The most important thing I learned is that money buys you choices.

Mary%20Sterk Mary%20Sterk

Mary Sterk

President and CEO, Sterk Financial Services

For Mary Sterk, the sky is not the limit. She has gone from being a divorced teen mom on food stamps to the leader of her own 13-year-old firm. A private pilot, she flies to visit the practices she has acquired in other states.

The top female producer for her broker-dealer for the past 15 years, she has also had a separate coaching practice for financial advisers since 2011, recently joining with Clarity 2 Prosperity.

As a young adult, Ms. Sterk decided that she would make an effort to deeply understand "how money works" and how to afford the things she wanted. She attended college, found a job in the industry and eventually became a certified financial planner.

"The most important thing I learned is that money buys you choices," she said.

Ms. Sterk has thrived in the profession and in turn has worked to mentor other female advisers, most recently serving on the board of Advisor Group's Women Forward initiative. Closer to home, she is very proud of her own high-performance all-female team.

Although Ms. Sterk did not set out to recruit only women staffers, she appreciates their effect on the practice, enabling it to be more "plan-ful" than transaction-oriented and more aligned with who they are as people.

—Deborah Nason


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