We love our employees and because they are special to us, they deserve the spotlight in our blogs every now and then. So, we will occasionally feature employees in our “Employee Spotlight” blogs. It’s an opportunity to get to know the people behind our name.
For our first team member, we sat down with VP of Business Development Heather Gonska.
Tell us a little background on your job and what you do.
I have been full-time with Elder Life Group for two years, but started working with the company on a part-time basis in 2018. Originally, I started with our attorney service retail model to help families that needed assistance after completing estate planning. I experienced what it takes for families to put a financial plan in place that was asset protection and long-term care focused. By using our curated Elder Life Group products and implementing our advanced planning strategies, each client was empowered with choice and options that they didn’t even know was available to them. I saw the planning come to life and the practical application of the asset protection principals through finance.
I recently transitioned to VP of Business Development, working with financial advisors and other industry professionals by helping them incorporate our curated products into their own book of business. This will enable advisors to provide the value of helping their clients put a plan in place and provide some asset protection solutions.
What led you to work at Elder Life Group and this industry?
I started in healthcare as a skilled rehab therapist and had the firsthand experience of families facing a loved one going to a nursing home. Not only was it very stressful but it was often confusing for families on HOW they were going to pay for it. When I had the opportunity to work for Elder Life Group, I was excited to be on the other side of helping during this very stressful time by understanding the financial component of long-term care.
I love that we are helping families put together a strong financial plan to provide options. I love that we are working with agents and advisors who want to help their families do the same. What I have learned working with Elder Life Group, is that every family needs to have a plan when it comes to long-term care. It’s too expensive not to.
October is Long Term Care Planning Month – any significance to you personally? Or anything that you’d encourage people to know/emphasize during October?
Long-term care planning is very important to me. I had two family members that experienced long-term care situations. It was incredibly stressful for my immediate family. Figuring out the payment side of things on top of everything else that comes with long-term care brought a lot of confusion and heartache. At the time, there was little guidance or financial literature available to help my family successfully navigate the long-term care journey.
Given the statistics on aging, it is crucial to discuss and research the future impact of long-term care for those who want to have options; if or when they experience a long-term care situation. I have seen both ends of the spectrum. For those that have had the forethought of implementing a plan early, they have had the biggest opportunity to have a greater say in their future. Without a long-term care plan in place, most are leaving their options to chance and not positioning themselves for a peaceful retirement. With the national average cost of a nursing home at $9,000 per month, most will be impoverished if they don’t put a strategic long-term care plan in place.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My days are spent engaging with our partnered agents and creating opportunities for education that our agents can share with their own clientele. We strategically align ourselves within the industry to provide the best products to the financial services market that encompass asset protection opportunities.
What are you most passionate about at work?
This long-term care “stuff” in relation to estate planning in general is a beast to understand. To help alleviate that stress and enable others to implement this mindset and planning opportunities into their own practice is what makes it easy to get up in the morning. If I can be a catalyst to enable others to bring asset protection principals into their own practice and therefore make an impact on the population at large, I count that as a win any day of the week.
What activities do you enjoy in your spare time?
To relax and unwind, I like to host dinner parties and cook for my family. I get most of my inspiration from TikTok and enjoy experimenting with new recipes. So far, my family has been willing recipients of my cooking. I am an outdoors gal and enjoy sneaking off to a hiking trail with my walking partner and favorite buddy, my lab, Berkley. My famous last words are, “We can get our steps in today.”
Tell us something that others may not know about you.
I am an aspiring polyglot. One of my life goals is to be fluent in 5 different languages and practice my conversation skills in some obscure European café. If I could take a trip every weekend to a new city or state, I would. There is so much world to see and places to explore. Life is too short to not experience what life has to offer, even if it’s the town next door.