Elizabeth calls herself an “Episcopal Southern gal from Memphis, Tennessee,” who grew up very middle class. Bored in college, she followed a spiritual bent by starting a Transcendental Meditation Center near Washington, D.C. She observed, “One of the things that came out of running that business, teaching Senators and Congressmen, was that I needed to manage my own money. In an odd sort of way, it prepared me to be in the financial planning world.”
An eight-year stint at a brokerage firm ultimately was not the right fit. “Something felt very wrong about it. It was the inability to have an impact on people’s lives, because it wasn’t financial planning.” She went back to college, earned a CFP, and was taken under the wing of one of the first trained financial planners in the 1970s, Earl Rubin. Eventually she formed her own practice with another planner, Michael Smith, to whom she is married.
Elizabeth’s first exposure to a Nazrudin conference and George Kinder’s training was a tipping point. “I’d found my tribe, my community,” she says. “I never knew there were other people out there who thought the way I did about the holistic financial life planning model.” She came back fired up about getting more involved in the profession. After heading the Georgia chapter of the newly formed FPA, she put her name in for the National Board of the FPA. She was elected president in 2004 and chair in 2005.
In 2007, her firm merged with RTD Financial Advisors, founded by friend and thought leader Roy Diliberto. Elizabeth still sees clients and helps with overall financial planning direction and marketing, but she has more freedom to speak around the country, teach in California Lutheran’s MBA program, write, and coach other financial planners and firms.
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