Laura Mossakowski was just 22 years old when she identified a gaping hole in the financial advising industry.
At the time, she was a pre-med student at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay with plans to become a veterinarian. With her business minor, she was doing an internship at a financial firm through which she and her family had investments.
Participating in sessions with advisers, she noticed that women’s concerns often were disregarded, and she saw advisers recommending investments that weren’t suitable or in the client’s best interest.
“I just was frustrated at how many people weren’t being served to the best of their potential, and a lot of women were being disregarded and just kind of shuffled under,” she says.
It was then that Mossakowski decided to change course, eventually earning her CFP certification, the highest fiduciary level. She founded her practice, Laura Mossakowski, LLC, Financial Planning for Women and Their Families with the belief that all clients deserved to be understood and heard.
Mossakowski started her business when she was still in college and worked second, and sometimes third, jobs as she established herself. In 17 years, her small roster of clients has grown to about 380, and she employs an additional financial adviser and a director of client services.
Named the 2017 Young Entrepreneur of the Year by Green Bay’s Current Young Professionals, Mossakowski says she wants her clients to feel comfortable asking any question or raising any issue. More than anything, she says she wants to empower her clients because their financial decisions — and consequences — ultimately belong to them.
“We try to offer a much warmer feel because finances for most people are very intimidating and cold, and we don’t want that to be because everybody needs their finances taken care of and coached along,” she says.
While she brands the business as financial advising for women, couples make up most of Mossakowski’s client base. In her role, she says she’s been surprised to find herself as the mediator in an issue that brings stress to many relationships.
With couples, she says, one party often adopts a “we’ll just get through it” philosophy, while the other may harbor more worries. Mossakowski wants to ensure she addresses both sides.
Miranda Bonde, another financial adviser with the business, says Mossakowski gives “specialized care to every single one of her clients.”
Mossakowski has carved out another niche for herself with a specialty of helping people who are going through life transitions. She wants to help those, such as divorcees, widows, widowers and the LGBT community, who find mainstream providers don’t necessarily meet their needs.
“A lot of people will say, ‘I feel like I’m buying a car when I go to my other financial adviser,’” Mossakowski says.
People are at their most vulnerable during times of transition, and having a plan can create stability, Mossakowski says, pointing to an established correlation between mental and physical health and financial health.
Anita Golz, who started as a client and now works as director of client services for the business, says Mossakowski treats her clients like family. Her boss, for instance, goes out of her way to attend funerals for loved ones of clients and holds several client appreciation events each year, she says.
“Laura is phenomenal at what she does, but what sets her apart is she also develops a nice relationship with her clients,” Golz says.
Mossakowski says getting to know her clients well proves advantageous. When challenges arise, she says, they can work together to adjust finances quickly and seamlessly.
By far, concerns about having enough money for retirement top the list of client worries, Mossakowski says. Indeed, when Golz, a single mother who had worked while raising her sons, came to the practice as a client, she says Mossakowski found that her finances would have her funded only through the age of 68. The two quickly developed a new plan.
Retirement, Mossakowski says, is one of life’s biggest transitions and proves daunting for people, calling on them to adopt a new identity, lifestyle and priorities.
“It’s extremely important and fun, but it also can be devastating for people who aren’t prepared for it,” she says.
Mossakowski also makes community service a priority. She’s active with Miracle League of Green Bay, spearheaded efforts to build a dog park in Bellevue that now bears her family’s name, and serves as president of the board for Encompass Early Education and Care Inc.
For her, giving back is personal. Her mother had planned to be a stay-at-home mom, but at 23 and with four children under the age of 5, she left an abusive relationship and relied on welfare before earning a degree at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and supporting her family, ultimately raising four successful children.
“Anybody can end up in those situations,” Mossakowski says. “No one is immune to it, and the families that are going through it, they just need that little bit of hope, that little bit of hand-holding to pull them out of it.”