WESTPORT, Conn. -- Laurie Stefanowicz knows all about building winning teams from her career as a college and professional soccer player. For the past eight years, she has helped clients at Catamount Wealth Management in Westport form their own successful lineups.
Stefanowicz, a Bethel native and Senior Vice President, Managing Partner of the firm, sees her role as a “financial quarterback.” She helps clients select investments and independent professionals in tax planning, real estate, insurance and other industries to create the best and most comprehensive financial plan.
Stefanowicz and Catamount recently established workshops for families, “Conversations with Catamount,’’ which include educational seminars, financial speed dating and an array of financial wellness educational services for clients.
“People do not fit into boxes,’’ Stefanowicz said. “Everyone has a different ‘money story’ and we’re able to treat clients uniquely. We can create a plan as opposed to fitting our clients into a box.”
Louis Albanese, Catamount’s President and Managing Partner, serves as the investment manager for the business. Stefanowicz’s primary role is to craft a plan to help people take control of their finances.
“The most important thing to understand is a person’s relationship with money,’’ Stefanowicz said. “Some people have financial anxiety. Some don’t think about it at all. Others check their statements every day. Once I can understand that, then I’ll look at concrete facts. That’s the easy part. Bringing the person’s relationship with money into a strategy that’s right for them is more difficult, but that’s what makes a real investment program. Your plan has to be customized to you.”
That is where Stefanowicz’s expertise comes in. She develops plans for clients based on current and future needs. She will adapt the plan as situations dictate.
“The best advice I give to people is this is the beginning of a relationship,’’ she said. “It’s the beginning of building your team and those relationships. You should be in control and check in with that relationship. So many people pass the baton and hand it over to their advisor. That’s not being in control of your finances.”
Stefanowicz’s team-building skills began on the soccer fields of Fairfield County, where she was a four-time All-State selection at Westover School in Middlebury. She started almost instantly at Vanderbilt University, where she earned second team All-SEC honors as a sophomore. Vanderbilt won 52 games during her career, and made two NCAA Tournament appearances. She was a first team All-SEC choice as a senior.
Laurie was a two-time All-SEC selection, a member of the All-SEC Tournament team in 2000, Academic All-SEC honor roll member for four years, a Dean’s List scholar athlete and two-time team captain.
The Atlanta Beat drafted Stefanowicz in the fourth round of the Women’s United Soccer Association draft in 2001, and she played for one year professionally before launching her career path.
“I just felt ready to move on,’’ Stefanowicz said. “Soccer was my entire life up to that point. Our family vacations were built around my soccer schedule. I had an amazing experience, and some days I wish it was a little longer. But I got a great job with Gatorade and everything worked out for a reason.”
Stefanowicz’s soccer career has come full circle, where she now coaches her daughter in the Fairfield United Soccer Association. Another daughter plays in the Fairfield Parks & Recreation League. “I know both my girls love it, but I want to make sure they love it not because Mommy played,’’ she said. “I want to spend time with them, because that’s what’s going to help them become successful.”
Stefanowicz is also immersed in other community activities. She served as a board member on the Fairfield County Sports Commission and the Westport Woman’s Club. She also is a member of the Advisory Board at Caroline House in Bridgeport, which enables women and children to reach their potential through education in English language and life skills.
She has been recognized by numerous professional and community organizations including the Fairfield County 40-under-40, 5-Star Investment Professional and The Women’s Choice Award for Financial Advisors.
Stefanowicz relishes her role as a do-it-all mom. She serves as a role model for her daughters, and her employment and outside interests play to her skills in working with people of all personalities and ages. “It’s a challenge every day,’’ Stefanowicz said. “But I love working with different personalities. Working with other professionals and our great team at Catamount, I get to play the role as educator and partner in securing our clients’ financial goals.”
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