BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
Describing herself as “rocker chic” on the weekends but “classic with an edge” weekdays as she directs her own wealth management firm, Annette Findling says that motivating women to be more confident about finance cuts across her multi-faceted life.
Author of the “Rich Women Rock” blog and founder of her Chicago-based firm, Stonebridge Wealth Advisors, LLC, Annette finds her love of fashion, both edgy and vintage classic, relates directly to portfolio options.
A stalwart of the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum, she decisively brings finance and fashion together, often with very glamorous show and tells. Violet-eyed, like Elizabeth Taylor, and passionate about serving women, Annette told us recently:
“Women feel underserved when they talk about money. They are hungry for financial information. I want to cross that void.
“Women make a higher percentage of the household decisions: where to travel, where to send the kids to camp, what to do to help aging parents, and really all the day-to-day decisions. Yet they lack confidence while wanting to be independent financially.
“Through my blog, my work, and now my new idea of relating fashion to finance, I focus on building confidence. I encourage women to do more research and to look at fashion as an example of decision-making. Just as we add a special piece to our wardrobe, we can make a new and wise financial investment.”
Speaking recently at two high-end boutiques, Evanston’s Chalk and ByGeorge, in Austin, Texas, Annette demonstrated her theory to the clients at both locations by working with each store’s racks and mixing merchandise to show different investment categories. She will be visiting more boutiques to highlight fall and spring lines.
“It’s about building financial closets. I work with the clothing in the boutique and show how you might pull a variety of looks together, just as in a portfolio when you mix more conservative investments with slightly higher-risk investments.
“I have worn a classic black sheath with a Valentino belt that has fringe all the way to the ankles to prove my point. Educating by using familiar analogies makes learning about money a whole lot more fun.”
Amidst her travels, Annette spoke with Classic Chicago on investing, volunteering, and, of course, fashion.
What advice do you have for women when it comes to investing?
Live within your means then live your dream. I started my business 25 years ago. Educating my clients and focusing on helping them fulfill their dreams is how I start each relationship.
I am involved in all the special events in their lives, and I help them navigate through difficult times. My work is very rewarding!
When I first launched my blog, I was so excited to create a space to weave financial information into the already fabulous lives of my readers. I ask questions like, ‘At what age did you start planning for financial independence?’ and ‘What makes you feel rich?’
I heard back from one reader who said, ‘Doing things with my family and friends when I am there 100 percent physically and emotionally makes me feel rich.’
Women have asked what it takes to start their own businesses. I believe it takes the ‘three Cs’: courage, cash, and connections. When moments of uncertainty occur, you are the one who has the power to turn things around.
Did your parents encourage you to be independent?
My mom came over from Germany right after World War II and married my dad, who was also German. She taught herself the language by cooking; reading the recipes. She was also a beautiful seamstress and made all our clothes.
She showed a fine ability with math, cutting and making patterns, developing that side of the brain. Being good at math was a must in our house. I was a tomboy on our farm in Belvidere, Illinois, and didn’t learn to sew, but I did love math.
She always said that you had to be very well educated and learn a really good skill.
When did you start getting interested in fashion?
I was always well dressed growing up because my mother made beautiful clothes. I started working as a lifeguard and swimming teacher at 14 and went on many shopping sprees with my paltry income. My first purchase was a pair of gold ballet flats, which were super fashionable at the time. Now, they are a staple.
I love to mix classic with edgy, maybe a studded belt with a navy suit for work. For Costume Council evening events, I typically wear the designer we feature. I was thrilled to wear Carolina Herrera when she received our award recently. My fashion has many sides—I like almost anything but preppy.
You like to mix edgier looks with more classic pieces. What are your go-to spots for vintage looks?
I love a good find! Some of my favorite vintage jewelry has come from LuLu’s Vintage. I found some fantastic clothing pieces a little over a year ago at a vintage auction of Valentino at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers. Valentino’s attorney for many years passed away and her wardrobe was auctioned. I scored two amazing outfits from the couture collection.
Tell us about being a weekend rocker chick.
Our whole family loves music! My 20-year-old son Kurt, a petroleum engineering student at the University of Texas in Austin, is a drummer. My son Erik, who is 18, recently played guitar at the Grammys and is off to California State University in the fall to pursue their music industry studies major.
My husband, David, has been both a singer and guitarist in a rock band, and also managed our kid’s band, but is a commercial real estate broker by day.
I put on my favorite distressed jeans and a great t-shirt, add a leather jacket with fringe, and I am ready for the weekend.
You mentioned the Costume Council, where you have served as Vice President. What has most appealed to you about that impressive group of fashion enthusiasts?
I love the Costume Council. We learn so much about historical pieces and really look at fashion styles throughout the years as they relate to what is going on in the world, as well as current designers, too. Fashion is art, and it can tell a good story!
Photo credit, unless otherwise noted: Brian McConkey
Annette is a registered representative with, and securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through HighPoint Advisor Group, a registered investment advisor. HighPoint Advisor Group and Stonebridge Wealth Advisors LLC are separate entities from LPL Financial.