March 8, 2024

Balancing Act: Women, Work, and Wealth Management

In Wealth Strategy, Women and Wealth

How often do we hear the women in our lives being referred to as “superhuman?” Women have long played the role of multitasking maestros – navigating the delicate balance between career aspirations and unnoticed work at home. A 2023 study by the Pew Research Center found almost half of women in heterosexual marriages earn as much, if not more, than their husbands while still remaining responsible for a majority of essential, unpaid work in the home. While career opportunities have improved for women over the years, the at-home duties have not decreased – often leaving women with more to balance on their shoulders.

As part of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we wanted to ask a few of the women leaders at Coldstream how they balance everything – career, family, friends, self-care, and their own personal finances. The main message: you can’t do it all, so focus on what’s most important to you!

Katelyn Spangler, CFP®Associate Wealth Manager

Katelyn Spangler

When I was pregnant with my son last year, it started to feel nearly impossible to stay on top of life’s demands. At work, I was preparing meticulously for my 12-week maternity leave while simultaneously mapping out a strategic plan to advance my career. At home, the laundry and dishes were piling up and my three-year-old was fighting his third cold of the season. As my to-do list grew, shame settled in. I was mentally exhausted, physically uncomfortable, and could no longer internalize the pressure to balance it all.

I reached out for help and am forever grateful for the conversations that encouraged and assured me that I was not alone. I discovered it was time for me to rewrite the expectations I had created for myself, my career, and my family. While my professional goals and family values remained the same, my path was evolving in this new season of motherhood. I could no longer do it all and I was learning how to be at peace with the change.

The search for balance in my life is still underway. I’m learning to embrace the chaos at home and prioritize my roles one day at a time. I refocus my perspective often and am so fortunate I can have the best of both worlds – be a mom to two beautiful little boys and have a professional career that I love.

Malinda TopCentralized Client Services Manager

My parents are Cambodian refugees who fled to America from the Khmer Rouge in 1982. They arrived knowing little English and with less than $500 in their pockets. Our family of seven grew up poor, never having owned a home and moving frequently. Mom and Dad worked 10-12 hour days, seven days a week to raise our big family. Frugality and minimalist living were a necessity.

We were very much a “save your money under the mattress” type of family given our lack of financial knowledge, but that didn’t prevent us from saving what we could. Mom especially worked hard to always prepare meals at home, collect cans to exchange for cash, and spent less by making clothes for us.

I don’t have many memories of “downtime” with my parents because there wasn’t time for that. Money can buy just about anything, but it cannot buy back time. I place a heavy focus on my career, but one thing I don’t want to repeat with my own children and husband is lost time. I’ve learned to work hard while celebrating along the way. My children know the value of a dollar but have been taught to know that while saving is great, it’s okay to live a little too.

As an adult and working mother, I am humbled to be in a strong financial position compared to my parents at this age. I am financially stable and have time to make fond memories with my children. In raising them, I’ve relived a part of my childhood that was missed.

Anne Marie Stonich, CFP®, CPA – Chief Wealth Strategist & Board of Directors

For the last twenty years, the most common question I’ve been asked is: “how do you do it all?” This always creates a little pang of guilt in me, as the reality is that you cannot do it all (at least not well), and there are inevitably conflicts between work and family demands.

I’ve learned to give myself grace and choose the key moments I want to be a part of. I’d advise other women to do the same; volunteer in the classroom, don’t miss special performances or presentations, make time for your spouse, do school drop-off at least once per week, be available for homework help, and try not to compare yourself to other moms who appear to be “doing it all.”

A key part of keeping my sanity has been outsourcing when I can. Even though I’m a Wealth Manager myself, I’ve hired Coldstream to manage our personal finances and investments. This becomes one less thing to worry about for both me and my husband. Other opportunities to outsource are house cleaners, tutors, college counselors, and gardeners. My husband and extended family are key players in helping with childcare and support – don’t be afraid to lean on them from time to time.

Most importantly, learn the power of saying “no.” This will help free up time to focus on what’s really important: family, relationships, and self-care. If you are “yes” person (like me), find a business coach who can help prioritize and achieve your most important goals. I work on this daily… and it’s still a struggle!

Alex LambertDirector of Client Service

Alexandra Lambert

When I was in high school, I participated in a blood drive. The nurse asked what I had eaten that day and I said, “eggs, sausage, and hashbrowns for breakfast.” She stared at me, assuming I had gone out to eat and was amazed to learn my mother had cooked breakfast – as she always had before going to work. I realized at that moment, what had always felt normal to me, wasn’t the norm.

