facebook twitter instagram linkedin google youtube vimeo tumblr yelp rss email podcast phone blog external search brokercheck brokercheck Play Pause

You only get one retirement.  

Let's make it a great one. 

Are you retirement ready?

We have the solutions to prepare the financial future you and your family deserve.


Enjoy Objective Advice

As investment advisor representatives, we work for you.   Our commitment is to you, not to a sales quota for a branded product.

With Clear Strategies 

We deliver investment management, retirement income planning, and personalized portfolios with simple language, but sophisticated expertise.

With over 50 years of combined experience, our team has the tools, services, and solutions to help you live life on your terms.  While our CFA and MBA credentials offer perspective on portfolio construction, our strength comes from decades of working one-on-one with clients like you. 

James Mertens Photo James Mertens Hover Photo

James Mertens

Managing Director | MBA | CFA
Read Bio

Managing Director | MBA | CFA

Jim first began working directly with clients in 2003 when he became a Financial Advisor with a regional broker/dealer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Prior to this, he honed his skills with two years of product development with a multinational insurance company followed by three years coordinating a wide range of complex planning and investment management cases as an internal consultant to hundreds of financial advisors.

In 2006, Jim joined Du Lac Wealth Services and aligned with LPL Financial in order to provide more comprehensive, objective strategies for his clients. Working with LPL Financial has allowed Jim to put the interests of client first, while the tools and resources of the country's largest independent broker/dealer* offer customized portfolio solutions.

Committed to excellence, Jim received his Bachelor of Business Administration from The University of Notre Dame du Lac (BBA) in 1998, majoring in Finance. In 2005 while working full time, he completed his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from The University of Chicago – Booth School of Business. The second-oldest business school in the world, the Booth School of Business is known for world class instruction in analytic finance, entrepreneurship and strategic management. In 2006, Jim earned the right to use the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. Jim embraces the mission of the CFA Institute “to lead the investment profession globally by setting the highest standards of ethics, education and professional excellence.”

The Mertens family moved to Cary, North Carolina from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin in 2009. Jim's wife, Hollis, is a doctorate prepared Nurse Practitioner working for WakeMed in their newborn nursery and neonatal intensive care units. Their son August (Augie) is at The Citadel in Charleston SC while daughter Lucia (Luci) attends Green Hope High School and youngest son Henry attends Weatherstone Elementary. Their family  enjoys trips to the beach as time allows between various sports and activities.

Within the community, Jim currently sits on the Finance Council of Mother Teresa Catholic Mission and is a recovering St. Michael School PTO President. As a Sorin Society Member and former Fan Council participant, he is passionate about his undergraduate Alma Mater. That passion is put to work locally in support of the ND Club of Eastern North Carolina through initiatives such as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and hosting visiting Notre Dame students in town for summer service projects.

*As reported by Financial Planning Magazine, June 1996-2019, based on total revenue.

Kerry Goodman Photo Kerry Goodman Hover Photo

Kerry Goodman

Wealth Advisor | MBA | AIF
Read Bio

Wealth Advisor | MBA | AIF

Kerry Goodman, MBA, is a Wealth Advisor and Accredited Investment Fiduciary® with Du Lac Wealth Services. He develops strategies to quantify and assess your retirement goals, manage investment portfolios, and improve quality of life for his clients.  He has advised on corporate and personal finance since 1992 when he began his career lending to independent Texas energy and agricultural firms.  Later he specialized in issuing municipal bonds, investment banking and syndicated loans.  

Prior to joining Du Lac Wealth Services, Kerry founded Fiduciary Asset Management and held senior positions with SunTrust (Private Wealth Management Medical Specialty Group), Banc of America Investment Services (DC Commercial Strategies Group), and NationsBank (Texas Growth Group).  He holds an MBA and a BBA from Texas A&M University along with SCUBA, drivers, and marriage licenses.

The Goodman family moved to North Carolina from Washington DC metro area in 2005, after relocating there from Texas in 1999.  Kerry’s wife, Simone, is a University of Maryland MBA and Chief Marketing Officer for the American Diabetes Association. Married over 25 years, Kerry and Simone have two daughters: Sophie (10th Grade), and Evie (6th Grade) along with a very high energy pooch named Lexi.

An outdoor enthusiast, Kerry enjoys snow skiing and surfing with his girls, family hiking, and open air live music at maximum volume.  He is a charter member of the Surfrider Foundation, past Treasurer of CHCP and past President of the New York Hatters COA.  Currently he serves as Vice Chair of the AEF Foundation, a global non-profit focused on early childhood education.

