Member Profile: Molly Balunek, CFP®, AEP®​​

Primary Role: President and Founder of Laurel Tree Advisors ​in Cleveland, Ohio.​

Website: www.laureltreeadvisors.com
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/laurel-tree-advisors
Twitter: www.twitter.com/LTreeAdvisors
Facebook: www.facebook.com/LaurelTreeAdvisors

Financial Planning Philosophy: Balunek believes that being in charge of your finances is a great stress reliever and provides services that are designed to help clients at the time in their lives that they need it. Investment management, in particular, keeps money working hard for the client and allows her to create a customized road map to guide clients through their financial lives.

You're affiliated with the FPA of Northeast Ohio chapter. What were you hoping to get from affiliation with the chapter?
Initially, I joined for the continuing education and the opportunity to grow my professional knowledge.  That was in 1997 after I became a CFP® professional. As I gained experience in the chapter, I wanted to get more involved, which led to serving on a chapter committee in 2007. I enjoyed the camaraderie, and when I was asked to serve on the chapter's Board of Directors, I was delighted to have a chance to give back. I served on the Board for seven years and every minute of it was worthwhile. It was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my career.

You say that you served in several leadership roles in the chapter. What made you want to step up and take on leadership positions?
I wanted to be more a part of the community and pass along the many benefits I received from my involvement in the chapter. I wanted to spend more time working alongside some of the highly respected professionals in our community and wanted to contribute to the continuing success of our chapter so others could benefit, too. But it is worth saying that I have received far more than I have given.

I have built relationships within our Northeast Ohio community and was given the opportunity to attend and participate in the Chapter Leaders Conference in Denver. The leadership training provided to me as a board member has translated into skills and relationships that have helped me build my practice and establish a successful firm. Really, everything I have done as a volunteer in FPA has helped me develop skills I have transferred to my business.

When you reflect on your time in chapter leadership, what are you most proud of?
One of the things I am happiest about is being a part of increasing the number of volunteers in our chapter. When I first became involved, we had only a handful of volunteers and each of us did quite a bit for the chapter. We found that if we asked new volunteers to do smaller parts and get them involved in the community, it was easier to attract more new volunteers and keep them engaged over a longer period of time. After a few years, we expanded our leadership pipeline and developed a deep bench of expertise and enthusiasm for the chapter. Today, our chapter leadership is stronger than ever, which has translated into a great community and stronger participation in all our activities.   

How has your affiliation with the chapter helped you professionally and personally?
I built a foundation of knowledge, and continue to build on that foundation as the profession evolves and the advice we provide changes. FPA is a critical part of that. In addition, and perhaps more significantly, my affiliation with our chapter has helped me grow as a successful financial planner. My practice is much stronger because of the relationships I have developed from being a part of the financial planning community in Northeast Ohio. Two years ago, I launched my own practice and many of the people who encouraged me the most are fellow volunteers in our FPA chapter. I could not have done it without them.

Why do you feel every FPA member should consider active participation in their local chapter?
Because our profession is so important to helping people manage their resources to achieve and maintain their financial independence. The local chapter is the best place to develop the resources, knowledge, tools and relationships that help us become the best financial planners we can be. Getting involved is about much more than attending a few meetings to get continuing education credits. I know that whatever time and effort I have given has been rewarded many times over in the knowledge, skills and relationships I have developed.  

How would you sum up your experience with your local chapter?
My affiliation in the FPA of Northeast Ohio chapter has been among the most significant and valuable experiences of my career. It has contributed to:
  • My ability to help my clients – my technical skills as well as my interpersonal skills.
  • My ability to build a successful business.
  • My ability to achieve my own financial planning goals.
  • My ability to grow as a practitioner and be a part of a growing profession. ​
Do you want to get involved and benefit from affiliation with a local chapte​r just like Molly? If so, learn more about chapters and get involved today. You'll be happy you did!

Do you have an FPA Success Story?

Contact Ben Lewis​ and share your story today.


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