GRAND RAPIDS — Two West Michigan companies have come together to form a unique business relationship that may be the first of its kind in the state, and possibly the nation.
Medallion Management Inc. recently joined forces with the Grand Rapids office of Edward Jones to test a new marketing plan for the Marsh Ridge Senior Community, one of 80 apartment complexes Medallion manages in Michigan that are geared mostly to seniors on fixed incomes.
If the pilot proves successful for Marsh Ridge, located just off Lake Michigan on the city’s northwest side, Medallion may extend the effort into other senior complexes it owns across the state.
The program gives seniors interested in living at Marsh Ridge an opportunity to learn whether they qualify for Marsh Ridge, whether they can hold on to their assets, and how they can invest their funds. Medallion President Mark Wester said that retirees are a bit reluctant to make the best use of their savings and has found over the years that many just leave their money in a checking account that pays them little or no interest.
“They are a little afraid of interest rates going up and they’re afraid of losing everything they have,” said Wester.
“We felt that this might give them some level of comfort, if they want to talk to them. It’s up to them. It’s out there, but it’s up to them.”
Law prohibits Medallion from advising its clients on financial matters because it isn’t licensed to do so. So the Kalamazoo-based management company asked Edward Jones, a national investment firm, to step in.
Wester said Medallion chose Edward Jones because the firm has integrity, a quality track record, and 313 offices in Michigan — which makes it likely that there will be an office near a Medallion community.
Michael Rios of Edward Jones has his office just a few blocks from Marsh Ridge. He said his role is to determine whether a senior meets the qualifications to live at Marsh Ridge.
“That way Marsh Ridge doesn’t waste their time with someone that is not going to qualify and the client doesn’t waste their time if they’re not going to qualify,” he said.
“If they’d like to get in but don’t currently qualify, there are things that can be done to structure their investments so they can qualify financially.”
Rios said the biggest benefit for seniors is that they could qualify at Marsh Ridge and not lose any of their assets. The long-standing advice normally handed out to low- and moderate-income retirees is to give away their assets to qualify for rent-stabilized housing.
But then, after doing that, they become poor.
“That is not the way to qualify for things — by becoming poor. There are other ways to do it and ways that they can maintain control of their assets,” said Rios, who added that how a senior maintains assets and qualifies depends on his or her particular financial picture.
“Each case is different. At Edward Jones we will always do what is best for the client. So if it’s right for a person to make a change to move into a Medallion Management property, we will let them know what changes they can make. If it’s not right, we will also tell them that,” he said.
An official affiliation doesn’t exist between Edward Jones and Medallion. But both firms are hoping the test run proves worthwhile.
“If it works out and if they are able to increase the amount of people they have as residents, we will probably expand this across the state,” said Rios.
Medallion has started an ad campaign explaining the new relationship it has with Edward Jones and how it can benefit local seniors. Wester said two weeks’ worth of direct-mail flyers have been sent and buys have been made with area radio stations that reach seniors.
“Our goal is to demonstrate that Marsh Ridge is a place for the active retiree who would rather spend their time and money on leisure than household toil,” said Wester.
The senior community, located at 470 Marsh Ridge Drive, has 149 one- and two-bedroom units in a park-like setting. Medallion also owns Grandview Apartments, another senior community, at 1925 Bridge St. NW, which offers 196 units.