Jenny I. MartellaMBA, CFP®
Principal & Wealth Manager
What sparked your interest in financial planning? What fuels your every day in your work?
I have had an interest in finance and investing since my college days when I started investing on my own as a hobby.
During the 2008/2009 recession, many of my close friends and family sought out professional advice when they saw the value of their investments plummeting. Frequently they were referred to “financial advisors” who were actually brokers or insurance agents working for commission sales instead of what was in the best interests of their clients. They often ended up purchasing expensive annuities or other products. People I cared about were getting hurt. To help them, I knew I needed the right qualifications. I decided to return to school to earn my CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation.
After achieving the CFP® designation, I began working with a firm that offered fee-only financial services, where my clients paid me directly (no product sales). I was able to provide the objective advice my clients really needed. I can honestly say that what fuels me every day in my work is the pride I feel in “sitting on the same side of the table” with my clients in this same trusted fiduciary relationship at Modera.
What is a particularly rewarding example of how you helped create impact for a client?
Helping clients during the good times is great. But guiding a client through an occasional or unavoidable tough time and seeing them get stronger, is particularly rewarding for me.
We had a wonderful couple who engaged our firm to help them get to retirement. The husband was quite stressed in his job and it was affecting his health. Because he primarily handled the couple’s finances, it was incredibly important to him that his wife was taken care of in the event that she outlived him.
Soon after they became our clients, the couple took a well-deserved overseas vacation. Sadly, the husband died on their vacation of stress-induced heart failure. Putting our shock and dismay aside, we quickly became part of our newly widowed client’s “critical care team”, assisting with all things financial. We helped her convert her husband’s life insurance, pensions and annuities into needed cash and income. Furthermore, we amended their comprehensive financial plan to adjust for the loss of her husband sooner than expected and to allow for the best execution of her combined own benefit and survivor benefit for Social Security. We found ourselves crying with her at times, but we got through it together. Today, I am happy to report she is surviving and even flourishing on her own as she looks forward to retirement this year.
What do you enjoy most about working at Modera?
Modera has large company supports, but small company character. Modera works hard to seek out opinions from staff and owners before making decisions. It feels like every employee is part of a big, caring Modera family.
How do you do good for your community?
I take great joy in making a difference for others. One of my passions is helping in the area of addiction and mental illness. I have recently been tapped to help manage the endowment for Charlotte Rescue Mission, an organization that assists with addiction recovery. I also volunteer my time with Supportive Housing Communities and have been a key-note speaker at their annual luncheon. In the past, I have volunteered for Junior Achievement to teach financial literacy concepts to high school students. I currently sit on the Endowment Committee for my church where I am also a deacon.