Equistar Wealth Management’s Jenny Fleming and Sara Seely share their advice for women.

By Elizabeth Ucles, Photo by Korey Howel

When Sara Seely joined Jenny Fleming at Equistar Wealth Management in 2013, the two knew they would be entrepreneurially compatible. With a similar passion for community connection, private wealth management and financial planning, the duo worked to make the firm Fleming began in 2008 the best and most honest resource for women.

Equistar Wealth Management handles investments wrapped around comprehensive financial planning, and unlike a brokerage firm, it builds client-focused financial plans for everything from retirement and education to divorce and budgeting.

Equistar Wealth Management, a fee-only firm, differentiates itself from investment managers who work on commission, Seely says. This provides clients with a greater feeling of trust, as Seely and Fleming support the best interests of their clients and empower those in their community, especially other women. With their own experiences watching women be talked at or down to in financial meetings, they want to make sure women are being heard.

“We pride ourselves on really listening to them,” Seely says. “What are they worried about? What do they want their money to do for them? [We explain] things to them in ways they can understand and make sure they can understand instead of throwing things at them. It’s not that women necessarily have different needs than men when it comes to planning and investing, but we saw a big difference in the way they were talked to and treated in other places…and wanted to make a place that’s comfortable where there’s a whole lot of trust.”

In order for women to rise past a complex history with the financial industry, Fleming and Seely have compiled six tips for women seeking a successful financial future.

  1. Start saving now. “Even if it starts young, it’s a good discipline. Save for yourself first. After you have 10 percent for yourself, then you can’t start saving for your kids and other goals,” Fleming says.
  2. Make a budget. When it comes to budgeting, Fleming and Seely push funding a budgeting routine that works for you. “If you’re not paying attention to where your money’s going, then there’s a lot of leaks,” Seely says. “And you’re not getting to make the decisions on what’s most important to you.”
  3. Invest. Along with investing long term, Fleming and Seely believe in setting up an emergency fund with enough money to cover six months of living expenses. “Be diversified. Don’t put all your money into a single company; invest in the whole market,” Seely says. “If you are starting out on your own, use a low-cost index account such as Vanguard.”
  4. It’s all about timing. Timing the market will only end up in a loss. Fleming and Seely say it’s almost impossible to be perfectly right twice. “Don’t stop saving when the market goes down,” Fleming says. “Not only are you missing out on the savings you would add, but you are missing out on buying when everything is on sale.”
  5. Protect your savings. Fleming and Seely want you to put your financial freedom first. Make sure you have a will and think about a prenuptial agreement or separate property agreements if they’re right for you.
  6. Know what you own. Lastly, Fleming and Seely believe in having well-rounded knowledge of your money. “Know that you own. Know what the risk is. Know what you expect the return to be,” Seely says. “Most importantly, know your fees are and don’t be afraid to ask.”

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