Sandra Stowe is the founder and owner of White Owl Financial Advisors LLC, an independent financial organization based in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area. Over the last 15 years, Sandra has built financial technology solutions for investment banks, wealth management, and asset management institutions, and she is passionate about ensuring that women are financially empowered. On today’s episode, we uncover her why.

Transcript

Jackie Ferguson: Please welcome Sandra Stowe to Diversity Beyond the Checkbox. Sandra is the owner of White Owl Financial Advisors, specializing in comprehensive financial planning and investing for individuals and small business owners. Over the last 15 years, Sandra has built financial technology solutions for investment banks, wealth management, and asset management institutions.

Sandra is passionate about ensuring that women are financially empowered. Sandra, welcome to Diversity Beyond the Check Box. Thank you for joining us.

Sandra Stowe: Thank you, Jackie. It’s such an honor to be here.

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. So let’s jump into some questions. I’m going to start first with the fact that you earned your degree in industrial engineering and operation research from Columbia. What were you planning to do with your career there? And what made you pivot to become a financial advisor?

Sandra Stowe: So I would like to say that I had it all planned out and it was a direct line from there to where I am now, but actually, I would be really lying if I did that.

You know, honestly, when I was looking at colleges, I was never that person that knew what they wanted to be when they grew up, you know, I was always envious of that person who just knew at an early age that they want to be a doctor or lawyer or a pilot, you know, something like that. So for me, when it came to colleges, I was kind of open to all ideas. You know, I didn’t have that strong, kind of tied to any one particular discipline.

And so ultimately, my college choice was dictated more by family expectations and guidance then it was really more of an inner passion or a vision of what I really wanted to be. So back then, you know, and it’s more so than is rapidly changing now, but there weren’t that many women in STEM.

Jackie Ferguson: Right.

Sandra Stowe: And so, you know, given my propensity for math and sciences, my parents thought that it would be advantageous to be one of the few women in STEM. And, you know, ultimately I decided to do that. However, when I graduated, I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do, but I knew I definitely didn’t want to do engineering.

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah.

Sandra Stowe: Right. It was a great experience, but it wasn’t something that I felt very passionate about. And so when I was looking at opportunities when I was graduating, I really wanted something that focused on people interaction. I knew that I loved interacting with people. I was social, extroverted.

But I also wanted to leverage my technical background. So that ultimately led me to a consulting line of role at Anderson Consulting, which was  the predecessor of the center. So I spent, you know, many years doing consulting and advising clients on technology solutions to solve their business challenges. I helped JP Morgan build its private banking system, where the private bankers would use to manage their high net worth client portfolios.

Jackie Ferguson: Wow.

Sandra Stowe: And then more recently I built workflow solutions for investment banks. But after doing that for 25 years, I realized it wasn’t really feeding my soul. And if I were honest with myself, it really wasn’t feeding my soul the whole time. Right? But there was like a practical element. Again, the practical element kind of came in because, you know, growing up, the feeling of passion was never the topic of discussion. It was all about what was practical, what was quote, unquote “success.” So it was more like that traditional definition of that.

And so that was kind of the trajectory that I had been on for many years. And for many years it was worthwhile, right? The pros of what I was doing, I enjoyed it enough. It was affording me a lifestyle. It was enough, but a couple years ago, like, I call it my “midlife moment,”

Jackie Ferguson: Okay.

Sandra Stowe: Where I had a ski accident. I did a number on my knee and I had ACL surgery and it was the first time in my life where I didn’t bounce back like I used to. And it was like, “Oh, I’m getting older.” I mean, suddenly you have this realization of like, you know, it’s nothing new, but really the realization of you have this one life, right? What am I going to do with it? And so as I was like gearing up and motivating myself to focus on getting back to work the following week, I just really had this overwhelming feeling of, “I’m done.”

You know, there was, as I was thinking about what I wanted to do, thinking about a promotion or a lateral move, or even a role that I would create for myself in corporate America no longer excited me. Like I just couldn’t get myself excited around any of those concepts, felt like been there, done that.

It’s just another manifestation. And so, the main thing that I realized was missing and kind of, what’s the word? More of acceptance?

