Amanda K Hayes of ‘AKH Financial Corp’: “Financial planning has likewise become an ambiguous term with huge misconceptions”

…You must first help them understand WHY they feel the way they do about money first, and then retrain their thoughts for healthier financial habits moving forward. As a part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amanda K Hayes. Amanda K Hayes is a Chartered Financial Consultant and […]

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…You must first help them understand WHY they feel the way they do about money first, and then retrain their thoughts for healthier financial habits moving forward.

As a part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amanda K Hayes.

Amanda K Hayes is a Chartered Financial Consultant and the President of AKH Financial Corp with offices in Florida & Ohio.

She takes a comprehensive approach to incorporating all aspects of personal, retirement, investment, estate, tax, and business planning. She works with individuals, business owners, and high net worth families offering a diverse platform of wealth management, insurance, and consulting services.

With over 15 years in the financial services industry, Amanda’s been recognized by her local community as one of the most influential business leaders under 40 in Volusia/Flagler county — receiving the award twice in 2015 and again in 2020. She attributes her success to the high priority she places on being a good steward of the assets entrusted to her care.

Amanda takes complex financial concepts and presents solutions for her clients with simple, easy to follow advice. She’s passionate about improving the lives of those she works with and committed to listening to her clients, the most important component of her practice.

Amanda appears as a guest speaker on The Marc Bernier’s Money Talk radio show every week discussing market commentary and other financial tips for investors. She also has her own YouTube channel The Money Mindset where she produces weekly educational videos regarding to financial services.

Her firm AKH Financial Corp was built 100% on input from clients. It is the best products, back office, technology, research, and support staff she could ask for. In light of her work with small business owners, she launched Industry Salon in 2013 and then rebranded it to Salon 728 West in 2020. Salon 728 West has grown to become one of the largest high-end salons in the Volusia county area. This venture has fostered even greater entrepreneurial skills enabling her to provide tested business consulting services to her clients. She understands business owners’ needs in multiple capacities.

She also finds time to give back to her community and has been a trustee on the Ormond Beach Police Officer’s Pension Board since 2009. She’s served on the Board of Directors for the Volusia/Flagler Healthy Start Coalition since 2014, an active member of the Ormond Beach Chamber of Commerce since 2008, and a member of NAIFA — National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. She is also a member of the *Million Dollar Round Table.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance field?

Thank you for having me!

I believe our upbringing and experiences influence us to view money a certain way — whether we fear it, love it, resent it, hate it or just blissfully ignore it. For me, I was constantly fighting judgement and stereotypes. I was told that I would “never make it in a man’s world” or my degrees were merely “sheep skins on the wall”. So, I did not have a good understanding of it or a positive view of it growing up. It was always used in a negative way to control me or others. I was taught you were nothing without it.

Those frustrations fueled me to take action, I wanted to be able to make my own choices, but I had to start getting educated. I got my AA degree and enrolled myself at UCF for my Bachelor’s. By chance in my International Marketing class, my teacher brought in a recruiter from Edward Jones to talk about the important of financial literacy. I talked to my teacher about it for months after and it was her that encouraged me to go apply. Thus, starting my journey into finance.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

I have a lot of amusing stories but they relate to specific client situations so I will hold back. The quickest thing I learned in my career is just because someone is older or wealthier does not mean they are any wiser. There’s an unfortunate lack of integrity and product pushing that goes on in the financial industry through so-called “expert advisers”. These individuals do not even take their own advice let alone even know how to apply it.

Financial planning has likewise become an ambiguous term with huge misconceptions. I believe the credentials of this job come from experiences. Working on case after case will teach you more than simply offering clients a plan A or B. To anyone starting out, do not be intimidated by whatever field you are in. Knowledge is power and you will start to learn in time the ones you can trust in or rely on, inclusive of yourself. Also, get comfortable being uncomfortable… because growth requires you to bend in many ways.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I am diving into social media with the purpose of spreading and increasing access to financial education. I can’t help everyone but using my social presence to amplify my voice will ensure the people who need financial literacy receive the message. Even learning one small thing can make a world of difference in someone’s life.