As a working mother myself, caring for my young children, husband, aging parents, the dog, friends, and constantly striving to give my best in my career, I realize now I had no idea what my mother did for our family back then and feel fortunate.

Some advice I received early in my career that has helped me gain balance is to compartmentalize your time to be fully present and engaged in whatever you’re doing. This is especially important with family and friends, but also with work. We must be deliberate with our time. In turn, it makes everything more worthwhile and fulfilling. Our COO, Matt Sonnen, hosts a podcast and had Stacey McKinnon provide great insights on this topic during Episode 46: How to Get the Most from Your Career.

I also partner with those that provide more balance and less worry to my life. We have an au pair to help care for the children which allows me to travel for work and go into the office early. My kids adore her, and she’s become part of our family.  Another partner has been FIT Insurance at Coldstream. I recently renewed our umbrella policy and I know the team has our family covered. One less worry, one less thing to wake me at 3 am.

Larissa Vidal, CFP®Wealth Manager

Last Saturday morning I rolled out of bed, laced up my Hokas, and drove to Alki Beach to run with a group of middle-aged women. I was up late the night before doing laundry after a full workweek. My Saturday plans were busy; my son wanted to go for a drive to Point Defiance to see the walruses, and my Saturday morning run is one my favorite times of the week. I did not want to miss it, so I was up early.

Like many other women, I feel the pressure to “do it all” sometimes, but I’ve learned that I enjoy life more and do better work when I am energized. Thus, I pay attention to which activities enliven me.

You would think that running would tire me out, but it does the opposite; being outside refreshes me, and I love the genuine conversations I have with friends when we drop all pretenses and sweat. I’m forced to be present, focusing on my breathing. I figure out solutions to problems, either because I have quiet time to think or because I am running with smart colleagues who help me brainstorm. It can be a powerful setting to talk about finances. And after a run, those endorphins make me feel like I can take on the next challenge.

I also pay attention to activities that drain me. I am an introvert, so I’m selective about the crowded events I attend. Sometimes I love the excitement of an event, and sometimes I would rather reserve my energy for dinner with my son. I love when I can bundle exercise with networking, community-building, or volunteer work.

In order to do more, I do less.

Alex Pear, FPQP™Senior Client Service Associate

I am constantly striking a better balance with the multitude of events, to-do’s, commitments, and relationships in my life. The best advice I ever received was to seek assistance in your “opportunity zones,” meaning those items you’re looking to improve upon and turn into strengths one day in the future.

For me, organization is an ever-evolving opportunity zone – in planning a wedding, studying for the Series 65 exam, or taking on a project. I lean into those around me for support and guidance which provides a heightened sense of balance that otherwise would not be possible. Taking time to identify opportunity zones and asking for support is an absolute revolution!

Hilary ClarkWealth Manager & Senior Client Team Operations Manager

Hilary Clark

As I trudge home from walking my kids to school, with wet hair and a grimace etched on my face, I can’t help but ponder, “how do I balance it all?” The truth is, I don’t. It’s like juggling multiple balls, and sometimes, one or two inevitably fall. Most days, the desire to crawl into bed and evade the chaos is strong, but there’s a resilience within me that propels me forward, even when I feel like giving up.

This morning’s debacle—a reluctant child whose breakfast ended up splattered on the ground—epitomizes the constant struggle of balancing motherhood and career. The guilt, shame, and frustration wash over me like a tidal wave. Why didn’t I set the alarm earlier? Why can’t my mornings resemble a scene from a Disney movie, filled with laughter and harmony?

Yet, amidst the chaos, there’s a moment of clarity. As I counsel my son to leave the fallen egg behind and keep moving forward, I realize the profound truth in those words. Sometimes, life doesn’t go according to plan, but we find the strength to persevere.

As women, we tend to bear the weight of societal expectations, pressured to excel in both our professional and personal lives effortlessly. Any attempt to set boundaries or prioritize self-care is often met with scrutiny and judgment.

I’m dedicated to advancing my career, navigating the intricate web of corporate dynamics while managing the demands of motherhood. I’ve been inspired by other incredible women who broke through the barriers of a male dominated industry.

To all the working moms navigating the waters of career and motherhood, know this: you are not alone. Embrace the imperfections, celebrate the victories, and remember that your worth transcends societal expectations. You are enough, just as you are. And in the end, it’s not about achieving perfect balance—it’s about finding harmony amidst the chaos.

Coldstream by the Numbers

We’d like to thank all the amazing women who are part of our team. As of March 2024, these are our firm’s numbers on women who are people managers, employees, executive leaders, and on our Board of Directors.

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