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Over The Falls – Women's History Month Thumbnail

Over The Falls – Women's History Month

Since March is Women’s History Month, we thought it was a great time to ask our female advisors the following questions: 1.) Why did you choose finance/planning/tax as a career? 2.) What unique challenges do women face regarding finances? We had some insightful observations from our team:

Raechel Taddei, EA (Tax Manager)

Why did you choose a career in finance?

I have always been a math geek who enjoyed numbers and accounting. After college my first accounting-related job was at Rochester Products in their corporate general accounting department. I did not enjoy that corporate accounting world, so I turned down a permanent position with them to join a small local CPA firm. That was the best decision ever (other than joining High Falls in 2021)! Working in the accounting and tax field with individual and small business clients is very rewarding. I have been servicing some of my clients for 30+ years, assisting them with their bookkeeping, tax, and financial issues as their careers/businesses and families grew over time until eventual retirement for some. The tax season schedule also allowed me to grow my own family and to be home with my children in the summer as I worked part-time outside of busy season. 

What are the unique financial challenges faced by women?

I think women continue to bear the brunt of caring for the children and household responsibilities while also juggling careers. The increased remote working opportunities that opened up during the pandemic has helped with this, but women can be so busy and focused on everyday life that they don’t take time to plan financially for the future or care for their health. That is where having a trusted professional like a tax or financial advisor to assist can be valuable (and/or personal trainer for workouts!). Women need to work at carving out time from caring for everyone else to take care of themselves! 

Debbie King, CRPC® (Senior Financial Advisor)

Why did you become a Financial Advisor?

Goals. I’m a goal-based individual. I always have been. Stating a goal is very important, but not the only step needed to achieve that goal. When I was a kid, I wanted a set of jacks (do you remember those?). Goal established.

I had to know the inputs. How much were they? How long would it take me to save up? Where would I buy them? When would I reach my goal? Inputs documented. What steps do I need to take to reach my goal? I analyzed the data and came up with a plan. Phew, that was easy. Or was it?

I didn’t reach my goal in the established timeline. “Things” got in the way. I got off track somehow. But how? I didn’t save enough? The price of the jacks went up? I spent my money on gumballs? I had unrealistic expectations? How could I have failed?

I thought documenting my path to success was all I needed to do. However, I didn’t check my plan periodically and adjust for variables. I thought I had all the makings to succeed, but no check-ins were established in my initial plan. No adjustments had been made for the unexpected “things” that kept me from my goal.

I made the necessary adjustments to my plan and finally got the jacks; however, I didn’t know about risk management at the time. I lost some of my treasured jacks one day when I left them on the floor and my mom accidentally stepped on them. My jacks were at unnecessary risk, and I didn’t even realize it! Another important component of the planning process: know what risks exist and adjust as needed.

The planning process has many components and is an ongoing effort to reach your goals. That is why I do what I do at High Falls Advisors. I inadvertently learned a rudimentary financial planning process at a very young age, I built on those skills and have the desire to assist individuals towards their individual financial planning goals.

Those of you that meet with me in my office see the picture on my wall that says, “Don’t call it a dream, call it a plan.” The plan is integral to reaching the dream.

Dariya Tes (Financial Advisor Assistant)

Why did you pursue a career in finance?

My family immigrated to the United States from Cambodia in the late 80s. My parents risked their lives to give my siblings and I the best chance for success as women rarely worked and had careers in Cambodia. We had no money and didn’t understand English. 

I saw the struggles my parents faced financially, and I wanted to help my parents understand finances which turned into the biggest motivator to pursue a career in the financial services industry. I love getting to know the clients and helping them understand their finances so they can pursue their own dreams.

What are the unique financial challenges faced by women?

Many women are out-living their spouses. However, their spouse was the one that always took care of their finances, leaving many women feeling overwhelmed when they must do their taxes, take RMDs, transfer funds etc. I enjoy getting to know these women and helping them navigate through this difficult time. I love meeting with them a year later to see how much they have learned about their financial picture and how much more confident they are.

Randi Beach (Senior Financial Advisor)

Why did you become a financial advisor?

My first motivation for becoming a financial advisor was actually because I was told that I would not be successful as an advisor and that clients, particularly older men, would not take me seriously or want to work with me “because I was a girl.” Twenty plus years later, I am a Senior Financial Advisor with one of the largest client bases in the firm, many of whom are men! Along the way, I realized how much I love working with clients, getting to know them and their families and helping them achieve their life’s goals and plans. My favorite meeting is to tell my retirees that they can afford to spend on things “just because or just for themselves” after all their hard work of planning and saving.

What are the unique financial challenges faced by women?

It is important that women, especially in a partnership or marriage, understand their finances, how to access their accounts, and pay their bills. I have observed that many couples divide up the household responsibilities and often the finances are handled by just one. If that person gets sick or passes away, the non-financial spouse is now burdened with learning about their financial picture while dealing with their grief.

Jen Vogler, JD (Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer)

Why did you become a financial advisor?

As a woman in the field of finance and law, I have been incredibly fortunate to have my career path encouraged by my family, my colleagues and my mentors. My parents have been my biggest supporters. My Mom’s family was made up of fiercely independent women entrepreneurs, and although they came from very modest means, they all retired financially secure and independent. My Mom always wanted me to have a career that would allow me to be independent if I needed to be. She was told when she was in college that her career choices were limited because she was a woman. She never forgot that and made sure I knew I could do or be anything, regardless of my gender. 

I became a financial advisor because I love working with people and learning about their lives, their joys and their challenges. I am struck most days by how resilient people can be and how truly fortunate I have been in my own life. Unfortunately, part of being an attorney and a financial advisor means sometimes meeting with clients when they are at their most vulnerable. As observed by my colleagues above, oftentimes it is the female partner who is left behind due to a spouse’s death or incapacity. They are now, possibly for the first time, the sole financial and household decision maker. As a financial advisor, I try to provide them clarity and education to make things less intimidating and lonely.