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Shelley Streit Of Guiding Light Financial Has Vision, Brand, Fee For Service & Is Making A Difference

Simon Reilly | July 20, 2011 | Filed: Financial Advisor Stories

Here is a great example of an advisor that has created a vision, brand, charging a fee for service and who is making a difference at the same time.

From Advisor.ca Preserving your vision by Melissa Shin / March 01, 2011

Shelley Streit won’t deny who she is anymore.

The Stettler, Alberta advisor runs Guiding Light Financial, which started as a traditional investment practice in 2006 but then shifted its focus to debt and cash-flow management in late 2010.

Why the change? Early last year, Streit found herself deep in debt and disillusioned by the materialism of the financial services industry. “I was tired of playing pretend,” she says. “The Armani suits at meetings didn’t sit well with me.” Determined to change her ways, she looked for an advisor who could help her manage her cash flow, but never revealed her profession.

Streit says advisors weren’t interested in reducing her debt, and instead gave her trite advice: she needed to spend less than she made. “Oh really?” scoffs Streit. “People actually want to know how to fix their debt.”

Seeing the gap, she turned her practice’s focus to debt and cash-flow management last October, and took inspiration from personal finance maven Gail Vaz-Oxlade and fellow advisor Stephanie Holmes-Winton, who mentors her.

The outpouring of interest has been impressive: in a town of 5,000, 30 came to her debt- and cash-management seminar held at the local library in February.

“People are asking us for monthly [debt management] coaching, like a personal trainer,” says Streit.

She’s even seen the need for her services from her existing clients. Before the changeover, clients were investing but cashing out months later so they could spend.

“If those people choose to be my investment clients, I’m bulletproofing my practice because I’ve dealt with their behaviour.”

Her motivation? “Debt is a problem. It’s in our families, our neighbourhoods, and our backyards and it’s affecting everyone,” she says, citing the Vanier Institute of the Family’s finding that average family debt hit $100,000 in 2011. “If I can change the world one family at a time—that’s what I’m going to do.”

She’s not without critics. “Advisors say I’m doing charity work,” she says, even though Streit developed her own compensation model with permission from Manulife Securities. Others ask why she charges people with debt. “If I save you $70,000 and your family stays intact, is it worth it? My fee is less than a lawyer’s,” she jokes.

With her business’s quick expansion, Streit has to remind herself of her priorities.

“If I do everything, I’m not staying true to myself and my family.”

She’s learned to do the things she does well herself, and outsource the rest.

As for clients, Streit has an open-door policy, but is clear about the line they can’t cross.

“If you have another advisor and you want a debt management plan, we’ll take you. We sign a non-compete clause. I started this to help myself and other people,” she says. “But clients no longer get to work with me when they keep making excuses.”

Simon kept pushing me forward when at times it felt like the same old things, but I had things that I had to work through. When I hired Simon I thought that it would be all about business and I’m thankful to Simon that he didn’t run when it got personal. Some coaches would have run away and not held me accountable to what I needed to deal with to get me to the place to be the best that I can be. Simon didn’t offer me an agenda of who he wanted me to be and his coaching program provided me with the tools to clear my limiting beliefs which were rooted deep down in my unmet need of worthiness to become the unique financial advisor that I have evolved into being.

Shelley Streit
Financial Advisor
Guiding Light Financial
Stettler AB

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About Simon Reilly

Simon Reilly Simon Reilly is a Financial Advisor Coach, Professional Speaker and Author who has provided training for financial advisors for over 20 years.

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