Vice president and director of financial planning,
Longview Financial Advisors
- Most family vacations planned around husband's 100-mile runs.
- Avid Chicago Cubs fan since childhood.
- Guilty pleasure is deep-dish pizza.
Jessica Smith considers herself lucky. Her first bit of professional luck was accepting an internship at a small planning firm in 2005 after majoring in financial planning at the University of Alabama. "About a week into it, the firm's full-time planner left, so I was hired as a permanent para-planner," she said.
The firm merged with Longview Financial Advisors in 2010, and today Ms. Smith is vice president and lead planner of the combined firm, which manages $158 million. She is on her way to becoming its president, a move she expects will occur in 12 to 18 months.
"To prepare me for running the company, Jeff Cedarholm, who ran a multinational business before founding Longview, had me start working with a business coach in 2012," Ms. Smith said. "He believes strongly in education and training because he says he had to learn about management the hard way when he took over his ailing father's company at the age of 25."
In 2015, Ms. Smith led a decision to make philanthropy a focus of the firm.
"Among our clients, 70% to 80% want to give back, but we had never targeted them that way," she said. "Now we focus on attracting clients who are philanthropic regardless of their asset level."
Ms. Smith is philanthropically active herself, serving in several capacities on a local community foundation. She also serves as an advisor to a large non-profit tech incubator and is on the board of a scholarship-granting group.
She also will chair the 2019 conference of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.
"I'm lucky to have been given so many opportunities," she said.
— Evan Cooper