Tag Archives: Finance

Woman to Watch: Suzanne Shank


Occupation: President and CEO of Siebert Brandford Shank & Co., LLC, since its inception in October 1996.

Education: Graduate of The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania with a Masters of Business Administration in Finance, and the Georgia Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering.

Previous Career: Suzanne functioned as an engineer with General Dynamics, Electric Boat Division, where she worked as a Design Engineer on various design projects.

Childhood Dream: To become a Social Worker

What She Does Now: As a founder and co-owner of the company and a member of its board of directors, Shank has participated in municipal financings totaling more than $356 million. Suzanne has led financings for large-scale projects for many issuers, including in the Northeast, the cities of New York, Philadelphia and the State of Connecticut.

History Maker: Siebert Brandford Shank is the largest minority- and women-owned municipal finance firm. They have been lead manager in issuance of $5 billion in tax-exempt bonds.

Awards and Recognition: Suzanne was honored by Black Enterprise Magazine as one of the “50 Most Influential Black Women in Business” (February 2006 Issue), and as one of the “75 Most Powerful Blacks on Wall Street” (October 2005 and October 2006). She has also been recognized by Crain’s Detroit Business as one of the 40 outstanding leaders under 40. Additionally, she was named National Entrepreneur of the Year by the Madame CJ Walker Center and named as one of  “Metropolitan Detroit’s Most Influential Black Women” by the Women’s Informal Network (Detroit and Wayne County).

Volunteer Efforts: She has a deep commitment to and passion for public service as evidenced by her contribution to charities that help those less fortunate. She spearheaded the formation of the Detroit Summer Finance Institute, an internship program that has introduced more than 70 high school students to the financial world in the past three years. She also is vice president of the founding board of W.A.V.E., an initiative to help poor residents pay their water utility bills. Ms. Shank serves as a Board member of CAMERA, the Caribbean American Mission for Education Research in Action, which links educators and educational institutions to develop and implement programs that support, augment and strengthen the capacity and capabilities of educational systems in the Caribbean and the region that includes Philadelphia, the District of Columbia and New York. She is also a founding member of the Michigan Women in Finance and is a member of the Board of the Detroit Institute of Arts. Recently she served a three-year term on the Board of Directors for the Bond Market Association, and is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board.

Family Ties: “My favorite undertaking in life is raising my two daughters, Devin and Camryn, with my husband,”

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Know Your Money: Six Basic Tips


Image courtesy of becomingfinanciallysavvy.com/

While we’re certainly not experts like Mellody Hobson or Michelle Singletary, we have picked up a few tips along the way from financially savvy friends of ours that we thought we’d share with you.

1) Between The Sheets…Spreadsheets, that is: If you don’t want to spend $100 on Quickbooks software, try using Microsoft Excel (for Mac or a PC) to create spreadsheets that capture your expenses, income and savings. Microsoft has all sorts of free templates that you can download online. The great thing about them is that they come preloaded with formulas so all you have to do is input your information.

2) To Invest or Not To Invest…That Is The Question: If the extent of your investment knowledge is “buy low sell high” then chances are you’ll appreciate the recommendation to read this book titled “The Little Book That Beats The Market” by Joel Greenblatt. A mentor recommended this book and it’s fabulous. It’s a short, easy read that breaks down investing into the basics. Think of it as finance for non-financials. Flag and highlight the pages so you can easily refer back to the information when you need it.

3) Finance and Cheese: Too often we get together with our girlfriends to share the latest dish on men, work, family drama etc. But when was the last time you got together specifically to learn from one another? If you ask around, chances are you have at least one good girlfriend who majored in finance. So for your next gathering of the girls, make it a “Finance & Cheese” night. Ask your financially savvy girlfriend to be the guest of honor, solicit questions from your guests in advance and provide them to your financially savvy girlfriend so that she can prepare in advance for the gathering. Pop a bottle of good wine, lay out some wonderful cheeses and voila! Instant lunch and learn…or dinner and learn.

4) Direct Your Direct Deposit: In most cases you can have your direct deposit go to multiple accounts. Try setting yours up so that a specified sum of money goes into an interest bearing savings account every two weeks before you even get to see it. It will force you to be disciplined enough to live off less.

5) Set Goals:  Experts used to say you should have 3-6 months worth of salary saved up. Now that the economy is rough, most experts say you should have at least a year of living expenses saved up. This of course requires getting diligent about paying yourself first. While you’re doing this, consider making some head way on other financial goals too like paying off all of your credit cards or consolidating your student loans.

6) One and Done: ATMs are simultaneously a blessing and a curse. The good thing about them is that they make it convenient to get money when you need it. The bad thing about them…is that they make it convenient to get money when you don’t need it. Easiest way to curb your ATM habit is to decide in advance how much “mad money” you need for two week. Get that money from the ATM in one lump sum and don’t visit the ATM again until your two week time period is up. If you have money left over by the time you reach your two week mark then that’s an indication that you took out too much. Adjust your withdrawal for the next time around.

