In tennis, gaining a net advantage can go a long way towards success. The same could be said about finances and planning for one’s financial future. Ann Arbor’s Emily Bowen is an expert in both areas.
A longtime and successful tennis player, Bowen now serves as a Certified Financial Planner as a member of the Stonepath Wealth Management team in Ann Arbor. Bowen, who began her financial planning career in 1991, possesses a professional background that includes 30 years of successful self-employment.
While her profession isn’t as glamorous as playing Wimbledon it does come with its challenges, responsibility and rewards. All of which Bowen takes very seriously, which helps explain her 30 years of success in a competitive business.
“It often seems like people’s finances are like a puzzle,” she says. “You need to figure out what makes sense for each individual or couple. Everyone has money issues and those also need to be taken into account. There’s a great satisfaction in helping people understand what’s going on with their money and helping them reach their goals.”
Bowen grew up in Grand Rapids, attended East Grand Rapids High School and attended Miami of Ohio, where she played tennis.
“My idea was that I could work like crazy during the winter doing taxes and play tennis the rest of the year,” she said. “I started out first doing taxes and became a CFP in 1988 and started working for a brokerage firm in 1991.”
Bowen’s tennis career included playing singles at Miami of Ohio where one year she won a tournament that featured all the female college players in Ohio. More recently, she was a Senior Olympics double championship winner.
She’s also a winner off the court.
A member of the FPA, US-SIF and First Affirmative Financial Network, Bowen specializes in helping clients identify socially-responsible investment opportunities.
“Socially responsible investing (SRI) is aligning one’s values with their investments,” Bowen explains. “It started out many years ago with what they call negative screens. SRI funds would not invest in alcohol, tobacco and firearms. An early influence was shown when many investments were taken out of South Africa due to their apartheid policies. They were forced to change their policies at least partially due to the movement of money away from them.”
Yes, money talks and oftentimes loud enough to make important changes.
“There are now what we call positive screens,” Bowen says. “SRI funds invest in companies that treat the environment and their employees well. So a new term for it is ESG which stands for environmental, social and governance. Socially responsible investing has grown from being something a few hippies do to being an 8 trillion dollar industry.”
In fact, many major mutual fund companies now have some SRI funds; the number of SRI funds and ETF’s has exploded.
“There used to be a myth that SRI investing would underperform the market,” she said. “Now researchers have shown that, just like other investments, your performance depends on other factors.”
Bowen says another aspect to SRI is community investing and shareholder advocacy where people invest in their own communities or other communities through credit unions and other organizations. “One example is an organization that helped hundreds of people get mortgages after their homes were destroyed by Katrina,” she said. “Shareholder advocacy is something that many mutual fund companies do to help make companies answerable to the public. There is a constant effort to make companies more transparent. What’s great is when some companies go to the SRI people and ask what they need to do to become more socially responsible.”
Bowen also has experience in income tax planning and preparation and is well-versed in discussing tax consequences of investment decisions with her clients.
“Preparing taxes and helping people invest seem to go hand in hand, and of course are basic factors in financial planning,” she says. “Looking at a person’s tax return gives you a lot of details about their investments, debt, and expenses. Knowing tax consequences of various investment choices is essential in helping people invest smartly. Tax laws seem to change regularly and keeping up to date with them is certainly helpful in preparing taxes and in figuring out how a person’s puzzle pieces fit together.”
For more information on Bowen and Stonepath Wealth Management, log onto https://stonepathwm.com/