Celebrating Moms in Business & Finance

Michele Clark

Founder and Managing Principal

Clark Hourly Financial Planning Url

What is your background, and how did you get into investing?

I started investing when I was a very young child. My grandpa and father invested in a local blue chip stock and gifted me a couple of shares. Seeing those statements come in the mail with my name on it and seeing the shares grow over the years was so exciting. When I started to earn money babysitting my father asked me if I wanted to buy more shares with my babysitting money, of course I did! I’ve been investing for close to 40 years so I have experienced many market cycles, it has taught me to be patient.

When I was in middle school my mother started in real estate sales then transitioned into owning her own real estate appraisal firm. That gave me the example that 1) women owning their own business is just normal and 2) woman crunching numbers is just normal.

Between my father giving me a very early exposure to investing and my mother setting an example of woman owned financially based firm, it seems natural that I would own my own financial planning firm.

Were you successful initially, or did you have problems at first? How did you keep motivated and pushing forward?

I think every career has little obstacles here and there, however since this is about moms in finance I can share a story that directly relates to that scenario.

I had a job for a couple years that I loved, teaching clients of my brokerage firm about investing. However it required that I travel twice a month and I had a toddler. When I would pack my suitcase and my toddler became older he would ask “Why do you have to leave?” I would say “I have to go help people” he asked me this each time I would leave. One day when I said “I have to go help people” he said “Why do they need your help more than me?” I stopped packing and looked at him and said “They don’t.”

I quit what was my favorite job I ever had and took a different job that I liked very much. It turns out this new job gave me a lot of terrific experience. In fact the new job gave me enough experience that when my second son needed more of my time and attention, it allowed me to quit and start my own firm. So, what seemed like an obstacle, trying to balance motherhood and the job, was actually a wonderful opportunity.

Do you have any secrets for balancing being a mom with being a great investor?

I could not survive without Google Calendar, my husband, teenage son and I can all see who is doing what and when right on our phones. Also, I do not meet with clients in the evening or on weekends, my kids are in too many activities to allow me to do so and I want to attend their concerts and sports events. I have engineered my career so that I have some flexibility to do things with them during the day like go on field trips, which might mean doing paperwork or working on a plan in the evening, but it is worth it.

What advice would you give to a busy mom who is interested in learning how to trade stocks?

Recognize that you do not have to know everything before you get started. Learn from blogs or books written by women such as Liz Weston, Jean Chatzky, or Jane Bryant Quinn.

What keeps you going and motivated?

People come to me with a list of questions. I love working with them to come up with answers. What I do is very collaborative and educational. So the fun part for me is clearing up the confusion for them so that they know what their options are for their financial goals such as retirement or as far as investing is concerned they know what investments to make and why.

Can you share a little about your family with us?

My husband and I have been married for 20 years. We like to go to movies. My husband is the Director of Information Technology for his company. We have a 16 year old son who plans to be an engineer and is on the tennis team, First FTC robotics team, symphonic orchestra, and participates in solo cello competitions. We also have a 10 year old son who is in scouts and plays baseball and basketball. What I am most proud of is that each of my sons seems to be forging their own path in life.

How did you know finance was the field for you?

People ask me why I like financial planning and I tell them it is because you cannot learn it all, it is constantly changing. You have to always be reading and taking classes to keep up with the level of knowledge that is required to be a professional in this field. If you have a reading addiction or love taking classes, then this is the field for you.

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