decisions. Three different financial experts, moderated by Black Enterprise contributor and founder and CEO of Empify Ashley Fox, came together to share their own personal stories and suggestions for finding true financial success. Black Enterprise has compiled some of the best pearls of wisdom from the panel.

Jacquette Timmons, president and CEO of Sterling Investment Management Inc. shared that part of her philosophy was not necessarily just knowing how to manage money, but how to “manage your choices around money.” This informs many of the concepts that she supports women use, even if it may be a bit awkward. These include life insurance, (“Passing on wealth is not about death, it’s about love,” she shares) and prenuptial agreements (“You work really hard for what you build and you need to protect it, she explains).

Michelle Fisher, founder & CEO of Blaze Mobile, points out that women in business need to make use of every resource at their disposal. “You don’t spend what you don’t know that you have, which is important to ‘take advantage of your company’s 401(k).'” she says. At the same time, you also need to be willing to stand behind your own products, to the point that you do what she calls “become divas of your own products.” Women have a history of doing more with less, so they should never shy away from forging a new path. When you do so, though, be aggressive with patents and copyrights to keep your ideas protected. Not only is there the protective value, but patents can help you draw in investors if you license them.

Vania Laguerre, vice president and Sr. resident director of Global Wealth and Investment Management at Merrill Lynch, says that many of the issues that can be difficult for women in business can become a source of strength if you have the right mindset. “When facing a difficult situation, like a divorce or a major career change, it is important to ‘know yourself.’ You have to find your strength within yourself,” she says. However, she also adds that you need to learn from these, even when the lesson is hard. After her divorce, Laguerre advised that women “become a little bit more selfish: when it comes to protecting their assets and interests.


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