Evan Harp sat down with Charlotte Geletka, CFP® CRPC® to discuss her journey as a financial advisor, the challenges she had to navigate to start Silver Penny, and the “boring” stories she hopes will be dominating the news.
Evan Harp: When and how did your practice begin?
Charlotte Geletka: I was an advisor in a firm in 2007 and then I purchased the firm in 2017. I rebirthed it, I’d say, I’d call myself a restart. I wasn’t a startup, because I had a history with it. I did take a part of that firm and created something new in 2018 when I launched Silver Penny.
Harp: What is your investment philosophy?
Geletka: My investment philosophy would be that the greatest advantage that you can gain in your investing is your behavior. I would say that you’re your own worst enemy when it comes to investing. That’s where the advisor’s alpha comes into play. It’s been studied by Fidelity, Vanguard, etc. Ironically, many of the DIY shops actually have proven the value of advice.
My investing philosophy is behavior is the greatest advantage that you have. But if you do want to get nitty gritty, I love an old-fashioned active/passive philosophy. Find passive where it’s cheap and then pay a little bit more for active management where it makes sense.
Geletka On Her Greatest Obstacle Being Her Greatest Strength
Harp: What’s the biggest obstacle you had to overcome and how did you do it?
Geletka: I’ve had several obstacles. I am very much not the typical avatar in this industry, so I think being different has been my greatest obstacle but also my greatest strength.
When I look back on my career, the largest obstacle is shortly after I purchased part of a firm. My business partner broke up with me. I had to fire all the staff. We lost our office building.
So, in a period of a very short timeframe, I essentially had to burn the ships and start over. I had to rebrand the firm. I had to move. I had to hire new staff and I also had some significant debt that I had to tackle.
Just like the explorers burned the ships when they came to the new land, nothing will ignite your entrepreneurial spirit quite like that. I also realized that I wasn’t just selling widgets. People were looking to me for good financial advice. During all that I never lost sight of the true north, which is I help my clients understand their money.
Looking For the Boring Stories to Dominate the News Cycle
Harp: That’s a great answer! I wanted to pivot over to our conference Exchange. It is coming up in February – what do you think the biggest story will be at that time?
Geletka: Honestly, I hope it’s a boring story because we’ve had so many high-drama stories. I hope it’s something like how to deal with the newest generation in the workplace or something very light. Bubblegum.
I would anticipate we will still be talking about high-interest rates. We will be talking about getting earnings in a high-interest rate environment. I hope we’re not talking as much about inflation, but I anticipate it will still be around.
The Financial Advisor’s Guide
Harp: Who’s another financial advisor that inspires you and why?
Geletka: There’s so many, that’s a hard one. I would say there’s someone who I knew when he was a broker-dealer, Rob Cucchiaro. He is somebody who left management to go serve clients in the RIA world and he’s very generous with helping other advisors, but he does it in a very quiet way. There are a lot of advisors that have very loud platforms and I respect the fact that he takes a lot of calls with advisors that the media does not know about. He’ll sit with you on the phone for an hour and help you with a complex growth problem or difficult clients.
He also wrote a book recently, The Financial Advisor Field Guide: What They Don’t Teach at Financial Planning School, in the spirit not of making money for himself, but in the spirit of helping to make the industry a better place.