By Taylor Jones

I’d like to start this post with a personal confession: my first and only C in college was in an economics course. Finances can be challenging for many people, especially if you’re like me, a millennial with no grasp of economics, investments, and the stock market. Though this month’s Woman in Business – Liz Judge from Strategic Financial Designs – does have a strong, confident grasp of economics, she is a millennial who didn’t have the most knowledge of what to do with her personal assets or her future financial plan. She also felt the ever-present taboo surrounding personal finances and income. Once she broke through that barrier, though, she realized how passionate she is about helping people, millennials specifically, plan and be confident about their financial futures. Keep reading to find out how Liz got started as a financial planner and her advice as a Woman in Business!

Elizabeth Judge

Women in Business Feature: Interview with Liz Judge

Planful: Tell me about yourself, your background.

Elizabeth Judge: I went to IUP and graduated in 2012 with a degree in economics. In my sophomore year, while I was getting my Real Estate license – for fun I guess! – I met a local real estate broker. Before I knew it, I starting working for him at his agency. He was a sole proprietor and owned his own business, and I think that’s where I learned about entrepreneurship. This is also where I learned to go up to talk to people and be confident in that. I learned so much about life and business from him.

When I graduated, I wanted to expand my experience, so I decided to move to another company. I worked in both Indiana and Pittsburgh at the time, and I worked in the Real Estate and Appraisal business for a total of nine years. Then I met my fiance, who owns a financial planning firm, Strategic Financial Designs. At this time in my life, it was kind of taboo to talk about my finances, and I wasn’t sure how they were working together. My fiance helped me figure that out for myself, and the more I listened to him and listened to him help other people, the more interested in financial planning I became.

P: Why did you decide to start your new business?

EJ: The empowerment of getting ahold of my own finances opened my eyes to what I was missing out on. My fiance always says, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” This really opened my eyes. You can listen to Suze Orman, or another famous financial entertainer, but what they have to say may not be right for you and your situation at the moment. Maybe you’re my age and making a good income, but don’t really know to save for retirement or what to do with it, or how to talk about it. I found my passion in that and helping other people figure out their financial plan.

I especially love to help millennials because I am a millennial woman. The cliche of a financial advisor, to me, is an old man in a business suit, and I don’t think that is approachable, especially since we have questions about our financial futures that are specific to our generation. The millennials who are just starting a business or are working in mid-level jobs but don’t know what to do with the money they are making motivate me to help them learn all that I have learned. Also, if you’re committed to saving and you have that mindset, we can help you meet your financial goals at any level. I felt passionate that I could help people reach their financial goals. Even if you don’t have a lot of assets we can help you start somewhere.

P: What were your biggest challenges when starting your career?

EJ: Being confident enough to express to people the knowledge I have. I started young  – 19 years old – when I started selling real estate. I didn’t know everything, and my boss would say to me, “It doesn’t matter! Just say the things you know to be true and be confident while saying them. You can come to me and ask questions later.” Now I can go up to a stranger and have a conversation with them; I wasn’t always like that. It’s helpful to think that everyone is like you, and everyone has insecurities just like you. No one feels comfortable talking to someone they don’t know. Plus, if you’re an entrepreneur and don’t have anyone to talk to, what does it matter?

P: What challenges are you facing or do you anticipate to face with this new venture?

EJ: It’s hard when you’ve been in an industry for so long, and then having to learn a new industry. I’m lucky to have a group of guys around me that are experts in financial planning to go to for help. I think when you’re starting out in business or starting something new, you need a mentor. I’m so lucky that I automatically have one!

P: What motivates you?

EJ: There are so many people like me who have the potential to have great financial futures starting right now, who feel like they have to wait because of the taboo surrounding financial planning and income. It motivates me because that was me! I want to help people by sharing what I have learned.

Elizabeth Judge

P: What would you like people to know about your business?

EJ: First, the firm helps anyone of any asset level, as long as they have the right mindset and want to be helped. We work with people who make $1M a year, and people who make $30,000 a year. I love that, and I think it takes some of the intimidation away from financial planning.

We are also made up of a team, and there are experts in specific things on the team, like investments, so our clients know that there is someone to help them for every little thing they need, which sets us apart from other firms.

Finally, our philosophy is that your financial plan has to work no matter what. If you have to go on Social Security at 50, or if the market crashes, your financial plan still needs to work for you. We have tools in place to make sure that happens.

P: What would you like people to know about your business?

EJ: First, the firm helps anyone of any asset level, as long as they have the right mindset and want to be helped. We work with people who make $1M a year, and people who make $30,000 a year. I love that, and I think it takes some of the intimidation away from financial planning.

We are also made up of a team, and there are experts in specific things on the team, like investments, so our clients know that there is someone to help them for every little thing they need, which sets us apart from other firms.

Finally, our philosophy is that your financial plan has to work no matter what. If you have to go on Social Security at 50, or if the market crashes, your financial plan still needs to work for you. We have tools in place to make sure that happens.

P: What are your best time management tips?

EJ: For me personally, I time-block. We’ve all been in meetings that are 2 hours long and nothing gets accomplished. I think you need to be firm with your time with clients as well as coworkers, to make sure you get everything done in a day that you have planned. That’s what I do to manage my time. We also have work weeks in place so that we prep for our appointments on Mondays, meet with clients Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and Fridays are used for catch up and marketing.

P: Is it challenging finding a work/life balance?

EJ: I think that when you’re an entrepreneur, you usually love what you do so much that you don’t mind working all the time. At least that how it is for me! For the most part that is good, but I can get burnt out. And it’s not sustainable. That’s why I think time-blocking is really useful and effective, because you can get most of what you need to get done in the week done.

I also do something my fiance and I call mind-dumping. At the end of every night, I write down every thought and everything I need to do the next day so that I can sleep! I do it on Friday evenings, too. Saturdays and Sundays are pretty off limits for work, except for emergencies, so mind-dumping helps me keep that boundary.

P: What is your best advice for women in business, or business owners in general?

EJ: I have a couple things! First, especially now that I’ve been working on this financial planning venture, I think that sometimes we view our business wealth and personal wealth as separate things. It’s important to make sure we’re protected financially on each end of this spectrum, and that the two need to coordinate with each other to be maximally efficient.

Second, you’re never too old or successful to evolve your business or to start a new business. When I started this venture, I was like, ugh, I don’t want to learn something new, it takes so long! Obviously you don’t want to be foolish about it, but if you’re passionate about something, it’s never the wrong time to begin. My friend once said to me, “It’s never your job to know the how, but the why.” My why is so clear, I want to help people with their financial plans and their futures, and the how has come so naturally because of that. I think that if you have a really strong why, you can accomplish your goals.

Thanks, Liz, for taking the time to share your knowledge and advice with us! If you’d like to know more about Strategic Financial Designs, visit their website here.

By |2018-11-06T21:56:46+00:00June 14th, 2018|Women in Business|
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