I came to New York on a whim, taking an interview with a brokerage firm that was in need of a junior research analyst with the knowledge of the computer systems run by the firm where I was working.
I was given the lead by a sales woman who I had shared a hotel room with at a conference and had joined Prudential Securities to market the firm’s Quantitative Research product. Being a bit like Mary Tyler Moore, I left Boston and everyone I knew in my home state of Massachusetts and took a chance when the job was offered to me. Little did I know it would be the beginning of a career that some people focus their entire college experience scheming and dreaming about.
After 18 months as a Junior Analyst, I was given the opportunity to develop a research product focusing on the small-cap segment of the market. It was an extremely under-researched niche in the U.S. equity market, yet there were tons of mutual funds, pension funds and institutional advisors investing in the segment.
I created a need that these investors didn’t know they had…and ran with it. Within three years, I became the top-ranked small-cap analyst by providing outstanding client service, interesting and topical research studies and always being quotable and responsive to the press.
I became a frequent commentator on CNBC and CNN and was often quoted in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Investor’s Business Daily and Money Magazine. Aside from the great research we provided, I believe a lot of my success resulted from my ability to find a connection with almost every client I ever met and I remained humble about my achievements. In a world full of huge egos, I never fell into that trap.
But, by 1999, I had had enough. With three young children, working on the weekend, traveling every week and getting home late was becoming less and less tolerable. The Internet Bubble was getting out of control, and I was losing steam. I wanted to go out on top and my husband supported the decision.
I spent the next seven years being a mom, active volunteer (Girl Scout and Cub Scout leader, PTO program chair, Team mom for baseball, soccer, and track)
It was great. But in the midst of this, my marriage dissolved, we moved and my kids started getting older. I knew it was time to figure out what my next career was going to be.
I heard an ad on the radio for the Certified Financial Planner program at Fairleigh Dickenson and knew I had found the right next step. After eighteen months in the program, I sat for the exam and failed by an estimated two questions. Realizing that taking the exam and getting divorced simultaneously was a bad strategy, I waited until the following Fall to sit for the exam again. This time I passed. Now I had to gather the work experience necessary to use the CFP initials as my tenure on Wall Street fell outside the ten-year statute of limitations. I worked part-time for two different financial advisors learning the business and gaining confidence that I was smart enough to be successful on my own.
During this time, I learned about the Certified Divorce Financial Analyst designation. I completed the study and passed the exam in 2009. In 2010, I started Epona Financial Solutions and began doing divorce financial analysis while continuing to work part-time to complete the hours required for the Certified Financial Planner designation. Being fully accredited, Epona became my full-time focus in 2013.
Why do I have a passion for what I do? I love numbers – analyzing, understanding and deciphering them. As a mystery-novel reader since grammar school, I now find myself in the role of detective. But even more, it is so fulfilling to take someone’s questions and provide them with answers about one of the most emotionally stressful parts of life….finances, knowing that in some measure you are allowing them to set their mind at ease. I cannot wave a magic wand and make everything all right for everyone, but I can provide the answers that can help forge a path for the journey or create a game plan, regardless of their age, income or marital situation.
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Financial planning is an essential part of making sure your future is secure, your loved ones are provided for, and you’re prepared for the unexpected events that life often brings. If you’re looking for independent and objective advice to help you accomplish both your short-term and long-term goals, Epona Financial Solutions is here for you!
Claudia E. Mott, CFP®, CDFA™