As we celebrate American Business Women’s Day, we’d like to showcase one of our advisors who recognized an enjoyment for numbers and saving early on in her childhood years. Today, we honor Laura Marzano, MBA, AIF®, as she shares with us her path that led her to creating her own business – driven by her passion for helping clients work toward financial success and helping them feel at H.O.M.E.
Growing up in central NJ, Laura’s interest in finance began at a very early age. “I have always loved working with numbers and fascinated with the idea of money making money by watching my bank account grow since I was 13 years old,” said Laura. “I always dreamed of running my own business.”
Laura learned what it was like to be resourceful after hearing about the impact the Great Depression had on her grandparents which had also influenced her mindset when it came to money. “I developed the concept of saving for future goals while living for today,” said Laura. “I figured as long as I planned out my savings and goals, I could accomplish what was most important to me.”
A Love For Numbers
After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics and Economics from Lafayette College, Laura followed her passion for being highly interactive with numbers and started her career in the banking industry as an investment banking analyst for a Capital Markets Group. “After five years in this position, I knew I had a passion for finance, but didn’t gain much self-satisfaction within this role as I needed to explore more of the industry,” said Laura.
During this time, Laura went back to school and received her Masters degree in Business Administration from Saint Joseph’s University with a focus in Finance. She discovered her calling in the very last class she took, Personal Financial Planning. “I fell in love with personal balance sheets and cash flow statements as well as case management,” said Laura. “As a result of my passions for acute attention to detail and analysis, as well as listening and empathizing with people, it became evident that becoming a Personal Financial Planner was the ideal fit for me.”
Paving the Path
While working as a graduate assistant in the business office, Laura ran the booth for the department at the career fair and noticed a very ironic neighbor next door – recruitment for Personal Financial Planners. She applied and accepted a position, but knew it would be an adjustment.
“It was quite the concept coming from a salaried bank position to a 100% commission-based position, but knew it was for me,” she said. “I was the only female in a room of at least 20 male advisors. I was intimidated and overwhelmed, yet I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.”
Laura proceeded to make a five-year goal chart that included working closer to home (for when children came into the picture for her and her husband Domenic) and creating her own business. Exactly five years later (to the week) she moved her office from Philadelphia to 25 minutes from home, had a one-year-old son and created H.O.M.E. Financial Advisors.
Based on her love for finance and helping others, Laura created her business based on the foundation of giving her clients a Highly Objective Meaningful Experience. “It’s the most important gift I can give my clients,” said Laura. “I want to listen, empathize, promote open spouse and family discussions, and discover essential values and goals specific to each client,” she said. “I want to provide genuine solutions and foster ongoing trust, respect and partnerships throughout their journeys.”
Laura’s process begins with developing a blueprint for each of her clients to help bridge the gap from where they are now to where they want to be by determining the best investment strategies to help them work towards their goals. “Managing these investments and overall strategies along with periodic follow up meetings are essential to the success of any plan. All plans require financial tune ups along the way to adjust for the changing times and life situations.” Laura said.
“We understand we may have to face undesirable circumstances that are out of our control and while we cannot control certain life outcomes, we can put ourselves in a position to best manage these situations,” said Laura. “As a financial coach, I educate and empower my clients into making important strategic financial decisions and assist them towards the path of financial success.”
There is one key word that is at the core of everything Laura does to help nurture her client relationships and that is understanding. Laura reflects back to a time that this concept made a significant impact on her.
“My parents started a Variable Universal Life Insurance policy for me when I was younger. I knew I paid ‘premiums’ and had a ‘portfolio of mutual funds’, but was lost behind there. After graduating college, I called customer service to fully understand the policy, yet I was confused and frustrated more than ever,” she said. “If I only had someone I trusted and that was knowledgeable to explain what everything meant and knew the right questions to ask.”
Laura continues. “This is exactly why I value doing this for my clients. I’ve been told many times how appreciative my clients are for how much they’ve learned from our conversations. It’s important to not only set up the most suitable financial plan, but it’s my obligation to have clients also understand where the gaps are and educate them on why we are choosing the path we are. Witnessing my clients succeed and gain confidence is what keeps me energized every day.”
A Trusted Partner
Laura notes that through working with her clients, finance tends to be the top stressor in a household. “Everyone reacts to stressors and situations differently. It’s my job to get to the core of the emotion and focus on the most achievable outcome,” said Laura.
“I had a client break down during a financial planning meeting because she never thought retirement would be possible,” she said. “After evaluating her current situation and creating a plan with goals, it became clear that retirement will be more than comfortable for her and her fear of ‘not making it’ was immediately eliminated. Helping relieve client stress with awareness, knowledge, and a plan brings much energy and light to my days.”
Some of the best compliments she’s ever received include her clients mentioning ‘you are like a daughter to me’ and ‘everyone needs a Laura in their lives’. “My clients know me best and have shared with the people they love and respect not only how I’ve been able to quantitatively help, but also the emotion of how they feel working with me,” said Laura. “They have introduced me to so many well-educated, respectable members of society holding top positions. I’ve learned that people from all walks of life, no matter how well-educated they are in any industry, need our help. We are valued and we are needed.”
Laura credits several tools and resources for helping her conduct her business. “Financial Resources Group has been instrumental in helping me run my business from marketing to business consulting and I’ve been so grateful for their assistance,” said Laura.
Additionally, Laura acknowledges several platforms from LPL that have been highly valuable including, Advisory World Proposal Tool, Client Reporting for portfolio reviews and Wealthvision/eMoney for comprehensive financial planning.
“I transitioned to Wealthvision/eMoney in 2014. It creates a total financial household awareness of resources, sense of completeness and clearly explains the gap to help solidify why the solution would put the client in a better situation,” said Laura. “Using alternative scenarios is great for conversation purposes.”
As Laura envisions what the future may hold for her in the coming years, she sees more organic growth through client introductions and potentially adding a junior advisor to help with some of the initial planning process and data gathering efforts.
Laura also adds, “While I absolutely love being a financial advisor, I also very much value maintaining a healthy work-life balance and look forward to watching my children grow and supporting them as they develop their own passions in life.”
Laura shares three children with Domenic (Domenic (9), Santino (6 ½ ) and Annalina (3 ½ )) and is an active member of her community. She enjoys traveling both nationally and internationally, where she has visited over 10 counties and counting. Additionally, she loves crocheting, party planning, yoga, swimming, running, and making homemade soaps.
In addition to running her own business, Laura also holds a book of business with Benchmark Credit Union under the DBA of Benchmark Retirement & Investment Services. For more information on Laura and H.O.M.E. Financial Advisors, please visit www.welcometohomefa.com We thank you Laura for allowing us to serve you!