“We need all high school students to take a course in basic financial principles”, with Jason Hartman & Jennifer Wironen Aube

I would require that all high school students take a course in basic financial principles. Too many leave high school and college and launch into successful careers without any financial knowledge. This sets them up for a potentially bad start in life that is hard to get out of. It would beneficial to launch into […]

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I would require that all high school students take a course in basic financial principles. Too many leave high school and college and launch into successful careers without any financial knowledge. This sets them up for a potentially bad start in life that is hard to get out of. It would beneficial to launch into a career with a basic understanding of money and financial principles.

As a part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Wironen Aube. As a Financial Advisor, Jennifer works with individuals and families throughout their lifetimes to ensure that they reach their current and future financial goals. She listens closely to her clients to identify and understand their needs and values. Jennifer then constructs financial strategies tailored to their circumstances. Once implemented, she maintains regular contact with her clients to inform them of any developments and address any needs or changes in their situations. In order to provide a comprehensive service, she regularly collaborates with a team of CPAs, attorneys, and other professionals, always keeping client information confidential. Throughout the entire process, Jennifer and her team are committed to providing client service guided by compassion, honesty, and integrity. Jennifer is enthusiastic about serving as the cornerstone of individuals’ and families’ financial lives. She believes that seeing clients achieve their financial goals and remain on track throughout their lifetimes — especially when they face life’s various curveballs — is truly remarkable. Though she serves a wide variety of clients, including multigenerational families and business owners, Jennifer specializes in helping those who have individuals with disabilities in their families. Jennifer also has the incredible opportunity to serve as a in a variety of leadership positions to help train new Edward Jones financial advisors. Outside of her role with Edward Jones, Jennifer is active in her local community. She has served on the board of directors of the House of Peace and Education in Gardner, MA, and as a coach for Girls on the Run in Westminster, MA. She also enjoys cooking, reading, self-development and exercising. Jennifer resides in central Massachusetts with her four children, Ava, Natalie, Caroline and William.

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

I came out of the field of special education. I owned a consulting business called “Mustard Seed Assistive Technology.” Through this business, I consulted with school districts to complete evaluations, train and recommend technology to children with disabilities to allow them to access the curriculum.

A number of things led me to explore a new career. I knew I wanted to continue to help people reach their goals and work one on one with individuals. My father was a financial advisor and I could see that he was helping people achieve their long-term goals and through doing so was able to forge deep and meaningful relationships with the clients. I decided to change careers for this reason.

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?

Not amusing, but impactful story… I had a client who has recently retired. She and her husband dreamed of owning a home on the water. It was affordable with both of their pensions and social security benefits. They had enough assets to live comfortably throughout their lifetime. Shortly after retirement, they purchased their dream home. I advised them at the time that it would be wise to purchase life insurance with a long-term care rider to protect them so that in the event one of them passed and they lost one income stream, they could remain in their new dream home.

This was one of the first policies I sold as a financial advisor.

One month after the policy was put in force, I received a called from my client letting me know that her husband had suddenly passed. It was an immensely sad situation as we worked with our client through her grief and the processing of her husband’s estate. But the silver lining was that she could remain in her waterfront home, with their dog, because they had purchased a life insurance policy that would help her replace the income that her husband was now unable to provide. She still lives in that home today, and considers the time she spent there and the opportunity to remain there a blessing. From that day on, I make sure I evaluate all of my client’s financial needs including life insurance needs, long-term care, and refer them for estate planning and tax needs when appropriate.

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

Outside of my financial practice, I am working on a blog / social media page called “mess to success.” My aim is to help women in a 360-degree way so that they can become the person they were created to be and achieve wellness in all areas of life. I have learned throughout my life that messes and mistakes happen. It is what we do with them that counts. I truly believe that things happen for us, not to us. It is my goal to hold space for women to find their power, and courageously climb out of their mess to become a sizzling success.

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

My firm and my branch particularly stand out because we care about our clients. I engage in lifetime planning with my clients. I want to know who their friends are, what they enjoy doing, what they want to spend their money on, who their children and grandchildren are, what their dog’s name is, etc. I want my client’s to also view me as a friend. It is my goal that above all else, that the client is cared for and they receive individualized service within the context of their goals and lifestyle.

Just this week, I found out that I had a client who had over the weekend been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I had recently partnered with another financial advisor in my office to handle her and her husband’s account because I had a capacity issue within my own business that was not allowing me to service her needs fully. The advisor in my office kept me informed of the situation, he went to her home to deliver paperwork and discuss what needed to be complete to address the change in her situation. Upon finding out about the diagnosis, I went with the other advisor to see the client. Together, we were able to provide service to the client that met her needs, in her home, by her hospice bedside. We were also able to say goodbye, exchange hugs, memories, and meet some of her friends who were also by the bedside. My client, who had become my friend was thankful for the visit and the service we were able to provide. We however, were blessed even more, to have known her, to be able to know her on a personal level and ensure that after she is gone, her desires are met and nothing will fall through the cracks. This is the difference. This is why we stand out. I am in the relationship business.

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?

People no longer desire transactional business. Like any business, financial services is a people business. And many women are good with people and relationship management.

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?

A) individuals: keep your eyes open; the next leader might be standing beside you. Be aware of micro inequities. Do not make assumptions about a woman’s capacity; she may surprise you. For individual women in business, raise your hand. It’s ok to be the squeaky wheel. Nobody is going to read your mind. If you want a promotion or a senior position, speak up! Let someone know you are interested, then put your head down, and show the what you can do!

B.) companies: companies should also have an impartial approach and ensure the same opportunities are being given to women as men.

