When the coronavirus hit, Melvin Gonzalez felt the immediate impact to his bottom line.

“In two weeks, I lost $110,000 worth of business,” says Gonzalez, who owns a painting business and a portfolio of rental properties in and around Conway, Arkansas. When his Northwestern Mutual financial advisor, Osmar García, called to check in on him, Gonzalez was more than a little concerned.

Gonzalez had known García for some time, but they began working together after reconnecting about five years ago. At the time, Gonzalez had been building his business for about 10 years and had successfully grown it to 25 employees and a handful of rental properties.

“Honestly, when I agreed to meet with him, I thought he was just going to try to sell me something,” Gonzalez recalls. “But he said, ‘Melvin, I’m not after the money. I want to build a relationship. I want to earn your business. I want to earn your trust.’”

GETTING STARTED WITH A PLAN

García started by sharing financial knowledge. “He taught me how to deal with banks, he showed me the potential that I never thought I had,” Gonzalez says. Based on García’s advice, Gonzalez started building up stable funds that he could access in an emergency. After the two began working together, Gonzalez’s business really took off. Today, he has 50 employees and a portfolio of rental properties.

Through their work together, Gonzalez also built a financial plan that helps him protect his family and businesses today while growing his wealth for the future.

When the country started shutting down to help combat the coronavirus Gonzalez’s first concern was his employees — they had mortgages and families who were depending on his ability to make payroll.

“That day, I cried because I couldn’t tell them how I was going to take care of them. I didn’t know,” Gonzalez recalls. “My weekly payroll is about $35,000.” In addition, Gonzalez was unsure about his renters’ ability to continue paying their monthly rent. “My payments are big, so it doesn’t take long to put me out of business.”

STAYING AFLOAT AND MOVING AHEAD

That’s when Gonzalez got the call from García, and Gonzalez admitted he was anxious. “Melvin is the type of person who is always on the go,” García says. “When he’s going, he’s very focused on making the business grow or doing new deals. I think this was just a halting moment for him.”

García reminded Gonzalez that he’d built up enough in reserves to keep his businesses running for six months. He had significant cash value in his life insurance, money that’s unaffected by the market and available for him to tap whenever he needs access to funds.1 And García told Melvin that he could also defer his life insurance payments if he needed the flexibility. “He said to me, ‘Melvin, our company is doing great. It’s not going to hide during this situation.’”

The two spoke frequently, and during their conversations García also encouraged Gonzalez to reach out to his bank and ask about the ability to defer mortgage payments if his renters were unable to pay. “The next day, I met with my bank and they offered to defer my payments for three months. We didn’t even need to use it, but we got it,” Gonzalez says.

On García’s advice, Gonzalez also applied for and got funds through the government’s Paycheck Protection Program. “After our phone call, I was more confident about how I would be able to handle my businesses and take care of my employees. That’s the most important thing — he gave me peace of mind,” Gonzalez says.

ADVICE THAT MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE

After a couple of slow weeks, business started flowing in again. Now, Gonzalez has more work than he can handle, and his renters have been able to make their monthly payments.

For Gonzalez, García is more than just a financial advisor. “I can call Osmar my friend because he’s been there,” Gonzalez says. The planning is what put Gonzalez in a good spot to weather this year’s financial storm, but having a friend and expert he could talk to at the darkest moment made all the difference. “He gave me ideas on how I could approach lenders and be able to manage my situation,” Gonzalez says. “His financial planning helped to save my business.”

1Keep in mind, by taking cash value out of the policy, there could be a reduction in death benefit, impact on future dividends, or possible taxable gains.

The testimonials presented may not be representative of the experience of other clients and are not a guarantee of future performance or success.

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