Like many people, I grew up in a family that faced financial struggles. As much as parents don’t want their kids knowing about their stresses, it’s often hard to hide. Between my parents’ fighting over money, the disappointing Christmases, and my parents’ confiscation of our birthday and confirmation money to pay bills, my brother and I were always well aware of those money issues from a young age. These financial hardships often resulted in chaos and stress for my parents, brother, and me, and it left us all feeling insecure about our future.
Despite the hardships, I refused to let this negatively impact my life. I was the first person in my extended family to attend college, even though it meant taking on significant student loan debt, as my parents couldn’t afford to help financially. While on a quest to learn how to manage my loan payments and plan for my future, I began studying personal finance. I loved learning about financial planning and investments, along with feeling empowered to take control of my finances.
Finding My Path
What started as a hobby flourished into a passion, and I knew I wanted to make it my career. I refused to let my student loan debt scare me, and I pursued an MBA in finance. After graduating, I took a job in corporate finance at an industrial gas company, and my success allowed me to build a nest egg that I would eventually use to help me follow my dreams, transform my hobby into a profession, and become a financial advisor.
This dream ultimately came true in 2001 when I became a financial advisor with Legg Mason, a financial services firm. Over the years, I worked with several firms, building my knowledge and understanding of many services and types of client needs. It was in these early years of my career that I would discover my true focus and purpose as an advisor.
Discovering My True Purpose
As a young woman, I had always felt the world was my oyster. I thrived in school, loved learning new things, and relished a challenge. As a result, I couldn’t understand why so many of the women in my family were dependent on the men in their lives to make every decision for them — especially the financial ones. Time and again, I saw these women end up in a personal and financial crisis after the relationship ended, and their expressions of helplessness and fear for their future left me determined to never let that happen to me. My deep-seated desire to become independent – both personally and financially – eventually propelled me to become a financial advisor.
Once I became an advisor, I immediately observed that, like the women in my family, many of my female clients were not engaged with their finances, leaving those decisions to their spouses. Over the course of my first 15 years of experience, it became alarmingly clear to me that, like my family members, my female clients were relinquishing their power and setting themselves up for a potential financial crisis, should life not go as they planned.
Financial and life surprises ended up impacting my personal life, just as it had with many of my female clients. While building my financial advisory career, I suddenly found myself a widow at the age of 34. My husband’s unexpected illness and death turned my world upside down. I had never imagined that my “happily ever after” would end like this and at such a young age. However, because I had a strong handle on our finances, I was able to direct my energy toward grieving and emotional healing, instead of scrambling to deal with money issues.
As lucky as I was in this respect, I knew that all too many women didn’t have such a luxury. This experience solidified my conviction that women need to be engaged in their financial lives, sooner rather than later, before the unexpected inevitably happens. That’s why as an advisor I’m passionate about creating an environment that inspires my clients to become fully engaged in their financial affairs, naturally leading to feelings of power and strength over their lives and optimism about their future.
Creating The Athena Network
With 15 years of experience under my belt, I took the leap and created my own firm, The Athena Network, to combine financial and life management. When I created The Athena Network, I wanted to not only provide financial planning and investment management, but to also serve as a resource to research, identify, and vet other professional services, such as legal, life planning, elder care, and nutrition. I’ve also created my Confident Women’s Program, consisting of engaging events, enriching workshops, and enlightening communications, all aimed at enhancing your confidence with your money. By working closely with my clients to determine their priorities and purpose — whether they’re financial or life-related — I strive to create personal, customized, and outlined solutions tailored to their needs.
There is nothing more fulfilling than watching my clients experience the feeling of buoyancy when they finally gain clarity and confidence around their financial lives. The opportunity I have to help so many women and their families drives me every day in my career.
I am always ready and welcome to meet with new people who may benefit from my services. Whether you are new to financial planning, face a life milestone, or just aren’t sure what you need to feel more confident in your future, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Getting started can often be the hardest and most intimidating part. But once you get started, I truly believe you’ll experience greater empowerment.
To set up an appointment with me or to chat and ask a few questions, you can email me email@example.com or call 484.224.3439. I look forward to assisting you and your loved ones.
Lisa Strohm, CFP®, MBA is the founder and CEO of The Athena Network and Good Life Advisors of the Lehigh Valley, fee-based wealth management firms. She specializes in providing financial planning, investment management, and life management services for women and their families across the U.S. With more than 16 years of industry experience, she sets her firms apart from traditional wealth management companies by focusing on providing clients with an educational, collaborative, supportive experience that inspires her clients to engage in their financial lives. To learn more, visit https://the-athena-network.
To set up an appointment with me or to chat and ask a few questions, click this link to schedule a call. You can also email me lisa.strohm@the-athena-