At Wescott, we take pride in not only providing unmatched service to our clients but also our contributions to the financial planning industry. Chief among our goals for advancing the industry is fostering an inclusive environment that promotes equality and ensuring that women are well-represented in all roles in the profession. To share expertise and promote growth, both internally and externally, Wescott team members are encouraged to hold active membership and leadership roles in professional organizations.
Two such team members are Lydia Sheckels, Wescott Partner, CIO Emeritus and Senior Financial Advisor, and Susan Green, Wescott Principal, Director of Financial Planning Standards and Senior Financial Advisor, who hold top leadership roles with National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) within the past year. NAPFA, the leading association of fee-only fiduciary advisors, supports the development of financial planning professionals who are committed to working in the best interests of the clients they serve. Both women sat down to discuss their roles and the importance of blazing a trail for other financial services professionals.
Be a Leader for Others and the Industry
With 15 years of experience in the financial industry, Lydia joined the Wescott team in 1991 after connecting with Wescott Founder and CEO, Grant Rawdin, and learning about his fee-only financial planning business model.
“I learned early on in my career the importance of leveraging professional networks to develop mentorship relationships and create a path to success. Professional organizations benefited me throughout my career, and I remain passionate about guiding financial service professionals, especially those in the beginning stages of their career, through my involvement in organizations like NAPFA,” said Lydia. “I was honored to serve the financial advisors’ community as the National Chair of the NAPFA Board of Directors during their 2020/2021 term, and am proud to continue to serve this year as the National Board’s Chair Emeritus.”
Susan’s path to financial planning is a less conventional one, having worked as a lawyer before joining Wescott in 2013. Now serving as the firm’s Director of Financial Planning Standards, Susan also recognizes the value of active participation in professional organizations. First introduced to NAPFA through the Women’s Initiative Committee, Susan currently serves as the Chair of the NAPFA’s Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Region Board.
“NAPFA and the mentors I have connected with through the organization have played a pivotal role in my career, and I am looking forward to serving as a leader now and helping guide those around me,” said Susan.
Differentiate and Diversify
Financial planning is personal. It’s central to ensuring a safe and secure financial future for anyone, especially individuals who are experiencing transitions like retirement, death of a spouse or selling a business.
“Having a financial planner is as critical as having a good doctor or lawyer to help you navigate healthcare or life changes. One of my personal goals as an industry leader is to advance the profession and empower more people to seek the guidance of a financial planning professional. We have the responsibility to educate the public about the role of a financial advisor and help people understand why they need an expert in their corner,” shared Lydia.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Lydia revealed that there was a growing demand for new advisors as more seasoned practitioners near retirement. This demand has only increased due to the economic upheaval from the pandemic that has people actively seeking out financial planners.
“We see a continued need for more qualified advisors, and organizations like NAPFA play a significant role in fostering the new talent who will shape the profession moving forward.”
For Susan, promoting diversity in the field is of critical importance and one of her primary goals in her role with NAPFA.
“There’s a lack of diversity in the industry, both in gender and race. Through NAPFA, I am looking forward to facilitating outreach efforts including tuition scholarships, free conference attendance and discounted organization memberships to better enable young people to access these vital resources as they build their careers,” said Susan.
At Wescott, the entire team is committed to creating an inclusive workplace that promotes and nurtures diversity, and in particular Wescott’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee works to offer ongoing education and resources to our team members in order to better serve our clients and each other. True to this commitment, we are proud to have a 50/50 gender balance at all levels and are always seeking innovative ways to further diversify the talent within the firm.
Collaborate and Advance
Through their leadership in NAPFA, both past and present, Lydia and Susan provide resources for industry professionals and newcomers seeking career guidance.
“NAPFA is unique in that it’s collaborative, not competitive,” Lydia said. The organization offers practice management tools, webinars, and education, including business development resources.
With their years of experience and knowledge, Lydia and Susan are eager to share their expertise with the next generation of financial planners.
“Now more than ever, as a profession, we need to join forces to strengthen our field by ushering in a new, diverse generation of advisors who can serve the unique needs of all individuals, no matter their life stages,” added Susan.
To learn more about our team of Wescott experts and advisors, their leadership in the financial planning community and how they can help you plan for your financial future, visit our website.