Being a successful financial adviser requires a good understanding of people. After I became a personal financial specialist (PFS), I noticed that although people would ask for advice about finances, often they wouldn’t change how they managed their money. I was curious to know why. A friend introduced me to the Enneagram, a system of understanding personalities. Through this system, I realized that to be a good prosperity planner I had to help clients get out of the way of their old financial belief system to free themselves for success.
Everyone in my firm is schooled in using the Enneagram to advise clients, who are asked to determine their Enneagram personality type. With this understanding, we are able to rethink how they can reach their financial goals, perhaps by incorporating methods they had not previously considered. Working in this manner is deeply personal and intimate, because you talk with people about their fears and help them overcome them. Some clients are open fully to the Enneagram, and some just scratch the surface. No matter their choice, we meet clients at their comfort level and help them expand their paradigm of prosperity.
I decided to share my insights about life, money and prosperity in a book, The Intersection of Joy and Money, which won a 2003 Independent Publisher Book Awards honor. People still write me about how the book has changed their lives.
Having the freedom to work a nontraditional schedule has always been important to me. Unfortunately, after I earned my CPA and began to interview for positions, nobody wanted to hire me under the condition that I have a flexible work schedule! So, I started my own firm. Since I was working alone, it made sense to go to each client’s work site, where I gained a better understanding of their business.
I didn’t realize it then, but that was actually the start of my firm’s Shared CFO service, which provides part-time CFOs to small companies. Today, my firm has two main business components: the wealth- and asset-management piece (which includes financial planning) and the small business piece (which includes Shared CFO services). Our aim is to be a wealth manager for small business.
I am active in conservation issues in my county, as well as in the green movement. My firm buys offset credits every year for our electricity usage, and of course we recycle. We also offer socially screened portfolios. Not all of the investments are in green technology, but all of the companies we invest in have a green-screen applied, using information from organizations such as the Social Investment Forum as a guide.
The green movement is also part of my home life. My husband, Barry Schlimme, and I own and operate a 21- acre organic farm, which has lessened our dependence on traditional energy, water and food sources: We have geothermal heat and air conditioning; we collect and filter water from rain and snow and use it in cooking and bathing; and we raise organic vegetables. Our dream is to open the farm to the community to bring people back to eating organically grown local food and to teach sustainability as a model for living.
My interest in nature goes hand-in-hand with one of my leisure-time activities—fly-fishing. I’m actually pretty good at it! My other great leisure-time interest is dancing, both swing and contra dancing, also called English country dancing or American folk dancing. It’s dancing as a couple up and down a line and is enjoyed all over the world.
The contra dance community used to be exclusively baby boomers, but lately, I’ve noticed many younger people have joined in. I find that very refreshing, because they bring a new vitality and spirit to the group. That’s what I would like to see in our profession, too—more young people who bring new ideas and energy. Accounting is such a great profession! My hope is that more young people will see that they can make a difference as a CPA. I think that’s what young people want—to make a difference. With an accounting degree they can get their business-success ticket punched and have a great impact.
—As told to Linda Segall