The Story Exchange, Sheri Iannetta Cupo,SAGE Advisory GroupYour Name: Sheri Iannetta Cupo

Business Name: SAGE Advisory Group LLC , a holistic financial planning and investment management service

Type of Business: Financial Planning and Investment Management

Business Location: Morristown, New Jersey, United States

Twitter   @sage_cupo

Reason for starting
The short and sweet is that I worked at GE for 15 years during the Jack Welch days, starting in their Financial Management Program. Then took some time off from paid work while my two sons were little. I went back to school at night to earn my Certificate in Financial Planning so I could sit for the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ exam. Passed the exam, earned the right to use the CFP® marks, opened the doors to my firm SAGE Advisory Group in 2001 and never looked back. We specialize in holistic financial planning and investment management for Busy Professionals, exactly what I was during my GE days. One reason I became interested in Financial Planning is that I was awarded stock option grants; when I left GE I had only a short time to deal with them before they expired. I asked around for help and no one seemed to understand what they were or what to do with them. I figured there must be others like me who needed help. Another reason was that when I was with GE many employees turned to me for guidance on their benefits and retirement questions. I did my best to help, enjoyed getting to know them so I could provide the best advice for their unique circumstances and realized that this could be my next profession. Finally, I knew I would be happier being an entrepreneur rather than an employee.

How do you define success?
Doing what I love AND doing what makes the best use of my talents – delegating the rest of what needs to be done. Focusing on the things that matter AND that I can control; not applying my energies to the rest. Being rewarded financially for the work I do. Ensuring that each day I am able to meditate, exercise, write in my gratitude journal, eat well and spend time with those I love and cherish. Making a positive holistic difference in the lives of my clients and their families.

Biggest Success
I experienced a challenging life lesson when my family and I were in a serious car accident in 2008. My husband and two sons were banged up but otherwise fine; my neck was fractured in two places. Recovery was slow and often scary. It was also hampered by the financial crisis – I spent a great deal of time reassuring my clients. Thankfully, my healing was mostly successful – a miracle, even, according to my neurosurgeon. Of course I would never wish the same experience on anyone else but, today, I refer to the event as “my gift of a broken neck.” It was partly a gift, because it gave me the unexpected incentive to seek and employ a series of mind and body healing habits that I continue to practice today. These have proven to be of enormous value to me and my family, well beyond their original intent.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
My top challenge is being an introverted entrepreneur in an extroverted world. I need a lot of time on my own to replenish the well and preserve my energy. I would rather write than speak. I also prefer time to think before I speak. I’m not a big fan of small talk. Susan Cain’s book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” has been invaluable in helping me to understand how to use introversion to my advantage. Beth Buelow, The Introvert Entrepreneur, is also a tremendous resource.

Who is your most important role model? Cheryl Holland has build a business that serves as a model for my business. We are also both females in the male-dominated world of financial life planning (where more than 76% of our fellow Certified Financial Planner professionals are men, according to a 2013 CFP Board report).