As if we needed any more nudging, Covid put a cleaver between those who have saved and invested against a rainy day and those who have blithely windsurfed along the financial winds of fate. If you had a plan, and safeguards against an unexpected economic downturn, you survived financially, even if your income was halved. But if you had no backup plan, well, ouch. That freebie from Uncle Sam will only go so far.
As they say, those who are failing to plan, are planning to fail.
Putting the Fun in Financial Planning
Every generation must learn the lesson, and Millennials are now smack in the middle of that class. The generation stretching from the early 20s to turning 40 is beginning to come to terms with those adult concepts of life insurance, 401(k)s, emergency savings, homeowner’s insurance, and so on.
The concepts may feel old-fogey to you, but your guide through the world of financial planning doesn’t have to be an old fogey herself. Why can’t she be a radiant young woman with a smile like a miner’s beacon, a laugh that’s as easy and authentic as Sunday morning and a heart as big as the Green Mountains? Who says it’s wrong to want to be best friends with someone who speaks knowledgeably about 529 plans, tax-sheltered annuities and irrevocable trusts?
Why not do business with someone who puts the fun in funancial planning?
That’s Carissa Elrick of PGI Financial Services. No one looks forward to sitting down to talk financial planning with their advisor. But everyone loves sitting down with Carissa. She’s one of those people.
Planning for Millennials, with a Millennial
Carissa grew up in Vermont (home of the aforementioned Green Mountains) thinking she would work in health care or some other helping profession. As she got older, she was always curious about her parents’ desire to retire but perplexed that she never heard them talk of working with a financial planner. Her parents’ lack of financial planning made her realize how much good she could do for others by helping them secure their future.
A Millennial herself, Carissa spent her college years devouring books on financial planning and has used her professional career to hone her skills, advising clients to navigate a booming stock market, a pandemic, an economic contraction and today’s uncertainty.
“Peace of mind retirement income is the main thing I provide my clients,” Carissa says. “That encompasses everything including risk analysis, social security maximization, the tax impact on retirement, insurance, and more. Millennials don’t want to think about these things now, but the earlier you start the easier it is.”
Building Relationships with Clients
Carissa spent four years at Edward Jones in Charleston and loved helping clients, but she worked alone, and locking Carissa Elrick away from other people is a crime against humanity. Her charm and personal warmth must be shared! She moved over to PGI Financial, enjoying the support of an experienced crew while developing long-term relationships with her clients.
“I feel like it’s Christmas every day!” she says
Take the 28-year-old woman whose mother died and left her everything. The woman hadn’t a clue what to do next, so Carissa sat down with her and talked about her life, her plans for the future – indeed, everything except money. Just two girlfriends sharing their dreams of marriage, career, homeownership, travel, and kids.
Only after getting to know the woman did Carissa draw up a plan that secured her future – with insurance and investments that will deliver lifetime income. The mantra at PGI Financial is to build relationships before building portfolios.
Investing Advice for Millennials
Carissa advises her Millennial clients to put their retirement money in Roth IRAs, rather than traditional IRAs. Many are seduced by traditional IRAs because of the immediate tax benefit, versus the delayed tax benefit in a Roth IRA. Carissa takes the long view for people in the early part of their careers. In a nation with $30 trillion in debt, she advises against the bet that taxes will be lower in 30 years than they are now.
Many of her Millennial clients have no savings and piles of student loans and credit card debt. That’s when Carissa gets extra serious. She helps them make a budget, pay down debt, save money and accumulate wealth. She helps them develop a new mindset, from one that accumulates things to one that accumulates assets. Carissa warns them that the plan requires discipline and perhaps even some short-term sacrifice.
While Millennials are her focus, Carissa has worked with people of all ages. She is the daughter or granddaughter some clients wish they had. Several of her clients have died of Covid, leaving their families to deal with the financial aftermath.
Grandmas Love Her Too
Just recently a client who never brought his wife in with him passed away. He had planned well for her security, but the paperwork was a nightmare and the woman was at wit’s end. Carissa spent two days on the phone identifying all the accounts and moving them into the widow’s name, and now the woman is financially secure for life. Carissa didn’t make a penny on the work she did, but she made a friend. When they were done, the two of them, two generations apart, cried in each other’s arms.
“I can’t articulate why I’m so passionate about helping people,” Carissa admits.
Carissa spends her free time enjoying the Lowcountry outdoors and sharing her passion for helping others by volunteering with Florence Crittenton Programs SC, which provides housing, medical care, education, and other services to pregnant, parenting, and at-risk young women. She plans to expand her volunteering portfolio as she continues to establish herself in her adopted community. “I do better when I see other people doing better,” she says.
That’s the thing about doing business with Carissa Elrick: she takes care of her clients the same way, whether they have two dollars or $2 million to invest because it’s the helping, not the commission that excites her. She might not be the right fit for everyone, she admits, but she is the right fit for anyone who needs someone to care about them and hold their hand through the financial planning process.