Katrina Smith, 59

Financial planner talks about trends, mistakes people make and what she advises people to do when it comes to investments

By Ernst Lamothe Jr.

Q: What got you into the financial industry?

A: I went to college for business and I just loved numbers. When I graduated, I interviewed with E.F. Hutton and fell in love with the industry. I felt engaged and enjoyed meeting new people all the time. You just never knew what tomorrow was going to bring. I worked in the industry for 18 years before moving to Sage Rutty. What I love about this company is that it is family-owned and it’s part of their core principals to make you feel like part of a family when you work here. You are not told how to sell anything because they realize that every person is an individual and that no two clients are alike. They just want you to do the best for that particular client so it just makes me love coming to work.

Q: What are some sensible financial tips that you can give people?

A: The number one thing I tell people is that they have to establish a budget. They have to sit down and determine what they want for themselves and what they need. It could be needing more money in the future or establishing a short-term goal for yourself. Either way you need to start writing down a plan.

The second piece of advice is that once you come up with a plan you have to be consistent. Setting your investments or savings on auto pilot will let it become a pattern in your life and will be easy in helping your investments grow. The third piece of advice is that if you have money that you can put away in a 401(k),  and investments then you should. If you have a job that is willing to match those payments, you should take advantage of that.

You should also check every year to see  how things are going and if you are still headed in the right direction. There may be some things that have shifted in your life and that means you may have to adjust some of your plans.

Q:  What are some myths that you hear people say that you would like to dispel?

A: Everyone uses a specific dollar amount that they are trying to get to in order to retire. Whether it is $1 million or $2 million people can get obsessed with that number. But it all goes back to creating a budget. If you go out to dinner and you go on vacations every month, then you will have a different dollar amount than someone who eats out once a week and goes on vacations once a year. Someone who is very frugal is likely going to need less money even though anything can happen in the future. The point is that there is no cookie-cutter plan.

Secondly people will tell me that their neighbor purchased stock or made this investment and they wonder if they should do it as well. But your neighbors may have a different risk tolerance than you have. You should focus on doing something that is comfortable for you and not chasing after someone else’s plan.

Q: Are there some mistakes that people make when thinking about their finances

A: The problem is that there is so much information out there that it can become overwhelming and just because the information is on the internet doesn’t make it true. Plus the information is broader and not individualized.

Q: What is it like running an all women financial team?

A: I love it because each woman has her own way of nurturing and helping clients. Our staff is intelligent and each individual has her own strengths, which helps make each us better as a team. I also love working at a firm where the majority of the staff is women. When I first started in the financial business, there were very few women.

Q: What do you like doing in your spare time?

A: I enjoy golfing, bowling and spending time with friends and family. I have four dogs that I love and I enjoy traveling. I have traveled to the Caribbean and Europe. I still want to visit China.

Q: What advice in general do you have that keeps you active and young?

A: You have to stay engaged in life and not let the world pass you by. Instead of being comfortable we sometimes have to be taken out of our comfort zone. My clients tell me so many stories about their adventures  and it makes me want to do it as well.

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