Do you have some money tips to share? Feel free to do so by posting a comment below.

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Spotlight on: Michelle Singletary


Michelle Singletary (Photo Courtesy of O Magazine)

“Big Mama used to say it’s not how much money you make that matters, but how you make do with what you have” – Michelle Singletary

You may have seen her on networks and shows on MSNBC, CNN, TVOne and The Oprah Winfrey show. Perhaps you listened to her in the afternoon on National Public Radio or maybe you picked up one of her top selling books. Chances are you have seen or heard from Michelle Singletary, financial expert extraordinaire…and if not, allow us to introduce her to you.

Not often enough does a person find their passion at an early age. For Michelle Singletary, that is exactly what happened. Her passion for being fiscally responsible started when she was just a young girl. “If you handed me a dollar at age 4, I knew exactly what to do with it,” says Singletary of her early interest and talent for saving. Raised by her grandmother, Michelle was indeed the most frugal child out of her four siblings. She often lent money to her siblings, “I was tough. If they wanted to buy candy or toys, I’d say no…But a pencil for school—that was a different story” she recalls. Michelle attributes her passion and interest for understanding how to manage her money to her grandmother, who passed away in 1995. Michelle’s grandmother raised her and her siblings on a $13,000 a year income. It was Michelle’s experience growing up in a low-income household, with a grandmother who was skilled at making a dollar out of fifteen cents, that continues to be the inspiration for a great deal of her writings and subsequently her success today. Michelle is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park and she received her Master’s degree in business and management from Johns Hopkins University.

Michelle’s writing career took off when she joined The Washington Post in 1992. Since that time she developed her now nationally syndicated  and award winning column, “The Color of Money” which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in its inaugural year. Her column can be seen in over 100 newspapers across the country including the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, Tampa Tribune and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Michelle’s success as a columnist was the perfect entre into becoming a celebrated author of three top selling books including “Spend Well, Live Rich”,  “Your Money and Your Man: How You and Prince Charming Can Spend Well and Live Rich” and “The Power to Prosper: 21 Days to Financial Freedom,” which was released this month.

In addition to her column and books, Michelle is often called upon to appear on many prominent television and radio programs. She has appeared on all three major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS) as a personal finance expert on such shows as “Oprah”, “NBC’s Today Show,” “The Early Show on CBS,” “Nightline,” CNN, “The View,” and “Tavis Smiley” on PBS. In January 2006, Michelle launched her first national television program “Singletary Says” on TV One and to this day she continues to be sought after as a keynote speaker for Universities and organizations across the nation.

As if all of this is not enough, somehow Michelle finds time to give back through her program, “Prosperity Partners Ministry,” which she founded at her church, First Baptist Church of Glenarden. The program focuses on “financially savvy” volunteers mentoring others who are having financial challenges. To top it all off, Michelle is a happily married mother of three children currently residing in Maryland.

If you made any New Year’s Resolutions that have to do with getting your finances together, visit Michelle’s site for some great advice and information on her products and services.

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Angela Logan: Mortgage Apple Cake to the Rescue!


Logan's Mortgage Apple Cake

Logan's Mortgage Apple Cake

We may not be in a full blown depression but times are definitely hard for most Americans these days. Articles with advice from experts on how to financially tighten our belts are springing up everywhere. The stock market has yet to really stabilize and images of “tent cities” and abandoned homes are hard to ignore. So to give you some encouragement we thought we’d share this inspiring story about Angela Logan who found a silver lining amidst her stormy financial cloud.

Angela is a 55 year old mother to three sons and has been a resident of Teaneck, NJ in her home for 20 years. Recently, she and her family were hit with two unexpected expenses. The first was the result of a botched home repair project to mend damage sustained during a storm and the second was the closing of an agency where Angela previously worked that owed her money. Despite these set-backs, the mortgage was due and Angela needed to find a way to raise the money for a payment of $2500 before she could take advantage of the mortgage assistance programs offered through the Obama administration. Her salary as a substitute teacher was not going to be enough. Like so many Americans, Angela was in danger of loosing her home. That is, until she came up with the idea to bake apple cake using a recipe her grandmother taught her as a child in Atlanta. She began socializing to friends, family and classmates at Bergen Community College that she was baking and selling apple cake to raise money for a mortgage payment. That’s when the orders started rolling in. So much so that she had too many orders to handle in her home kitchen. Thanks to the Hilton Hotel in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J. and Josh Kaye, founder and president of Bake Me A Wish, a not-for-profit bakery that sells scrumptious goodies for charitable causes, Angela was allowed to use their approved kitchens and facilities to bake and ship her cakes nationwide. Needless to say, her mortgage payment has been taken care of and now Angela and Bake Me A Wish are paying it forward by giving a portion of the proceeds to others in need.  Check out Angela on MSNBC.

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