Women Entrepreneurs in Chicago Gather to Build Financial Know-How

November 22, 2013

11:00 am

Finding success and finding wealth can be two different things. Because when you’re a startup, your company comes first, and you forget to invest in your own future. This is what financial advisors and Chicago entrepreneurs taught rising women in tech last Thursday.

Chicago’s Ms. Tech group and Chicagonista Live paired with Atrium Wealth Advisors to give women entrepreneurs the tools they need to move ahead.

“True wealth starts from within,” said Dan Wachs, an investment advisor with Atrium. By discovering your “financial personality,” you can understand your investing habits. Are you an initiator, a collaborator, a dreamer, an analyzer, or an avoider?

Learning this helps you plan for the future. If you’re an avoider, maybe you should hire an advisor to get you organized and invest smartly. But either way, “you have to have some vision of where you want to go,” he said.

This becomes increasingly important for entrepreneurs. When your businesses are “your time, your love, your sweat, your tears, your money,” it becomes difficult not to put your company ahead of yourself, Wachs said.

“It’s very difficult to diversify, because your business is everything.”

And Sue Jung, CEO of Price Futures Group agreed – investing isn’t easy. “I don’t practice what I preach,” she said. Which might seem ironic considering Jung’s professional success. Jung began her career in the back office, and worked her way up to where she is now.

“If I do start over, will it work?” she said. Entrepreneurs have the tension between following their dreams of a new company and having “bills to pay and mouths to feed.” This can be even more difficult if you are divorced with children.

Jung, who has worked in the male-dominated commodities industry for more than 15 years, argues that women have it a bit harder. Which is why Jung and Wachs, part of the Atrium Wealth Advisors group, paired with Chicagonista and the Ms. Tech group to make their knowledge and tools more widely available. Wachs also does a video series with Chicagonista on managing personal finances.

And Atrium offers technology to make their clients’ lives easier. Their clients use a web platform to keep all financial decisions in one place, with graphs that forecast where wealth is headed and whether it meets personal goals.

It looks somewhat similar to Mint.com by tracking spending and current balances into understandable charts. But the product goes beyond tracking habits and forecasts future habits as well.

“It gives our clients clarity,” said Ron Mark, also a financial advisor at Atrium. “Once they input bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and bills, they get to see it all in real-time as the markets.”

Plus it has a mailbox feature that alerts you for targeting movements of different financial instruments and deadlines. For example, one of Mark’s clients is budgeting clients planning for college, and deadlines come at different times.

As entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. And it becomes increasingly important to find financial information and support not just at work, but also at home.

“People who change jobs, they’re going to have to worry about the benefits,” Jung said. And as this is not always an option for entrepreneurs, it makes diversifying investments all the more important.

But it doesn’t need to be difficult – it’s mainly about getting organized and getting your files in one place. This is why figuring out your financial personality matters. It helps you recognize how hard it will be for you to get organized. And now, there’s technology out there to help along the way.

And the answer goes from ‘How much money can you make?’ to ‘How much can you save?’

Guest author Sonali Basak is a freelance tech and business reporter.  She fell in love with the tech world in Chicago, and believes good technology changes the world. She now reports on startups and corporations innovating new, and exciting, things. She received her MSJ from Medill School of Journalism and her bachelor’s from Bucknell.  Follow Sonali on Twitter: @sonalibasak.

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