The fourth of four girls, Eleanor grew up in a "very traditional" family with a prosperous lifestyle. After graduating from Mount Holyoke, the nation's first college for women, she earned degrees from Cambridge University and the University of Chicago. But her work as a government consultant in Washington, D.C., left her dissatisfied: "Nothing was ever accomplished, and I didn't feel like I was part of anything bigger than myself. I wanted to work with real people."
She attended FPA meetings, listened and learned, and earned CFP certification in 1990. The firm she co-founded, Sullivan, Bruyette, Speros and Blayney, became a success. "I've always enjoyed the intersection between numbers, technical information, finance, and the language that we need to explain this to our clients, to people that don't understand this," Eleanor says. "Financial planning was a perfect way to bring right-brain thinking--literature, language--to the more practical areas of knowledge like numbers." She is the CFP Board's Consumer Advocate.
Over the years, she notes, she has done "just about everything I was helping my clients do: I've been separated and divorced, raised a child and put her through college with the money I saved, started a business, sold a business, and retired." The retirement in 2007 didn't take; she was too eager to develop her ideas about empowering, educating, and engaging women. "Empowerment is getting women to know that they wield tremendous power, that they don't have to conform to the old models of wealth management or wealth creation," she says. "With Direction$, I want to open the door wider for women."
Return to "Majority Report: A New Approach to Advising Women."