way that is totally relatable and understandable to lay people like me. Sometimes at Pacific Financial, plain speak is the only way for clients to understand the true gravity of planning for their own futures.
“The point is, when you retire, it’s more than just having this pile of money and figuring out how to spend it,” says Jerry. “About 60 percent (of retirees) don’t make it soundly across home plate because life happens. You end up caring for a loved one or something unexpected comes along. So how do we reach people?” Educational workshops. Public speaking. Radio shows. Podcasts. YouTube.
“None of this is a secret. I teach this information because I genuinely want to help people! Anyone can learn it. But it takes a lot of Time (practice again!), a certain kind of Temperament and a lot of Talent. I find that most people do not possess all three of those T’s so I teach the skills to everyone and help those who don’t have huge interest in dedicating their retirement to a new, all-encompassing hobby.” You only get one shot at retirement – don’t you think you should get it right?
At Pacific Financial Planners, Jerry and his team work solely to identify your objectives. I’ll say that again. Pacific Financial Planners works solely to identify your objectives: and then creates smart, safe money systems to achieve those goals. Safe? The market changes constantly. Something that seems so mercurial is not also something to which I’d ascribe the word safe. Which leads me to another of Jerry’s alternative cognitive tools. He can create the Income, Safety, Growth and Liquidity you need using traditional investments like stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETF’s, laddered bonds, tax-free strategies and insurance, but applying non-traditional methods, where safety of principal comes first instead of last.
“We are professional, expert risk managers,” he says. “Our expectation is that we can guide you through the various stages of your life, up to and continuing through retirement. We know most people don’t have the time, which is why we do what we do.”
And what about a significant or historic downturn in the economy, like we have seen not once, but twice over the last few years? “I’ve been using stop-loss orders since 1990. I have systems/processing engineering degree, [am] really great at math, and I look at the markets every day. I have successfully employed strategies on how to buy and when to sell. I know that no one can predict the future, but what most advisors fail at and what makes us completely different is that we actually manage the risk, which is completely within your control.”
A stop-loss is designed to limit loss on an investor’s security. Which means despite what the markets are doing, we can control the downside risk on an initial investment but also on your profitable ones too. Like ensuring your retirement assets are safe and produce positive influence, Jerry is a family man, married for almost 30 years. He has an intimate understanding of the generational impact of money.
“I coached flag football and boy and girl’s soccer for years, helping many families along the way,” says Jerry. “For me, youth sports were almost never about winning: it was always about personal development. It wasn’t about the ‘W’, as long as the results on the field and our team dynamics were right, that ‘W’ came as a bonus side effect. ” It was ensuring there was community around the hundreds of kids who passed through his teams. Engaged, dynamic; looking at the long-term ramifications. “Practicing the art of money management, sharing that with families along the way, that is exactly what we’re looking at in the financial world.”
Sound practice, expert advice, counseling, personal responsibility and care for the client’s true needs. “I know more about every aspect of retirement than the vast majority of people I meet who are planning for retirement never think of! Because I have been in the business so long and have worked with hundreds of retirees until their passing, I have walked around that block thousands of times under many different economic circumstances, including market crashes, recessions, wars, deaths of a loved one and dozens and dozens of unexpected occurrences – like if your 40-year-old daughter with three kids has her husband pass away with no life insurance.”
The process is there – all you need to do is let Jerry and Pacific Financial Planners start chipping away at the masterpiece that is your retirement, and the genius of the income, safety and growth that you desire will most certainly emerge.