Valentine's surprise for Black History Month honoree; Houston financial adviser helping under-served
HOUSTON – Shelitha Smodic got quite the Valentine’s Day surprise Thursday – she was to be honored by KPRC for Black History Month, courtesy of her husband, Jack’s nomination.
“That’s so sweet. I can’t believe you told me on Valentine’s Day,” she said. “It’s perfect. It’s amazing. He’s amazing.”
Here is Jack Smodic’s full nomination note:
“Shelitha is the hardest working, most genuine, and caring person I've ever met. She loves to travel, is a voracious reader, and is extremely passionate about her work. She currently works for Westwood Wealth Management as a private wealth adviser and serves on the executive leadership team. She earned her certified financial planner in the fall of 2018 and is currently going back to school for her master's degree in financial planning through Kansas State University, where she holds a 4.0 GPA. She also serves as the pro bono director for the Financial Planning Association of Houston. She is one of the very few black female wealth advisers in the city and is blazing a trail for others to follow. Despite only being 29, her future is extraordinarily bright and I can't wait to see what she does next.”
Married two years, the high school sweethearts have been together 13 years.
KPRC learned through our interview that Shelitha not only has a passion for her husband, but for her work in the Houston community.
Shelitha found a love for personal finance after getting her first job. The 29-year-old learned that she’d have to pay for employer-backed health insurance and wondered why, so she began researching for herself and her young friends who were also entering the workforce.
“I would research and report back to everybody what this means,” Shelitha said. “I spent evenings reading personal finance books. I just loved it, soaking up information like a sponge.”
“You can put yourself on a good financial path with a few simple principals,” she continued. “But it doesn’t seem that way when you look at the alphabet soup of the tax code.”
The research became a passion and Shelitha returned to school to become a certified financial planner or CFP. She now works for a firm but spends time doing volunteer advising for people in Houston.
After Hurricane Harvey, Shelitha said the organization reached out to help people in financial straits.
“You’re not there to judge them,” she explained. “... Sometimes it helps that you look like them. I’m here to just listen to you and provide you some advice. I’m not trying to sell you anything. The CFP overall edict is to work in the best interests of my client. I’m really here to just listen and give you the best advice I can give you -- make people feel heard.”
“I really value my pro bono work (with the Financial Planning Association of Houston),” she continued. “I want to educate as many people as possible about finances and money. (When you) have that knowledge, then it can provide some peace of mind.”
Shelitha calls the pro bono work “really joyful.”
Shelitha explained it’s a taboo thing to talk about money in underserved communities, so it can take a while to get to the heart of the financial issue.
In one case Shelitha recalled, someone came in to discuss financing a child’s college education, but the consultation ended up focusing on the financial ramifications of switching careers while paying college tuition.
“You’ll meet someone two or three times,” she said. “It takes a while to get there.”
“Even though it’s under finance, it’s really lovely,” Shelitha said. “It is about numbers and math and behaviors and psychology. And people are coming to you with their full self, not just their bank account. It’s not just about the numbers, it’s the person. I would never want to lose sight of that.”
If you would like to nominate someone for recognition this Black History Month, go here to submit.
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