Denise Nostrom, owner of Diversified Financial Solutions, started her firm in 1996 after stints at Smith Barney, American Express and Ameriprise Financial. Initially, recruiting new clients was tough. "The first year, I probably would have made more money at McDonald's," she said.
Determined to succeed, Nostrom held seminars to find clients, but things really changed for her when a business acquaintance retired and she bought his business and met his clients, "so the transition was very smooth." Since then she's grown her firm through referrals and by buying four other businesses.
Nostrom had a baby at 38, and went back to work a week later. "I was blessed -- didn't have a commute. My office is attached to my house," she said.
Two years ago she launched the Long Island chapter of Power of Women Exchanging Resources (POWER). She's also president of the LI chapter of the Society of Financial Service Professionals.
How do you prioritize your schedule as a working mom?
I think planning is the most important thing. Have systems in place: a sitter, mother, family or some kind of day care in place so that you can work and feel confident that your child is OK. Also having a good husband is a wonderful support system.
What are the most common financial goals you see among your firm's clients?
Retirement and education. My theory is that I want to help everyone if they want to be helped. I don't care if they're saving $50 a month or $5 million in a lump sum . . . if you start, you tend to feel a little better -- even if you put away $100 a month to pay for just the first year of college.
Studies show people are saving less for retirement. Any advice?
I think we all are nervous. The economy has been unstable for quite some time. We have to get back to basics and really jumping into what their expenses are . . . shopping for car insurance and seeing if you can save $200 a year, and putting that into savings; doing tax planning [so you don't spend the lump rebate check quickly] and have it come in monthly to put toward our goal.
What got you interested in a business career?
My grandfather started a mutual fund account for me when I was 14.
What is POWER?
Our mission is to help women in all stages of their careers. It's a forum where women can say they're looking for a job, network, share and learn. We bring in different speakers, and we always have a charity [affiliated] with each one of our events. We ask people to bring donations or we do a 50/50 and donate cash. And members do business within the group.
What are your goals for POWER?
We'd like to go into colleges and help and mentor women in the industry they want to pursue.
POWER's next event is Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. at Jewel restaurant in Melville; for info go to bit.ly/powerfeb2014 or call 631-627-3485.
NAME: Denise Nostrom, owner, Diversified Financial Solutions in Medford.
WHAT IT DOES: Reviews clients' current situations and goals to create individual financial plans.
EMPLOYEES: 2 part time