Working Mother and SHOOK Research's 2021 Top Wealth Advisor Moms’ Best Post-COVID Financial Advice

For five years, Working Mother has partnered with SHOOK Research to identify the top wealth advisor moms across the country. This year’s list has expanded to feature 500 of the most successful mothers working in financial advising today. Check out the full list of 2021 Top Wealth Advisor Moms here and check out more on the moms here.

We asked a handful of the savvy moms to share their best advice for staying financially sound in the wake of a pandemic. Read their wise words below—and take notes!

Candace Hobbs, Financial Advisor, Edward Jones

“The pandemic made it clear how important it is to have a thoughtful, time-specific strategy for each of your financial goals. Now more than ever, working with a financial advisor who understands your goals can help you put a diversification plan in place that is specific for your individual tolerance for risk and the goal for the money. Most of my clients have multiple goals with different time horizons. For example, a portfolio designed for education two years away would look different than a retirement portfolio 15 years away. There are some people who feel it’s a good idea to take care of their finances alone or without professional help. Most of the time, the clients I work with have one person in the relationship who takes the lead—that doesn’t mean the other person’s opinions and thoughts don’t count. My role is to help understand what’s important to each person, create a strategy that works for both, and then partner together for the long-term to stay on track and update when needed. As I work with clients in 29 states, this process helps all be heard and validated that what matters to them does matter.”

Marcie Behman, Managing Director, Private Wealth Advisor, PIA Portfolio Manager, Merrill Private Wealth Management

“Due to shelter-in-place requirements and the introduction of direct fiscal stimulus, we witnessed household savings rates skyrocket to historic levels above 33 percent during the pandemic. The lockdown period from 2020 led to one of the greatest improvements in household balance sheets from a savings and debt repayment perspective, and showed that Americans can save more than they thought they could. I would encourage families to reflect on this time period as a budgeting exercise to determine the difference between necessities versus superfluous expenditures.”

Kathleen Youngerman, Private Wealth Advisor, Managing Director, Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management

“The world in general, as we all very well know, has sped up in terms of not only output in business/career/education, but also in terms of social interactions and the pull to do more at a quicker pace. If you pause and turn back to the financial plans that have been developed for you and your family (and if you don’t have one, then take this time to develop one with assistance from a financial advisor), it is truly a confidence builder. Methodically turn to the planning discussion and find a financial advisor you trust to help in that process. You will find that you are achieving or perhaps rebuilding your financial success by having the written plan and taking the time to reconnect and check in with that plan as you progress and face new obstacles or achieve new goals in your life.”

Wendy Holmes, Financial Advisor, UBS Private Wealth Management

“We are surprised to see how many families lack the basic documentation, which will guide loved ones in the event of an unexpected death or health care issue. Once your planning is in place, make sure that someone knows where everything is—including accounts, passwords and contact information. Although none of us like to think about it, having to navigate financial information while dealing with an unexpected crisis can be devastating. Some examples of questions that you should be able to answer regardless of your age of balance sheet: ‘Will my family be OK if I pass away?’ ‘Who will make financial and healthcare decisions on my behalf if I am not able to make them?’ ‘What assets would I like to leave to the next generation?’

“Creating a structure early allows you to have a baseline, which you can work from as your family and balance sheet changes. We also find that going through the planning process with clients opens the dialogue about each family’s values that can be communicated to future generations. Your wishes and your legacy can be articulated clearly.”

Anna Winderbaum, Managing Director, Private Wealth Advisor, Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management

“In order to focus on what is most important to each person, to make good and sound decisions, one must put fear aside—and that was hard to do during the height of the pandemic. We have been advising families for over two decades, and we have experience dealing with stress and crisis. While there are similarities between ‘tail events,’ they are never the same. The pandemic was unique, in particular, because it affected us all physically, mentally, in everyday function globally. Nobody was spared, not the young nor the old. While at the same time the pandemic did uncover inequalities, it also showed that we have to work together. And for us, that meant embracing our clients as people first, something we have always done.

“Clients were stressed on so many levels. Our team focused on supporting them and encouraging them to focus their energy on their personal lives. But our job is to invest capital, so on the investment front, we helped keep clients off the ledge by remaining calm and true to the course. However, we were also opportunistic, and identified great opportunities that the market dislocation presented and encouraged clients to capitalize on them.”

Catherine Chen, Managing Director and Financial Advisor, RBC Wealth Management

“Investing is a long-term process and takes patience, but staying on top of the little things can help position you for success. These include: 1.) Contributing to your work’s 401(k) or personal IRA/SEP each year; 2.) Creating a budget, and within that budget, setting aside an amount for savings each month; and 3.) Creating a long-term investment plan that takes into consideration your risk and return guidelines. Creating a process with short-term actionable steps is important to achieving your long-term goals. If the pandemic downturn set you back, don’t stay out of the markets. You can never perfectly time getting into the markets, so it’s important to have a strategy for long-term growth and start phasing back in.”

