In honor of American Business Women’s Day, we’d like to celebrate the women advisors in our industry. One advisor in particular began her financial advising career over 20 years ago and discovered her niche through the help of some very special people. Specializing in helping women pursue their financial independence, NJ native Gina Lindsey has built a successful business based upon her personal life experiences and love for helping others. In this interview, Gina discusses her passion for assisting her clients live their best lives today while saving for the future, as well as her inspiration that has led to where she is today.
At what point in your life did you know you wanted to be a financial advisor?
I knew I wanted to be a financial advisor when I did an internship in college for Paine Webber with a successful advisor. I had minimal interaction with him, but worked closely with his assistant, Justine. Throughout the months we worked together, I realized that I liked what she was doing and thought it was interesting work. He would have occasional meetings in his office, but I could tell that Justine was the “go to” person for all of his clients. She had close relationships with them, she knew all the details of their financial plans and she kept track of everything that they needed. I knew that I was interested in pursuing something similar, but was also very aware of the fact that all of the window lined offices were filled with men and all of the hallway desks were filled with their female assistants (who were really running the show). I wanted to change that and become one of the financial advisors in the office, while maintaining the close relationships that she seemed to form with the clients.
When did you discover your passion for helping women become financially independent?
I would say the most impactful situations that made me really commit to working with women involved a few of my aunts at different times. They experienced life events which truly highlighted the power of financial competence. Because they were not comfortable or aware of their financial resources and what their money could do for them, these life experiences totally derailed them, causing them to feel insecure and anxious. It didn’t matter whether they lost a spouse, went on disability or decided to retire- they all had similar challenges. I was able to was able to sit and spend a lot of time with them, helping them work it all out and give them options to consider. I felt like I really helped them significantly, but I kept wondering, what would happen to them if I wasn’t here? What would their situation be like? At that point, I started thinking about some of my clients where the woman totally deferred to their partner in almost all financial decisions. I saw people stuck in bad relationships because of financial reasons, whether they didn’t think they had enough saved on their own or because their spouse had the 401k. In some cases, they were just not financially stable or confident enough to leave a bad relationship. I just didn’t want anybody to have to deal with those things if it could be prevented with some financial knowledge and guidance. Watching women I care about struggle unnecessarily made me made commit to helping them on the front end, so they are better equipped to handle anything life throws at them.
How would you describe your approach to financial planning?
This has changed over the years, but my current approach is helping women live their best lives today while working toward financial security for tomorrow. I’m focused on helping them figure out their lifestyle priorities and how they impact their financial decisions. Earlier in my career, it was really about budgeting and saving as much as you can. I think those things are really important, but I’ve noticed a shift as more of my clients are focused on retirement. I want to make sure that we can plan for an ideal retirement without sacrificing too much in the present.
What is your number one priority when it comes to client relationships?
I would say my number one priority is that the people I’m working with are taking an active role in the planning and in what we’re doing. I’ve had so many people over the years tell me, “Just do whatever you think, I trust you”, and as much as that’s nice to know that I’m trusted, I feel like that’s not my objective. My objective is to give them the confidence and the knowledge to know why we are making certain financial decisions and how it impacts their plan. They should be able to pretty clearly explain why they have these different products and investments without me here, so it’s important for me to have people actively involved.
What resources helped you the most in conducting your business?
The resources that help me the most are some of the advisor groups that I’m in. We share different experiences, learn what other people are doing and have a forum to throw out questions to get other people’s responses. I’ve been really proactive about joining a bunch of different groups and feel that it has been really, really valuable. Also, the technology that has come about in the last two years. ScheduleOnce is huge and saves me so much time and is so easy to use, as is Zoom for meetings. These things have made life a lot easier.
What would you consider your greatest client success story?
This is hard to say, I feel like anytime one of my clients get to the point that they pull a trigger and retire or buy the house or buy the second property based on the plan that we’ve put together, is a huge success for both of us. I would say personally, if I was looking back, one of my biggest client successes was with my father. He was a doctor before he retired and did very well financially. He had a financial advisor that he worked with for years before I entered the scene. After a multiple year “waiting period” of me being in the business, he let me look at his information and present some ideas to him. I was able to present a bunch of different ideas and was able to illustrate it in ways that made total sense to him. Over the next couple of years, he ended up moving everything from his advisor that he had a 20-plus year successful relationship with, over to me. It was super validating knowing how much I improved his situation by having fresh, new ideas and by being proactive with the research I come across and we are still working all the time on new things together.
Considering your niche is helping women become financially independent, would you say the majority of your clients are women or is it a good mix?
It’s a very good mix. I would say maybe in the last year I’ve gotten more women because I feel like I’ve been more vocal about specializing with women, but I would say about 60% are couples. In the last couple of years, the woman is the one initiating the contact and running the show, so I’m definitely attracting more women who are taking a more active role. It’s great because they’re not the ones just sitting on the sidelines. I was initially nervous about focusing on women and putting that on my website because I was worried that I would turn men or couples away thinking I only work with women, but it has been the total opposite. I get plenty of men who say, ‘I love your website and love your message. Do you work with men too?’
What have you discovered about yourself at this point in your career?
Over the past 20+ years in the business, I’ve hit a few crossroads and have worked with different companies and coaching programs. The common thread is that everyone’s talking about acquisitions and growing your practice. Recently, I feel that I’ve been at one of those crossroads where one side is saying- “grow, grow, grow” and the other side is saying- “yeah, but you have a really good thing going right now.” I’ve come to the realization that at this point in my career, I’m really fulfilled with how my life and practice are fitting together. There may be a point where I want to expand and manage a team, but right now- that thought doesn’t excite me. I love the client interaction and the strategy that goes into each financial plan. I don’t want to offload that to a junior advisor or assistant right now. Obviously, there are limitations to that because you can only have so many clients and only meet with so many people, but I’m fine with that for now- it helps me be more selective in who I choose to work with.
Which avenues have you found to be the most successful in meeting new clients?
Up to this point, most of my new clients came from client referrals and Centers of Influence. Since I would like to have more control over that, I’ve started doing some proactive outreach using LinkedIn. I’m definitely getting more “at bats” and have had way more conversations with new faces. It’s a numbers game (and not a quick one), but I have formed some relationships through that process.
With LinkedIn, are you filtering based on certain criteria to find potential prospects?
Yes, I’m filtering based on different criteria and then sending a connection request. Then I have certain messages I use to follow up with. It’s a campaign and have different ones going at different times.
I’ve heard you’ve done some work at your Alma Mater, can you tell me a little more about that?
I’ve been asked by the College of New Jersey to do some financial presentations for students and alumni as well as women’s networking events. I’ve also done webinars through Zoom on topics around basic financial literacy. I wish financial literacy was a mandatory class all through school, but especially in college- if they are able to start off their “adult” life armed with a basic understanding of how to make money work for them, things would look a lot different for many people.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
10 years feels really far away, but I’m sure it will be here before I know it. As I mentioned earlier, things are in a good place with me right now and hopefully will continue into the future. One idea I keep coming back to is partnering up with another female advisor. I love the idea of having a practice that helps women succeed in this industry and is focused on improving financial confidence for everyone.
As Gina reflects on her 20+ year career, she is grateful for her life experiences that inspired her to discover her passion for helping women seek financial independence. She very much looks forward to what the future brings and continuing to see her clients pursue their financial goals. Gina joined Financial Resources Group in 2018 and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. Gina and her husband are the proud parents of two girls and reside in NJ. For more information on Lindsey Planning Group, visit www.lindseyplanninggroup.com #AmericanBusinessWomensDay