René Nourse



Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio – B.A., Psychology

The world of finance is, stereotypically, an old boys’ club. Suits, ties, brokering in cigar smoke filled rooms of pats on the back and firm handshakes. It might be an old-school image, but it’s not one that’s lost on René Nourse, founder and CEO of Urban Wealth Management, a financial planning firm with a mission of helping women become savvier about money as they grow their portfolio.

“As a woman, I am acutely aware that the financial services industry is dominated by men,” says René. “It gives me great pleasure knowing that I am helping women achieve financial security.” She’s also aware that there is a comfort level she’s able to achieve with her female clients that a male advisor never could. Making that connection helps René’s business have just as much success as those she advises.

Before we jump in to the specifics of how René became a money mogul, we can’t help but resist asking for a little financial advice. What’s her number one tip? “Keep it simple.”

Leverage your strengths. As women, we have unique talents and skill sets.

What does a typical day look like for you?
I generally wake up around 5:30 a.m. and head into my office around 7:30 a.m. Once at work the first thing I do is read the “bible” of the investment industry – The Wall Street Journal. If there’s any news in the WSJ that would affect client portfolios, I make adjustments accordingly. Next, I check emails, Twitter feeds, Facebook posts and LinkedIn connections. The bulk of my day is spent speaking with and/or meeting clients, as well as prospective clients. I’m also often a "talking head" on CNBC’s Closing Bell report and on CNBC Asia's The Rundown, which requires me to provide talking points and deliver brief, but insightful information about the stock market and general U.S. economy. I get to incorporate a lot of social activity in my day as well by attending receptions, benefits and gatherings of women. All in all, no two days are alike, which I love: it's all business and fun intertwined!

What was it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?

As a woman, I am acutely aware that the financial services industry is dominated by men. So, it gives me great pleasure knowing that I am helping women achieve financial security. There is this natural sense of affinity and each time I begin working with a woman, I can feel a sense of relief and comfort because I understand them – I "get" them and what's important. So, for me, it's a feeling of fulfillment and purpose.

What challenges keep you awake at night?

I want to build an all-woman team at UWM, so my biggest challenges are: how to build and grow UWM as quickly as possible; making sure I've got the right people; and, of course, staying ahead of the competition.

What does your work/life balance look like?

As an entrepreneur and businesswoman, I often times find it difficult to create boundaries between work and the rest of my life. But recently I decided that I have to make it a priority. So now, I schedule and block out time for specific activities, just as I would for a business commitment or appointment. For example, I have scheduled time for golf lessons, working out with my trainer and spending time with my friends and family. And I stick to the schedule!

Can you describe a tough situation you encountered? How did you handle it?

In the early days of my career, I did a lot of "smiling and dialing" e.g. cold calling. After speaking with a gentlemen several times, he decided to come into the office to meet me. When I walked into the lobby and introduced myself, he was clearly very taken aback and left in a hurry without keeping our appointment.

The next day, I had floor duty – this is a day when new brokers (that's what we were called back then) took incoming calls from people who wanted information about opening an account or to discuss an investment idea. One of the calls that came in was from that same gentleman; since I only identified myself as the broker on duty, he launched into the story of how he had been in the day before and had an appointment with a "colored woman" and he preferred not to work with someone like that. So, deciding to take the high road, I asked him, "Sir, so what color was she? Was she yellow, brown, white or … " He immediately got upset and said, "You know what color I'm talking about!" and after replying that I didn't and he needed to be more specific, he hung up in a huff. I definitely got the last laugh on that one!

What are some rules of the road for investing and managing one’s finances?

With investing, nothing ventured – nothing gained. Successful money management and investing ought to be balanced with just the right mix of predictable and variable investment vehicles.

For managing one’s finances know that it’s not rocket science: Keep it simple. Handling your finances doesn't have to be complicated. It really does boil down to three key rules: 1) live on less than what you make; 2) make sure you pay yourself first – even if it's just $10; and 3) protect what you've got.

What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in the finance industry?

  • Be competent. You must stay on top of your profession through educational offerings, professional conferences and read … a lot.
  • Leverage your strengths. As women, we have unique talents and skill sets that make us naturals in this business. While we listen with our ears, we know how to pick up and pay attention to non-verbal cues. We can drill down to what's important to individuals and their money; it's not just about performance and numbers. We can be empathic without getting lost in the "emotional weeds."
  • Have an opinion. Even if it's wrong, people will respect you for having an idea or opinion.

What one piece of financial advice do you wish you could tell a younger version of yourself?

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