September 15, 2023

Meet Lauren Brown CFP®

In August 2023, Fiat welcomed Lauren Brown, CFP® to our team of incredible advisors. She comes to us with 13 years of experience in the industry and with her Series 7 and Series 66 licenses.

But there’s a lot more to Lauren’s story than her advisor stats.

In this week’s blog, Lauren is kind enough to be vulnerable and honest when discussing her personal story, one that involves being inspired by her mother - a successful CFP® who cut her teeth as a broker on Wall Street in the late 1980’s. And, like many, her story also involves difficult bumps in the road that made her want to give up, or cry, or both.

Ultimately, Lauren’s story is one of female empowerment and relentless dedication.

Most importantly, it has a happy ending.

Enjoy the transcript of Lauren’s interview with Fiat’s Marketing Director, Emily Moore, below.

From Left to Right: Marin (Lauren’s mom), Lindsey (Lauren’s sister) Lauren, and Lauren’s daughter, Aubrey, in the center.

Fiat: Lauren, welcome to Fiat! Before diving into the financial talk, we want to learn more about you. Tell our readers more about you and your background.

Lauren: Thank you! I'm so excited to be here. A little bit about me... I have two kids, Mason and Aubrey. Mason is 12, and Aubrey is 10. They are very busy kids. We're a very busy family. The season of life I'm in right now is running them around to all their different things and being at all their various activities - hockey for Mason and cheerleading for Aubrey. That's what I love. I want to make sure to take advantage of the time I spend with them. So, I love it like that's a huge aspect of my life. But other than that, I really love to listen to podcasts. I love running, doing yoga, going on long walks, and listening to audiobooks.

Fiat:  Can you tell us a bit of background about you and your career path?

Lauren: I grew up in Edina [Minnesota] and graduated from Concordia University in Saint Paul with a degree in Childhood Development. I was a preschool teacher licensed to teach up through second grade. So, I did that for a few years, but I was always interested in finance. My mom had always been in the industry, so I grew up in that world. She was a financial advisor with an RIA in Bloomington for many years. But when she started out - when I was little - she was a broker. She had to go to New York for six weeks to train on Wall Street. She always traveled and did these things when I was younger, so I always grew up around the industry. At the time, as a kid...I didn't understand it all. Like when people would ask, "What does your mom do?" I never knew how to explain what she did. I'd say, "She's a businesswoman!" I just had no idea. I did eventually, of course. And I thought it was very cool. And it was when I was 27 and pregnant with my first child I decided that I didn't want to teach anymore and was looking for a change. So, my mom's like, "Why don't you come work at my firm?" And so, I did, and I did a lot of data entry, and, you know, that was it. It was like entry-level administrative work. And so, I did that for about a year, then I had my baby, Mason, and stayed home with him for a little bit. And then, while I was home with him, I started looking for other opportunities in the financial field. When I returned to work, I worked at a small firm with just me and the owner. I started out as an Administrative Assistant for him and just worked my way up. He was a busy advisor. He did seminars and was great at helping new clients. So, his firm grew quickly, and he just asked me, "Lauren, do you want to just start helping with these clients?" So that's when I got my insurance license. I got my Series 7, my 66... I got all the licenses. And it took off from there.

Fiat:  You make it sound like it's easy! For those reading, it's definitely not.

Lauren:  Right, it wasn’t! I had just given birth to another child at this time, too. But I loved the work, especially the financial planning side of it. And I found it was something I was actually good at. So, then I decided to get my CFP. As long as I was studying and getting all "licensed up," I decided to do that too. And so, I also got my CFP and became a Certified Financial Planner. My mom was a CFP, and she really encouraged me. She got into the business in the late eighties, so like, I think 87, and that was like in October of 87, when Black Monday happened.

[For context: Black Monday occurred on October 19, 1987, and became known as a day of infamy on Wall Street, when steep and unexpected selloffs devastated the stock market, resulting in a wave of frantic selloffs in a matter of hours, triggering a massives stock market crash]

Lauren: That was in my mom's first week. And she was an advisor in the era when you had "brokers," not necessarily a financial advisor. The way she explains it, people would say, "I have a stock guy." And those are people who would sit in a "bullpen" with all these other Brokers. I mean, if you've ever seen Wolf of Wall Street. It's like that. You're on the phone all day. You're calling all the time. There are no seminars, there's no real planning. They picked up the phone and would give you a stock tip. So, my mom would tell me these stories, and she would be the only woman in this bullpen and you would be on the phone all day. You'd have the "hot stock" of the day that you'd have to cold call all day.

Fiat: So, what was it like for her to be a woman in the bullpen at that time?