Jaunt'e Smith Photo Jaunt'e Smith Hover Photo

Jaunt'e Smith

Client Experience Manager
Read Bio


Jaunt’e has over a decade of experience in the financial services industry. She began her career in healthcare at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Connecticut, and later her investment career as an Operations Manager with MassMutual. Following that, she served for eight years as a Client Services Officer. She has deep experience with Workflow Management, Quality Assurance, and the management of Term, Variable, and Fixed Insurance Policies.

The Smith family moved to North Carolina from the Massachusetts area in 2017.  Jaunt’e and her husband Lashone have been married for 14 years. He is a Commercial Driver with Duke Energy. Jaunt’e and Lashone have three athletic sons: Lashone Jr (8th Grade), Kye (3rd Grade) and Cari (Preschool) along with a pooch named Levi.

She is a parent volunteer of the various sporting activities that her children participate in among the surrounding area. She enjoys cooking, time with family and friends, along with being a member of a community church and women’s literary book club.

Garrett Railsback Photo Garrett Railsback Hover Photo

Garrett Railsback

Assoc. Wealth Advisor | CFP
Read Bio

Assoc. Wealth Advisor | CFP

Garrett has been helping clients pursue their financial goals since 2013 when he became a Financial Advisor with Fidelity Investments.  Over the years, he has worked with clients across the spectrum, ranging from 401(k) participants with some of the Triangles largest employers to individuals and families fine tuning their financial plan.

Garrett received his Bachelor of Science from Indiana State University, studying History and Economics. A lifelong learner, he regularly attends seminars and conferences to better serve clients.  Garrett remains a student of the financial industry as it relates to tax laws, portfolio management, and the regulatory environment.   His deep experience with large retirement plans and workplace benefits at Fidelity helps guide employees during job changes and life events. 

The Railsback family moved to Holly Springs, North Carolina in 2015. Garrett’s wife, Ashley, is an Occupational Therapist specializing in treating Lymphedema with WakeMed Cary.   Their two kids, Taylor (5) and Dean (3) keep them busy with swimming and soccer while attending school in Holly Springs. The Railsback family enjoys camping and going to local Triangle events on the weekends.

At Du Lac Wealth Services, we’ve created a culture and atmosphere that eliminates any potential negative feelings you have about money.  We can help you discover a proven strategy and process that provide simple steps leading to meaningful change. 

We’ve worked hard to build the culture we have today, and every new member who joins us offers our clients even more value through their shared values, priorities and vision. Culture is not something we take lightly, as we know that the only way our clients will be truly happy working with us is if every team member is aligned on the same principles.

Your customized portfolio is developed through an iterative process.  Regular, one-on-one meetings allow for continued refinement of your strategy.  While some goals - like college planning, the sale of a small business, tax planning, or estate planning - may be accomplished in a finite time-frame, Retirement Planning is unique.  It deserves an ongoing dialogue with us.  View your Retirement as a Journey, not just a Destination.  We are here to guide you through the Golden years with a Focus on Income.

Your  Retirement Plan always follows our systematic, proven process:

Discovery Meeting

Whether in-person, over the phone, or via our GoToMeeting landing page, our introductions are always relaxed and conversational.  We strive for an open dialogue, minimizing technical jargon.  Our top priority is getting to know you personally to best understand areas in which we can help you succeed.

Planning and Consolidation

Upon understanding your needs and goals, we work to create easy-to-understand solutions so you can move forward with confidence.  Simplifying your life by consolidating your accounts allows us to diversify your investments across your entire relationship with an eye toward tax efficiency. 

Portfolio Implementation

Our experienced and credentialed team prides themselves in bringing Wall Street to Main Street.  Portfolios are constructed around your specific goals, risk tolerance and tax status.  For retirement income planning, we focus on matching income produced from investments with your income needs to avoid taxable gains to meet distribution strategies.

Ongoing Review

Online resources and communications keep you connected to our team and can be customized to your desired frequency.  We recognize that many of our clients may prefer a trip to the dentist over a lecture on portfolio construction and investment theory.  Our ongoing reviews focus on getting to know you better and leveraging our expertise to work toward your goals and tackle your ever changing financial picture with confidence.

Our knowledge and insight into the stock market enables us to craft an investment portfolio uniquely tailored to you. Through ongoing collaboration and monitoring, our team is able to discover new avenues for you to invest your wealth and pursue your goals. In addition to managing your investments, we’ll educate you on the rationale behind each investment decision so you’re well-versed in the logic of our approach.  