Thais D. Piotrowski, CRPC®, CFP® Private Wealth Advisor | Managing Director | Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner, Business Financial Advisor, Ameriprise Financial Services

“When it’s not, especially in a moderate inflation environment, I believe that everyone needs to have cash reserves. We tend to keep at least 2 percent in cash to buy on the dips (unless rebalancing), but the thought of having more than a year in cash (unless you have an upcoming expense that is that large) may not be the best option given the historically low interest rate environment. Additionally, you shouldn’t push retirement to pay for a child’s college education. I wish it was that easy—that fancy diploma will not guarantee a person will become a hedge fund manager, CEO or the next president. It’s important to first invest in retirement. Education needs can be solved through financing, loans and scholarships in some instances. I’m not saying people shouldn’t save for education. On the contrary, I am just saying that you shouldn’t push your retirement for it.”

Christina Collins, Wealth Management Advisor with Northwestern Mutual’s Private Client Group, Northwestern Mutual

“Many people undervalue their future earnings potential, underestimate the probability of becoming sick or injured prior to retirement, and fail to sufficiently plan for short- or long-term disability. My general advice for folks experiencing financial stress is as follows: Find a way to increase income to stop taking on debt. Look for ways to reposition debt to lower-rate loans (where appropriate). Pay off small loan balances first (to create momentum). Next, focus on paying off higher interest rate debt. Focus on building one’s credit score. Beware of scams: if it sounds too good to be true, it is. Rebuild the emergency cash cushion. Get health insurance and term life insurance where life insurance is needed. Plan for the possibility of a short- or long-term disability and consider financial solutions to help mitigate that risk. Once these pieces are in place, look at investing for the future.”

Kimberly Hunter, Private Wealth Financial Advisor, Managing Director – Investments, Wells Fargo Advisors

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much money you have if you don’t have your health. The capital markets always have and always will continue to go up and down. We all need to look at our ‘health’ from our physical health, our mental health and our financial health. We all start at different places and we all have different goals but we all need to reflect on our own health. To recover financially post-COVID, I would suggest that families take some time and make a list of the positive things they’re grateful for, and then write a list of things that they think need improvement. Then, as a family, create a list of goals for the next one year, three years, and five years. Once you have goals, create a plan to help you achieve them. It is so important to go through the process of doing the inventory of positive things (beyond financial) that can help you focus and stay dedicated to the things you want to work on and then stick to the plan. In my experience, people who have written goals with plans to help achieve them tend to be much more likely to accomplish their goals than those who don’t.”

Kimberly Hatchett, Executive Director, Private Wealth Advisor, Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management

“Sit down with your financial advisor and create a plan. Once you’ve done this, plan to revisit it on a quarterly basis. I would also think about how life and the world will move forward post-COVID—for example, will you be traveling as much, or will you be using Zoom for business? Will work be hybrid or five days a week in the office? How might that decision impact you financially? If you decide to go hybrid and others in your office do not, will that impact your income? Look at your life five, 10 or 20 years from now and try to get an idea of what that looks like. Where you want to live, what you see yourself doing and what brings you happiness and joy. This is the first thing I say to my clients. Once you have that vision, we make a plan and we follow that plan! This exercise brings a sense of peace to me and my clients.”

Xi Qiao, Managing Director and Financial Advisor, UBS Wealth Management

“With the growing number of self-service trading platforms, investors forget that their investment portfolio is only one aspect of wealth management. Beyond investments, a comprehensive financial plan considering the overall financial situation including income, savings, debts, cash flow, tax strategy, and estate planning are all crucial to a successful financial future. Additionally, there is no need to wait for the bottom if the market is already down 30 percent. When a good stock is cheap because the whole market took a dive, it is an excellent entry point for higher expected returns. Many high quality names sold-off last March, and this is the best time to invest while others are fearful. Start a budget to manage expenses and control excess indulges. The pandemic has taught us that we can control our spending and the importance of having an emergency fund or cash reserves. Track your personal cash flow and set goals to save, pay down debt, and increase investment contributions.”

Chitra Arora, Financial Advisor, J.P. Morgan Wealth Management

“The biggest financial lesson I learned from the pandemic is that emergencies do happen, and it is extremely important to maintain six to nine months of your expenses in cash for unforeseen contingencies, and more if possible. I’ve noticed that, especially during bull markets, some investors tend to become more aggressive and start converting their emergency funds to marketable securities. I’ve always believed that maintaining an emergency fund is very important. Failing to plan is planning to fail. It is critical to understand your income and expenditure clearly and to be able to identify between your needs, wants and wishes. COVID taught us that emergencies can not only happen at any time, but they can happen to anyone. Post-COVID financial recovery planning involves maintaining enough liquidity, diversification, creating multiple sources of income when possible, and creating enough flexibility in your financial strategy to be able to quickly manage the fluidity between your needs, wants and wishes when needed.”