Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2012 - (Page 12)

Advisor Profile Practicing What She Preaches By Kate Stalter Since joining the Peace Corps, Jennifer Lazarus has wanted to have an impact on the world. She found a way by being a financial planner. For several years after college, Jennifer Lazarus was searching for what she terms it. For her, that meant a career that would allow her to serve others, while expressing her values. She eventually found her it, as a financial planner bringing customized advice to each client with a focus on socially responsible investing. Today, she runs a thriving practice from her home in Durham, N.C. But she got to that place in a somewhat roundabout fashion. Out to Save the World Lazarus left the Peace Corps in 1996 and went on to get her master’s degree in teaching from Boston University. She was an elementary and high school teacher for several years but realized that it was not the right fit for her. She wasn’t sure what career move to make next but was pursuing various interests, including investing. She found herself informally, without pay, advising her husband’s colleagues on their 403(b) plans, researching mutual funds and explaining why she would prefer one fund to another. She recalls the moment she began seriously to consider a career in financial planning. “One of these friends said to me, ‘Do you notice how alive you are and how great you are at this? Are you paying attention to this?’ I was doing hours and hours of research and really loving it,” she says. Around that same time, she read an article by fee-only financial planner Sheryl Garrett and realized that there were other services an advisor could provide, in addition to investment advice. That sent her back to school, taking classes toward the Certified Financial Planner credential. “I figured I had nothing to lose by taking one class after the other for the CFP, because at least I would become more proficient in managing our own financial affairs,” she says. An internship at a local firm, Woodward Financial Advisors, turned into a full-time job. She credits advisors Henry Woodward and Linda Patchett, both now retired, for teaching her how to run a successful, ethical practice with an emphasis on client service. “Henry sat me down and said, ‘This is how we do what we do, this is a client meeting.’ And I thought ‘This is so much like teaching!’ There was the equivalent of a lesson plan, your exhibits that you create—so many parallels. That was the moment when I realized that I had arrived at who I am as a teacher.” SRI Point of View Born in Australia, she spent her early years moving around the globe with her family. Her father’s job in finance with Goodyear Tire took the family to many countries that were experiencing profound, visible poverty, something that made an impact on Lazarus as a girl. Before she moved to the United States at age 16, she had lived in Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Brazil. After graduating from Miami University in Ohio, she joined the Peace Corps, where she served in the African nation of Chad, doing community education work. “I really wanted to save the world and make a big impact,” she says. “At that point in my life, I thought I wanted to work for the U.N. and feed the hungry.” In 2005, she set off to open her own practice. She did not have a book of business at the start, but she received a good number of referrals from Woodward for clients who found the more established firm’s fees too high. She knew her practice would be fee-only and that she would focus on planning, rather than investment management. She does extensive research and recommends investment vehicles for clients, but she does not manage the assets. However, she has a definite point of view when it comes to the investing and works with clients who share that vision. Lazarus’ focus is on socially responsible investing. She says that the concept of SRI has evolved over time. “It used to be that people wanted to stay away 12 Morningstar Advisor October/November 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2012

Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2012
Letter From the Editor
Ill Communication
Do You Use Factor-Investing Strategies?
Practicing What She Preaches
How to Determine the True Price of ETFs
The Quant Factor
Managers Dispute the Death of Equities
Investments á la Carte
Investment Briefs
Five Inconvenient Truths of Manager Research
Health Care’s Outlook Clarifies
Exploring the World of Factors
Uncloaking the Alpha Machine
Factor Strategies Gain Footholds in Practices
Big Mo
Fitting Factors Into the Formula
Clients Have a Friend in Luther King
Less-Liquid Holdings Mean More-Solid Results
Retirement-Withdrawal Strategies Quantified
Amid Turmoil, Don’t Discount Foreign Equities
Our Favorite Mutual Funds
50 Most-Popular Equity ETFs
Undervalued Stocks With Wide Moats
Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2012