When you work with us, we will:

Identify Your Short- and Long-Term Objectives
As these objectives change, we’ll strategically adjust our approach according to the current state of the market and economic conditions. 

Determine Your Optimal Risk Tolerance
Through a series of questions, we’ll pinpoint the appropriate amount of risk needed for you to strive toward your goals and remain confident in our services. 

Follow a Timeline That’s Right For You
After outlining your objectives, we’ll design a strategy that aligns with your optimal timeline and risk profile.  

Do you want to find out how you can reduce your tax burden?

You don’t have a choice about paying taxes, but you can avoid making the mistake of overpaying them. While it’s hard to imagine anyone intentionally paying too much in taxes, the IRS estimates that more than one billion dollars is overpaid in taxes each year. That’s no surprise when tax laws change every year—even in years when no major tax legislation is enacted.

How much of that money is yours? Wouldn’t you rather see those funds in your bank account or put aside for your retirement or other financial goals?

You might be able to save on taxes by:

  • Restructuring your investment portfolio to produce a higher after-tax return
  • Shifting income to dependents in a lower tax bracket
  • Maximizing qualified plan and IRA contributions
  • Identifying all the deductions that apply to your small business

If you’re like most people, your taxes represent one of your largest annual expenses, yet often little or no planning is done to minimize your tax bill. Careful tax preparation and planning can free up money that you can use to work toward your goals. 

Whether you’re five years away from retirement or 20 years away from retirement, we’ll help guide you through the steps necessary to identify and allocate assets for your optimal retirement lifestyle. After evaluating your current situation, we’ll utilize sophisticated financial planning software to analyze your accounts, identify your goals, and track progress as you prepare for your life past employment. Click on this video for an overview: 

Our retirement planning services involve:

Your investment strategy so you are investing your wealth in the portfolios that best align with your objectives.

Your spending habits so you continuously make decisions that benefit your broader financial picture. 

Potential income streams and ways you can continue to contribute to your nest egg while still planning for the basic necessities.

Learn how to use Insurance to leverage retirement dollars and offer downside protection.

Building retirement assets takes years—and no one can predict exactly how the markets might perform. That’s why a prudent retirement strategy often includes a variety of financial products. Some, like stocks and bonds, may help you maximize opportunity when markets rise. Others may provide your portfolio with added security because, along with growth potential, they offer protection from market decline.

For example, your plan might include a Fixed Indexed Annuity for Principal Protection and Growth Potential.  With this type of Insurance Contract:

  • You have the potential to earn competitive interest rates through a process called index-linked interest crediting.
  • Your contract value is protected because your contract can never lose principal value due to market declines.
  • You have the option to receive retirement income when needed, including the option of guaranteed income for life.

Are you concerned about Long Term Care insurance?

The need for long-term care puts an enormous emotional and physical strain on your loved ones and family members. By planning ahead, you can help reduce this burden. Also, as you age, your health may change, which could make it difficult to get coverage. That’s why it’s important to start planning now while you have the most options.

Two options to consider are traditional Life Insurance and the new Asset Based LTC Annuities:

  • Life Insurance with LTC Riders: Many insurance carriers are now offering a long-term care rider that acts as an added benefit to a permanent life insurance product. This type of policy is advantageous for those clients who are primarily looking for life insurance, because they’re actually securing two forms of insurance in one package. Long-term care riders come at a cost and allow you to use a percentage of your death benefit should you require long-term care instead. §
  • Combination Products with Long-Term Care Benefits: These products, also known as hybrids or linked-benefit products may be an appropriate option to self-insure. They offer a simplified underwriting process using either a life insurance or annuity policy to create the tax-fee LTC benefit. Most can be paid in either a single or ongoing premium, sometimes up to 10 years. In the event you do not require long-term care, a beneficiary of your choice receives the proceeds: an income-tax free life insurance death benefit or taxable annuity proceeds. Such products may also include a return of premium provision, perhaps at an added cost, that returns some or all of the premiums paid if the policy is canceled. At any time, you can request a return of premium upon full surrender of the policy. The amount received will be adjusted for the length of time the policy was in force as well as any benefits paid or loans/withdrawals made. Note that surrender of the policy may have tax implications.

Would you worry less if you had more money to save toward your goals? Discover tax planning strategies for yourself and your future. Contact us today for a no-cost review of your prior three years’ tax returns.

Learn How We Can Help

Connect With Us

Our initial conversation is complimentary and stress free.