Northbrook Chamber Emerging Business of the Year: Engage Wealth Group, LLC
Emerging Business of the Year: Engage Wealth Group, LLC
Engage Wealth Group may be the Chamber’s first-ever Emerging Business Award recipient, but it is not a story of overnight success. Engage Wealth is the evolution of Ed Gjertsen II’s 30-year career in financial planning, launched in 2020 with the goal of doing things differently.
“Engage Wealth was founded to be intentionally different from other firms that are out there. No sales, no commissions, just sound, comprehensive financial advice for a transparent fee,” explains Ed. “Our passion is bringing financial clarity and direction to our clients with the highest fiduciary standards and integrity.”
“It’s not a new career for Ed, but Engage Wealth is different,” notes Alexandrea Gjertsen, Ed’s wife and the firm’s Chief Operating Officer. “He just didn’t see the needs of his clients being met by the industry. That was the catalyst for Ed’s decision to create Engage Wealth.”
Throughout his career as a Certified Financial Planner®, Ed has taken a leadership role in advancing the standards of the profession. He became active in the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®), the largest membership organization for CFP® professionals in the U.S. He served as a founding member and co-chair of the FPA’s Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, and later as the FPA National Chairman.
Ed frequently offers free financial education programs through the BBB, libraries, and other organizations.
Ed’s sense of mission also extends to educating the public through regular appearances on radio, at public libraries, and through other outlets. He is a frequent guest on WBBM-AM’s Noon Business Hour, and contributes articles to Better Business Magazine, a publication of the Chicago Better Business Bureau, where he is a Board member.
“Given the complexities of personal finance, there’s so much misinformation out there. It’s not a business development tool; it’s authentic outreach to help guide the public,” says Ed.
Northbrook Chamber members since 2019, Ed and Alexandrea are consistent networkers who have used the organization to find resources to serve their clients’ needs. For example, Ed’s connection with 1st Eagle Mortgage’s Herb Levin at First Friday networking breakfasts developed into a professional relationship built on mutual respect.
“Ed is always looking out for his clients to protect their nest egg,” notes Herb. “Whenever we work together, he is very thoughtful and meticulous. He has a plan and expresses it very clearly for everyone involved. It’s a synergistic relationship where we can help each other and know that we are taking good care of our clients.”
Engage Wealth’s business model emphasizes the importance of relationships, with current clients and their referrals generating the vast majority of new business. “We’re very narrow and deep in our relationships,” says Ed. “We want to get to know people well – we’re not looking to have 5000 clients that we only know superficially. Connecting them to other professionals that we trust, like those in the Chamber, is part of that total support. When our clients feel they can sleep better at night, that’s the highest compliment we can receive.”
Alexandrea sees the success of their vision reflected in their clients’ responses. “Ed felt that there was a better way, and it really resonated,” she notes. “Taking that chance and going out on your own is never easy, but knowing in your heart that this is the right way of doing business and having people embrace it has been really exciting.”