Why are you starting Steward?

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Executive summary

For me, every new chapter starts with being motivated by a mission. At Steward, we want to create a world in which everyone feels confident that they are making the right money decisions to take care of their families.

Serving as your family’s financial decision maker...is one of the most important roles many folks will take on in their lives. That's hit especially close to home, with the arrival of our daughter. But unfortunately, today taking on that role means:
- navigating a minefield of complexity, jargon, and confusing tax law
- spending hours on evenings & weekends trying to navigate this alone. Ambitious working professionals in their peak earning years don’t need an extra job!

At Steward, we are building software that follows the same set of structured and evidence-based rules that white-glove wealth advisors use.  So, you get personalized financial planning, delivered real-time via modern technology, and without the white-glove price point.

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Table of contents

Written by
Ami Shah

Ami Shah is the CEO of Steward, a personal finance tool helping mid-career professionals to make the most of their money by investing smarter and saving on taxes, with minimal time and effort.

She's a Certified Financial Planner®, Harvard Business School and Harvard College grad. She served as a wealth and asset management consultant at McKinsey & Company and as a white-glove wealth advisor to ultra high net worth families. Ami started Steward to bring the clear, structured, and evidence-based set of rules white-glove wealth advisors use with ultra high net worth clients, to more people beyond the 1%.

More about
Ami Shah

My non-nonsense immigrant Mom recently asked me why I'm starting Steward. My reason for starting Steward boils down to two reasons - professional and personal.

Professional:

There are two trends I’ve seen time and again over the years working with the c-suites of many of the world’s largest financial service companies (investment banks, asset managers, insurance providers and sovereign wealth funds) as a wealth management consultant at McKinsey & Company, and then directly as a wealth advisor to high net worth families at a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA):  

(a) a pressing need for holistic financial planning:
many families start to collect a whole cast of characters working on individual pieces of their puzzle - an investment guy (or app!), a tax guy, a mortgage guy, an insurance guy, an estate planning guy, etc. This whole mess is:

  • Complicated:  It's a hassle and time-suck just staying in touch with all of them.
  • Uncoordinated:  It leaves money on the table, since the right hand isn't speaking with the left hand.
  • Not Comprehensive: With each individual firm pushing their own product, families aren't receiving objective and holistic advice.

(b) an aging set of financial advisors who aren’t well equipped to help them since they are:

  • Mad Men Era: They don't understand and empathize with a new generation of high income not yet rich house holds and dual career couples, or worse…
  • Tech  Dinosaurs: They aren't using the latest tech to bring down costs or improve the experience for their clients, or worse…
  • Snake-oil Salesman: Explicitly saying they’ll put their own interests ahead of their clients (see this John Oliver sketch), and not even educated on the topic (less than 25% have taken the Certified Financial Planner Exam, which requires taking 6 courses and a 7-hour board examination). To put it in medical terms, it would be like getting medical advice from a doctor who has never taken the MCAT, and is getting paid by a pharma company.  

Personal:

I hadn’t found the right place, time, or courage to pursue this passion. Then life gave me a "slap on the back"...twice...to get going! 

1) My Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer.
I was shocked to find out that my Mom, a whip-smart doctor, didn't have a clue about our family's finances. After seeing what she was going through, I started asking my friends and family about personal finances. I found that even those in “high finance” jobs like private equity, hedge funds, and investment banks, weren’t sure how to approach their own household’s finances.

In other words, even the most financially sophisticated individuals, didn’t know much about personal finance.

Worse yet, many felt “dumb” to admit they didn’t know and as a result often didn’t seek out help. There was a burning need for a space to ask questions and receive Plain-English and trusty-worthy answers.

2) Our daughter was born.
Parenthood gear shifted "making the most of our money" to something way more important and meaningful than "Keeping up with the Joneses" to add another "0" to our net worth. It was about making the best financial decisions to secure her future, and open up opportunities for her.

In my role as a wealth advisor and giving pro-bono talks to hundreds of working professionals...I heard time and again people felt this responsibility not only for children, but also for parents, for partners, for friends or family, or for the communities that helped to raise them. And since they were in their 20s-40s...they had a real shot at making a meaningful impact for these groups.

I feel fired up to help this group navigate the personal finance jungle vs. solely helping the folks with access to white-glove advisors today (a) those for whom "the ship had sailed" as they closed in on retirement or (b) those who started in the .01% from the get go.

Our goal at Steward

Our goal at Steward is to help ambitious professionals in their 20s-40s feel confident they’re making the right money choices, while saving their time and energy for things they enjoy more than personal finance.

Steward is a personalized to-do list for how, where and when to invest and save on taxes in plain-English, with minimal time and effort. Give it a try here.

Written by

Ami Shah

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