Lauren: It was hard, you know, really, really hard. But she always says if you can call people, talk to them, or help them, that's all it is. And she found out quickly that she was pretty good at it and was holding her own. But still...there was a lot of, you know, tough stuff she had to deal with. Competition, greed, wildly unprofessional behavior...those kinds of things. But she had her blinders on. She kept her head down. She was really good at it. And then she got into a firm, a great place she loved that was actually a lot like Fiat in its set-up and culture and values. She stayed there for the rest of her career. And that style of the firm – comprehensive financial planning, high-touch client service, long-term planning, and relationships- was different then. And so that was always really important to me when I got into the industry. That's where my passion is.

Fiat:  So your career really took off from there?

Lauren: Actually, it took about three years of just…struggling. And trying and failing and struggling some more. It was hard. Honestly, I would cry. I remember going to the bathroom or driving home...and I would just cry, like...”I can’t do this, I’m not good enough. What am I doing?”

Fiat: And how did you get through those struggles and hard days? I am pretty sure many of us can relate to that - especially early on in our careers.

Lauren:  The thing that made me stick through it... well, it was a few things. I had kids. I had to provide for them. But also - I saw my potential. I'm like, deep down...I know I can do this. I can really do this. And I knew I could help many people, you know, if I stick with it. So, I did - and eventually I got over that hump, and built a fantastic client base. The people that I had met with, you know, in year one, we're starting to retire and come back. Sometimes, you meet with people who're not ready to work with you. The timing had to be right. Maybe they're retiring in a couple of years or just not ready for whatever reason. I had met so many wonderful people who weren't ready, and then suddenly, it was like...Boom. They wanted to work with me. They were ready to trust me with their financial plan. It all kind of happened at once, like a "pop! And it all clicked.

Fiat: At that firm, you started to lean into a specific "niche" of financial planning. can, you talk about that?

Lauren: Our niche was federal employees. They've got all these robust benefits that we helped integrate with their overall financial plan. And there's not a lot of financial advisors that really understand that clientele. What I've found is when you do understand their benefits people really respond well to that, because it is it's not just a pension,there's a lot of nuances in their plan and their planning and if you don't know about them you could make some mistakes. I did that for about ten years. It’s what I cut my teeth on. It was a really good experience, but I was not growing in the way where I saw myself growing, so I joined a more prominent firm.  Larger than where I was, but still small, still independent. I've always been in the independent space. So I did that for a couple of years, and then that path brought me here to Fiat.

Fiat:  So what made you think that Fiat was the right fit at this point in your career?

Lauren:  Well, first of all, I just really think it's just got a great culture. I love that we offer just a ton of education. I love that aspect of it. I don't like firms that say, "If you work with us, then you can get all of this help and education," For me, I'm like... I've got the knowledge, and it's 30 minutes of my time, and if can set someone on the right path in that conversation. It doesn't matter if you're a client. I will do that all day long. And I love that because I want to be able to help people first and foremost. That's always been my M.O. And Brad, [Fiat CEO] gets that and is like that too. The support and mentorship for women here are just incredible. You don't always get that in a male-dominated industry. Our COO [Ashley Milot] is a woman, among other department leaders. Empowering other women has become critically important to me, and I know all the women at the firm feel the same way. They all support each other and lift each other up.

Fiat: I know you're really passionate about helping women. Can you talk more about that?

Lauren:  I have been in the industry for 13 years now, and I've seen a lot of things and met with a lot of people and a lot of women. When I met with them, there were obviously different nuances and things, but I noticed that many of their questions and concerns were the same. I started to see the lack of education and support for educating and empowering women financially. I could understand their concerns and their struggles. I could empathize with and guide them through everything I've personally gone through. Like, I've got kids. I'm divorced. I'm a single mom. I have a busy career. I'm a homeowner. I've done that a lot, you myself. I didn't always have a lot of help navigating the complexity of those things, so I want to be that sounding board for other women, Someone who you trust, who has your best interest at heart, and who knows what you’re going through in a very specific way. I've done all the scary things women can do in life, and I sometimes wondered how I would get through any of it. But I always did, somehow. And I want other women to know that they will, too. I continue to believe women can have it all. If we help and empower each other… we can do it together, and we can have it all.

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Every Day is Saturday

Our job begins where most advisors stop—saving money is great, but how do you spend it without risk in retirement? Welcome to Every Day is Saturday with Brad Gotto and Matt Stahl, partners and private wealth managers at Fiat Wealth Management.

In this podcast we help guide you to think about your money in a practical sense and make the boring and complex financial decisions, fun, informative and educational. Join us on this journey where Brad and Matt will explore different strategies on how to spend your money without guilt and have peace of mind knowing you are spending it the optimal way in retirement.

You’ve saved money for a lifetime. Now it’s time to spend it.

In Spending Money and Having Fun, Retirement Income Certified Professional Brad Gotto teaches you how to be smart about spending so you can stop worrying and live the life you want. Old habits are hard to break, but Brad helps you embrace the counterintuitive and build new habits to support your next chapter. You’ll learn how to:

  • Change your mindset around spending

  • Create boundaries that buy you freedom

  • Gain peace of mind with concepts that take the guesswork out of your financial requirements