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SOME FINANCIAL PLANNERS GET TO KNOW YOUR MONEY. WE GET TO KNOW YOU. After all, you’re the one with goals and dreams—not your money. We believe everything starts with getting to know you. It’s how we’re able to best advise you toward achieving those goals and dreams. Getting to know you now helps us plan for what you want your money to do next.

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How women can increase their financial well-being and avoid the headache


By Katie Annarino



SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION relieve stress and save time?’ And you need to really listen to them,” says Peggy Ruhlin, chair of the Board of Directors and a certified financial planner at Budros, Ruhlin & Roe. If you are considering a financial planner but feel overwhelmed because you have no idea where to start, simply ask around. “Women are amazing networkers,” says Courtney Walls, a financial planner at Bluestone Wealth Partners and a registered representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. “We love to help one another. I am confident that if you ask your female friends, family or colleagues about their personal financial planning, you will be flooded with suggestions. See who they’re working with, find out why and shop around.” Once you have asked friends and family for referrals and have a few names, do some independent research. “Make sure that you find someone who is a certified financial planner. Make sure their designations are in order,” says Samantha Macchia, a certified financial planner at Summit Financial Strategies, Inc. She suggests searching prospective planners using BrokerCheck, a tool offered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. “If [the planner

has] any actions that have to be disclosed, you will find it there, as well as education and work history.” Finally, before you schedule a meeting with a potential advisor, take some time to think through your goals and desires for your financial journey. “A client needs to be able to express to us what their long-term goals are at the starting point, and then be very clear about their expectations of what lifestyle they want to live through retirement,” says Macchia. In addition to identifying and listing your short-term and long-term financial goals, write out your questions and concerns. There is no better way to truly get to know a financial planner than by being clear and concise about your expectations—and hesitations—upfront. Additionally, you will want to ask how they are compensated. Fee-based? Flat rate? One isn’t necessarily better than the other, says Macchia, but it’s important you understand the difference. “Fee-only financial planners typically charge an hourly rate, a retainer (flat fee), or a percentage of the accounts under management—usually 1 percent or lower,” Macchia explains. “The important part is that the client


During the 21st century, women have experienced more financial growth than ever before. In 2018, the Credit Suisse Research Institute’s Global Wealth Report showed that women control 40 percent of global wealth— and that percentage is predicted to grow. Although this figure is promising, women still face formidable obstacles. Women tend to take more time out of the workforce to manage family life, which means years of lost income, and they often face a wage gap after they return to the workforce. Additionally, women live longer than men, which makes saving adequately for retirement more difficult. As women embrace more financial independence while simultaneously facing stalling external forces, financial planning advice is critical. Now more than ever, women are balancing more responsibilities. Whether it is making strides in their chosen career, raising children, navigating a death or divorce, caring for aging parents or all of the above, women often sit down to meet with a financial planner because they are overwhelmed. Therefore, an effective financial planner’s primary goal is to establish trust and ease the heavy burden of pressure to “do it all.” “Women want to know, ‘How can this make my life better today? How can this



THE FACES OF WEALTH MANAGEMENT Shortcuts don’t lead to the best financial planning, and that’s why Chornyak & Associates doesn’t use them. Developed over 40 years, Chornyak uses proprietary processes and systems to research, analyze, select and monitor recommended investments. With a thorough understanding of each client’s financial picture, Chornyak builds comprehensive planning strategies to help achieve their dreams. It takes more time to ask lots of questions, gather detailed information and act as a true partner, but Chornyak believes that’s the best way to be sure every financial decision supports their clients’ goals and desires with broad diversification and proper investment allocation. This disciplined approach is based on one simple belief: investors rarely reap above-average returns by taking unnecessary risks. Chornyak manages over $1 Billion in assets for over 1,000 individuals and businesses nationwide.The Columbus firm grew its business through referrals from satisfied clients who recommended its customized, comprehensive financial planning to friends and colleagues.