I do not think there is just one solitary approach to being a financial advisor. My years in this industry has allowed me to understand that wealth management is all encompassing. You must dig in and get on track. I have a Master Class coming out this year that packages all the things you need to know. Stay tuned

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

“Excuse me miss, are you lost?” I will never forget being glossed over as a plus 1, or an “arm charm.” I felt infuriated and desperately wanted to shout, “HEY I belong here, and I demand respect!” Conventions, forums, and conferences were notoriously “that way.” We have evolved from those days quite a bit in so many arenas, but the financial world is the final frontier for breaking glass ceilings and shattering the stereotype that in order to be good in this field you have to be an “older white guy.”

Therefore, I created my own business. A new model to lead by example, I simply did not see how the way we currently treat women in this field on both sides of the desk was acceptable. That’s why I decided to change it. Action starts with me. AKH Financial is a place where there are no stereotypes other than great minds working in synchronicity managing wealth for our clients.

Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. Wall Street and Finance used to be an “all white boys club”. This has changed a lot recently. In your opinion, what caused this change?

There are nearly 77 million “Baby Boomers” and, everyday, about 10,000 turn 65. So, it’s a generational shift in my opinion. The rise of social justice organizations and the popularity of social media gives way for new voices.

Also, performance has no color. It does not discriminate. As I mentioned before, sexism has “evolved” — a good bit of that evolution is a credit to the #MeToo movement. Anything that brings awareness to a difficult subject or an overlooked issue is important. However, women are performing now and truly being seen in finance which is awesome!

Of course, despite the progress, we still have a lot more work to do to achieve parity. According to this report in CNBC, less than 17 percent of senior positions in investment banks are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support this movement going forward?

They say that when you have to deal with the court, you don’t get justice — you get the law. I can easily flip that to this situation with women because when you go into the corporate system, you don’t get women (justice), you get sexism (the law). Women constantly have to defy and fight stereotypes and, even when we do up-level our status, society comes in with how they want to sway it.

Look at the specific situation with the Supreme Court, a well-accomplished woman is selected to be a justice. Yet, society does not want her specifically in this role because of political agendas. The lack of acceptance only further exacerbates the issue. It’s cancel culture, answering sexism with more sexism.

For companies, women cannot be defaulted into higher positions so that they appear “cultured” or “diverse.” Take this example. There was a very prominent financial advisor in who said some disparaging comments about women. His organization essentially stashed him away into a closet and created a new face for his company: women. As if he supported them all along, but of course, he never really did. That’s so embarrassing — specifically that women could have just been C-Suite all along for the right reasons. Elevating women shouldn’t be a last ditch attempt to save an organization or a sexist’s reputation. It should be normal.

Let’s now turn to a slightly new topic. According to this report in Fortune, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic test of financial literacy. In your opinion or experience what is the cause of these unfortunate numbers? If you had the power to make a change, what 3 things would you recommend to improve these numbers?

Well, I’m not surprised. Two thirds of Americans can’t pass a US History test, an algebra test, or, quite honestly, a common decency test. Poverty continues to be a huge factor in the American economy — to the extent that those who live below the poverty line are unlikely to be consumers to any substantial extent. I believe we have too big of government, it essentially keeps our citizens poor and uneducated. Cut the size of government, require that financial literacy be taught early in schools and BE NICE to others!

You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive things one should do to become more financially literate, what would you say? Can you please give a story or example for each.

I have never been good with “give me your Top 3” and definitely not “list your top 5” kinds of questions… The best thing about kids is that they are brutally honest about things — because they have not learned much about social graces yet. Therefore a 4-year-old will tell you if you smell or will burst into tears “just because.”

Kids are more connected to raw emotion and intuition. I think if people could learn to not age out of trusting their gut instinct, they would make better choices as adults: choices free of fear, greed, or self-doubt.

For adult children, you must first help them understand WHY they feel the way they do about money first, and then retrain their thoughts for healthier financial habits moving forward.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’m grateful for every person in my life, both good and bad. Without their influence or “touch” on my life, I would not be exactly where I am today. I’m very grateful with where I am.

The adversity I had in my relationship’s from a child to a young adult made me work harder. Had it not been for that I’m not sure I would have the same motivation to climbs the hills. I don’t know any other speed now but GO!!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Stop being afraid of the solitude that comes with raising your standards.

As you get more focused or busy, certain people start to fall off from your circle because you are now shoving in their faces what change can look like. Remember when I said growth is uncomfortable?

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Well, everyone can be an influencer. Nobody is worthless because even the “worthless” can always serve as a bad example or a path to avoid following. There are so many movements out there that you can jump on board with, but the biggest teacher in life is to be an example for others.

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