Tresa Leftenant CFP®, author of Reinventing Her, Helping Women Plan, Pursue and Capitalize on Their Next Chapter is a 30-year veteran of the financial services industry and a reinvention specialist. She is fiercely committed to guiding suddenly single women to find their voice and step into a better future.
Her professional career includes founding a financial advisory and coaching practice guiding divorced, widowed and single women through her financial reinvention process so they can pursue unprecedented meaning and success in the areas of life most important to them. Tresa is a Certified Trainer of Jack Canfield’s Success Principles and coaches women through her signature program The Money Stress Solution – 7 Essential Inner Habits for more Confidence, Clarity and Financial Wellbeing.
Tresa is also a contributing author in best-selling books including Successful Living, Successful Marriage, compiled by Dr. Jose Gomez; Coaching for Entrepreneurs, How Life Coaching Can Help Entrepreneurs Improve Their Bottom Line, compiled by Jeannette Koczela, and Living the Success Principles, compiled by Jack Canfield. Tresa hosted A Wealthy Life for Her with Tresa Leftenant, a weekly radio show and podcast on 1150am KKNW Alternative Talk Radio in 2020-2021.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Tresa Leftenant: I started out in the financial industry when i was 15, working in the proof department after school and in the summers for my hometown bank in Twin Falls Idaho. My Dad was a loan officer and I was fascinated by how money worked. I was lucky to have a skill that supported me through college and into my 20’s.
My Dad suggested I move from banking into investments and he introduced me to the manager of the Municipal Bond Department at Boettcher & Company in Denver CO. I learned all about underwriting and selling bonds to individuals, participating in raising funds for The Denver Airport and Phoenix Water Project among dozens of others. When I had my first child I transitioned to financial advising, working for several bank brokerage companies including Wells Fargo Investments where I was promoted to Sales Manager and ultimately Wealth Management Specialist where I coordinated a team of high-net worth specialists.
As much as I loved working with individuals, I thought there was something missing. A coordinated and personalized plan for retirement. The Certified Financial Planner designation was new in the late 80’s, but I finished the program and received the CFP designation in 1990. I never thought I would open my own business, but kept dreaming about how people deserved personal financial advice, not just being sold an investment.
My husband and I decided to move to Bellevue WA in 2003, a perfect opportunity to make my dream come true. I opened My Financial Design, a boutique financial planning and investment management firm with a special focus on women’s financial goals. I merged the firm with Cornerstone Financial Strategies in 2021, so I could focus more on teaching women the inner habits necessary for financial wellness.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Tresa Leftenant: The worst thing for an investor is to make a decision based on fear. Reaction to the unknown impact of the Pandemic caused stock markets to crash. In hindsight it was a short correction, but it shows how important it is for individual investors to have a long-term plan. Those who don’t have a plan tend to allow their fear to direct their behavior.
This is when a temporary loss becomes a permanent one, a setback that many never recover from. The 2008-2009 correction was an example of how investors who held on to their investments were paid handsomely and the same was true for those who held through the Pandemic correction. The same thing is true for business owners.
When unprecedented times arrive, business owners need to pause, reflect, seek advice and envision a new and even better future. The businesses who realized early on that their old business model wouldn’t work in Pandemic times were the ones who thrived. This will continue to be true going forward as the business environment is now in a state of constant change.Those with a big vision that is based on truly improving people’s lives are the ones who will thrive.
I loved being a successful solo-preneur, but realized to grow my business and serve my clients in this new environment, I needed to part of a larger, forward thinking team. My clients and I have enjoyed significant value during the past year and are well positioned for the future.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Tresa Leftenant: Leading from within by utilizing the skills and talents of everyone on the team. Employees are no longer willing to just be a cog in the wheel, they want to make a difference, to be recognized for their contribution. Successful businesses will harness this power, and benefit from encouraging people to follow their passion, to pursue their potential in their work.
The level of engagement in our country regarding how to create a better quality of life for everyone is skyrocketing. I believe that those who empower their workers will thrive, those who don’t will suffer. This is true for customers as well. People want products and services that enhance their life and they are becoming sophisticated about which companies are trying to take advantage of them, or trick them out of their money.
There is also a desire for more honesty in business, more transparency. People want to know how companies make their money I think the years of exorbitant executive payouts may come to an end.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Tresa Leftenant: The trends I mentioned above are changing the financial services industry. Clients demand, and regulators require, transparency about fees and costs. National firms have turned from gathering assets by promising high investment returns to educating clients about the promises of financial planning. The themes of coordinating financial decisions throughout all stages of life based on strategies designed for each individual person’s financial goals dominates prime time advertising.
The CFP designation is now considered a must have for financial advisors and clients are more sophisticated about interviewing potential advisors. This conversation used to fall on deaf ears during the early part of my CFP career, so its nice to meet with a new prospect who already understands that paying for knowledge and experience is crucial to their success.
