We are proud to announce the newest expert to join the LearnLux Certified Financial Planner™️ team. Welcome Sabrina LaFleur, CFPⓇ!
Rebecca Liebman, CEO of LearnLux sat down with Sabrina to talk about her career so far, why she chose LearnLux, the celebrity she'd like to take on as a financial advising client, and what she'd do with $10 million dollars, no strings attached.
Prefer to watch the interview? Click below to launch the video, or read on for the full Q&A.
Tell us a little about yourself and your CFPⓇ career so far. What brought you to LearnLux?
Sabrina: So my journey has been an interesting one. My family didn't talk about money when I was growing up. Dad managed the finances while Mom managed our home life. She's 15 years younger than my dad, so I knew she would likely survive him and need trusted guidance when that time came. So, I made it my business to learn about money. I started out as a teller, then a licensed banker offering annuities, insurance, and mutual funds. I then went into private banking where I specialized in a broad range of investments and consumer and business loans.
In the years, leading up to the financial crisis, I remember watching my clients have their loans called and variable interest rates increased. I saw how this affected their account balances and their ability to cover daily obligations. That's basically when I knew I wanted to be more than just a banker, I really wanted to help people make holistic financial decisions.
So I became a CFP in 2008 and joined a private firm where I helped clients with investments, cashflow education, retirement, tax, insurance, and estate planning. It was a scary time to jump into asset management, but it was an invaluable learning opportunity. I then went on to work in the ultra-high net worth space with clients worth $5 million to upwards of $40 million.
Now, while that was interesting work, it was far removed from my passion of helping everyday people transform their everyday lives. So a few years ago, I decided to take a step back and explore something new. I did a rotational program with the Human Resources department of a FinTech company. But out of all the things I observed, the most intriguing was how many employees simply did not understand the benefits that were available to them.
So this highlighted for me that while many companies offer a robust benefits package, employees often need guidance in making their elections to maximize those benefits. Otherwise, it's a wasted expense for the employer and an undervalued benefit to the employee, which does absolutely nothing for the intended purpose of retaining and rewarding talent.
That's when I realized I could help both sides win by consulting employees on their benefits packages based on their financial goals and circumstances.
You have experience in holistic financial planning, and you also worked in HR. From your time in HR, what did you learn about this industry of financial wellness and benefits?
Sabrina: That was interesting too, because I did have exposure to some of the questions that we received from our employees, but also had the benefit of just talking with employees and really hearing their stories. As a very specific example, the company offered a stock option program, but most of the employees who were eligible didn't really understand that program.
And so instead of it feeling like a benefit, it required a lot of education. That was kind of a waste for the organization. So I realized that was an opportunity to be able to marry the two worlds of consulting and financial planning and helping employees make the best decisions for themselves as well as helping the employees maximize their benefits.
You're not just a financial advisor, you're a Certified Financial Planner™️. Tell us a little bit more about what that means and what were the challenges to accomplish that?
Sabrina: I already had a bachelor's degree, which is a prerequisite of becoming a CFP. But I also had to complete a rigorous one-year financial planning program at a local university before being eligible to even sit for the CFP exam. So after successfully completing the program and passing the exam, I still had to fulfill the final requirement of two to three years of specific work experience.
Now that may not sound like a big deal, but historically the world of finance has not been the easiest for women and people of color to navigate, which can be somewhat of a barrier to entry. So with no comprehensive planning background, it was challenging finding a job that would give me the experience I needed, but eventually, I did. And I'm incredibly grateful for the phenomenal men and women who did open those doors for me.
Why did you choose LearnLux for the next chapter of your career?
Sabrina: For me, the irony of financial planning has always been that the people who need it most can afford it, the least.
The national wealth gap just continues to climb. That's something that always nagged at me because I knew I was actually contributing to that ever-increasing gap. So I chose LearnLux because of our joint mission to make financial wellness a priority for all. By working with the employees of our clients and helping to grow our digital and live service offerings, my community impact can be significantly amplified.
Tell us about the first big purchase you made with your own money?
Sabrina: This isn't a great saving story, but it is a lesson in discipline. I suffered a major injury in college for which I received a small settlement. At that age, I could think of a million ways to enjoy it, but I chose to purchase my first home.
It was a condo and I was not yet working full time. So it was of utmost importance for me to be responsible in my budgeting. I made some mistakes, but I learned a lot. And that investment served me very well for nearly 15 years before selling it.
If you had to give your kids just one piece of financial guidance to ensure their future financial wellbeing, what would it be?
Sabrina: My one greatest piece of advice to my kids would be not to get a credit card until you have a steady income and can successfully stick to a budget that includes paying yourself 10%.
What's a secret talent that you have?
Sabrina: Oh, my secret talent would be dancing. I was the captain and choreographer of my dance team in high school. I loved dancing so much that it was actually a requirement for any guy I dated. That was one way my husband stole my heart on our first date. He danced with me all night. We actually performed a choreographed routine at our wedding reception that included Salsa, Merengue and even the Charleston with a few lifts and dips. So anyone who hadn't met him yet at that time, knew exactly why I'm marrying him (in addition to him being an awesome guy of course.)
True or false: Money can't buy happiness.
Sabrina: That is so true. I have met plenty of miserable millionaires in my lifetime, unfortunately. But that is one of the many reasons I remain true to myself and I honor my heart's desires at all times. Money attracts a lot of people and things. So when you're in possession of a lot of it, you really have to be discerning about who and what you welcome into your world.
What celebrity would you want to take on as a financial advising client and why?
Sabrina: I would have to say Andre 3000. I absolutely love Andre 3000. His song, "Hey Ya" was well received as a dance hit, but he was really calling us all out for not caring about what musicians actually have to say, which was incredibly clever. As a classically trained pianist and an introverted thinker myself, his music and life story has always resonated with me.
I admire his ability to manifest the evolving creations in his mind. And I empathize with his internal struggle. He's such a creative genius that he often can't fulfill his own expectations, which from interviews I've heard, deters him from creating it all. I know people like this and, and I've learned that like money when you possess extraordinary talents, it's incredibly important to keep the right energy around you, especially when it comes to who advises you financially.
What song best describes your relationship with your own personal finances?
Sabrina: Well, I'm looking at my personal finances the same way I do the finances of the people I serve. We've been so conditioned to value ourselves based on our net worth that many people lose sight of their value as a human being.
There's a song by Beyonce and several other artists called "My Power." So I guess I would say that song, my best describes my relationship with money. For me, this song drives a valuable message that we all have power that we must own for ourselves. We can't allow money or anything else for that matter to drive us.
Instead, we each must stand in our own power and remain true to ourselves. That's really the only way to create a life where your money serves you instead of the other way around.
Imagine we finish this interview, and your phone rings. You learn that you just won $10 million, no strings attached. What would you do?
Sabrina: Interesting question. I would open a community entertainment center for people of all ages to explore and share their musical talents. It would be complete with an audio recording room, dance room, outdoor performance space. And of course, it would have to be a LearnLux lab with a few computers available for free public use so that we could offer complementary services to the community, which would actually be a hands-on experience. But it would be absolutely amazing to live my dream in that way while being able to jumpstart the dreams of countless others.
Thank you, Sabrina! Welcome to the team.