A Matter of Health and Wealth

Learning

In 2010, when financial advisor Pam Gilmour decided to go into business for herself, her first big challenge involved settling on a name. “I could have called it ‘Pam Gilmour and Sons,’ or ‘Gilmour Financial Group,’ but I wanted something unique,” she recalls. “Something that really grabbed people’s attention.”

She ultimately went with “Financial Fitness,” a name that not only hints at her passion for health and wellness, but also reflects her approach to building wealth. “I’m a fitness nut,” explains Gilmour, a Guardian Life financial representative since 1991. “I am a big runner, I’ve done triathlons, marathons and lots of half-marathons. Fitness has always been part of my life.”

Gilmour’s office, in the Baltimore suburb of Towson, Maryland, includes photos, medals and other memorabilia she’s accumulated over the years as an avid athlete. “So when a client comes in, our conversation will often begin around that — ’Oh, I’m a runner, too,’ or whatever it is,” she says. Gilmour will use that connection to help explain how important it is to plan ahead. “Not everyone who is physically fit is also fit financially. But for me it shows they have discipline, and that’s a good start.”

Typically, Gilmour will point out the parallels between doing what it takes to stay in shape and getting one’s financial house in order. “When you go to work out with your trainer, every time you show up you have to lift weights and do tough stuff and you sweat and get tired. It’s actually a whole lot easier with me.” With Financial Fitness, “once you make the decision, whether it’s deciding to invest a certain amount of money, or deciding to buy a certain amount of insurance, we’ll just put it on automatic draft and that’s it.”

Gilmour started in financial planning in 1988 (“back when it was common to be the only woman in the room”) and has since stepped up to volunteer and mentor with numerous organizations devoted to the profession (she’s a founder and former president of the Baltimore chapter of Women in Insurance & Financial Services, or WIFS). She says it’s never too late to become financially fit. “I never say to clients, ‘Oh, you’re in your 50s; I’m sorry, don’t bother.’ Of course you can start now, just like you can start exercising at any time. You can do something — anything — both health-wise and wealth-wise at any age.”

To no one’s surprise, Gilmour’s practice is growing. She just hired a part-time college student and has a CFP who works on all of her new cases. A third employee handles customer service and annual reviews. Things are busy, she says, and yet she always follows her own advice and strikes a balance between work and life. Track her down on any given day and you may find her hiking, doing yoga or helping out at a charity fundraiser. “I’ve always felt that financial planning, because it’s so relationship-driven and there’s a lot of flexibility in terms of when and how you work, is a natural career for women,” she says. “I know for myself that’s certainly been the case.” She loves what she does, Gilmour adds. “It’s a wonderful job. I’ve really lucked out.”