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah.

Sandra Stowe: Is that, you know, as I was looking at the second half of my life, I really wanted it to be focused on purpose and passion. Because the first half, I was like the P’s of my life, um, being practical was like the first part of my life, but really purpose and passion, it’s really where I felt was that big missing link in my life. And for years I was able to suppress it cause everything else kind of outweighed it, but it finally got to a point that was no longer outweighing the fact that I didn’t feel like I was really driving behind a purpose.

And so, given that we have this one life to live, I really wanted to make sure that whenever my day comes, hopefully not for a long time, right? I’m going to have that little positive impact on the world, no matter how small it was. So, in looking at that, and knowing that I value people and helping people in a personal way, it was networking and talking to a lot of different professionals, and I came across three different financial advisors in like a matter of weeks. Right? So it was almost like, okay, the universe is speaking to me, right? Because I came across these three financial advisors who all told me, ‘Why don’t you look at financial advisement? You’d be great at it.”

And it really gave me a pause, because when I was building JP Morgan’s private banking system, all the, I saw basically how the sausage was made. And I was like, “I don’t know if I want that.” But because I was hearing it, I just felt like, you know what, I need to be open-minded to what I’m hearing. And so after exploring it, it actually was a surprise to me, but actually wound up to be the perfect fit. And you know, the main reason behind that is a financial advisor, first and foremost, is a relationship manager.

So it’s fundamentally a people- business where you’re caring for your clients, you want the best for them, you’re trying to help them establish what their goals are and helping them to achieve that. Right? Those are all the fundamentals of the things that I want to do. And then it takes into the account that there’s a strategy element where you’re looking at how to fulfill a client’s long-term goals along with the short-term goals and how do you kind of balance that all out. And then, you know, satisfying the inner engineering nerd in me, there’s also analysis, right?

So I get to look at option A versus option B or option C. What has the best outcome for a client. So all of that kind of came together and then the cherry on top, for me, it was really coming back to what you mentioned in the intro is really my passion for helping women. I did some work when I was in corporate America, I spearheaded the Woman’s Initiative, and really just had a passion for helping women advance in their careers. And now in this light is really looking at how do I help women really achieve their goals and dreams in their life, and helping them through establishing a financial foundation and educating them on that.

Jackie Ferguson:  Sandra. I love that, you know, it’s so important that we, especially as we get older, think about what our purpose is, what our passion is, and you have to have that financial foundation in order to pursue those things. So, thank you so much for sharing that. Why is it so important for people to be financially literate and what are some of the concepts that we need to understand as a whole about financial literacy?

Sandra Stowe:  So, you know, kind of just segwaying from the comment that you just made, right? Whether we like it or not, finances are really fundamental to everybody’s life, right?

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah.

Sandra Stowe: We need to be able to  earn it, right. Make it, manage it, and care for it in order to live the lives that we want to. And, if you’re not financially literate, you don’t understand the options that are before you and therefore, it would be much more difficult to make a good decision, whatever decision that you’re evaluating.

So, like put in another way, it’s like, if you’re financially illiterate, then it limits your options. Right, because you’re not able to look at option A, B or C because you see option A, you’re like, “Okay, I’ll go with option A.” Because I don’t know any better. So it gives someone a better understanding of how to evaluate these  decisions and how to evaluate the risks versus the trade-offs, and then ultimately making the best decisions for their lives.

And so what I see oftentimes is because the financial literacy isn’t there, making these financial decisions can feel very overwhelming. And so a lot of people wind up not making any decision, right? Well, in their mind, they think I’m not making a decision and wind up doing nothing. When in reality, they are making a decision, just not intentionally.

So what I like to do is for people to make intentional decisions and not have a decision be made because they didn’t think about it. Or they know better otherwise. So that, I would say is just the fundamental in terms of why I believe financial literacy is so important. In terms of concepts, I would say there are three key ones.

The first one is concept of saving versus investing. I know that sounds really basic, but I come across this a lot in, actually I see it a lot with women, is the concept that women are savers, they like the idea of knowing that they have money in the bank.

Jackie Ferguson: Yep.

