Determine what your priorities are and be careful. If having your lattes in the morning are important to you, you can still have them, just know that they are part of your financial planning.
As a part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Charlotte Cowan Geletka, CRPC. Charlotte is the managing partner at Silver Penny Financial Planning and a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor ®. As an experienced Investment advisor Charlotte’s more of a financial coach than anything else, committed to helping her clients get to a point where they can stop worrying about their financial future. She works hard with them to simplify their financial lives, get their financial houses in order, and create a clear path to their retirement goals — whether retirement is right around the corner or in the distant the future. Charlotte graduated Summa Cum Laude from North Carolina State University. She is active on the local area committee for Young Life Atlanta Project. Charlotte gives financial literacy education talks for youth through the Kenrod Organization and local schools. She is passionate about serving her local community and financially empowering females. She was awarded the 2018 Circle of Excellence award by Women in Financial Services. She is proud to be a member of the Investment News Women Adviser Summit’s 2019 advisory board. She is a 2018 Atlanta Five Star Wealth Manager and recipient of the 2017 Lincoln Southeast Advisor of Now award. Charlotte also serves on the ABS Advisory Council at Lincoln Financial Advisors. She holds the following licenses and professional designations: Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor from the College of Financial Planning, Investment Advisor Representative (series 65 Uniform Investment Advisor Law Exam), Series 7 Securities Representative Exam. Uniform Securities Agent (Series 63), Life, Health, and Annuity Insurance Agent.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Banking/Finance field?
I was probably the only kid, and only girl, I knew growing up who wanted to open a money market account. From a young age, my parents talked to me about money and so growing up, money wasn’t a taboo conversation or something to fear. My mother created a chore/rewards system and if I wanted to go to blockbusters to rent a video (yes there was a time when you had to go to a store to rent a movie), then I had to complete enough chores to earn the reward. This was my first economic market exposure.
Because money concepts were taught to me at a young age I’ve always been comfortable talking about money. After my first job as a cog in the wheel of a corporate behemoth, I realized that I wanted a career in the finance industry in order to have a direct impact on the financial lives of others.
My father was in the industry as well and I grew up watching him make a difference in the lives of his clients. He encouraged me to interview with a few firms to get a sense of what was available and where I could see myself. I began working with college professors in Raleigh North Carolina where I found myself trying to blend in. Early on, I wore grey Brooks Brothers suits like the other men I competed against. However, I quickly came to realize that blending in was not going to help further my career or help my clients. I made the conscious decision to embrace the fact that I stood out as a young female. I no longer hide my femininity as I grew more confident. At industry events you will find me, dressed in pink among a sea of black suits. I feel more myself and more confident than ever. My clients notice and appreciate that.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occured to you in your career so far?
One of the most interesting things that has happened in my career thus far was when I was asked to speak at a client’s funeral. I was originally shocked when asked. I did not realize the impact that I had on this person’s life.
This client truly believed that a person should be evaluated based on their ability to do a job and not what they look like or if they were male or female. As a 70 plus male professional in the south our relationship was atypical. He was willing to take a chance on me when he retired and we both experienced a rewarding professional relationship. Plus, he told me I was the only financial advisor who would approve of his travel budget. He understood that I saw beyond the numbers and into the return on life.
Being asked to give remarks at his funeral was a pivotal moment in my career, it was a huge confirmation of calling. I love what I do, and that experience was proof of why I do it. Life impact.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes, I’m currently working to spread the message for women to become more financially empowered. There’s a confidence gap that people aren’t talking about. I want to debunk the stereotypes that being good at money is something that is exclusive, hard, or scary.
In addition, I’m working on creating a children’s book for financial literacy. Through my work with financial literacy, I have seen that it is critical to educate children at an early age. If you give them an interest and comfort level talking about money it increases their appetite to learn more.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our company focuses on changing the narrative. We emphasize goals-based planning and behavioral finance. We are unlike other firms in that we are not dependent on day-to-day market moves. Instead, we work with our clients to educate them on the market and investing as well as to develop sound financial plans that are focused on their life goals. This way they are not alarmed when day-to-day ups and downs occur.
