You might expect someone who is at the pinnacle of her career to rest on her laurels, but Jennifer Perri is anything but predictable and nothing short of a dynamo who continually challenges herself to attain new heights and scale any obstacles in her path—and as and a transformational life and money coach, she’s bringing women across the globe with her. She’s known as the “Smart Money Gal” and the moniker is well deserved.
Jennifer is the founder of Swan Financial Advisors, a thriving women-focused financial consulting and coaching firm, and the Smart Money Gal Alpha Academy, through which she helps other women become as empowered and emboldened as she is. It’s an unconventional niche amid a sea of convention, a distinctive style of financial planning within a nondescript landscape, and woman-centric alternative to an industry almost entirely created for and by men. She is equal parts consultant, coach, initiator, vanguard, guardian, and custodian of a new era, and she is at the forefront of this progressive, Socratic approach to balancing the scales.
In a departure from traditional financial advisors and money managers, Jennifer puts her clients in the driver’s seat as she guides them around the potholes and bumps in the road. And she knows their journey well. Long ago, she, herself, traversed the same rocky, tumultuous landscape and emerged victorious and determined to “help women transition from trauma to triumph.” For nearly two decades, she has done exactly, having already helped hundreds navigate the difficulties of divorce, loss, and career barriers and “find their financial confidence, reclaim their power, and write their own stories.”
We sat down with Jennifer to learn as much as we could about her and the extraordinary culture she has cultivated.
Jennifer, thank you so much for spending this time with us today. Can you give our readers just a brief summary of your current role?
I’m the CEO of Swan Financial Advisors, which is an independent, women-focused, financial consulting and coaching firm. The name “Swan” is an acronym for “Sleep Well at Night.” It was a former client’s idea because she knew how important it was for me to instill a feeling of security in everyone I worked with. In that sense, I believe my primary responsibility is to provide clarity, education, and accountability so that my clients can realize not only their financial goals, but also their life goals. As a "women-focused" firm led by a woman, I understand the challenges that women face and the need for a unique style of financial planning. For many of my clients, coaching became a growing part of our work together and I saw a real need to provide them specific tools and guidance to help them. In response, I divided my role to include a distinct segment as a transformational life and money coach and launched Smart Money Gal Alpha Academy, which also helps women embrace a life of prosperity, but with more focus on coaching.
I understand that Smart Money Gal Alpha Academy offers several services specific to the coaching aspect you mentioned. Can you elaborate a bit on that?
Yes. I offer one-on-one coaching with me as well as group sessions and financial accountability partnerships for clients who are rebuilding their lives and need help applying what they’ve learned in order to move forward. As I work with a client, it’s so important to discover what’s going on in their personal and financial life simultaneously. This helps me identify any areas of “trauma” that need to be addressed first. After we get a handle on the emotional aspects then we start to tackle the financial. Once we uncover the client’s “money personality,” we can help dispel the money myths, unlock the proper mindset, and kick the negative financial habits that have prevented them from the level of success they are capable of achieving. My goal is to empower women with the tools necessary to make smart, confident decisions about their life and their money.
You’re expanding more into the role of a global transformational life and money coach for people worldwide. What prompted this?
I’m glad you asked. I’m transitioning more toward coaching at a global level because I want to be able to reach women all over the world and give them access to the mechanics of financial wellbeing—and the self-esteem and confidence that come with it. An assistant of mine who is based in the Philippines asked, “Can you expand here? I’d love to help you. Women here are always looking for help and want to learn from someone who is successful.” Another client of mine recently offered to translate all of my courses and resources to Spanish as a way to further assist her community and share with family in Mexico. This type of discussion became so frequent that I knew I had to focus on meeting the needs of women everywhere.
Earlier, you mentioned the importance of life goals and the challenges that are specific to women. Why is it important to first address the emotional and situational factors before the financial circumstances?
It’s basically logic. Most money managers don’t consider these factors at all, instead moving people into a tidy “one-size-fits-all” box, regardless of whether it fits them. I flip the script on traditional financial planning by addressing emotional and situational pieces first. I may meet a client who seeks advice after a divorce. Maybe her ex-husband made all of the financial decisions and she wasn’t engaged in them. Or maybe she just doesn’t feel qualified. Knowing the situation and supporting the client emotionally must take place before she is in the right frame of mind to learn to take charge financially. Money is the cornerstone of every aspect of our lives, and unless you have a handle on it, you can’t thrive in other areas. I’m very good at making people feel comfortable, and because I set achievable milestones at each step of the process, they stay engaged. I don’t send anyone off alone; I’m right beside them the whole time.
Lastly, Jennifer, what are the most fulfilling accomplishments of your career?
I love getting women “unstuck” and empowered to move forward, whether it’s about money or life. I’ve been extremely successful as a financial advisor because I don’t care about statements, I care about people. That’s why I do life coaching and financial advisory. Outside of helping hundreds of people attain financial freedom and security, my greatest professional achievement was the incredible opportunity to co-author a best-selling book with Jack Canfield, creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.
Jennifer Perri, CEO, Swan Financial Advisors