Sandra Stowe: Right?

Jackie Ferguson: Absolutely.

Sandra Stowe: Versus investing, which is how do I strategically manage that money in a way that’s going to work harder for me? Right? And so a lot of people kind of use those things a little. They think about it synonymously, right? They think, “Oh, well on savings, I’m saving for retirement. But if all your savings is in a bank account, that’s actually not doing what you want it to do. And in many cases, will actually help you hit your goal. The second one is around risk. So risk is a complicated topic and there’s many different facets of looking about at risk, but I also see risks in terms of the perspective that you take.

For instance, when I ask people, what are they worried about? Oftentimes, they tell me they’re afraid of loss. Right? They’re afraid of losing money. And that’s why they tend to put money in a savings account because they’d like to see, like I have X number of dollars in that bank account and I’m going to come back every day unless I spend it, it’s going to be that same amount of money.

However,  if I were to ask someone like flip that question in a, from a different perspective and ask them what is scarier for you? The risk of temporarily losing money or losing value in your portfolio? Or the risk of running out of money one day? Most people would say they’re afraid of running out of money one day.

The thing with that though, and the reason why I feel a lot of people, when they’re thinking about their day to day, though. Even though that is the scarier prospect, most people hold onto the risk of loss. Because they’re running out of money one day is such a harder abstract concept. Right?

If you were to ask someone, “How much money will you need in retirement to live the lifestyle that you’re envisioning? How much money would you need?” Most people probably can’t articulate what that is. And because they don’t know. Right? Because they don’t know what that is. It’s hard to imagine not having enough of it.

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah. That makes sense.

Sandra Stowe: Right? And also a lot of times people look at retirement almost like the finish line, right? Since like not quite birth, but since the early age you, hear about retirement. Right? And, this is something that you’re gunning for and this is something that one day people will attain retirement.

And it’s almost like there’s this finish line, but in reality, retirement is just another phase of life.  Given the life expectancies these days and early retirement, people could be in retirement for 30 or 40 years. So it actually could be one of the larger spans of your life time that you’re in this state of retirement.

And so again, because it seems like this elusive thing in the future that you’re never going to get to, it’s harder for people to grasp. And so when it comes to risk, a lot of people tend to look at what’s near term, what’s in my face, what is tangible, and that is the risk of loss versus this concept of risk of not having enough.

And then third and final one I would say is the time horizon that you have is actually really important as well. So time can be an ally for you, and it can, depending upon that, your time horizon can also impact the risks that you take on. So depending upon the goals that you have in the timeframe in which you want to hit those goals, will dictate potentially the amount of risk you’d want to take on.

So, those are like probably the three main concepts I just want to make sure people understand and differentiate, which on the surface sounds pretty obvious, but there’s so much like an underlying that, that’s important to understand.

Jackie Ferguson:  Sandra that’s so helpful and, you know, many of us, and I’m certainly speaking about myself here are risk averse. Right? I like to put my money away and see what it is. See it growing a little bit, but that’s not necessarily as you’re saying the best way to think about my savings. What are some of the considerations for investing to build out a full portfolio apart from checking, savings, 401k?

Sandra Stowe: So there are a couple of different things to look at. So the first one I would say is , coming back to what I was saying before about your financial situation as holistic. So don’t necessarily look at one part of your finances and you know, so let’s say for instance, one account, if you did invest. Say the, like back in March when the markets dropped 30, 40%, everyone’s freaking out over that. Right?  I mean, don’t necessarily look at that one thing. You really have to look at everything that’s going on in your life and all the goals that you’re trying to achieve and see how you are benching towards those goals. Right? So like, losing 20% or 30% over a few weeks seems really scary, but you know, what, if you are on target to meeting your goals, that should give you some level of comfort.

The second thing is also, you know, keeping in mind that some, you have to take some risk to get some reward. It’s like anything in life. So if you are in a risk-free kind of situation where all your money’s in a savings account, you can’t really expect too much reward. People don’t pay for guarantees. And so, you know, just knowing that obviously you want to reduce the amount of risk for the amount of reward you get, but you do need to take some amounts of risk in order to have your money work harder for you.

