Financial Knowledge Is Freedom

Sterling Investment Management is educatingthe financially challenged and disadvantaged

Money is never just about money. If it was, we would all be rich. It’s about how people approach money, their relationship with it, and for many people that relationship needs serious work, says Jacquette M. Timmons, president and CEO of Sterling Investment Management Inc., a full-service investment education and consulting firm in New York City with less than $100,000 in revenues last year. So why isn’t everyone wealthy? It comes down to two things: choice and information. Everyday, people make spending decisions that impact their financial health, whether it’s eating dinner at a trendy restaurant or buying another electronic gadget.

That’s where Sterling Investment Management comes in. The company provides investment education services, particularly its customized “Stop Treating Your Money So Poorly” workshop to corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations and its “Meet Your Money” workshop for individuals. Timmons also offers group and individual coaching. Through her workshops and one-on-one sessions, she helps people face their money demons. “For example, we have people create an income statement, cash flow statement, and balance sheet. We use those business instruments to help people discover their story,” she says.

The numbers reveal the facts, the facts tell a story, and a story gives clues about what to do next, she explains. But what’s uncovered may not be all that pretty. Lifestyle adjustments are usually needed to meet newly defined goals, says Timmons, 37.

Timmons is especially dedicated to working with nonprofits. In fact, she offers nonprofits a 30% discount. “For me, it’s an effective way to share my message with people who wouldn’t be able to afford me or the services of Sterling,” she says.

Timmons started her firm in 1995 as a fee-based, independent, nonregistered investment advisory firm. But the asset management side of the business wasn’t satisfying. “Ironically, we had been doing the workshops since 1996, but we never looked at them as a business; we just enjoyed doing them,” Timmons says. By 1999, 80% of her company’s revenues came from educational endeavors. In 2000, she made the complete switch to investment education.

Her part is to spread the money gospel; the rest is left to her clients. Timmons often ascribes to the quote: “Knowledge is created by the learner, not given by the teacher,” signifying the positive effects of employing Declaration of Financial Empowerment principle No. 2: to be a proactive and informed investor. The following advice can help you enrich your life:

LEARN THE TOOLS OF THE TRADE
There are plenty of places to turn for schooling on financial matters. You can supplement your knowledge of a company by reading industry trade publications such as Investor’s Business Daily (www.investors.com), as well as annual reports, stock and bond guides, and financial newsletters. Novice investors should also get a free copy of the BLACK ENTERPRISE Wealth Building Kit (877-WEALTHY; www .blackenterprise.com).

STUDY VARIOUS INVESTMENT STRATEGIES
Read in-depth profiles of companies that reveal their philosophies and culture — important things to know if you are investing in a particular company. Timmons especially likes Washington Post columnist James Glassman’s book, The

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