We had the good fortune of connecting with Sibyl Slade, CRPC and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sibyl, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
For me, it was not a thought process it was actually an event. I had a stellar 21 year career at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta as a Senior Regional Community Development Manager where I was responsible for ensuring that banks met their Community Reinvestment Act requirements by providing access to financial services as well as invest in community and economic development activities that demonstrated a measurable impact in underserved communities. In 2004, I noticed that although the homeownership numbers had vastly increased for all segments of the population, the mortgage origination data showed that an unsustainable amount of interest only Adjustable Rate Mortgages had been made. And once these ARMs reset, many homeowners would not be able to maintain their mortgages. I felt the pendulum had swung too far and it was a disservice to the public to focus on homeownership as the primary vehicle to build wealth. As a result, I convinced my then leadership to pay for me to complete the Certification for Financial Planning and in return I would develop a financial education curriculum to help consumers understand the plethora of vehicles available for building wealth. After completing my CFP certificate program, I was not able to start a financial services/planning practice because it was a conflict of interest while working at the Federal Reserve. I resolved with myself I would start at practice when I retire. Fast forward to 2014, my role at the Fed was restructured to a research and publication role and I elected not to apply for the new position. I am a people person and I needed to interact more directly with consumers and business owners. So, I decided “You Only Live Once” and I took the leap of faith and left the corporate world to start my own financial services practice. It has not been a smooth road, but it has been fulfilling. My first couple of years were a bit comfortable because I received bonuses from my initial advisory firm, and I had a 401k to keep me afloat when income was low. In 2017, I immediately began to find myself conflicting with the captive agent model. I serve a unique clientele, mainly first-generation college graduates, professionals, and small business owners. And in many cases, a large percentage of my client base had substantial student loan debt. I was not allowed to provide workshops and training on student loan debt. It’s hard to talk to a client about funding other goals when they have $100,000 in student loan debt to repay. Likewise, with my small business clients, I was not allowed to design advance tax savings strategies that did not involve proprietary products. So, 2018, I took the leap of faith again and became an independent financial advisor to better serve my clients. This was by far the best decision ever. I am now the successor of a 19-year-old female-owned financial services firm in addition to my existing practice and other business interests.
What should our readers know about your business?
As I mentioned, my colleague, Gwen Garrison, and I have an all-female advisory firm. I primarily focus on advance tax savings strategies for professionals and small business owners. My background is planning and economic development. This uniquely positions me to understand the personal and business financial needs of the clients I serve. Balancing both needs are essential for providing and protecting income now and preserving income for the future (including retirement and estate planning). Many of the small business owners and professionals I serve do not have a continuity or succession plan in place and as a result there is no plan for wealth to transfer to the next generation. I am extremely passionate about closing the wealth gap for groups that have been traditionally marginalized. Our firm provides best in class services, strategies, and products that are not tied to relationship minimums like many other brand name advisory firms. We truly have the autonomy to advocate for our client’s best interest. Our clients not only receive an advisor with our firm, they receive a client advocate. I measure success by “how are you improving, inspiring, or positively impacting the lives of others?” I am a servant leader and I look for the opportunity to provide hope to those who feel hopeless. I am fascinated by the idea of co-creating possibilities.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am a Native Atlantan and I have yet to take in all the many destinations available to us. My “Go To” list would include the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, and the High Museum of Art for tourist attractions. My favorite eateries would include Scotch Bonnet Jamaican Restaurant (pick up only), Six Feet Under Midtown, Oceanaire Seafood Room, Negril Village (Brunch or Dinner), and Ray’s on the River (Sunday Brunch), the Haven (Sunday Brunch), and Old Vinings Inn (Sunday Dinner). Places to hangout and shop would include Brookhaven, Ponce City Market, Atlanta West Midtown, and the Shoppes of Buckhead. And of course, if there were any good concerts in town, Chastain Amphitheater has the best stargazing experience at night.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to send a Shoutout to Access to Capital for Entreprenuers (ACE) and it’s Founder & CEO, Grace Fricks. I have been involved with ACE for 19 years now and I currently serve as the Secretary of the Board of ACE. I have always been amazed and inspired by the nonprofit organization’s ability to be purposeful and mission driven but operate like any other successful private entity. For years I teased with Grace, the founder, that I wanted her to be my mentor. She never openly agree to a commitment. But, she has silently mentored me in every way possible once I became a business owner. Because of Grace and the amazing team at ACE, I am truly doing the work “that others can’t or won’t.”
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