BY RICK WEINBERG, CALIFORNIA BUSINESS JOURNAL
About an hour before Michael Gorelick was scheduled to give a seminar to a high-net-worth group of doctors on retirement planning in Beverly Hills, Calif., he was eating dinner at the Capital Grille at the Beverly Center. Suddenly, a gentleman talking on his cell phone sat down next to him at the bar. Gorelick recognized the voice – Johnny Galecki of The Big Bang Theory.
Gorelick leaned back in his seat to catch a glimpse of the famous actor. Out of the corner of his eye, Gorelick caught Galecki doing the same thing. When Galecki finished his cell phone conversation, he turned to Gorelick and said, “Ok, you’re wearing a suit so you must be working.”
Gorelick proceeded to tell Galecki what he does as President of Benefit Equity Inc. Galecki, a multi-millionaire with a stable full of financial advisors, listened intently and then described how he works with his advisors.
“He wondered if he is getting trusted advice from his advisors or is he just getting sold products,” Gorelick says. “As I described who our clients are – financial and wealth advisors – and how we council them in designing a retirement plan with the right products for their business clients, Johnny turned to me and said, ‘Let me get this straight. You advise the advisors?’”
Galecki paused for a moment, leaned back in his chair and said, “Well I find that comforting.”
So do all of Gorelick’s clients – and their participants.
Benefit Equity Inc. is considered by industry experts as one of the leading firms in its space. That acknowledgment comes from the knowledge and experience of the company, led by Gorelick, who mastered the business from his uncle, Robert Gorelick, the CEO and Chairman of the firm. The elder Gorelick counseled small businesses on complex retirement planning tax laws for 30 years. He also wrote the definitive book on the topic, American’s Retirement Plan. There may not be another person in America who knows more about this specialized topic.
“When I started in this business 38 years ago, I saw what the financial services world was doing and I saw what the community was getting and I said to myself, ‘They’re not doing it right. I think I have a better way of doing it. And I can do it with a company that advises advisors and I’ll make them my sales force,’” the elder Gorelick says. “The financial advisors were simply not being served very well. They were on their own and they weren’t being properly educated. I looked at this opportunity and said, ‘I can build a business that is helping financial and wealth advisors build their practice and give small business owners a superior benefit.’”
He has done that impeccably well. And now, with Michael Gorelick having taken over the day-to-day operations of the company, a new strategic direction has been implemented that will make Benefits Equity an even bigger and more impactful player in the marketplace.
“BEI takes very complex retirement concepts and conveys them brilliantly to all levels of sophistication,” says Wade Perry, Managing Principal and Co-Founder of Stonemark Wealth Management. “They’re a tremendous asset to both my team and our clients in advising our retirement business.”
Josh Sailar of Miracle Mile Advisors in Los Angeles says, “Michael is what I call a best-in-class provider. I have worked closely with him and he is a major asset to our firm and our clients. He and the team he leads at BEI are the only group I would consider for our retirement plan solutions.”
That is not a surprise, considering Gorelick’s experience and knowledge – and the manner in which he manages BEI with his well-trained staff.
“We spend our days loving what we do,” he says. “And we love providing education to business owners and their advisors on the concept of how do you consult on a retirement plan so that the business gets to its goal. Anyone can come to us on any retirement plan issue you can think of and we have the answer.”
Financial and wealth advisors manage the relationships with their clients. They’re the ones who know those business owners well. They’re the trusted person that the business owner is going to get advice from on everything financial. But FAs do not know everything about the design, complexity and compliance of corporate retirement plans.
That’s where Gorelick and BEI enter the process.
“It’s our job to bring in the design and maintenance of the retirement plan, the compliance and the back office issues,” Michael Gorelick says. “Because we understand our industry so well and explain it so effectively, we enhance financial advisors’ practices. That’s the reason they come to us. We make them better advisors because we give them knowledge and expertise they might not have. That’s what makes us unique.”
As any financial advisor would admit, they would prefer to not deal with the complex issues of corporate retirement plans. If they do not work with a company like Benefit Equity, the burden falls on them to do it — and it just slows down their business. And if they do it wrong, the Department of Labor will be at their doorstep, which can quickly turn into a forgettable, nightmarish scenario.
So, as Wade Perry and Steve Evans can attest to firsthand, it is the wise financial advisor who calls in an expert like Benefit Equity.
“Look at how much activity is going on that we’re overseeing,” Gorelick says. “We understand it explicitly and can explain it to you no matter what the question is. What we are is your partner. We really care that you’re getting the right retirement plan. We’re not just here to sell you a retirement plan so we can make a living. Everything we do is specific to create a worry-free environment. Because if we do this correctly, which we will, you’ll never come back to me and say, ‘How did you get me into this? Why did I do this? What did you sell me?’ Not one time have we ever had one person say that to us. Ever.”
Michael Gorelick, President
Benefit Equity, Inc.
1971 E. 4th St. Suite 100
Santa Ana, CA 92705