We aren’t focused on immediate returns or the largest numbers. Instead, we focus on what we call ‘Return on Life.’ We want to know what goals matter most to our clients, whether that means to take a trip they never thought they could or celebrate a milestone birthday in style. Those are the goals that matter.
Wall Street and Finance used to be an “all white boys club”. This has changed a lot recently. In your opinion, what caused this change?
I think it’s a combination of a few things. First being the resurgence of the women’s empowerment movement. In addition, I think the finance industry has realized that women now control 51% of the wealth in this country and it’s something that can’t be ignored. These two things have coincided, and a welcome change is occurring.
Of course, despite the progress, we still have a lot more work to do to achieve parity. According to this report in CNBC, less than 17 percent of senior positions in investment banks are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and /or c) society to support this movement going forward?
1.) I think the mindset needs to change that we as women aren’t good at money and that starts at a micro level. In addition, I believe the responsibility falls on the 17% of women in senior positions. My female colleagues and I need to be a proud voice encouraging involvement from other women. This is not a zero-sum game, collectively we need to advance the financial confidence of women.
2.) Companies need to invest in programs that further the education and promote growth among women who aspire to work in the industry.
3.) I believe that society is doing a good job to encourage the narrative. As long as stories like that of Stacey Cunningham, the first female president of the New York Stock Exchange, are being told, others will be encouraged to follow behind.
You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive things one should do to become more financially literate, what would you say? Can you please give a story or example for each.
1.) Compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world so get started as soon as possible
2.) Knowing what you have is critical to knowing where you’re going.
3.) Sometimes with investing, time is your best investment. Market timing is not a game you can win, but if you put time in the market you will reap rewards.
4.) Sometimes the best investment you can make is in asking for advice. Getting started with an advisor may not seem to make the most sense when you’re just starting out and you have debt, but a good advisor can set you on a course to tackle financial hurdles and plan for the future.
5.) Determine what your priorities are and be careful. If having your lattes in the morning are important to you, you can still have them, just know that they are part of your financial planning.
6.) Pay yourself first by automating your savings and investing.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My father was a huge influence on my life and career where I am today. I was raised with the belief that I could be a good investor and good at money. He introduced me into the business and he has encouraged me along the way. He had an unwavering belief in me that has fueled me in my career and in my life as a whole.
In addition, my very first client had an immense impact on my career and the trajectory of it. He told me, “I chose you because of your passion.” This one phrase has meant a lot to me in my career providing financial advice. It instilled in me the notion that what people look for in an advisor is more than your credentials, where you came from, your gender, etc., but rather, people want to know that you care about their money and goals just as much as they do.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Be comfortable being uncomfortable”
This saying has come up many times throughout my career. There are a lot of things in life that are uncomfortable. Being an investor, being a female in a male dominated industry, being a female professional in the south, being a working mother, being a leader and making hard decisions, and navigating real growth is uncomfortable. I realized that if I wanted to succeed at any of these things, I had to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Something I care deeply about is increasing financial confidence of women and empowering them to be confident investors.
If I could inspire a movement to close the investing confidence gap among women and money it would greatly impact women of all ages and level the playing field.
Thank you for all of these great insights!
About The Author:
Tyler Gallagher is the CEO and Founder of Regal Assets, a “Bitcoin IRA” company. Regal Assets is an international alternative assets firm with offices in the United States, Canada, London and Dubai focused on helping private and institutional wealth procure alternative assets for their investment portfolios. Regal Assets is an Inc. 500 company and has been featured in many publications such as Forbes, Bloomberg, Market Watch and Reuters. With offices in multiple countries, Regal Assets is uniquely positioned as an international leader in the alternative assets industry and was awarded the first ever crypto-commodities license by the DMCC in late 2017. Regal Assets is currently the only firm in the world that holds a license to legally buy and sell cryptos within the Middle East and works closely with the DMCC to help evolve and grow the understanding and application of blockchain technology. In addition to his role with Regal Assets, Tyler is a regular contributor to Forbes, Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global and Authority Magazine. Tyler has also been featured in many news publications and has been a guest expert on “The News with Ed Shultz”. Tyler is a proud member of the Forbes Finance Council a private invite only-group of hand-selected industry leaders.