Maureen Wright has always fancied herself as an educator. Maureen was an accounting and finance tutor in college and continues to educate her clients in her role as a financial advisor at Savant Wealth Management in Chicago. She works closely with her clients to define their financial goals and implement strategies to accomplish them.
As a millennial, Maureen feels passionate about educating her peers on why investing is so important, especially the profound impact that starting early can have on their retirement savings and the ability to reach their financial goals. It’s why she wanted to continue educating others through her blog, The Financial Fashion Planner, which she founded in 2019. The Financial Fashion Planner is just that – a blend of finance and fashion and where women specifically can get both educated and inspired.
Maureen currently lives with her husband and puppy, Mac, in the River North neighborhood. And when she’s not working or blogging, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, golfing, cooking and experiencing the cuisine and culture of Chicago.
I met Maureen last year at L&I’s personal branding event and since then, we have become extremely good friends. I am so excited to have her as part of this series because I admire her tenacity to educate others in the finance space so they can really make positive changes in their financial planning. She is a true embodiment of a “Shine On” kinda gal and you’ll see that in our exclusive interview below!
So excited to have you part of the Shine On series, Maureen! Can you give your backstory and how you got to be where you are today in your current job and starting The Financial Fashion Planner?
My journey into the personal finance industry got its start back when I was in high school, specifically in my senior year of high school when I was faced with choosing a college. My parents diligently saved for my college tuition from the day I was born, but their resources weren’t unlimited. I remember having very difficult conversations with them to understand the costs and loans that would be required for me to attend my dream school. Those were not easy conversations and many tears were shed along the way but I ultimately decided to attend Illinois State University, where I was offered an athletic scholarship as a Division I diver.
When I was in college, my eyes were opened to the struggle other students were going through working full-time to support themselves and drowning in student loans. That was such a humbling moment and I understood for the first time the financial priority my parents had placed on education and that educating their children was just one of their many financial goals and their larger financial plan. It was that revelation that drew me into the financial planning industry; I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my father and help others create clear and defined financial plans.
I interviewed for a summer internship at the firm he worked for. That one summer internship turned into a second summer internship that turned into a full-time job after graduation. Seven years later, I am working for the same firm that was recently acquired by Savant Wealth Management at the beginning of 2020.
My love and passion for my career are what started the Financial Fashion Planner. It was an outlet for me to get comfortable with communicating complex financial concepts. I recognized that a personal finance blog on its own would be pretty boring to write and read, so I added the fashion component. While yes, there are lots of well-established fashion bloggers, I saw a gap in bloggers that focus on professional women that are required to dress professionally for the office. I also joke that it gives me a reason to shop because it’s for “research.”
Gotta love it! It’s so cool how you’ve been able to blend what you do in your job with your blog. What would you say you love most about your job as a financial advisor?
My absolute favorite thing about my job is my clients! I have the privilege of working with some amazing people who are out there chasing their financial goals every day. I feel honored to not only help them reach their goals, but also to learn about who they are as people and understand their values and life mission.
Having great clients to work with always makes the job more fun! Shifting gears to your blog, how did you go about building it and ensuring what you wanted to do with it was successful?
It has been a very measured and slow-building process. The idea of a blog was in my head for three or four years before I finally signed up for a WordPress account. I tell myself the reason for this was to make sure I was dedicated to the idea long-term. If it was still a desire of mine three years later, that says something. The first key to success was making sure I was committed and passionate about writing a blog long-term.
The second way I’ve gone about building my blog has been by being open to collaboration. I want to make sure that I am creating content that people can connect to and find relevant. I found the best way to find out what is meaningful and relevant to people is to just ask! I find inspiration for content in conversations with girlfriends over dinner, meetings with my actual clients and taking my brand to networking groups and getting thoughts and feedback. The Chicago blogging community is so great, every single person I’ve met since starting this journey has given me inspirations and ideas to keep growing.
I couldn’t agree more. The blogging community here is second to none. What would you say has been the most rewarding part of starting The Financial Fashion Planner?
Such a great question. The most rewarding part of starting my blog has been the interactions with my audience and the connections those interactions spark. This past year I’ve met so many amazing women (including you!) as a result of my blog and am so thankful that they came into my life! I also find it super rewarding when I see my words and thoughts have an impact. I get so excited when I hear from women who read my content and are motivated to act on an idea I shared on personal finance or inspired by an outfit I wore to the office.
Aww! I am so, so grateful we met too. I can definitely relate to wanting to make that impact with our words and expertise. What has been the most challenging part of having a full-time job and having a passion that you’re pursuing on the side?
