Seasoned financial pro is still a teacher at heart

Carolyn Howard, CFP®, managing principal of SeaCure Advisors, LLC, was a science teacher for 17 years. During that time, she admits that she didn't know the difference between a stock, a bond, or a mutual fund. But that all changed when she left the academic world and joined the financial planning industry. Now, her mission is to educate her clients about their own financial situation.

“What I figured out was that I really liked financial planning, which was not unlike doing a lab experiment. You have a lot of data, you look at that data and work with the issues within the data, and then you create a plan. For me it was another way to problem solve and help others, and I've always been in the business of wanting to help others,” said Howard.

With offices in Lexington, Kentucky, and Sarasota, Florida, SeaCure Advisors offers financial planning services to anyone seeking help, including singles and newlyweds looking to start a strategy to manage their finances, and those individuals who are more established and are going through transitions in their life.

“Anybody who is wanting to get organized around their finances is a potential client,” Howard said, adding that as a general rule, she advises those clients who are just starting out to plan for emergency situations by setting aside three to six months of their income.

SeaCure Advisors makes its mark as the third independent registered investment firm founded by Howard. Her first two businesses were in Boston, but when her husband passed away in 2008, she moved back to her home state of Kentucky two years later.

Drawing on personal experiences to guide her advisory approach, Howard tells clients that when she first entered the financial world she felt overwhelmed – like she had been dropped in the middle of a foreign country and didn't know the language. So for her clients, the former teacher breaks down the technical language and industry jargon into lay-terms to help make financial topics easier to understand.

While people can educate themselves on financial matters if they put the time into it, they still must sort through a mass of information offered through cable business news networks and online financial resource platforms. Howard decided to produce her own informational videos to help.

“There is so much noise out there that people don't know how to disseminate what they really need to be hearing. I started doing videos because we're in a fast-lane world, whether it's fast-food or drive-thru to pick up groceries. Nobody wants to read anymore, they want information as quickly as possible," said Howard, adding that her videos help people understand different aspects of the financial industry.

By studying her online analytics, Howard knows that thousands of people are watching her videos, but the return on her investment to produce them isn’t measured in dollars and cents.

“It hasn't gotten me any business, but people watch, and it's good to help educate the general public.”

Currently, Howard has just created “SeaCure Women” to help women in transition from a divorce or widowhood. She is producing podcasts and other platforms where women can feel safe to ask questions that they may be embarrassed to ask, or may not know how to articulate.

It should come as no surprise that the former school teacher would advocate that children should be educated on money matters early on.

“If we can teach kids how to interface with financial issues and concerns, and create a problem-solving interactive environment, I think that would be fabulous. It's all about methodology,” Howard said.

In her interview with “The Suit,” to emphasize the importance of educating the public, Howard light-heartedly reflects on an article she read recently that told of a financial professional who asked a client if they knew what a fiduciary was. The client, who was from California asked, "Is that some sort of a meditation?”

Then Howard went on to clearly define the term.

“A fiduciary is somebody that has the best interest of a client, not just suitable interest – and there is the biggest difference. A fiduciary is always working for the client and with the client,” she said.

photo for top 2"As I've always explained to clients, ‘My job is to sit on the same side of the table as you and make sure that everything that we do is in your best interest.’ And there is no deviation from that. I might not benefit from it at all, but the goal here is not benefiting me, it's benefiting the client," she said, adding that in contrast, the suitability standard supports that financial advisors may promote what is suitable for a client without having to be necessarily in their best interests.

Howard does feel that the Department of Labor “has potentially overstepped their boundaries with new regulations that have been set in place over the last few years,” but, acknowledges that it still remains to be seen. And she calls the amount of paperwork now required by fiduciaries "over the top," and “unbalanced” because it is heavily swayed toward retirement accounts only.

Another component of the SeaCure Advisors process is to take the emotion out of money. For many, financial topics are difficult to talk about because such discussions can trigger nerves, worry, and fear.

“Our job is to help the client stay on task, help them achieve their goals, help monitor their risk profile, and help them meet the time horizon for those goals," said Howard. “We're very goal client-centric in terms of our philosophy. What clients want to know is, 'Am I going to get from point A to point B in a risk-reward goal-centric manner.' If they can see that they're meeting those goals, they're happy.”

For more information on SeaCure Advisors, visit:


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