Being open to new paths and not fearing challenges has helped create the mother/daughter-in-law duo of Johndrow Wealth Management in Farmington, Connecticut.
With close to $100 million in assets under management, the firm has the benefit of founder Lori Johndrow’s financial advisory and insurance experience, while daughter-in-law Magdalena “Maggie” Johndrow infuses economic/Wall Street elements as well as a millennial point of view and know how. Together, they have bridged many gaps, be it age, knowledge or careers.
Lori Johndrow started the firm in 2013, though she’s been in the business since the mid-1980s — when she began work for Aetna serving internal employees.
When Aetna decided to open a financial arm in 1994, Johndrow leapt at the chance to become a financial advisor. She went through the training and was able to bring her life insurance clients to her new role.
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“Right as the [financial services] industry matured and the company moved in that direction, I followed that path as well,” she said in an interview.
Nearly a decade later, after changes in Aetna’s ownership, Johndrow moved on to look for an independent broker-dealer “that didn’t manufacture products and truly gave me the platform of what I needed to provide good service to my clients,” she explained. She selected Commonwealth Financial Network, which her team still works with today.
Daughter-in-law Maggie came on board a few years ago, after leaving JP Morgan with a deep knowledge of economics, trading and portfolio construction, but less hands-on experience as a financial advisor.
Earlier, Maggie earned an economics degree at Providence College and then went on to the London School of Economics. After graduation, she worked for Barclays and then JP Morgan. She enjoyed those jobs but missed client contact and “having a meaningful impact on people,” she said.
Over a family dinner one night, Maggie learned more about Lori’s business, and when her mother-in-law asked her to join the firm, she jumped at the chance. “I just did it, and I haven’t looked back since,” Maggie said.
Today, the two work as partners, each providing the other with important knowledge and perspectives.
Lori helps Maggie learn more about the advisory side of the business, while Maggie shares millennial insights and handles marketing and networking efforts. They also are part of an informal women’s mentoring group, which they both say is essential to their knowledge base and success.
What particular challenges and opportunities have you faced?
Lori: As far as challenges go, it wasn’t as difficult as sometimes people make it out to be, because if you just find good mentors, male or female, people who will be there for you and help you if something comes up, to be a second set of ears, [it helps].
What was lacking [30 years ago] was a real formal mentoring or training program. … Sure you got your licenses, but nobody taught you how to think of it as your own business.
[Opening my own firm] was so timely in how it came about. It was kind of like a door opening for me to say, “do you want to spend the rest of your career just selling products or do you really want to be working with people in a more holistic way?
Maggie: Another opportunity I saw with joining Lori was being a woman financial advisor, and now a woman-owned firm, is that a lot of women are attracted to working with us. We often get women who have been divorced or widowed or just single women who never married. It’s not by any conscious marketing; it’s just by being who we are.
Lori: The statistics show how much longer women will live and need that advice. We’ve even found couples come in, and the male counterpart recognizes that he needs someone comfortable to his wife, because if the day comes when he’s not there, he wants to make sure she’s in good hands.