Pence Wealth Management’s Laila Pence on the Future of Cultural and Gender Diversity

Michael Madden, Contributing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

Egyptian American Financial Advisor Laila Pence on Forging Stronger Client Connections on the Basis of Shared Struggles

If a diversity of life experiences contributes to a financial advisor’s ability to drive an elevated level of service, then it’s easy to see why Laila Pence, President of Pence Wealth Management, has carved out a leadership position for her firm in the high net worth client segment.

Headquartered in Orange County, California and with approximately $2 billion in client assets, Pence Wealth Management was co-founded by Laila Pence and spouse E. Dryden Pence III in 1980.

The firm, which is affiliated with LPL Financial for broker-dealer and RIA capabilities, has grown over the decades to encompass a team of investment professionals and relationship managers, who collectively serve 1,500 client relationships across the country.

But the road that led Laila Pence – born Laila Ibrahim in Egypt – to where she is today wasn’t always an easy path.

According to coverage in media outlets such as the BBC , Pence and her family fled their home nearby Egypt’s Suez Canal in 1967 when the Six-Day War broke out, with Egypt, Jordan and Syria fighting against Israel.  She was 12 years old at the time.

After their home was destroyed in a bombing attack, Pence and her family eventually made their way to New York City, where they initially shared a single rented room on Staten Island.  Growing up, Pence contributed to her family’s meager budget with a number of jobs, including selling hot dogs to commuters on the Staten Island Ferry.

Pence attended UCLA upon graduating from high school, working as a waitress to pay for her studies, while learning about financial planning to prepare for her present career.

Empowered women empower women.

As a woman and Egyptian American, Pence’s journey to the pinnacle of the independent wealth management space is a remarkable story – With broader lessons for the industry.

WSR recently connected with Pence to discuss how she and her team have been able to distinguish themselves in the HNW segment of the wealth management space…and what she sees in the future for diversity and inclusivity across wealth management firms.

WSR:  What is your typical “sweet spot” HNW client – And how does Pence Wealth Management excel in serving this very-demanding segment of clients?

Pence:  Our firm’s minimum is $2 million, and a key point of differentiation is the fact that the investment arm of our firm is in-house. 

We do not outsource investments to third-party capital management firms, which provides our clients with a greater level of assurance and confidence. 

Here at Pence Wealth Management, we have internally separated the roles of financial planning and investment management. We have a specified investment team that manages the asset with plans to integrate and execute. 

While our financial advisors and service team focuses on our clients, our investment team focuses on monitoring performance. This allows each professional to focus on what they do best but at the same time be closely integrated with one another. I believe this is a key advantage of our firm.

WSR:  Has your individual background helped you connect well with any particular clients?  And how have your unique life experiences helped to make you a more effective financial advisor?

Pence:  For financial advisors, building personal connections is critical, and a big part of this is realizing that everyone has a struggle story. 

To drive more meaningful connections, it’s important to get people to share their individual struggles. 

Turn your struggles into your success story.

For example, I came to the US after my family lost everything in the Six-Day War.  When I first came to the US, I didn’t speak a word of English.  Our family had to rebuild our lives from scratch.  It wasn’t easy.

So I find that I connect especially well with others who have had to struggle and push extra hard to achieve the American dream.

WSR:  Gender diversity is finally being given more attention within the wealth management space.  Do you see continued progress happening, and why do you believe women are especially well suited as high net worth wealth advisors?

Laila Pence, President, Pence Wealth Management

Pence:  Yes, I believe continued forward movement in gender diversity will happen. 

As an industry, we still have a long way to go, but I’m seeing progress compared to when I first started in this profession decades ago. 

We definitely embrace the importance of gender diversity at Pence Wealth Management, where over half of our team members are women. 

It’s important that women continually get recognized and support career paths that embrace families. 

After all, who better to discuss multi-generational wealth than those who are giving birth to those generations?

Michael Madden, Contributing Editor and Research Analyst, can be reached at mmadden@wealthsolutionsreport.com 

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