alexah strongheart

newphoto3-195x300For almost 30 years I have worked in the financial planning and securities industry. If you’ve not heard of me, it may be because I don’t have a large corporate name with a sizable marketing budget, or it may be that I’m not great at tooting my own horn, so I’m glad you’re here! Over the years my client base has been comprised of referrals from existing clients, legal and accounting professionals, and friends of family and friends who are not afraid to toot my horn for me.   Only a handful of clients have come from advertising.

I am an introvert so you probably won’t find me at a networking event, or at a gathering where people “make contacts.” If you run into me, it will most likely be while I am out walking or hiking with my completely spoiled Pit Bull rescue at one of the many conservation areas, state parks, or historic sites in and around the St Louis, Missouri area, often with one or two other people and their dogs. It may sound odd, but I find a lot of creative solutions to my clients’ financial issues while wandering in the woods. It is fascinating what the trees, birds, and animals in nature have to say.

I love water, and enjoy canoeing and kayaking with my dog, or just reading nearby (I love to read!). I discovered the joys of biking when I messed up both knees while training for my first – and only – half marathon. I went from being queen of the couch potatoes to 5Ks, to 10Ks, to a half marathon, to knee braces all within a period of one year a few years back.

I love to garden, and grow much of what I eat during the summer. I’ve spent several decades working on my genealogy, and I enjoy creating art out of found objects when time, weather, and the motivation align. Recently I have decided to teach myself to sew (with backup support from several friends who are incredibly talented with a sewing machine).

 

So, what words of wisdom can I share from these almost 30 years in the industry?

Financial planning is more than investing. Investing for income without looking at a person’s expenses and other income sources is not financial planning. In financial planning, cost of living is key. (A cost of living worksheet can be found under the client resources tab in the financial planning worksheets.)

I stopped believing in “just because.”

  • Just because something has always been done that way doesn’t mean that there isn’t another, more creative way of doing it.
  • Just because everyone else is waiting until age 65 to retire, doesn’t mean others need to. (I’ve had several clients retire in their 40s and 50s.)
  • Just because men have always handled finances (often fathers, then husbands) doesn’t mean that women can’t make good financial decisions. I have found women to be exceptional at saving and investing when given guidance. Even those women who don’t feel like they know anything about finances end up doing very well with someone answering questions and providing support.

But my most lasting lessons came just 18 days after I started in the business. My first day was October 1, 1987, and on October 19th (aka Black Monday) the global markets plummeted. That day the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 22.61%—still the largest one-day drop in U.S. history.

This experience so early in my career provided me with some of the most important lessons I would ever learn:

(1) The markets will drop, so don’t pretend that they won’t. Take those drops into account when planning for the future.

(2) Drops in the markets represent incredible buying opportunities. Remember, the first rule of investing is to “buy low.”

(3) The markets will come back up. Even though historical performance is no indication of future results, the 117 years of the DJIA gives a good glimpse of long-term trends—through both good and bad financial times.

(4) Don’t listen to the media’s hype that the sky is falling. Look long-term and be realistic.

(5) Investing “emotionally” is expensive and is almost always counter-productive. This is why one works with a financial professional, so he or she has someone to talk with about the consequences of changes before they are made.

Background

I was born in St. Cloud, Minnesota and lived there until heading off to college just 10 miles away, where I attended the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota for two years, then moved myself to the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri and finished my education by attending school full-time while also working full-time, ultimately graduating from the University of Missouri at St. Louis with a degree in Business.

I passed my Series 7 exam in 1987 and became licensed with the NASD as a Registered Representative. I later passed my Series 65 Investment Advisor Law Exam and earned the license required to work as an investment advisor representative.

I spent nearly ten years working with another financial advisor learning everything I could about the industry—I call this my apprenticeship–and it prepared me well enough to launch Strongheart Financial in 1996. My career spans 30 years, and it’s this stability, longevity, and commitment I offer to my clients.