Another area that I began talking with my clients about from the beginning was how their personal experience and limiting beliefs about money needed to be discussed Research has shown that women in particular often fail to reach their financial goals out of fear and lack of confidence.
Since women generally manage the family finances and tend to outlive men, it’s important that financial advisors support education not only about financial strategies but also about their internal dynamic with money.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Tresa Leftenant: The main problem I had was not being able to meet with my clients face to face. Many of my clients are retired and aging, so learning how to meet virtually was difficult for them. I became their technology teacher, meaning I had to improve my own skills quickly. At the same time I was interviewing potential merger partners.
The advice I wished I’d had was don’t get complacent, always be ready to shift and adapt. Self-improvement, both with outer skills and using your inner powers is critical to long-term success. I’ve always been committed to learning, but there are some subjects I like more than others. This year and beyond, I’m more disciplined about continuing my own education in the areas that benefit me and my clients.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Tresa Leftenant: I developed a coaching program with plans to provide both one-to-one and on-demand access. My clients are now comfortable with on-line meetings, so I offer both in-person and on-line meetings. This has also expanded my geographic range.
Most of my clients live in Washington and the west coast, but with on-line meetings I can work with anyone in any state, which has huge growth potential. We are expanding our range of services to include life coaching and our goal is to provide a financial plan to every client, no matter their financial status.
Given my initial vision of starting a business to provide personalized advice to anyone, this is very exciting to me. Financial planning and investment advice is now truly available to anyone who wants it and the cost to access professional experience is affordable.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Tresa Leftenant: I have between two to five on-line meetings every day, and manage these relationship on an on-line platform so I spend 8+ hours a day in front of a screen. Now that Pandemic restrictions have lightened up, I’m seeing clients in-person, so it’s really nice to be able to get away from my computer. Live networking events are slowly coming back too, which I really enjoy.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Tresa Leftenant: In the life coaching side of my business I write a blog every week using stories of real client experiences (without their names of course) to communicate a point. I also use my own struggles with money to motivate women I wrote a book about overcoming a shopping addiction and how I transformed my life through personal growth techniques.
Story is a powerful tool, it helps people relate and can increase their belief that things could get better for them. Financial management requires inner power qualities, such as self-confidence, self-trust, self-efficacy. I use stories to help women realize that other women have developed these qualities and enjoy better financial results because they did.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Tresa Leftenant: For my clients the challenge is to keep saving and investing money during a period of high inflation There is so much cultural pressure to create and maintain a certain lifestyle: big house, new car, travel, private schools. Even families with two six figure incomes feel like they are struggling. Too many people are resigned to having to work their entire lives, they don’t believe retirement is an option.
We have to redirect our values in America so saving becomes as high of a priority as it was in the 50’s and 60’s. My parents weren’t focused so much on what they owned, but on providing a good future for their children and themselves. Building real wealth and passing it down to future generations is one of the most rewarding experiences in life.
Financial advisory companies are challenged with covering the costs of doing business during a time of shrinking fees and profit margins. Doing more with less staff and maximizing technology has to be balanced with providing a valuable client service experience.
Our firm wants to provide our proven and successful financial planning process to more people, which means we have to hire and train more advisors. It’s an exciting time to see challenges as an opportunity to learn, grow and change. Human beings evolve as they age and through the generations. This is just another phase that we get to experience so we can expand into our true potential.
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Tresa Leftenant: Learning to adapt to a world where technology is the primary driver of most points of communication between people is my challenge. Whether it’s on-line meetings using presentation software, managing investment portfolios through an on-line trading platform or inviting new prospects through on-line marketing, this is where business success begins and ends.
It’s a challenge to navigate through all the noise to find technology that’s right for you, to pick training that will provide what you need. On-line marketing is a bloody ocean and it’s hard to figure out how to get the kind of attention you want. I continue to believe that in my business, it’s personal relationships that bear fruit.
It might take longer to develop a relationship with a related business partner who work with clients like yours, but over time, their referrals, and referrals from satisfied clients, is the most profitable and rewarding way to grow.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Tresa Leftenant: As I mentioned before, business leaders are being forced to adapt to a new generation of workers, who aren’t defined by their job, who don’t want to sacrifice their life just to make money. These people want to contribute, to be appreciated, to pursue their passions and potential.
If leaders don’t acknowledge this, they will ultimately be replaced with people who see the value of harnessing this power. As I’ve said, human beings are meant to evolve, and when they realize that it can be an exciting journey.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Tresa Leftenant: I already have many super powers because I consciously develop them. Persistence and a “never-give-up” attitude has served me well over the years. I also continually support my self-esteem and self-confidence, which is how I believe in myself, believe that I can and will overcome challenges and ultimately live my dreams.
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Tresa Leftenant: Success is becoming more of who I am meant to be, serving women and contributing my philosophy of the importance of developing inner habits to the world community. If I live to see that what I’ve learned and passed on has evolved to have a life of it’s own, I would be satisfied.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Tresa Leftenant for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Tresa Leftenant or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.