CHORNYAK & ASSOCIATES 716 Mt. Airyshire Blvd., Suite 200 • Columbus, OH 43235 (614) 888-2121 • Robert A. Mauk, CFP® • Joseph A. Chornyak, Sr., CFP® - Managing Partner • Joseph A. Chornyak, Jr., CFP®


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understands the method that is being used and that they receive a statement of the fees charged at least quarterly, so they can make a value judgment if the service they are provided is worth what they are paying.” Be sure to leave with a very clear understanding of how they are getting paid. If they seem annoyed or uncomfortable, then walk. It is vitally important to be OK with admitting you are not OK. Women often feel pressure to be polite, even in situations that don’t quite feel right. If you sit down with an advisor and you feel they are condescending, using terminology that you don’t understand, or offering to just “do it for you,” you can—and should!—walk away. The best thing you can do for your financial future is listen to your gut. “You want someone who is a good fit for you personally, so if the first person or team doesn’t give you the ‘warm fuzzies,’ remember it’s okay to keep looking,” says Walls. Like any relationship, whether professional or personal, it is important that you feel there is open, respectful communication. Once you select a planner, ask yourself: Do I feel comfortable with this person? Are they listening wholeheartedly to my concerns? Do I feel intimidated or empowered after our interactions? Do I feel like I am part of the process or an afterthought? Furthermore, when hiring a financial planner, consider whether or not there is chemistry. Remember, this person will be handling your money; having a natural chemistry will make each interaction comfortable and will go a long way toward being on the same page and achieving your goals. So how do you know when it isn’t working? “Healthy relationships mean open dialogue, periodic check-ins and support,” says Walls. “If you feel your concerns are not being heard and addressed, that should be a big red flag.” A financial planner’s mission should be to empower you with the knowledge you need to feel you are charting the course with them. It’s your money, so don’t settle for second fiddle. For an advisor to be effective with female clients who are newer to the financial planning scene, they need to have the patience to do more education on the front end. “Once women are educated on how stocks and bonds work and how you put together a portfolio, they can understand the risk and reward trade-off,” says Ruhlin. Initially, women tend to be more riskaverse than men; however, once they gain an understanding of that risk/reward balance, women actually outperform men. This is

borne out in a number of studies, including one out of the University of California called “Boys will be Boys: Gender, Overconfidence, and Common Stock Investment.” That study also revealed that men trade 45 percent more frequently than women. “The main reason why is that women do not rush to judgement or make rash decisions if something happens, and they don’t trade as much,” says Ruhlin. As to why this is a problem, she adds, “The cost of trading can eat up your profits. ” Although women tend to make fewer rash decisions, there are some exceptions. For example, women facing a major life transition, such as divorce or death of a spouse, have to navigate their financial situation— sometimes for the first time—in a very vulnerable state. In a state of grief, they tend to rush to make big decisions, which is where a good financial planner will intervene. “Some of the challenges, especially for widows, is if they let their spouse take care of all of that,” says Macchia. “Right after a divorce or losing a spouse—that is the worst time to make any big decisions. It’s too emotional, so we always say up front: no big decisions for 12 months.” It is normal to feel pressure to make big decisions, but a significant red flag for women is an advisor who is trying to push major decisions or offering to just take over for them during a period of life transition. A planner with your best interest in mind is going to help you resist the urge to “figure it all out” immediately and give you time to adjust to your new normal. “You kind of have to get some months of living under your belt, and then come up with a plan,” says Wendy Trout, a certified financial planner at Summit Financial Strategies. “We always say, ‘Slow down; there isn’t anything that needs to be done right now. Take your time and work through some of those emotions and just get used to managing the daily money.’ ” No matter what your financial goals are or how much knowledge you bring to the table, a good advisor will seek to gain your trust through diligent listening and empower you through patient coaching. “The key message I want our female clients to take away is not to be intimidated by financial planning,” says Walls. “We love to coach and want clients to gain confidence in their personal planning.” A healthy relationship with a financial planner should leave you feeling more knowledgeable and empowered as you work together on the goals that will ensure a more financially lucrative future.

Profile for The Columbus Dispatch

Special Section: Finding the Right Financial Planner  

How women can increase their financial well-being and avoid the headache

Special Section: Finding the Right Financial Planner  

How women can increase their financial well-being and avoid the headache