And then the third thing I would say is like people, you know, what I often find is that people tend to have two buckets of money right now. It’s retirement money and it’s savings. And–

Jackie Ferguson: Yeah.

Sandra Stowe: There’s nothing in between. Right? And so, the reality is people are likely to have many goals that are going to be between now and their retirement age. And so, in order for those goals to be achieved, so whether it’s like buying a house, paying for college, doing home renovations, investing in an investment property. In many cases, savings alone, again, because it’s not really paying you anything won’t really help you achieve those things. And so, especially nowadays with the low interest rate environment, you’re essentially getting pennies on the dollar.

And if you think about it as it relates to inflation, you’re in reality, even though the number in your bank account may not change, you’re actually losing purchasing power. And so what a dollar buys today is not what a dollar is going to buy a year from now. It’s actually going to buy less. Right? So you have to look at your money more than just those two buckets.

So normally, what I recommend is for people to look at money in different buckets, and depending upon the time horizon, you might put money in a savings account if you’re going to touch the money in the next year. If it’s something that you need in the next five or ten years, you might put it in a pre-retirement account. And then obviously if it’s money that you’re going to use for retirement, you put it more in like a retirement type of account.

Jackie Ferguson: That makes sense. That’s very helpful. You know, I, it’s important to think about those things in between. Right? We’re always taught, as young people; checking, savings, 401k and retirement. Right? But what about the steps between? And thank you so much. That’s so important. Please continue, but I just wanted to share that because, you know, it’s, there’s so much more than the very basic things that we’re taught as young people that we need to learn. And I love what you’re saying, so keep going.

Sandra Stowe: Thanks, Jackie. Yeah. I mean like, so what I see with a lot of clients is, again, like a lot of what I do is help them evaluate that pre-retirement situation, because again, they have all these goals they want to achieve and the money just won’t do it in from a savings account. And helping them get started with a pre-retirement account and having them build that discipline and building that account, really can make a tremendous difference in terms of someone’s ability to be able to hit those goals.

And then lastly, in this topic, I guess what I would say is taxation is also something that people need to pay attention to, because I think we’re conditioned to always look at taxes again from a today perspective. Right? It’s like, “Oh, how can I save taxes today? I’m going to max out my 401k. I’m going to do X. I’m going to do Y.” But I like to look at taxation kind of like a seesaw where you are balancing the taxation today with the taxation in the future. Because Uncle Sam’s getting you one way or the other. Right? And so if you do, if you have a situation where you’re saving a lot of taxes today, let’s say because you’re putting money in tax deferred, 401k, IRAs, and that stuff, which I do think is important.

But if you’re overbalanced in terms of looking at your whole net worth and portfolio and that type of money, guess what happens? In the future, when you’re in retirement and you’re taking money out of your retirement accounts to live on, Uncle Sam is going to get you then. And so you don’t want to be in retirement, say,” Oh, I want to live on X amount of dollars,” but in reality, I’m going to be taxed 30% on that. So I actually need to take X plus 30 out. Right? Because I need to be able to cover for those taxes. And so just trying to find where that balance is. I mean, it’s not exact science, but just trying to do it where it’s not too imbalanced is important.

Jackie Ferguson: Absolutely. Thank you for sharing that. And Sandra, I want to just take a moment in this podcast, because this is a diversity podcast, and I want to explain to our listeners why we’re talking about financial empowerment. As we think about creating equity and earlier in season three, we had Woody White on that talked about creating equity and how to do that. We’ve got to empower individuals with knowledge and financial acumen and being able to really get out in communities and make real difference through what we’re able to contribute financially is important. We’ve got to, in order to create equity, understand these terms, understand these concepts, and, as I said a little earlier, so many of us did not get this information at a young age. Right? So we’re learning it later and it’s important in this podcast.

And I wanted to make sure that we took time to really share this information, which in our earlier conversations was personally helpful to me. And then, you know, be able to share this more broadly because this is such an important part. When the equation, when it comes to equity. So I just wanted to take a moment in this conversation and talk to our listeners about why we’re talking about these concepts. So, thanks for giving me that moment.

