Forbes Coaches Council member Deborah Hightower is a multi-faceted businesswoman: financial advisor, leadership and success coach, writer, and speaker. She has published two books — The Secret to Winning BIG: Top Strategies for Winning BIG in Life and Business; and Fly, Beautiful. Fly!, A Guided Journal — and has another book in the works. She also writes for blogs, business publications, and lifestyle magazines, and has been featured in major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Dow Jones Market Watch, CNBC, and many more.
Hightower began her career in financial services, working her way up to obtaining the regulatory licenses that allowed her to operate in investment strategy and management. Now, she uses her extensive financial experience to guide others on their financial journeys. In addition, she has expanded her purview to encompass leadership and success coaching.
Below, Hightower shares her thoughts on the science and art of coaching; trust in client relationships; thinking big; and women in finance.
On the Science and Art of Coaching
As a veteran financial advisor, I collaborate with clients to design and implement a personalized, dynamic and comprehensive plan for wealth accumulation, preservation, spending, and philanthropy. My approach can be defined as quantitative and qualitative. Quantitatively, empirical data, algorithms and projections lead the way — the science of it, if you will. The qualitative, or art, side of the business is often overlooked, but is an important component. It centers around the human factor of advisor-client relationships and delves into the psychology of money and its enveloping complexities.
Clients find my approach refreshing and valuable as they work toward their desired outcome. As such, I have been able to develop and cultivate long-term relationships that add to the equation of success.
On Trust in Client Relationships
Over the years, I have received an abundance of career and business advice. The most impactful advice was to “build genuine relationships and care deeply.”
Clients need more than an algorithm or robo-response when stressful life events take place — which often have nothing, yet everything to do with money. Combining the science and art of financial advising allows me to develop holistic client relationships and is an integral element of my success in this arena. I believe a trusted advisor relationship is key to maximizing the present and potential for the future. My clients see me as that trusted advisor.
I have been fortunate to work with individuals, families, and businesses to help them navigate financial waters and accomplish their goals and aspirations. Relationships with many long-term clients are now multi-generational. I attribute it to the power of trust.
The best part of my work, hands down, is my clients’ success and knowing I was a catalyst in the process. Everyone’s story and path are unique; no two situations are the same. I enjoy supporting clients in their quest to assign context and gain clarity to their situations. Whether it’s discussing their dreams and aspirations or exploring unspoken fears, the opportunity to be co-author of their pathway to success is important to me. Success for them is success for me.
On Thinking Big
Outside financial advising, my role is consultant and coach — grounded in helping clients define personal goals for success, career paths, and clarity surrounding work and life after. It is my goal to be a catalyst in the process of looking beyond what simply appears to be, creating a potential shift in their thinking. Self-development is prefaced by cutting through the self-imposed limitations in everything that encompasses who we are as individuals. Often, we think too small and place limits on what could be within our grasp. I inspire clients to reach, stretch and grab what life has to offer according to their desires and expectations of outcome.
I define success as “the process of accomplishment through continual expansion of happiness, fulfillment, and progression to the next goal.” In other words, if the goal is to go from Point A to Point B, what happens at Point B? I believe it should become the new Point A and serve as a launchpad to a new Point B further out on the continuum. The process repeats with each accomplishment. Sometimes, we focus on a faraway Point B and fail to realize there are a lot of A and B points between the beginning and the ultimate destination.
Stepping into the presence of NOW holds great power for me. I believe we land at our current spot largely because of past decisions. Today provides the opportunity to make any needed adjustments and serves as a foundation for the next goal.
On Women in Business and Finance
Over the years, I have learned that life is a series of challenges and opportunities that require resilience, resourcefulness, optimism, ambition and determination. I entered the male-dominated world of finance as a young woman when females represented less than 5% of financial executives. I know first-hand what it’s like to navigate a path to the table with those who really don’t believe you belong there. However, there is room for everyone with the qualifications and wherewithal for the pursuit.
I am inspired by historical women, some of whom we may never know, who have paved the way for contemporary women. I find inspiration in knowing today’s women will inspire the next generations. I am optimistic about the future and inspired by inventions, the limitless creativity of humans, and potential for beneficial change for betterment of society.
What’s on your desk besides your computer?
Notebooks and beautiful writing instruments
What animal do you most relate to? Or, what animal do you aspire to be more like?
Historical figure you wish you could meet?
Place you’d most like to visit?