Susan Ganz calls herself a financial services professional, but you might call her a disaster preparedness expert. As a strategic advisor at the Center for Wealth Preservation, a Syosset, N.Y.-based financial planning, estate planning and wealth management firm, she spends a lot of time making sure her clients are able to withstand the financial “tornados and termites.”
“Financial tornadoes,” she says, “are life changing events like pre-mature death, being out of work, or a financial market meltdown. Termites are the things that slowly eat away at wealth like taxes, inflation, having to replace Blackberrys and cell phones because of new technology.”
Whatever you call her, Ganz helps women, families and small businesses make more informed financial decisions and navigate their financial worlds through a very simple philosophy: protect, save, invest. And while her tenure at Center for Wealth Preservation is short—she came to the organization one and a half years ago—she has been in the financial services industry for over 20 years.
She began her career as a middle market lender at JP Morgan Chase where she realized she wanted to play a role in helping people build sound financial foundations. To make the change to consulting, she went back to school—The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, to be more specific—to get her MBA, majoring in strategy and corporate finance. While there she worked at the school’s Small Business Development Center.
She continued consulting at Ernst & Young in financial advisory services, but realized she wanted to be more involved in strategy.
“I wanted to settle down and impact strategy long term,” she says. She began working for Merrill Lynch where her background in financial and strategic analysis made her a valuable addition, despite having no technology background. She struck a deal, she says, with her colleagues.
“I asked if they would teach me tech, I’d teach them analysis,” she recalls. That led to 10 years working in tech—seven at Merrill Lynch and three at Credit Suisse.
In 2008, Credit Suisse eliminated Ganz’s position. In the fallout from the market meltdown, though, Ganz was able to step back and understand what she wanted to do next, she says. To her, “next” meant making a personal impact in people’s lives through self-discovery.
Ganz works primarily in insurance, which is no surprise given her philosophy. “Protection first, then savings and investments,” she says. “You have to make sure families are covered.”
As a strategic advisor with the Center for Wealth Preservation, Ganz has ample opportunity to do just that, but it was her involvement with another organization that brought her to her current position.