Sandra Stowe: No, and, and absolutely. I mean, I think the equity spans across all realms there. Right? Cause again, it’s, you know, I’m focused on women. But it applies to race as well. Right? As just another factor of equity. I mean, having financial freedom just puts you in control. And that is important because a lot of times, if you don’t feel like you have that footing, your life is kind of beholden to someone else. Right? So whether it’s your company or whatever else, other factors that are going in your life, someone is controlling that life for you. So in order for you to have more control for yourself and kind of guide where you want your life to go, financial freedom is a fundamental aspect of that.

Jackie Ferguson: Absolutely. Sandra, tell us why you’re so passionate about women being financially empowered.

Sandra Stowe: You know, I find, and I say this with some delicacy, because I’m not saying that this only happens to women, but I feel like women have more obstacles. So again, it doesn’t mean that men don’t face some of the same challenges, but in large majority, I would say women face more financial challenges.

And for instance, like what I mean by that is the most obvious I think the one that gets a lot more air time, is really around the wage gap. Right? Where women make 82 cents on the dollar for their male counterparts. And, depending upon your race, you actually might make less.

Jackie Ferguson: That’s right.

Sandra Stowe: So it’s unfortunate. Right? But it’s real where just your earning power, one is affected by that. too. And again, I’m giving my comments in very broad strokes, so I don’t want to sound stereotypical. But it’s just broad strokes here in that many women, if they have children, they tend to take time away from their careers to rear children. Right?

And it’s a personal choice and it’s not a wrong choice, but the potential impact of that is at a later stage, if they decide to go back to work, if they even decide to do that. Many times, they’re not on the same trajectory that they once were, and so the types of roles they’re able to attain. And then commensurately with that is like the level of income and earning power is at a lower level than what it would have been had they stayed in their careers. Right? So you have the wage gap and then you have that potential additional factor. Right?

And then in a lot of households,  saying this without a judgment on it. But husbands oftentimes still manage the finances. And,  it’s great that their loving, trusting relationships, the women are fine with the husbands doing that. But fundamentally, that puts them at a disservice where they don’t have a good understanding what their financial situation is. So I joke around, I said, I’m not here to cause marital discord, and I’m not saying like change that dynamic. But at a minimum, be educated and know what decisions are being made. And actually know what your financial situation is. Additionally, statistically speaking one out of almost every two marriages end in divorce. So, so, you know, if your, which kind of exacerbates my last point which means, and I’m not saying be educated because of divorce, but if they’re kind of tied together too. Right?

In the sense of if your husband or spouse is managing the finances and then you wind up having a divorce. A lot of times women don’t even know what to negotiate because they don’t have a full understanding of what the financial situation is. And then coming back to the financial literacy too, it’s like also knowing like what is more advantageous to negotiate for themselves.

So that’s an important factor as well. And, you know, if it’s an amicable divorce, it would be less of a severe impact. But if it’s a contested divorce and it’s acrimonious, it could actually be very, very challenging to go through that process. The other point I would also make is that, and we’re seeing this more and more now with the baby boomers. You know, our parents, our elderly, and aging is that elder care also tends to fall more on women where when they’re in their forties and fifties, their parents are aging, they tend to be the ones who are taking care of their parents.

And, part of this is an emotional aspect of it, so it’s not always like a financial impact directly, but the indirect effect is it might impact the type of work they could take on if they’re trying to also manage the care of their parents. So that has an impact. And then I would say the last big aspect of it is women statistically live longer.

So we need money to work harder and longer for us to extend with our lifetime. So, as I said, like there’s many, many factors that I just feel like it makes me so passionate because I would say not every woman kind of ticks off all these boxes, but every woman ticks off at least one or more of these boxes. And so, because it’s so prevalent, I think it’s so important that women just get a good footing on their situation.

Absolutely. Sandra that’s so important. And certainly I was just raising my hand as you’re going through some of those points and so true. It’s so true.  There are a lot of examples of inequity and finance and lending with women and also racially diverse communities.

