Ready to Retire
Harvest Group Financial Services advises an honest conversation about retirement and finances
by Lindsey Getz

As we face new economic realities, many are saying that the baby boomer generation is in a retirement crisis. Multiple factors challenge their ability to retire, and many are finding they have to work longer than they had planned. In addition, while younger generations have more time to save, they too may be facing their own financial crisis upon retirement, with pensions and other guaranteed benefits being dropped. The key is smart planning and finding someone who truly has clients’ best interests at heart.

Of course, that’s not always an easy task. Most financial institutions and planners push their own agendas and are obligated to sell their own product. But that’s not true of independent financial advisory practice Harvest Group Financial Services Corp., based in Langhorne. The firm’s approach is truly client centered. President and founder Rosemary G. Caligiuri, CASL®, came to the financial world as a former nurse and brought her passion for advocacy to the world of finances.

“I believe that consumers of financial services need professional advocates, not sales people,” says Caligiuri, who is a recognized educator in the field of retirement income and finances. “We challenge the status quo by having honest conversations about retirement and money. As a result, we’re able to find holistic solutions for each person and their individual goals.”

Caught in the Middle

Finding such holistic solutions requires looking at the entire person—not just their bank statement. That’s what Bea Tiberge, an account executive with Harvest Group, tries to do when she’s working with clients. She realizes that today’s boomers are being called the “sandwich generation” for a reason—and those factors come into play when looking at finances. The sandwich generation is truly stuck in the middle, taking care of adult children who need financial support as well as aging parents who also require assistance. This added financial burden is just one reason some boomers have to prolong retirement.

“With parents living much longer these days, they often end up requiring care in various ways—sometimes financially,” Tiberge says. “That’s something we have to plan for. Many times these individuals also have children that need financial assistance, even if they’re older. We’re seeing adult children needing to move back home because they can’t find a job or have lost a job due to the recession.”

Tiberge says there’s a lot of stress on today’s sandwich generation. But she adds that there are resources out there. Tiberge brings a background of experience with senior housing to her two decades of work in the financial field, helping her to truly see the big picture for her clients.

“We help them address more than just the financial issues involved here,” says Tiberge. “Certainly looking at income and long-term expenses is really important. But we also look at options like long-term care insurance, and we review legal documents to make sure everything is in place—and if it’s not, then we refer them to people that can help. I’m part of an alliance of professionals that helps match retirees to resources so I’m able to take a holistic approach to helping my clients.”

Smart Moves
That approach has also been important for serving the financial needs of women and divorcees. Although it’s changing in many cases, often men do still control the household finances, as they tend to set up the bank accounts and determine where money is housed. Unfortunately, such arrangements can pose problems.

“Women will typically control the money at some point in their lives, whether it is because of divorce or because women tend to outlive their spouses,” says Loretta Hutchinson, Certified Financial Planner® and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™, NCC. “It’s so important for women to have an honest conversation about their money and how it’s being dealt with. It’s not uncommon for a woman to lose her husband and then have no idea what accounts were held or where the money is located.”

The divorce process is also a trying time to handle financial change. But Hutchinson says she walks her clients through the process and aims to be their advocate. “During divorce, women need to make educated decisions about their money in a very highly emotional process,” says Hutchinson. “Frankly, if the wrong decision is made, it’s very expensive to undo. You need to be fully informed about the financial implications of the investments and assets being distributed to you as they will set the stage for your financial future.”

Of course, regardless of marital status, smart moves also need to be made for retirement. “We want to make sure our clients can put their head on the pillow at night and know that their needs will be taken care of—particularly in retirement,” says Elizabeth Gosek, MBA, LUTCF, a registered representative with the practice. “It’s not just about taking risk and potentially getting rewarded. It’s about helping to provide someone with assurance that they will have enough money to live the kind of retired life they’re planning.”

Planning for the Future
Like everything else the practice does, successful retirement planning also requires a client-centered approach. “When we sit down with clients, we find out their goals and what they want to accomplish,” says John Lindsey, ChFC®, financial advisor. “But we also find out their concerns. Is inheritance important to them? Do they fear they will outlive their assets? When it comes to retirement planning, there is no ‘one shoe that fits all’; it’s client specific. And we spend a lot of time with our clients before we make any kind of recommendation. It’s completely customized to their needs.”

Lindsey says that also includes looking at possible long-term needs. Not many financial planners would be asking their clients about the condition of their roof or how their heater is holding up, but Lindsey knows these are major expenses that can come in retirement and need to be accounted for. “Clients are also focused on today,” Lindsey says. “But it’s my job to be focused on tomorrow. We need to plan for 10, 20, even 30 years down the road.”

Many people don’t end up coming to a financial advisor until they’re in that “retirement red zone,” meaning the first five years before and after retirement, and this is a crucial period, according to Lindsey, because time is no longer on one’s side in terms of making up lost money. That’s where the experience of the Harvest Group goes to bat. “We’ve seen clients at all stages of life and planning so we’ve been able to see what works and what doesn’t,” Lindsey says.    

Such thoughtful analysis is something that the consumer is entitled to, adds Caligiuri. After all, she founded the practice with the mission of starting an honest conversation about finances, not pushing an agenda. “Clients need education and they need someone who is going to be honest with them about their money,” she says. “It is our job—our responsibility—to empower clients with enough knowledge that they can make informed decisions. As an independent wealth advisor, our commitment is not to a company or to a product. Our commitment is to the client.”

Harvest Group Financial Services Corp.
1707 Langhorne-Newtown Road, Suite 1
Langhorne, PA19047

Registered representatives offering securities and advisory services through Centaurus Financial Inc., Member FINRA and SIPC, a registered investment advisor. Supervisory Branch: 3902 State Street, Suite 101, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, 1.888.569.1982. Harvest Group Financial Services and Centaurus Financial are not affiliated.

Photograph by Allure West Studios