I leave networking meetings with one “take-away”: it’s personal.
There are a few people that look interesting but by the end of the meeting, one, maybe two stand out. My criteria? Genuine, honest, knowledgeable and a good sense of humor.
A few years ago, I was in the audience when Emily Lutz did a presentation on the latest scams older adults were being subjected to. It was a wonderful presentation and it didn’t take much to see that she was a woman of integrity, who delivered excellent information and guidance and did so with a light touch and humor.
We met so I could learn more about her business - Liberty Paperwork Solutions, LLC – and since then I have recommended Emily to families in need of guidance in organizing and running their daily financial concerns. This includes bill paying as well as investigating discrepancies with credit cards, utility/phone bills and more.
Emily started her career working on the trading floor at a NYC investment bank, dealing with equity derivatives. She loved working with math and spreadsheets and would have continued but when she became pregnant, thought about the toll of commuting from New Jersey to New York and who would care for her baby.
At the time Emily was also visiting her grandmother every few weeks to help with her finances. They both benefited from these visits; grandma’s bills were kept up-to-date by someone she trusted and by way of a thank you, Emily got a good nosh of chocolate milk and the sticky orange candies she loved.
Seeing the difference her help made in her grandmother’s life, Emily was inspired to start a business that could be managed from home. She could work with older adults as well as people with special needs and hard-working professionals who wanted someone else to do the daily financial organization.
Emily’s business is thriving. She’s become that behind-the-scenes person who keeps personal finances in order and on whom people come to rely.
I introduced Emily to several families who were in dire need of organization, each presenting a different challenge.
One man had severe short-term memory but was still capable of understanding investments and able, in the moment, to follow the changes that one or another financial advisor would make; however, he quickly forgot the advice, the company involved and then would become extremely agitated. Emily helped by consolidating his many accounts. This required weekly conversations with him to decide which accounts to close and where to transfer to. She stood nearby while he talked to each financial consultant and stepped in only when her client became confused. They tackled one company at a time; information had to be repeated and sometimes if his memory was especially bad, they stopped and started again the next week. When all was completed, his family was presented with a written summary and she continued to pay monthly bills and monitor investments.
Another of my clients is an accountant but due to his increasing issues with Parkinson’s wasn’t paying bills or paying them twice. One day I walked into the house to hear him yelling into the phone claiming the company had overcharged him and hadn’t delivered the item in dispute. He was so agitated I feared a stroke so talked to him about Emily. At first, he was skeptical. He was an accountant after all but, with encouragement, he hired her. She organized the piles of bills, set up an online account and over the next year fielded issues that had not been addressed and, if continued, would cost a lot of money. Once this was accomplished, he took over paying the bills. Emily continues to monitor monthly and when he gets distracted or forgetful, she approaches him with humor. He says he is relieved and appreciative of her efforts and now has more time to care for his ailing wife.
Finally, I worked with a daughter who couldn’t pay her or her father’s bills, not due to lack of ability but because she was overwhelmed with caring for him long-distance and caring for her own children, each of whom were having problems at the time.
While bills were unpaid and without knowing if it was affordable, she brought her father to a high-end facility close to her.
She was recommended to me by another colleague to help settle her father into the facility and act as a liaison with staff and his doctors. Seeing her financial struggle, I again recommended Emily. His accounts were transferred to a local bank; she did a review of his assets to determine how long he could afford to stay in this facility and whether Medicaid would have to be considered.
This daughter now refers to the two of us as her “team.” Her father is doing well and has settled into facility life; finances are ample; bills are monitored and paid each month on time.
The best referral is someone who knows you and your work; the best colleague is conscientious, reliable and a very good sense of humor can’t hurt; it helps especially when dealing with challenging clients and complicated lives.
I feel fortunate to have found such colleagues and fortunate to have one like Emily as part of my own team.