The Roots of Success: Q & A with CEO, Stacy Francis
As the president and CEO of a boutique wealth management firm, nationally recognized financial expert, Stacy Francis, knows a thing or two about what it takes to be successful—both in money and business. The practice she founded and runs, Francis Financial, specializes in providing personalized financial consulting for high net worth individuals and families.
Passionate about the importance of financial education for women and couples—something she takes from personal experience, Stacy founded Savvy Ladies, a non-profit dedicated to promoting financial empowerment among women. Her organization has helped over 10,000 women get farther on their path to financial freedom through mentoring, workshops, webinars and a financial fitness hotline.
Stacy has appeared on countless news programs and received awards for her work, including the Heart of Financial Planning Award from the Financial Planning Association (FPA) and Financial Planning Magazine’s Pro Bono Award.
We asked Stacy what lessons she learned about business and life that have helped her succeed.
W&M: Was there a defining moment in your life that pushed you to succeed in your professional life?
SF: I founded Francis Financial, Inc. because I am committed and passionate about helping other people, especially women. Early on in my childhood, I witnessed how deadly life could be for women who were not empowered through financial education.
My grandmother stayed in an abusive marriage because she did not have the skills to effectively deal with money. That experience changed my life and drove me into the field of finance. I realized that I could become my grandmother if I did not take charge of my own financial future.
I am so blessed to be able carry out my life’s mission of helping other people feel financially secure. Every day that I go to work, I honor the memory of my grandmother who will always be in my heart. While the awful memories of what happened will never go away, I am making new, happy memories by changing lives one person at a time.
W&M: What’s the best business lesson that you’ve ever learned? What was the scenario?
SF: During Hurricane Sandy, our office was evacuated for over 2 months and I had to adjust to extreme circumstances in order to keep the business running.
I learned that being nearly 100% paperless is a great way to run a business. We were able to stay on track remotely and even had the highest onboarding of new clients during that time period.
We made the best of the situation using temporary office locations around the city for client meetings and providing work spaces for my employees at my home. Being able to run your company from anywhere is an indispensable asset to a business.
W&M: What 3 nuggets of advice would you give your 21-year-old self about life, business, success or career?
SF: Have confidence, trust your gut and never be afraid of taking a risk.
W&M: What one thing did you invest in, in terms of time or money, that gave you the biggest return on investment for your business and your life?
SF: I would say by far, education. I continue to invest not only in my education but in my staff’s.
I have completed my CFP® and CDFA™ and am now working on a certification in Tax & Estate planning. I also attend many conferences and have found this to be a great investment.
W&M: From your experience, what are 1 or 2 characteristics, traits or habits people need to have in order to be successful?
SF: One, determination; having the ability to never give up when faced with challenges. And two, authenticity; people don’t care about what you know until they know you care about them.
W&M: How do you maintain a good work-life balance?
SF: I stay active and am an early riser. I get most of my emails done before 6AM, when the kids wake up. I stay in great shape by running marathons and take off Monday and Friday afternoons to pick up my children from school. I try to work as little as possible on the weekend and enjoy a lot of family activities. I also have a great staff that allows me to unplug when I’m on vacation.
W&M: What book or books were life-changing for you?
SF: The E Myth by Michael E. Gerber and the advice to work on your business and not “in” it. And create operation manuals for everything!
About the Author: Kali Hawlk is a writer and content manager who is passionate about personal finance and business. She also runs Common Sense Millennial, a resource for members of Gen Y who want to do more with their money. You can connect with her on Twitter @KaliHawlk