When Laura Rotter sits down with her financial planning clients, she likes to delve into the emotional components of money rather than just the numbers. “It lets me really get to know people,” she says. “Understanding how they manage their money gives me such insight into their lives and relationships.” Laura often finds herself helping clients clarify what is enough for them and their lifestyles. “It’s easy to forget—more money doesn’t always equal more happiness,” she says. Part of what puts Laura at ease during these difficult conversations with clients is that she’s done the hard work for herself. She knows what it’s like to take stock of her own life financially and emotionally, and that experience informs her discussions with her clients.
Laura didn’t find financial planning right away. She was an English literature major in college. Though she enjoyed math, she liked that English included a bit of everything. She got to look at the historic, cultural, and economic background of a work. However, when she graduated from Barnard College, she was facing a recession. She ended up taking a job as a credit officer at a small middle-market bank. When Laura began to look to the future, she realized that the earning potential for a role like hers was quite limited. This spurred her decision to pursue her MBA. When she graduated, she found herself drawn to the stock market, and in the summer of 1986, she started the job she’d have for the next 30 years. She became a mutual funds analyst.
When Laura looks back at her career on Wall Street, she breaks it up into three sections. “The first 10 years, I loved it,” she says. “I went from making $30k to seven figures.” Plus, as a generalist, she got to learn about all sorts of industries. During the second 10 years, she had three kids and was the breadwinner at home. She still enjoyed the work, but she was busy with family. It wasn’t until the last 10 years as an analyst, she began to really hate the job. Partly it was the people. When she started on Wall Street, she was surrounded by people who liked the work itself, but the over the years the industry filled with people who were more interested in the lifestyle. “I found I was dragging myself through the week to get to the weekend,” she says.
Though Laura was a high earner, she felt trapped by the job and the lifestyle. She and her husband had purchased a big house as well as a vacation home. They paid for private school for their kids. When Laura decided she wanted to leave her position, it required the whole family to reshuffle their lives a bit.
After leaving her analyst role in 2013, Laura joined a financial planning firm. She’d done some soul searching and decided that financial planning would allow her to have a personal impact while utilizing the skill she’d developed on Wall Street. The firm she joined was a broker-dealer, and though it helped her find her feet in this new career, she craved a more holistic approach. Luckily, she found ACP.
In 2016, after taking the CFP® exam and joining ACP, Laura launched her firm. ACP gave her the framework and the community she needed. Like many ACP advisors, Laura was new to marketing. “It had never been my job to bring in business,” she says. But the tenets of ACP have helped her to clarify her message and target the clients she wants. “I lead with integrity and authenticity, and I’ve built a practice around financial planning that goes beyond the numbers and digs into the emotional side of things,” she says.
For Laura, ACP is not only about the systems, it’s about the people. She appreciates how connected and engaged the membership is. She feels she can reach out with questions and find fellow advisors willing to share their expertise. Plus, ACP has allowed her to reimagine her own life. The holistic approach she uses to help clients examine their financial and emotional lives has helped her find a much happier balance for herself. She and her husband recently sold their home and moved into a smaller place. Her practice is growing steadily and she’s enjoying the work. It’s an incredible shift from where she was just a few years ago.
Right now, Laura is looking toward the future. With a growing client base, she’s putting the pieces in place for her practice to continue to thrive. Currently she serves on ACP’s Financial Focus Committee, helping to put out the quarterly newsletter, and she’s planning to step up even more in the year ahead. This year she’s particularly excited about the ACP annual conference. “I just can’t wait to see everyone in person again,” she says.
For all you do for ACP, thank you, Laura!