Web entrepreneur, David Heinemeier Hansson posted a tweet in 2019 saying that the Apple card had given him 20 times the credit limit of his wife. And this was despite the fact that they had, filed joint tax returns and that his wife in fact had a better credit score than he did. And then Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak replied to the tweet in saying that he had been granted 10 times the amount of his wife  even though they had  joint assets and a similar situation. Another example is the multiple studies that prove that racially diverse individuals commonly receive less credit or higher interest rates than white borrowers, even when their assets and credit scores are comparable. So what do we do about this Sandra? And how can people guard against these inequities as they think about lending?

You know, it’s shocking that these practices still exist. You know, laws were put in place like 50 years ago to try to protect from this type of situation. So it’s just so disheartening to hear that it is still happening and even as recently as a couple of years ago, some major banks have lawsuits because of this exact issue.

So it is a really, hate to say it does happen. Hopefully it’s not as prevalent. Right? And I think generally, you know, from the banks that I know, I mean, there’s good practices where it’s it’s data focused but still, you know, it may happen. And so, to answer your question about how do we protect from this?

You know, I would say like with anything else, the first thing is educate yourself. Right? Again, I’m all about educating yourself because if you understand the process and kind of the factors that are being considered, and you understand what to expect. At least that’s already giving you a better footing in this whole process.

If you know you’re anticipating, oh, I want to buy a home next year. Let’s say, for example, and here are the factors that banks are going to be looking at. You can kind of get your affairs in order first before you do it.

So there’s some proactive measures that someone can take just by getting educated. And then the other part of this, I would say is, again, another general good practice regardless of what it is, is shop around. Because then it’ll give you a sense of one, hopefully you’ll find the best term and rate.

That’s the goal, but also they can let you. See if there’s any outlier information. Right? If you’re getting a totally different term and rate from one lender, then it’s a little bit more obvious potentially that’s something, you know, is, is not, but there might be some discrimination happening. But also, as part of those three to five lenders, I would check with online lenders too.

So just having kind of a mixture between like your maybe national bank, local banks and lenders, and just kind of getting a range of a gamut of responses. We’ll just put you in a general better negotiating situation anyway. And then also for home purchases, the HUD has counseling agencies that will help guide someone through the process.

So there’s some additional resources that they can go to, to reach out and they will have counselors to help you kind of navigate that situation. And then fundamentally also, granted reading law is not interesting, but I think having an understanding of high level, understanding at least about the law and your rights.

So I’m referring to two specific ones, which is the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which basically protects from any form of credit discrimination and the fair housing act, which protects from housing and mortgage discrimination. So at least read up on those and understand what your rights are, so that at least you can identify if you feel like your rights were being violated.

And if you do think they’re being violated and you suspect discrimination, the first thing I would do is go back to that lender and ask them to explain the rationale of their decision. Because in an optimistic route, it could be something that’s insightful for you that you didn’t think about and that bank happened to be focused on.

And other banks, maybe it wasn’t as high of a criteria. But at least it could help you get some insight and hopefully resolution. And if you can’t get to a satisfactory resolution, you could file a complaint with that lender as well as with the State Attorney General’s office and with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. So, hate to go the legal route, but you have some repercussions there if you want to go that route if you suspect discrimination.

Jackie Ferguson: Awesome. Thank you so much. That is great advice. Sandra, you’re clearly very accomplished. What inspired you to pursue success? And tell us about your background a little, about your family.

Sandra Stowe: So let me answer this with one of my favorite quotes from Hamilton; “Immigrants, we get the job done.”

Jackie Ferguson: I love that.

Sandra Stowe: I love that statement. And frankly, because I’ve seen it firsthand. And so, work ethic and education were always priorities in my family.  But my family, you know, my parents were immigrants. They gave up everything to start a new one in the US. At first, my parents actually immigrated twice.

I mean, so basically in 1948, 1949, my grandparents fled the Communist in China. And they went to Taiwan. And then shortly before I was born, my parents came here from Taiwan. So, you know, my family has had to start and restart a couple of times in different countries. And I just see all the hard work. I remember when I was a kid, my parents had, they were managing a stationary store and a grocery store and I’d be sitting on like the milk crate box, eating my yogurt. You know, just kind of watching my parents like work these long hours. And while they’re juggling four kids you know, in a country where they didn’t speak the language.

