Be it a ski slope or a career path, there’s something to be said for starting small.
Before conquering expert terrain on five continents, Ryan Bertrand learned to ski at Great Bear Ski Valley in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It had about a dozen runs, covered less than 200 vertical feet, and often registered sub-zero temperatures.
“The hill started out as a gravel pit,” Bertrand recalled.
And while carving a trail in financial services, Bertrand started as an intern with Jackson National Life Insurance. The full-time internship took place as he was working toward his political science degree at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
“My first task was literally delivering mail,” he said.
Of Mail and Moguls. It might make a good book title someday. For now, Bertrand is focused on his role as vice president and managing director of Transamerica’s Advanced Markets Group. He was among the group’s three founding members in 2011. Nearly eight years later, the Advanced Markets team has tripled in size while helping financial professionals better serve their clients with retirement and estate planning.
“Sometimes the implications of financial planning aren’t apparent until the darkest hours,” Bertrand said. “That’s when what we do in motivating people to prepare for retirement really shines. The end result is a better outcome than if they were not prepared. I get a lot of satisfaction from that.”
Though the United States is in the midst of a nine-year bull market, Bertrand believes it’s more important than ever to formulate a plan. He speaks from experience, having started his career in 2002, shortly after the markets tumbled in the wake of the dot-com collapse and 9/11. Bertrand was working as an annuities wholesaler when the financial crisis of 2008–2009 wiped out trillions of dollars in retirement savings.
“It was a difficult time to be in the industry,” Bertrand said. “It’s tough having conversations with advisors when their portfolios are down 65–70%, and you’re asking them for business.”
It also didn’t help matters that his sales territory included Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
“To cover that land in the winter, you were literally risking your life sometimes,” he said. “Some of the drives I went on were hair-raising.”
Nearly a decade later, Bertrand has a panoramic view of the Rocky Mountains as he and the Advanced Markets Group support the Transamerica sales team. Despite the market’s historic run, he cautions financial professionals to learn from the recent past.
“I think you pretty much see the industry make the same mistakes over and over again,” he said. “People get complacent after a while, and they think the good times are going to last. They don’t prepare for potential bad times. There’s not a lot of motivation for financial professionals to go out and generate new prospects and move money around.”
Bertrand wants to help financial professionals fight that complacency. With millions of Baby Boomers expected to transition to retirement for the better part of the next decade, he emphasizes the opportunity that’s available. In addition to helping clients understand topics such as Social Security and Medicare, financial professionals can help them prepare for challenges such as Alzheimer’s, incapacity, and the cost of long-term care.
“Focusing on planning while times are good provides an opportunity to set someone up with a strong strategy that can impact an entire family and last a lifetime,” Bertrand said. “You don’t want to miss that opportunity just because you’re doing well with your business right now.”
Bertrand, 36, holds CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM (CFP®) and Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) designations, along with FINRA Series 6, 26, and 63 certifications. He reminds financial professionals that the letters after their name mean little if they can’t share their knowledge effectively with clients.
“If you can’t communicate what you know, what you know is worthless,” Bertrand said. “Relationship skills, presentation skills, and writing skills are critical skills that not many people have taken the time to master. Mastering them will immediately set you apart.”
Though he oversees the Advanced Markets Group, Bertrand still travels with Transamerica wholesalers to provide information and materials that can help financial professionals grow their business and provide value for their clients.
As for his personal long-term planning, Bertrand someday would like hit the slopes in Africa and Antarctica — the only two continents missing from his skiing bucket list.
“I think I’ll try to do Antarctica for my 40th birthday,” he said. “You have to go to South America and then take a ship to Antarctica. That one’s going to be tough.”
As his rise from the mailroom proved more than 15 years ago, Bertrand has never shied away from a challenge.
The Advanced Markets Group has dozens of great resources that are often featured on New Age of Advice. Check back for more profiles on members of the team in the coming weeks.
VP Managing Director of Advanced Markets
Whether they’re discussing taxes, Social Security claiming strategies, or controlling the distribution of retirement assets, the nine members of Transamerica’s Advanced Markets Group have the knowledge and experience to help financial professionals deliver the best service to their clients.
Between them, they hold 13 CFP®, CLU®, and ChFC® certifications, two law degrees, one M.D., an MBA, and a master’s in law in taxation. But we want you to get to know the people behind the credentials.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.
Neither Transamerica nor its agents or representatives may provide tax, investment or legal advice. Anyone to whom this material is promoted, marketed, or recommended should consult with and rely on their own independent tax and legal advisors and financial professional regarding their particular situation and the concepts presented herein.
Transamerica Resources, Inc. is an Aegon company and is affiliated with various companies which include, but are not limited to, insurance companies and broker dealers. Transamerica Resources, Inc. does not offer insurance products or securities. The information provided is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as insurance, securities, ERISA, tax, legal or financial advice or guidance. Please consult your personal independent advisors for answers to your specific questions.