By Tom McDermott
Caroline Brecker and Campbell Gerrish flank author Pat Hedley
Holding A Third Half Lead
By Tom McDermott
After quarterbacking the Rye High Garnets football team (which tied Harrison), Campbell Gerrish, Class of 1969, switched to rugby at Princeton, playing on teams that bruised their way to two Ivy League Championships. So it was natural for Gerrish and his business partner Caroline Brecker to use a rugby metaphor in choosing a brand for their post-retirement consulting venture. Third Half Advisors was named for the period of camaraderie and friendship, not to mention a few tankards, that take place after a hard-fought game on the pitch.
Gerrish had been winding down his 45-year insurance career, advising companies and high net worth clients on life insurance portfolios as a principal at Winged Kheel Group. Brecker had moved on from private banking at JP Morgan where she had worked extensively with Gerrish. As the two continued to meet and discuss their own “third halves”, they realized they weren’t the only successful people who were looking to fill their new-found free time with more than travel and golf. The duo was looking for something more fulfilling, and soon realized there were thousands of others looking too.
Third Half Advisors’ stated goal is nothing less than to change the future of aging, by helping individuals and groups to discover or renew skills and passions they now have time to develop and nurture. Their target Boomer group is relatively secure financially, but unsure of how to best use their “third half”.
“People may be economically prepared for retirement, but not emotionally prepared. They think they’re the only ones who can’t figure things out,” says Gerrish. “They rarely have time to think deeply about what they will do later, they’re caught up in their careers, their families.”
The team created a Core Day, featuring speakers who could help clients review their own visions, values, and interests, and to assess their strengths or recognize what might be blocking them from moving forward. Clients had the option to engage in individual coaching sessions, choosing from three experienced professionals. THA’s Lift Series enhances the Core Day experience, with speakers who zero in on specific topics.
“Retirement is a loaded word, says Brecker, “It’s a part of life that did not arise for many people who are living busy lives. On their own, they fall into a kind of adolescence which offers great freedom, but freedom needs structure, which is what we try to provide.”
The Lift Speaker session held at Riverside Yacht Club in April included former New York Times personal finance columnist Kelley Holland and investment advisor Robin Sherwood; Mark Weber, who specializes in family estate planning; and Pat Hedley, author of “Meet 100 People”.
After a lifetime of formal and informal networking, participants were not surprised to hear Hedley emphasize that the third half means even more and better networking, with an emphasis on meeting the younger generations. Key ingredient when meeting with Millennials? “Make sure you ask them what they need? You have a lot to offer them.”
When asked if women approach the third half differently from men, Brecker observed, “Women are more verbal, and open, more apt to ask others ‘What should I do?’ to spur conversation. Guys tend to say ‘I’m fine.’”
As Gerrish and Brecker continue to tweak their business model and raise funds, they are beginning to see other opportunities. “We presented to over 100 participants at M Financial Group’s Renaissance last October,” said Gerrish. They are currently in discussions with three other major financial institutions about providing similar programs. And they see a definite demand for more individual coaching.
Heading into the Third Half, THA is holding a comfortable lead.