Focus on Financial Advice For Women Baby Boomers
Lynn S. Evans, CFP® heads her own highly successful financial advisory firm, Northeastern Financial Consultants, Inc. (nefci.com) with a clear focus on helping successful Baby Boomer women in all life stages to develop a happy, healthy relationship with their money. Lynn co-hosts a live radio show every Saturday morning Live with Laurie and Lynn, on WILK News Radio.com (streaming live and podcasts) that deals exclusively with women's financial issues and highlighting successful women entrepreneurs.
She is also developing a new concept for bringing women together for a new and invigorating conversation about money in a program she calls Money Circles for Women™.
Lynn's firm serves a wide base of clients from her main office in Scranton, PA and a satellite office in Charleston, SC. She expects to open an office in the Philadelphia area and another in Central NJ within the next year. She is a sought-after speaker on the topic of women and money and has recently been asked to address her alma mater at this year's commencement exercises.
Garden State Woman and Lynn have been friends for well over 15 years.
GSW: Is a financial advisory career a good one for women to consider either starting out or as a mid career change of direction? Why or why not?
Lynn Answer: This field is one that is dominated by men, mostly because the topic of money was not one women were expected to participate in. With women amassing their own wealth, not the least of which is a six-figure 401k plan, they are no longer seen as an appendage to their husbands, but are financially viable in their own right. Women are seeking other women to talk to. There has never been a better time for a woman to consider financial planning as a career. Some women have started in related fields, like banking, insurance, teaching, or engineering and decided to look at the more direct relationship between advice and results like the financial planning field affords. But it is still a business, and too many women lose sight of their need to consider it a business in favor of wanting to give away their knowledge to see someone happy rather than keeping their eye on the bottom line. As a result, their businesses tend to live as a lifestyle business and not one to be considered a major accomplishment.
GSW: Isn't the financial industry still pretty much of a good ole boy network? Why have you been able to succeed in this highly competitive, often cut throat business?
Lynn Answer: I think it is because I stayed out of the way of most of the traditional channels of financial planning, those dominated by men: brokerage houses, insurance companies, mutual fund sales, etc. I kept believing that those in need of real financial planning would find me if I was to offer planning first, and implementation second. So I survived through many of the economic downturns which impacted those whose sole income was based on commissions. Now that the world has begun to understand whose side I am on, the tide is turning in my favor.
GSW: Have you and your firm always focused primarily on serving women clients?
Lynn Answer: No, originally, I thought that offering services to couples and to widows would be the answer. Then I realized there were too many others doing that and there was no distinction on the surface when people were trying to decide who to use for planning. I sat down one day while doing some business planning and looked at the source of new business for my firm. It came directly from the personal commitments I had to women business owners and women executives. So I changed the direction of the firm to attract more of those women and accommodate their specific needs.
GSW: Do you think your firm, being women owned and managed, has a competitive advantage in serving the women's market? Why or why not?
Lynn Answer: Yes, I have lived all of it, from the time crunches, the demands of aging parents, the husband, the children, the whole societal expectations of a woman's role in life. And as most women do, add the role of a business owner and senior executive.
GSW: Describe the ideal woman client for your firm and what makes them such. Are her financial demographics the primary characteristics you look at when selecting women clients to work with?
Lynn Answer: Not really. Our fee structure is designed for people whose net worth, exclusive of their house, is in excess of $500,000 but that is not the only factor. I am concerned that this is a person who is willing to be in a trusted relationship with an advisor and who is not afraid to communicate her thoughts and concerns to me. If I am to do a great job for her, I need to know all about her: her beliefs about money, her fears of her future, her relationship with a significant other, her relationship with children and stepchildren, her ability to spend money and have fun along the way, her desire to be philanthropic for causes that speak to her, and in general, to be a person I would like to sit across a dinner table with. If all those qualities aren't there, I am probably not a good fit.
GSW: In the case of married women how do you involve their husbands in the process, if you do?
Lynn Answer: I would prefer her husband or partner be a part of the process. It usually is a better relationship if all the parties are on board. In some circumstances, often when the woman is the primary breadwinner of the family, her partner is not interested nor does she want him or her to be present. I find that difficult but not impossible to work with. I usually ask her to sign off on a statement that it is her choice NOT to include her spouse or partner.
GSW: How often should your women clients take a fresh look at the financial program you put together for them?
Lynn Answer: At least once a year or sooner if any financial opportunities or potential disasters show up.
GSW: I have heard you emphasize the importance you place on being a fee-only financial planner. What does that really mean and what are the alternatives? Why are not all financial planners fee only?
Lynn Answer: For me, fee-only is my commitment that we are on the same side of the table. I have no commission relationships with any outside providers, and therefore no production requirements to meet. We are upfront with our fees and it is fully disclosed before we begin the engagement.
Many of my peers believe the form of compensation is irrelevant to the quality of the services provided, but having been there in the past, I can say I sleep well at night knowing there is no conflict of interest.
GSW: If women want to consider working with you and your firm what happens next? What are the first steps and when does the meter start working?
Lynn Answer: We would schedule an introductory meeting over the phone or in person. In that initial interview we would have a chance to determine what her needs are and if we are a fit. If so, then we would send an introductory packet to her with specific instructions of what documents we need to get started. The first interview will determine what services are appropriate, what the estimated costs will be, and give her an opportunity to see a completed plan. There are at least three additional meetings scheduled, each with its own agenda, until we reach the implementation phase at which time we go to work on moving mountains to get the job done. That may take anywhere from 6 months to over a year. Our contracts are renewed annually.
GSW: All work and no play would make Lynn a pretty dull person, which you are not. What are your other interests and passions?
Lynn Answer: Tennis, cooking, reading, remembering French and boating.
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