Why I Started a Business in a Pandemic

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If you had told me one year ago that we would be fighting a pandemic around the globe, that I would have spent the last seven months primarily working from home, and that my extroverted social calendar would consist of more time at home and alone than outside of it with friends, I would not have believed you. An economic recession and a volatile stock market do not seem to be the ideal time to leave a good and stable workplace for starting my own wealth management firm, Abeona Wealth. I am a planner and a scheduler, and nothing about a pandemic and starting a business lends itself to structure.

Yet, here we are! And I could not be more thrilled.

Abeona is the Roman goddess of the outward journey, and I have been on a somewhat non-traditional career journey since graduating from the University of Virginia 14 years ago with an undergraduate degree in psychology and a Master of Teaching in Early Childhood and Developmental Risk. I taught early childhood special education for five years at The Bell Center for Early Intervention, which I loved. For a variety of reasons, I pivoted to a career in finance in June 2011. I then spent nine years at a local RIA and investment banking firm. I spent additional time outside of my workday studying for several licenses and accreditations, most importantly becoming a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner (2014) and a CFA Charterholder (2019). I found my way and my passions in the wealth management industry as I learned and grew. Ultimately, I decided that I wanted to better live out my values through my work and to build something new. In October 2020, I left my job to launch Abeona Wealth.

There are two main reasons that I started this journey:

1. Women are Under-Invested

I believe that there is a disconnect between the way financial planning and investment management services have historically been provided and how many women prefer to receive those services. Women are not generally more risk averse nor do they make poorer financial choices. Women are impacted by the fact that they are more likely to live longer, invest less, earn less money, and be less involved in the financial planning and investing decisions for their family. As a result, women tend to be less financially prepared for retirement. I hope to create an environment that is approachable to all women, whether they are single, married, divorced, or any other situation. I want all clients to feel comfortable asking questions and to have agency to make their financial decisions. Ultimately, I hope that my process, guidance, and discipline will empower all clients to make good financial decisions aligned with their goals and values.

2. The Financial Industry Needs Diversity

I think many people would agree that seeing people like you represented in different parts of your world impacts your perceptions. There have been a host of studies on representation in media, work, and even about toys available to children and how perceptions are formed by what we see in our world. It is likely no surprise that the financial industry is dominated by men (and to steal a line from Sallie Krawcheck, I love men – I’m engaged to one!) According to a study by the CFA Society in 2016, women are underrepresented in the investment industry in all parts of the world, with the US ranking near the middle with 16.4% of CFA members being women. The CFP Board reports that 23.2% of CFP® professionals are women. Additionally, women have much lower representation on boards and in executive positions in the financial services sector. There are many ways to approach the issue of diversity, but with my leadership skills and passion for the work, I felt that my best contribution to the issue would be to start and lead a firm to represent women in this space. It is my hope that more women will enter the finance industry.

My Journey

On my path to build Abeona Wealth, I have found partners and resources to start a firm that is ready for the future. I have partnered with Equita Financial Network, a coalition of women-led financial firms that serves as a community. Members share resources and knowledge to collectively succeed. I am getting industry leading technology, resources, and guidance and have a group of women around the country with whom I can collaborate.

Through my partnership with Equita, I also work with East Bay Financial as my “collaborative” financial officer. While I make investment and allocation decisions that are best for my clients, East Bay adds value by doing much of the heavy lifting of investment research and due diligence. They are a beneficial resource to me and my clients.

Abeona Wealth is positioned to thrive in the near and long term, adapting to the needs of serving clients well in the current pandemic and for years (and generations) to come. I am grateful to my community of friends, family, financial advisors and mentors and look forward to sharing this journey with many along the way.

The next several weeks will undoubtedly be hectic and exciting. I hope to connect with you soon, but in the meantime, feel free to drop me a note at marymeadows@abeonawealth.com or stay connected through our website (www.abeonawealth.com).

Important Notes

Investment advisory services offered through Equita Financial Network, Inc. (“Equita”). Equita also markets investment advisory services under the name Abeona Wealth. The foregoing content reflects the opinions of the author(s) and is subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that the statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct.
All investing involves risk, including the potential for loss of principal. There is no guarantee that any investment plan or strategy will be successful.

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