This article appears in the April 2020 issue of Investment Executive. Subscribe to the print edition, read the digital edition or read the articles online.
Lisa Elle, like the majority of her clients — mostly young women and new business owners — tries to balance family, finances and fitness while juggling her business, Ellements Financial Group in Cochrane, Alta., and being an attentive mother of two.
But unlike most women Elle knows, she became infatuated with finance at a very early age. When she was 13, her father would summon her family into his boardroom every Sunday evening to discuss family finances. While Elle’s friends were crushing on Hollywood stars, she was reading The Wealthy Barber and fantasizing about business strategies and David Chilton. “Money was never a big secret in our family,” says Elle, who grew up in Alberta. “It was always talked about.”
Elle sought out her first financial advisor at the age of 17, and she still remembers “clear as day” the two mutual funds she invested in at that time. Elle was young, but she’d found her calling and was ready to charge full steam ahead into the world of finance.
The financial coach and author attributes her success in part to a regimented schedule that embraces a commitment to work/life balance.
Elle’s day begins at 4:30 a.m., when she devotes early mornings to meditation, writing and exercise. For the rest of the morning, she focuses on digital marketing and the online side of her business. She takes on client appointments between noon and 6 p.m.
Elle’s online presence began taking form only five years ago, but it has grown rapidly. She is now active on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest; and she has a weekly blog, a podcast, and weekly and monthly email newsletters. She also has created online courses for her clients to complete at their own pace.
Elle has branded herself as a financial advisor for women, and her goal is to address the unmet needs of today’s women by making finances “a little more fun.”
Elle offers one-on-one financial planning through Ellements Financial, but also has programs designed to be accessible to all women. She offers her Money Makeover podcast, Financial Bliss blog and live shows (called Strut Show) on Instagram and Facebook free of charge.
Elle also created WealthSpa, an online membership portal that hosts all of her programs and courses (more than 300 hours of in-depth consumable content), for clients who want to dive deeper but can’t afford or don’t need one-on-one financial planning.
Each course has a series of modules that include videos, slide shows and “wealthwork” — Elle’s version of homework — that she created from scratch. Clients also have access to bonus resources, from daily challenges to budgeting templates. The WealthSpa site links to her blog for further reading.
Elle’s goal with WealthSpa is to encourage clients to prioritize their “financial health” with a monthly membership of $39, which, she says, is cheaper than a gym membership.
“Creating WealthSpa was the biggest part of it all,” she says. “I work with a network of professionals — including accountants and lawyers — to offer as much information as possible on one site. I wanted to create a place where women can feel safe to ask their ‘dumb’ questions.”
A WealthSpa membership includes membership in an exclusive Facebook group page on which Elle shares tips and tricks, and through which her clients can connect with Elle and her team at all times. Elle optimizes all of these platforms by “repurposing” her content so it links to each platform.
One of Elle’s newest clients found Ellements Financial’s website after searching Google for someone to service an old insurance policy — probably using keywords such as “insurance advisor” and “Cochrane.” Servicing the old policy, for which Elle was not paid, eventually led to her taking on the new client’s $1-million household. Elle is helping the mother with estate planning, the daughter with retirement planning and the grandchildren with their introduction to finances.
“You never know where you’ll get leads from or how they will pan out,” Elle says.
Elle promotes her business mainly through her email list, as well as through paid advertising tied to Ellements Financial’s website and her blog and podcast. Until recently, she was managing her online presence without assistance, but now employs Pam Tennant, director of administration, and outsources the social media management.
Elle has not always been tech-savvy. After she graduated with a diploma in business administration from Mount Royal University in Calgary, she obtained her Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada (MFDA) and life insurance licences in 2001, then began working for PPI Financial Group Inc. in 2003. She now holds the certified financial planner (CFP) and certified professional consultant on aging designations among her credentials.
By 2010, Elle was 30 years old with two young children, a big house outside of town, her own business and money in the bank. She thought she was living every woman’s dream — but something was missing.
“I was really frustrated at the time and I was trying to figure out what my place was in this [financial services] industry,” Elle says. “I knew that financial planning — which is really life planning — is my passion and my special gift, but I had to figure out a better way to share it.”
Elle began writing a personal finance book, and decided to create a website to market it. After a disappointing and expensive experience with a professional website company, Elle was out of money, so she decided to figure out the technology for herself. In 2014, Elle went from not knowing what a URL was to building her entire online presence just a year later. She enrolled in Marie Forleo’s B-School Program and delved into all aspects of online marketing.
In June 2015, Elle launched her business as Ellements Financial Group. She began the weekly blog that continues today. A year later, she released her book, Strut: How to Kick Financial ASSets in Sexy Shoes.
“Building a social and online profile is mandatory if you want to grow or maintain your client base,” Elle says. “You don’t have to be on all of the platforms; go to where your market is.”
Elle found her market to be relatively easy to pin down. Young women and mothers tend to frequent Facebook and Instagram, whereas the business market leans more toward LinkedIn.
“Once you know your target market and ideal client avatar, figure out where they hang out,” Elle says. “Then, you can better direct your online marketing efforts and really dig down deep.”
If you get stuck, Elle says, hiring an online marketing specialist is always an option.
Elle admits there are obstacles associated with being online as comprehensively as she is, and for that reason, she gave up her MFDA registration in December 2018. Elle says there were a lot of compliance grey areas and not enough information available for what she could and could not do in social media and other forms of digital marketing. She still follows CFP guidelines and uses common sense, but she speaks “pretty freely” otherwise, posting as she sees fit.
Elle now uses third-party portfolio managers and has an advisor contract with Toronto-based Wealthsimple Inc. for clients’ investments, but she focuses more on insurance, estate planning and tax planning when she works one-on-one with her clients.
Elle’s ultimate goal is to be able to reach as many women as possible through her online platforms and building out the WealthSpa brand.
“I have a heart for young women because I’ve been there — I am still here — and when we share information with women, they naturally share it with others,” Elle says. “I think by educating women, we’ll spread the word about financial advocacy and how we will eventually help Canadians become more financially savvy overall.”