But through all of that, the focus was still on us and having good grades and this expectation that education is fundamental. If you get a good education, it’s going to set you off to be in a better place later on in life. And that expectation for success has always been ingrained in us. It’s like, I don’t even really remember it consciously.

It’s just kind of been that this is what you’re going to do. You’re going to work hard and you’re going to make the best out of your life. And I would say also my mother, she married young and she didn’t go to college. And so, she’s never explicitly stated this before, but I’ve always just kind of internalized this as a fundamental regret that she’s had about just not having the college education and also relying on my father from a financial perspective and having to work hard.

So that has always been kind of just fundamental in terms of the family belief system. And then also I would say culturally pedigree. So culturally I’m referring to Chinese culture. Pedigree is really important. And so I think part of that was ego for my parents too, in terms of like having a child go to elite school or having a child with a prominent career is a statement of like the parenting job.

But they did. Right? And it was like fundamental again to just kind of expectations that we had growing up.

Jackie Ferguson: It’s so interesting how our families so clearly influenced who we become and, and I just, I love that. Thanks for sharing that. Sandra, what about what you do brings you the most joy?

Sandra Stowe: Well, I mean, the obvious one is like for me is the, in terms of what I do in terms of profession is when I know I am helping someone and I’m tangibly changing the course of their life. And I, that sounds so like grandiose in a way, which is not intended, but it’s just knowing that impact that I’m having on someone’s life is, I want to say it’s purely for them, but frankly, it’s so satisfying for me to know that I’m able to help someone that way. Whether it’s helping someone get out of debt years faster than they would have, or helping them achieve their goals, or more of their goals in life. It’s just so rewarding.

So that, that in itself, you know, as it from a professional perspective, I would say is, is what’s rewarding. On a non-professional front, I would say family aside, I have to include my husband and kids and my dog. I love traveling and just experiencing new cultures. So that’s when I feel really alive when I’m somewhere and I’m immersing in someone else’s culture and just learning about it and trying my take at the language. It’s always so exciting when I feel like this is what life is about; is really bridging communities and relationships with one another. No matter what the kind of “see me” barriers are. So whether it’s the culture, it’s the language, it’s just so empowering to feel like you could cross those boundaries. It’s just really exciting.

Jackie Ferguson: And then as we began to wrap up, what’s the one piece of advice, Sandra, that you want to leave our listeners with today?

Sandra Stowe: So I would say, it’s not like overly like insightful, but I just mean like you own your own future.  And what I mean by that is no matter what someone’s financial situation is, like, whether they’re in debt or they don’t have debt, they have savings, they don’t have savings, is you can own where you are and where you want to be.

And a lot of people may feel like, “Oh, I waited too long. It’s too late.” And there’s kind of, there’s a little bit defeatism that could come into it. And I just want to say, it’s never too late. You know, it’s never too late to get started. It’s always better to start today than tomorrow.

And while it could feel overwhelming, if you take one step at a time, you will slowly start seeing progress and that progress will build on each other.

Jackie Ferguson: Such good advice. “Own where you are and where you want to be.” I love that. Sandra, how can we get in touch with you if we need a financial advisor?

Sandra Stowe: Well the best way is you can email me at Sandra, S-A-N-D-R-A@whiteowlfinancial.com or look for me at LinkedIn under Sandra Stowe.

Jackie Ferguson: Thank you so much for taking some time with us today. It’s been a true pleasure and I’ve learned so much. I’ve been furiously taking notes as you’ve been speaking through our podcast, which I don’t know if that’s the best practice, but you know, that’s what happened.

Sandra Stowe: No. Thank you, Jackie. This has been tremendously um, fun and hopefully helpful to people as well, but I really just enjoyed it. I enjoyed chatting with you. Like always.

Jackie Ferguson:  Of course. Thank you so much.

Full Episode Transcript

Diversity Beyond the Checkbox is presented by The Diversity Movement and hosted by Jackie Ferguson. For more information including the latest webinars and other DEI content, head over to TheDiversityMovement.com. Podcast production by Earfluence.

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