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Financial specialist eager to set example

Angela P. Szafran is eager for other women to follow in her footsteps.

The financial specialist with Alliance Advisory Group loves her work, and is just as eager to bring more women into financial services and sales jobs.

“The industry is hungry,” Szafran said. “You look at all the baby boomers [who are financial advisers] that are going to be retiring and they have these massive books of business and no successor to come up behind them. “

Szafran, a 32-year-old Lockport resident, was recently part of a panel discussion Alliance hosted about helping women achieve their career goals. Audience members lined up to shake her hand after hearing her story. She has met with some of them since the event, just to brainstorm about getting ahead in their careers, whether in sales or not.

Szafran started her career working for banks but felt immediately at home when she joined Alliance in 2011. Her passion for her job was reinforced by a health crisis she faced a few years ago. To Szafran, the experience validated the financial preparation she preaches to her clients, and motivated her to spread her message.

“After everything I’ve gone through, my mission is to create more of me, because I realize I’m only one person,” she said.

Q: What brought you to this job from banking?

A: I realized the work I was doing at the bank, being that it was good work, was very transactional. It was very much product-driven rather than planning and holistic client-centric driven. Ethically and emotionally, that just didn’t sit well with me. I am very much a holistic planner, meaning I want to help you in all areas of your life, not just this one product. Because the last thing that I ever want to do is give them this one product and not have it coordinate and work with everything else going on in their world.

Q: What appeals to you about your work?

A: I save people’s lives financially. I never did that at the bank. Giving someone a checking account isn’t saving their life financially. But reorganizing their entire world and helping them to recapture as many of the dollars they make as possible, that’s amazing.

Q: How is this different from your work at the bank?

A: One thing I never talked about at the bank was the potential threats on people’s financial worlds. You work on building up assets and paying down liabilities to get your nice net worth.

And that net worth, it will be called upon at some point in your life to pay you an income, either voluntarily or involuntarily. Either you voluntarily retire and you need to supplement your income in some way, shape or form, from that net worth. Or involuntarily, you get sick or injured.

At the bank, we focused on building the net worth, but we never focused on protecting that net worth. You could have the biggest net worth in the world, but if you don’t have the proper protections in place, it can be gone like that. Coming here, that was my focus. I wanted to protect and save as many people as I could.

I am my own best client, I do practice what I preach. Two and a half years ago, I had a stroke and I put my own planning to the test. Coming to (Alliance) literally saved my life. If I had been at the bank and had my stroke, I would have been forced to come back to work too soon. I wouldn’t have been able to have healed properly and taken the time necessary to focus on my health rather than focus on, how am I going to pay my bills?

Being here, I never had that worry. Because of the planning that I do and the help that I do for people, I never worried about how my bills were going to get paid.

I was able to take a year off. I sporadically came in – an hour here, an hour there – but I did not work full time for over a year. And I was able to do that because I’m here (at Alliance) and because of the freedom we have and the way I was able to build my own practice. Learning about how important protecting that net worth is. It is so incredibly important to know what you have, why you have it and is it protected against things that you can’t even fathom. I never would have fathomed that at 29 years old, I would have had a stroke.

Q: How are you trying to encourage more women to come into this field?

A: I think it’s going to come down to mentoring and coaching and trust. You need to be able to trust the people that are helping you along this journey, are going to help you get there the best way.

That was why I’ve started to make the transition in my own life to coach and mentor women to become like me. … Whether it’s in this industry or not, I want women to succeed.

Q: What kind of feedback did you receive from the panel discussion you were part of?

A: Women are hungry. They want to go forward and to reach for the stars. They just don’t think they have the confidence or know how to do it. That’s what I want to help them with.


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