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Stacey Woehrle. (Photo: Woehrle)

Life Health > Running Your Business > Prospecting

Volatility Shows What Clients Are Really Thinking

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What You Need to Know

  • Stacey Woehrle once helped an organization that managed $18 billion in assets.
  • Now, she works with ordinary individuals and couples.
  • Market risk is not the only form of risk on the agenda.

Stacey Woehrle is building what amounts to a financial advisory practice on a roller-coaster car.

Woehrle is a financial strategist at Infinity Strategic Partners in Northbrook, Illinois, an Equitable Advisors affiliate that helps clients with wealth accumulation, investments and risk protection.

She entered the retail advice arena in April 2019 — less than a year before COVID-19 changed everything. But she has attracted clients by sticking to the basics: telling people what she does, doing a good job, and hosting workshops.

Woehrle has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, and she is a certified public accountant.

Before she became a financial strategist, she worked in auditing and finance at firms such as Ernst & Young, Tenneco, Brunswick Corp. and Oracle.

Starting in 2017, she served a two-year term as an appointed member of the Illinois State Board of Investment. That means that, just a few years ago, before she began helping individuals and families with their finances, she helped Illinois public pension funds and the Illinois Power Agency manage $18 billion in assets.

Woehrle answered questions via email about how she is building her practice, a shift she has noticed in some married women’s approach to finances, and how the pandemic has improved her understanding of what her clients are really thinking.

The interview has been condensed and edited.

1. What kind of practice are you creating?

My practice focuses on holistic planning, meaning I talk to my clients about their goals and dreams and how they can structure their financial plans to achieve those.

But it’s also about addressing the everyday issues like tax saving strategies and the “what if” scenarios as my clients move through life.

When I knew I wanted to start my practice, I sought out an experienced female advisor, because I felt there was a great opportunity for more women to enter this field.

She was willing to take me on as a new advisor to her practice, and having an experienced advisor to show you the ropes and tricks of the trade along with best practices and consistent procedures has been a huge asset to my practice.

Word of mouth and referrals has been the main way I have grown my business.

2. What income planning products or strategies have been working especially well, or especially poorly, over the past year?

For my clients nearing retirement and relying on their portfolio for income, we’ve talked a lot about how in a volatile market the best strategy (which is not necessarily a specific product) is to consistently monitor their account and make changes when needed.

It is all too easy to sit in a stock holding for too long when it has not been performing well, and my job is to start the discussion to see if a change might be necessary.

One trend I’ve noticed during COVID is that women in particular want to get more involved in the family finances.

Traditionally, women take on a career and child care, and managing the finances still resides with the husband.

I have seen an uptick in meeting with female clients who want to better understand what risk protection (aka life insurance) they currently have and if adjustments are needed.

They want to know where the investments are held and what are they invested in.

I really love and welcome the opportunity to help them understand and answer questions without any judgment as to what they know or don’t know.

I think women sometimes feel uncomfortable asking questions but our relationship becomes a safe space for them to ask anything!

3. What effect, if any, have you experienced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent upheaval in Europe? What have you learned from that?

Clients are more aware of their mortality due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Life insurance applications have increased significantly due to this concern and need for risk protection.

It is truly a good feeling knowing you are helping people protect what is most important to them .… their family.

It has also been a good time to talk about market volatility and really get a better understanding of each client’s risk tolerance, as we are seeing consistent swings in the markets.

4. For you, what have been the most effective ways to get new clients?

Providing the best customer service along with education about the various products and strategies available to my clients is the best way to get referrals, so I can help more people.

There is so much more to being an advisor in addition to managing the investments.

All clients have different stories as to what is going on in their lives, and the EQ, or emotional support, is important as well.

5. What thoughts do you have for a financial professional who’s trying to start or expand a practice now?

Talk to as many people as possible, to let them know what you do, so that if they or a friend or family member ever need financial support, at the very least your network will pass on your information.

I always offer a complimentary hour to new prospects so they can understand how our firm works and our overall process. That way, I can get to know prospects a little better to see if we are a good fit for each other.

Equitable hosts workshops specifically for women called “Women Talk Finance.” It’s a fun couple of hours designed to answer questions and open up discussion on the topic the group is most interested in at the event.

Oftentimes our “COIs” — centers of influence, such as estate attorneys — will attend and bring clients that are seeking to learn more about holistic financial planning.

It’s a great way to grow your business and answer questions while meeting more fantastic women.

Stacey Woehrle. (Photo: Woehrle)


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