Time management is the biggest challenge for me. I know I’m not alone in feeling like there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything. The ironic part is that time management was my biggest strength in college juggling practices, tutoring, classes, meets, you name it, and now I can’t figure it out! Part of my issue is having a commute that can take up to two+ hours a day. Those are two hours that I would love to have back to work on my blog and create content.
Totally. Hopefully you can find your groove soon and figure out ways how you can make use of your commute more!? With having two jobs essentially, how you do balance that with your well-being?
To be totally honest, I am still figuring it out. Recently, I was reminded that I thrive in a structured environment and routine and have been trying my best to find a routine that works for what I set out to accomplish each day. At a high level, I try my best to accomplish something that’s good for my heart, body, and mind every day.
I feel like I find balance when I’m able to look back at the day or week and say I was able to do something that was good for my heart, body, and mind. They cover activities like working out, spending time with family, self-reflection, learning something new or being creative. When I start to drift from my routine or don’t find time to accomplish any of those, I start to feel unsettled and out of balance.
I hear you. It’s extremely difficult to try and ‘do it all.’ Through all of this, what keeps you motivated?
The people around me motivate me, more specifically the blogger community and my audience, as they continually motivate me to keep going and dream bigger. On the blogger front, it’s not from a place of competition and feeling like I need to keep up but from a place of admiration and inspiration. As for my audience, this includes my family members, friends, and clients that continually motivate me to think bigger and address or answer the harder or more taboo topics around money and finances because they want to learn more.
That’s so great people are both inspiring you and giving you that feedback that you can take action on. Speaking of inspiration, who inspires you and why?
I can’t say I have one person that I look to that inspires me more than another. As I mentioned earlier, the people around me motivate and ultimately inspire me every day and in different ways. I am inspired by my co-workers daily on how to be a better advisor for my clients. I am inspired by my friends and community to continually put myself out there and to be brave. I am inspired by my family on how to be a better citizen of this world and to always demonstrate patience and grace when working with others. Life inspires me.
Aw, that’s amazing. What would you credit your success to?
What I am personally most proud of and view as a success is my path to landing my dream job as a financial advisor. Over the course of six years, I was able to work my way from account administration into a financial advisor role where I am now being entrusted by my clients to manage their life savings. I would credit this accomplishment to my passion for personal finance and always being an advocate for myself.
My focus on becoming a financial advisor allowed me to appreciate the importance of the positions I held along the way. It reminded me to be patient, to be humble and to actively seek out opportunities that would help me become a better advisor for my future clients. Knowing what I wanted for my career and having that focused allowed me to advocate for myself and openly share with my colleagues where I wanted to end up professionally. Speaking up for myself and articulating what I wanted resulted in exciting opportunities at work that paved the path to promotions.
Yessss, you absolutely have to be an advocate for yourself in your career. Speaking up and self-promotion is so key. I’m so glad to hear that you’ve done that. What do you want your future career to ultimately look like?
The ideal future career is to continue doing what I am doing now but have more impact. In an ideal future, I would still be a financial advisor working with my clients but also educating a larger audience. This could be a continuation of my blog or perhaps having that evolve into an online or in-person education series. At my firm, our ultimate goal is to positively impact the lives of 1M people. It’s a goal that I too am very passionate about and want to have a hand in accomplishing. If I get to be part of the team that reaches that goal, I’d be extremely happy.
That sounds like a solid plan to me! So, Lipstick & Ink is all about encouraging women to make their mark on their lives, the lives of others and on the world. What does “making your mark” mean to you?
Do you remember as a kid your parents teaching you to “leave ‘x’ better than you found it’? That’s what making your mark means to me. I strive to leave every interaction, job role or room in better shape than when I found it. The way I actively make my mark today is to approach all interactions with an intention to share a new concept or inspire a new idea.
Such a great saying and good perspective to have as we move through life. If you had one piece of advice for women looking to pursue a passion on the side while working a full-time job, what would it be?
Go for it and tune out the negative self-talk. And if you can’t turn it off, surround yourself with a community that will drown out the negative talk with their encouragement and praise.
It’s so important to just go for it and not have any fear in doing so! Alright, last question! Do you have any parting thoughts or advice for the women reading this?
My advice is two-fold. First, set goals for yourself. It’s powerful to see what you can accomplish once you write down a goal with an end-point in mind. The next piece of advice that piggybacks on setting goals is to always advocate for yourself and those goals. I’ve found that I’ve reached goals that I set for myself quicker because I was an advocate for myself and those goals. The more you talk about something, the more real it will become.