Our financial system is complex, but our personal financial lives don’t have to be. By focusing on systems and strategies instead of products, anyone can have a financially secure future regardless of their level of income. Through financial planning advice and impact investing, Jenifer Sapel is helping individuals with how to use money as a tool to build a life that is both meaningful and enjoyable.
Jenifer is leading as the CEO and President of Utor Wealth. In our endeavor to find “The 10 Most Empowering Women Leaders in Wealth Management, 2021”, we caught up with Jenifer to unveil her entrepreneurial journey and how she is significantly contributing to the wealth management industry through Utor Wealth.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Take our readers through your journey and the challenges you came across CEO at Utor Wealth.
I started at and spent most of my career with a Fortune 50 company. Making the transition from employee to entrepreneur was challenging and worth it. Learning that being a founder and CEO means that for a while, you might wear every hat, all the strategic roles, and implementor roles – for example, the CFO and the bookkeeper. I’m a creative and strategic thinker, so my biggest challenge was learning to prioritize projects. I got amazing advice from Dana Malstaff of BossMom when she suggested giving a benchmark to each project. For example, I wanted to start a financial education business; it was a bit of a distraction. Now, I have a benchmark in my Financial Planning practice that triggers picking that project back up again.
What opportunities do you and Utor Wealth offer for financial growth with investment solutions to Individuals and Corporates?
We excel in the strategic overview of our client’s financial life and then offer tactical solutions that align with the larger objective. It’s all too common that people get excited about a specific product or opportunity without being grounded in a strategy first. That is like packing for a vacation when you don’t know what the destination is. Secondly, we love our Impact portfolios. These portfolios often own the same holdings as a traditional portfolio, but we use fund managers who use shareholder advocacy and other strategies to engage with the companies for a more sustainable future.
What is your idea of impactful leadership? What style of leadership do you personally prefer at Utor Wealth?
I’m a big fan of the Brene Brown style of leadership that she describes in both her Podcast, Dare to Lead, and book Daring Greatly. I’ve been an overachiever and avid reader most of my life and have to fight the “know-it-all” tendencies. As one of 4 members of the first Advisor Teaming consultants at MetLife, I learned that higher quality and better-adapted solutions come from asking the entire team to contribute. Now I spend the majority of my Leadership Development in learning how to foster a safe and inclusive environment and asking great questions.
What makes Utor Wealth a preferred choice for your clients over the competition?
We believe that there’s a lot of great competition out there and that many of them are better suited for some people than we are. Our clients love us because we generally maximize the utility of money (Utor is Latin for: to use, to employ, to enjoy). We keep our solution simple and show ways for how they can contribute to a sustainable world in all five ways they use their money: earn, save, invest, give and spend.
Taking into consideration the current pandemic and its impact on global economies, how are you driving the company to sustain operations and ensuring the safety of your associates and employees at the same time?
Prior to the pandemic, we were meeting with 70% of our clients virtually and only 30% in our office. The pandemic forced a 100% virtual model, which is safer for our team and our clients. Currently, all members of our team are mothers who like and need the flexibility to manage the other demands of life and have vulnerable people at home. We see no reason to put anyone at risk if it isn’t necessary. Our productivity has maintained and even increased in several months, and we look forward to navigating our options as the pandemic continues to unfold and evolve.
What people, what books, what life factors have influenced and impacted you?
As mentioned before, I’m a huge Brene Brown fan. I also love Tara Mohr and her book Playing Big. Both these women have a way of presenting well-researched ideas, challenging the status quo, and offering not only a different perspective but also a forward-looking path for navigating challenges. Like every human, all of my life’s experiences have impacted who I am and how I show up on this planet. Most notably, my financially insecure upbringing, I entered this career as a way to live differently than how I grew up. I’ve seen a lot of loss in the last 5 years with multiple miscarriages and the deaths of 2 of my closest family members. These losses have given me tremendous clarity in my priorities and broken my heart open to love the humanity and frailty in all of us.
What is your thought on the necessity for businesses to align their offerings with newer technological developments, especially when it comes to innovative thinking to solve complex problems?
As a mother of two under 3 years old, it’s a lot of fun to wonder what technology holds for them in the future and how our lives will be different.
In business, we love and embrace technology that automates repetitive processes, facilitates easier collaboration on workflows, and offers convenience for our clients. We focus our human capital development on things that machines are not capable of – empathizing with fear or offering a few different ways to look at a recommendation.
In what ways have you or the company contributed to the community? If given a chance, what change would you bring in Investment plans for solving the most complex financial problems?
While our entire team donates both time and money to causes, our specialty in impact portfolios makes a larger dent in solving complex global issues like climate change and equity.
What would be your advice to the up-and-coming women entrepreneurs aspiring to venture into the finance industry?
Find an environment where you are confident you can thrive. I spent too long in offices that were toxic and limited my potential.
Investment advice offered through WCG Wealth Advisors LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor. Utor Wealth is a separate entity from WCG Wealth Advisors and The Wealth Consulting Group.