I entered the industry at age 22 and was a principal in a successful registered investment adviser by age 27. And, I'm a woman. I felt I had something to prove everywhere I went.
I learned how to talk, write and dress “professionally.” I worked hard to conform to the old boys club that makes up so much of this industry. Then, two things happened:
• I realized I spent a lot of my time on tasks and conversations I didn't enjoy.
• I started paying attention to how my personality shifted between hanging out with friends and being in a professional setting.
So I left that RIA and launched my own firm, Belmore Financial, with the primary goal of being true to myself. That includes the way I present myself online.
(Read Liz Skinner's story "How far should you go to show off your personality online?")
Not only is Belmore's business model different (I don't manage any assets or sell financial products), I wanted to capitalize on all the things that make me stand out — and create a business and experience that I would want to work with as a client.
Because I have a limited attention span for sitting through monotonous, jargon-filled presentations, I committed to never giving a talk or presentation — or creating video for my website — that I wouldn't enjoy.
Money is an intimate and emotional topic. And intimacy is a two-way street. I like to get to know my clients and have them get to know me.
I realized the people I most want to work with are those I would also want to hang out with. Whether corporate clients, retirement plan participants or private clients, I knew the best way to attract those who would be the best fit is by being my true self. Which, it turns out, is a sarcastic, dorky, goofball who only gets dolled up when the occasion requires.
Kate Holmes is a certified financial planner and founder of Belmore Financial.