Dr. Relly Nadler: This week we are sharing our interview with Elaina Spilove, who is an Institutional Consulting Director at the East-West Group at Graystone Consulting, a business of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. She is a Senior Vice President and a leading financial consultant at the newly merged Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Venture, the East-West Group at Graystone Consulting.
She was the president of APIC 2009, the Association of Professional Investment, which is an elite national organization.
She is currently one of Barron’s Top 100 Women in Finance, a title she earned based on financial assets under management. Elaina manages millions of dollars in assets for both individuals and foundations.
She is going to share her insights on how financial success can be learned and how you too can apply key strategies to be successful with a positive mindset and a fresh outlook on your financial future. Tough times can be an opportunity to set a new financial direction.
Her philosophy is, listen.
Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Thanks, Relly, I’d love to.
Elaina Spilove is the go-to person for both municipalities, public funds, foundations, and endowments. She’s a thirty-year veteran of the financial industry.
Elaina didn’t always work with institutional clients, she got her start in operations. She spent some time as an assistant branch manager before deciding to try her hand at being a producer about 20 years ago.
It was several years after joining Smith Barney in 1991 that she set her sights on a goal of becoming that go-to person.
Well, with a little bit of luck, she says, and some skill – it all worked out.
Obviously, that is an understatement.
In 2008, Elaina was named as one of the top wealth advisors in the greater Philadelphia area, by the Philadelphia Business Journal. That includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.
In 2009, Barron’s Winner’s Circle named Elaina an independent consulting whiz that advocates for best practices in the investment industry and named her as one of the industry’s Top 100 Financial Advisors.
Elaina was one of a select number of financial advisors recently selected to be a part of Graystone Consulting, which is a newly formed business with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, that provides a cutting-edge platform for institutional and very high net-worth individuals.
As an institutional consulting director, leading one of just thirty teams, there is a lot of rigorous credentials and very specific requirements we have to obtain and maintain to be on that platform, she says.
Without further ado, let me introduce you to Elaina Spilove. It’s an honor to have you, thank you for being with us.
Elaina Spilove: Thank you for having me, it’s a pleasure to be here.
Dr. Cathy Greenberg: One of the questions, Elaina, that we love to share with our audience as well as our guests, is to help us get some insight about you as an individual because we know you are such a powerhouse, just from the introduction. It helps us also make a personal connection with you.
So, without having you expose too much of your history but giving us just enough to get to know you. Who has been the most influential people and thinkers in your life and your career? How have they shaped your thinking about your work?
Elaina Spilove: Well, Cathy, it may sound a little cliché-ish but probably the most influential individual in my life was my mother.
At a time in our culture where women were really not recognized as being very independent, my mother was forced into a situation where she had to be independent. She instilled that independence in me and I think the rest of my family.
It’s something I have carried with me, my whole life. It has served me extremely well.
I don’t think at the time that she realized how she was forging those new trails, that we as women enjoy today.
One of the other people in my life, was very early on, someone that mentored me in the business. A supervisor, if you will, at the time. When I was very young, I was in my early 20s and just really encouraged me to move forward and have faith in myself. To make sure that I always carried myself into this business with integrity and always have my clients, and their best interested came first.
He was very influential, in my thinking and moving forward in business.
Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Perfect, that’s great.
It’s always good to hear that our mothers play a key role in our lives.
Dr. Relly Nadler: I think, as Cathy and I know and I’m sure Elaina, as parents we don’t realize the influence we have, often we think we don’t have any influence over our kids. Most of the time, we end up hearing from professionals, Elaina – like yourself, that it is usually one of our parents that have a lot of influence.
So, the other question we want to ask you, Elaina, is: Why a career in financial services and what brought you to where you are today?
Elaina Spilove: Again, it’s funny. It certainly wasn’t by choice. I think there was a much grander destiny, it was more by design.
When you’re in high school, very few times you know what you want to do. I even speak to kids today, and they say they have no idea what I want to do or what I want to be when I get out of college.
For me, it was more of a necessity. I needed to get a job right out of high school. The financial services industry was my very first job, in operations, making something like 65 dollars a week.
I just embraced it and it embraced me, I think it was my destiny to be here.
It’s fascinated me, this industry is real time. When I say that, I mean that when you look at a career in the financial services industry, it encompasses everything on a day to day basis. Everything that’s happening in the world, on a real-time basis.
So, when you say, why a career in the financial services industry. It wasn’t if I had a revelation one day and said, I want to be a financial consultant.
My experience in this business brought me to where I am today.
Dr. Cathy Greenberg: It’s fascinating, as I listen to you talk about how you got to where you are.
We’d love to know about what the difference is between helping people with public funds, as you do in foundations and endowments versus the work of a financial investment counselor who works with an individual.
Elaina Spilove: Well, I get that question a lot. What’s the difference between working with institutions and individuals?
There really isn’t much of a difference. Maybe in the size of the assets that I’m managing but overall and in general, everyone has to sit down and think about what their objectives are for this money.
Now, an institution, obviously, has much more defined objectives, so to speak. Where an individual, you really have to guide them in understanding what their objectives are and the risks that are involved with those objectives.
So, there isn’t much of a difference.
When you are talking about advising institutions and advising individuals, you do have to wear two different hats. Sometimes I feel as though I should bring a sofa into my office and have people lie down, so I can be a psychiatrist or a psychologist.
Most of the time, you basically have a four-step process, and this is really simplifying it.
That four-step process, one is identifying what your objectives are. That’s the first thing.
The second thing is putting those objectives in writing along with your risk tolerance. And then, going out and coming up with a plan, what type of investments and what type of path are you going to go down to meet those objectives.
At that point in time, who are you going to employ besides your consultant or your advisor to accomplish those objectives?
Then, the fourth step in the whole process is then the monitoring and reporting of the results. Monitoring of the investment managers performance and the monitoring of the results. Then making sure you are providing reports on a regular basis of what those results are bringing.
So, there really isn’t much of a difference, on a very elementary scale.
I could get into long details about what we do on the institutional side because sometimes they are much more involved. You’re dealing with pension funds that have projected liabilities our 30- 40- 50-years, other post-employment benefits.
On an individual basis, you have liabilities going out 20- 30- 40-years as well.
Listen to the entire interview above.