Read every financial document and contract prior to signing and don’t be intimidated to ask questions or push back. Everyone has to start somewhere to build their financial knowledge base. Know that most everything is negotiable and or other options exist. Don’t be too quick to settle or not challenge the transaction. Know it is okay and sometimes the best option to walk away from the transaction. I remember my first car purchase out of college. If I had only focused on my monthly payment and didn’t read the fine print outlining the interest rate and negotiate options with the sales person, including other car dealerships, I would have paid several thousand dollars more for that car than I actually did.
Asa part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tina Dumar. Tina brings over 30 years of financial accounting experience to Peerfit in both public and private accounting. She provides leadership and mentoring to Peerfit team members in financial best practices to achieve strategic objectives. She began her career at Arthur Andersen gaining experience in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology and the service industry. She later served in key executive roles for both a resort management company and a high-growth pharmacy benefit management (PBM) company, myMatrixx, which was sold to a Fortune 100 company. Tina is a CPA and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from the University of Florida. She is passionate about health and fitness and you can routinely find her at a local gym or running on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa, FL.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Tina! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Finance field?
Simply, I have always had a love for numbers and how they can tell a story. Numbers are objective and are a universal language without bias.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occured to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
I continue to be amazed by the “aha” moments that come out of financial reconciliations, modeling and review. Early on in my career as part of a reconciliation exercise, it was discovered that a customer had been underpaid by tens of thousands of dollars over an extended period of time, which had gone unnoticed. This issue was brought forward to management, who immediately contacted the client and paid the full amount owed. The customer was grateful for the transparency and ethical integrity which further strengthened the relationship. Lesson learned — clients do not always catch financial mistakes and strong internal financial controls and ethical behavior are critical for success.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Peerfit Move, a new fitness benefit for Medicare Advantage members, has been an incredible experience to be a part of! We are providing an exciting avenue for our 65+ population to “get moving”, be active, and live healthy lifestyles through group fitness and community connections.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The culture and talent of a totally remote workforce is a big differentiator at Peerfit. Since we are not limited to geographical locations when hiring, it allows us to hire the most talented people. Being remote allows for work-life balance and flexibility, which attracts highly motivated and self-starting employees. We maximize ways to stay connected through Slack, Google Hangouts and annual in-person All-Hands meetings.
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?
The change has shifted because of education, proven success creating opportunities for others, and confidence of women and other minorities to be able to move forward.
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?
- Address work-life balance for these positions, showing it is possible to have both a strong career AND family.
- Promote these roles in school showcasing how impactful and exciting they are.
- Establish formal mentor programs within companies and communities.
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?
We are a consumer-driven society that creates demand for material things at all costs whether or not the consumer is financially literate. Credit and other financial arrangements are too easy to obtain and the industry exploits others with lack of knowledge. The American people can easily get in over their heads financially if they make decisions without a full understanding of the long-term consequences.
- Require more simplified and bold warning summaries that can be easily understood by the average American in contracts and other financial documents that “educate” the consumer of the proposed financial arrangement. This goes above and beyond the fine print of existing contract disclosures that exist today.
- Expand the FICO score to a more comprehensive financial health index that is shared with the consumer prior to any major financial purchase.
- For major financial purchases where a consumer’s financial health index is “low”, require the consumer to review the contract/ documents to be executed with an independent financial third party paid for by a pool of participating lenders over a “cooling off” period.
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.
- Read every financial document and contract prior to signing and don’t be intimidated to ask questions or push back. Everyone has to start somewhere to build their financial knowledge base. Know that most everything is negotiable and or other options exist. Don’t be too quick to settle or not challenge the transaction. Know it is okay and sometimes the best option to walk away from the transaction. I remember my first car purchase out of college. If I had only focused on my monthly payment and didn’t read the fine print outlining the interest rate and negotiate options with the sales person, including other car dealerships, I would have paid several thousand dollars more for that car than I actually did.
- Take a self assessment of your own financial health and know what your spending patterns are relative to your income, assets and liabilities.
- Find a financial mentor, professional financial coach and or parent that can provide an objective view of your financial health. It’s okay to ask for help.
- Take a business class, listen to financial podcasts and or read financial articles. Recognize that financial literacy is a life-long learning process.
- Create a personal budget setting financial goals. For example, if you want to buy a house someday and need money for a downpayment, a budget will help you identify what you can save and how long it will take you to reach your down payment goal.
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?
Steven MacDonald and Thomas Cardy provided new perspectives and gave me a depth of knowledge based on their respective backgrounds. I am grateful for the myMatrixx journey with the two of them.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Decisions today affect outcomes tomorrow — everyone makes choices.
We all make our own choices in life, and one’s “success” is a product of making those choices that are best aligned with their core priorities. We are all given the power of choice and what we choose molds us as individuals. I realized at an early age that every action or decision made had a rippling impact in the future. I have always been a planner that likes to look ahead and break down a goal into the many steps needed for attainment. Therefore, I methodically move forward with this focus and determination making decisions relevant to circumstances and priorities, changing the course of action based on relevance. I credit my own success (career, family life, health and fitness) over the years to this mindset.
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. 🙂
Annual financial wellness checkup — no different than a preventative annual healthcare wellness visit. This check-up focuses on financial health metrics, including education and benchmarking to improve scores.