C) society: society has come a long way at empowering women. Women are now encouraged to speak their truth, and to stand in the gap for those that need support. We should all be willing to hold space for one another. To provide a safe place for women to explore their dreams and goals. We can provide accountability and coaching for each other to identify the things needed to be done to reach the next goal and provide accountability on those activities. Lastly, to be a sounding board for each other. I believe that we are headed in a good direction and we will see more women in senior roles as we continue down this path.

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?

1. I would require that all high school students take a course in basic financial principles. Too many leave high school and college and launch into successful careers without any financial knowledge. This sets them up for a potentially bad start in life that is hard to get out of. It would beneficial to launch into a career with a basic understanding of money and financial principles.

2. Everyone would have a financial advisor. Investing and money are very emotional. Having a financial advisor provides you someone who will care for your overall and financial wellbeing, while being able to take the objective step back and provide sound advice without the emotional ties.

3. In addition to an advisor, everyone would have a team surrounding them to help them make sound financial and related choices throughout the lifetime. The team would include the financial advisor, estate planning attorney, closing attorney, property and casualty insurance agent, mortgage lender, and tax professional, The professionals would work in sync for the benefit of the client throughout their lifetime to protect their financial interests, providing education and and assesses and mitigating their risks.

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.

1. Have an emergency fund. Many people get a job, are offered a 401k, or similar retirement plan and they begin stashing money away in there, without really understanding the plan. They think of this money as “if I need it or retirement money.” The remainder of the paycheck is often spent. Then, as it inevitably will do, life throws a curveball. In this case, there is no emergency fund on hand, so they dip into the 401k, which often incurs penalties, taxes, or both. I recommend everyone have an emergency fund with 3–6 months of living expenses.

2. Understand interest rates. Some debt is good. Some debt is bad. Know the difference. Know when to borrow, when to use cashflow to fund a purchase. Know when to leave your money invested and when to take it out. I have seen far too many people pull 200k or more out of an IRA pre-retirement because they feel as if they have to pay off their mortgage before retirement. But, they are unaware of the consequences of pulling out large sums of money, missing out on growth by staying invested, and the tax benefits they lose by pulling the money out of the retirement account.

3. Engage a financial advisor that you trust. With a financial advisor on your side who can advise you in your best interests, with your life situation and goals in mind, you will benefit greatly. Everyone’s situation is unique and it is critical to have one-on-one conversations with a Financial Advisor who understands your unique situation and designs tailored recommendations for you.

4. Learn about your retirement plan options at work and individually. Don’t contribute with your head in the sand. Is your retirement plan at work the right solutions for you to save for your retirement or is an IRA or ROTH the right thing? You should education yourself on the plan that your employer offers, the investment options, and if it has a match or profit sharing. Discuss with the advisor on the plan or your own financial advisor and ensure you are in the right vehicle for your needs.

5. Consider Life Insurance. You may need life insurance to cover your mortgage, provide for income in the event of your death, etc. See a financial advisor for a risk assessment to determine the amount of coverage you need and to learn about the different types of life insurance and which may be the right one for you and your situation.

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?

Sometimes it takes someone to look up and notice you. When I began my career in finance I felt like a shadow of myself, having gone through a divorce, and struggling financially afterwards. I felt like an imposter in a nice suit. I doubted my abilities as an advisor, and additionally, as a mentor and mom. One day, my phone rang, and another advisor offered me a leadership position in my region. I could not wrap my head around why he would ask me or how he really even knew my name or enough about me to trust that I could get the job done. I accepted the position hesitantly but decided that I would use this opportunity to show what I could do. From there on, my confidence increased, I raised my hand for more opportunities and I believe that day, that man, named Mark set forth the trajectory of my career.

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

“STAY IN YOUR LANE”. This quote was huge for me. In business, relationships, and life in general.

I was having a hard time keeping my eyes on my own paper. If I put something out on social media I was self conscious about the feedback I received. If someone asked why I was posting or “does she think she’s famous?” I would let it eat away at me to the core and would go on hiatus from putting myself out there. I was constantly looking around at what others were doing and would try to replicate it, unsuccessfully. One day, I heard the now ever so popular saying “stay in your lane”. It resonated. I realized the only race I am in is my own. There is no body in the other lane! The only person I have to be better than is the version of who I was yesterday. I live by this now. Things I implement in business and in life are to get me to become the best Financial Advisor, wife, mom ever. Not to please someone else or to come off as the “yes woman”. I have a better ability to say “no” and focus on the activities that will move me in the direction I want to head in. Naysayers, colleagues’ opinions, input of friends and family, doesn’t matter. It may be considered, but the decision is ultimately mine.

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. 🙂

I currently have a Facebook page called “Mess to Success”. Mess to Success is in its infancy, but the mission of it is to be a support to women. To help them sift through the noise, the mess, and focus in on their true purpose of life, and then identity the action steps they need to take in order to achieve that dream. It is my belief that we are all born with strengths that were placed inside us for a purpose. It is up to us to identify what that purpose is and go after it.

Pressing into the dream and taking the leap of faith isn’t always easy. It may be expensive, scary, or seem daunting, perhaps all of that at once. You cannot expect a cheering crowd as you step out and do something new. You have to dig in and trust that your desires are there because for a reason and you are intentionally moving toward them to be who you were created to be. Going after your dreams is frightening, but when you press into your dreams and realize who you were created to be, despite the ups and downs that you will inevitably have, you will be able to get yourself out of bed every day and do the hard work because it fits you. My goal would be to inspire a movement, and empower women to do just that.

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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