When Pinnacle Advisory Group’s partners were looking to expand the business in 2004, Mindy Gasthalter was the first wealth manager they brought on board. “I’d been working at a financial firm in Alexandria, Virginia, and the owners decided to sell,” she remembers. “Pinnacle briefly considered buying the company, and interviewed the advisors on staff. We were eventually purchased by another firm, and I decided to leave for a new position. A few months later, a colleague called to tell me that John Hill was looking for me. That’s how I got started here.”
It’s no surprise why Pinnacle wanted her on the team: Mindy’s financial planning skills, honed over 26 years in the industry, would be an asset to any wealth management firm, and a great benefit to potential clients. “I’ve worked with hundreds of people over the years,” she says, “and I often share stories that might relate to something a new client is facing. This helps them know that they’re not alone, and that others have gone through similar circumstances.”
While every client case is unique, there are some common elements that Mindy has observed in her time at Pinnacle. “People are usually surprised by how comprehensive our financial planning process is here. Most assume that planning is strictly investment-related, but our relationship is much deeper than that. We handle estate planning, aging parent issues, challenges with problem children, clients who have recently lost their jobs — in other words, we cover all the events of life.”
The payoff for her clientele is considerable. “They experience a sense of relief in knowing that there’s someone watching their money, and also watching out for them. Someone has their back.”
Given her success in the field, it’s a surprise that Mindy isn’t exactly sure how she arrived there. When asked why she chose to go into planning, she paused for a long moment. “I don’t really know the answer. I always had a business mind, so maybe that’s why. At the time, I was living in San Francisco and working as a secretary for the national sales manager for Lee Jeans, when I decided I wanted to do personal financial planning. I went to Golden Gate University, and they had a Master’s Degree in the field.”
The years since have been rewarding, and many of her clients have become personal friends. “We’ll do things like bike together, go out to lunch together, and go to concerts together,” she says. Not only that, but every year, Mindy takes a long trip — Alaska, Barcelona, Calgary, Mexico City, Israel, Jordan, and the Galapagos have been past destinations — and her clients have come to expect letters announcing her next exotic locale.
These personal connections make her job particularly gratifying. “When you actually see somebody do what you’ve been planning for them to do, and achieve what they’ve been working for, it’s heartwarming. If I could tell people just one thing about planning, it would simply be that it works.”