Does this advisor offer more than just investment management? There is more to financial well-being than just what stocks and bonds you buy. If you are needing full planning, is this advisor going to look at the overall picture such as healthcare, taxes, and estate planning?
As part of our series about what one should look for when hiring a financial planner or adviser, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lauren Estes. Lauren is a financial planner and artist in Memphis, Tennessee. She owns Allegiant Financial Planning, LLC and focuses on working with creatives to help them grow their businesses or leave their day jobs to pursue their dream jobs as well as how to have benefits and retirement plans.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Lauren! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit more. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thank you for having me. I was working as a paralegal for a prominent Memphis firm when my grandfather began to show signs of confusion and my aunt found numerous charges on his credit card that he normally would not have made. I thought that if this could happen to my grandfather, it could happen to anyone and I wanted to work to help people protect what they worked for. Eleven years ago I started the Certified Financial Planner program and here we are.
Can you share a story about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting in the industry? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?
I did once work for a company for four days before I started my own practice. They were good people but the thought of driving 45 minutes and sitting in an office with no windows was unbearable. I wanted a much more vibrant and creative outlet. I felt bad and actually returned my paycheck! It wasn’t quite humorous at the time but it was the best mistake I ever made.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Allegiant was rebranded this year to focus on working with creatives — not just the classical idea of creatives like artists, musicians, and writers, but also teachers, store owners, bakers, and more. Financial planning is not just for those nearing retirement and how much money one may need in retirement. There is so much more involved and especially for the self-employed creative.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lesson that others can learn from that?
I was at a point where I was spending too much time worrying about my business and was feeling overwhelmed so I hired a business coach. She helped me narrow my focus and from there I have been able to continue to build the business I want. Even as someone who helps others with their businesses, I needed help and it was wonderful to find someone who I worked with very well.
What three pieces of advice would you give to your colleagues in the finance field to thrive and avoid burnout? Can you give a story or example?
Take a vacation. In this field we are often always “on call,” but sometimes you must stop and regroup. Read something besides the million industry-related emails, magazines, and handouts we get. Finally, be a part of a study group or have meaningful relationships with other advisors that can help you grow.
Ok. Thank you for all of that. Let’s now move to the core focus of our interview. As a “finance insider,” you know much more about the finance industry than most consumers. If your loved one wanted to hire a financial advisor (not you :-)), which 5 things would you advise them to find out about before committing? Can you give an example or story for each?
Absolutely. I often give prospective clients that are interviewing advisors these same things to look for because it is so important that clients find an advisor that is appropriate.
1. What is it that you do for a living? Does the advisor understand your field? Advisors cannot specialize in everything. I work with small business owners or people wanting to start a small business. For example, I don’t specialize in pension buyouts of teachers, but there are advisors who do.
2. In addition to fields of work, are there other areas that you would want to your advisor to relate to? This could focus on women, LBGQT, or other specific communities (such as artists!).
3. Does this advisor offer more than just investment management? There is more to financial well-being than just what stocks and bonds you buy. If you are needing full planning, is this advisor going to look at the overall picture such as healthcare, taxes, and estate planning?
4. How do you want to work with an advisor? In person or virtually? Today there are so many easy ways to work with people in other states. My business coach was in California and I’m in Tennessee and it was a great match. If you travel a lot or move can this advisor work with you virtually or do they only meet with people in their offices?
5. How does the advisor get paid? Do they sell products for a commission or charge a flat fee for planning? A percentage of what they manage? All three? As long as you know what you are paying and, more importantly, why you can make a more informed decision on who to work with.
I think most people think that financial advisors are for very wealthy people. This is likely not actually true. Can you explain who would most benefit from hiring a financial advisor and why? Can you give an example?
You are right, this is definitely not true. In fact, I don’t have “account minimums” or require that you invest with me. If someone needs help with budgeting to get their financial house in order and start that dream business, they should be able to use a financial planner. For someone already established, maybe the conversation is about saving for retirement or selling that business and retiring. Every client is different and has different goals and that’s where a planner can help navigate all the moving parts and identify each person’s needs.
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?
There are many. Too many to name one. I have had several great bosses along the way that helped me grow and weren’t upset when I moved to another law firm or planning firm. I have a wonderful group of colleagues and a mastermind group I can rely on. I am most grateful to my dad for always supporting my new ventures and ideas and my partner, Brian, for also being there when times were tough or business was slow to support my dreams.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I firmly believe that we need to bring more arts back into schools. It sounds so strange to me that this even has to be something that I would consider a movement. All of my schools were full of arts and programs that allowed for creativity. Standardized test scores are not developing our future leaders. Creative thinking is. Playing, painting, writing, singing, and performing are important to developing future leaders along with math, history, and science.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
For Instagram my financial planning practice is @planningforcreatives and my art business is @estesdesignsmem. You can also find me at allegiantfp.com and estesdesignsmem.com.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.