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Purseonality Profile: Karen Finerman Add to ...

The following excerpt is from Deborah Owens' A Purse of Your Own . Ms. Owens is a wealth coach on MyGeneration TV, and the lead on AOL.com's MoneyTalks blog.

Purseonality Profile: Karen Finerman

A Woman with a Wealthy Outlook

Karen Finerman, forty-four, is one of the most successful women investors in the world. According to the Observer, when Finerman, the daughter of orthopedic surgeon and a homemaker, was raised in California, her mother advised that if she had to choose between a successful man or a nice one, she should go with the successful one because she wouldn't be happy if she was poor. Finerman came up with a better option: she would become successful on her own. That way, if she ever did marry, she wouldn't have to ask her husband for money, because she would have earned her own.

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Her dream was to work as an investor on Wall Street, which, in the early eighties, and even today, remains a male bastion. And not surprisingly, many women are turned off by the long, brutal hours required in Wall Street jobs, which leave little time for developing relationships. Still, Finerman moved from dreaming to setting goals, and at least one of them had to include earning good grades in high school. When it came time for college she applied to the institution that topped the list in her chosen field: the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business. Finerman was accepted, and graduated in 1987, with $1,000 to her name.

Her next goal, of getting hired by a Wall Street firm, was quickly accomplished. She worked as an investor for six years, and when she had enough experience under her belt, she was ready to play with the big boys. In 1992, Finerman and a male business partner founded Metropolitan Capital Advisors, a hedge fund, which is a private group of super rich investors gambling in high stakes ventures.

As president of Metropolitan, Finerman's highly stressful job requires her to keep up with round-the-globe market movements. She seems passionate about her work and she has suggested that thinking like a woman has given her a certain advantage in the financial world, because she is not too proud to back up and admit when she's going in the wrong direction. She told a writer from the Observer: "A lot of men have a little bit more hubris, and I think humility is very important in being a good investor." She added that she's willing to tell others, "I had a thesis, but it's not working out the way I thought." She adds that she can admit, "Maybe I'm just wrong." At that point, she concluded, she would cut her losses and get out.

That humility and knowing when to fold them has proven advantageous. Finerman and her partner started Metropolitan with $4-million. Fifteen years later it was worth $400-million-and according to Finerman, $100,000-million of that belonged to her. A full purse means never having to ask your husband for a cent, and Finerman said that she doesn't. Chances are that her husband of sixteen years, Lawrence Golub, doesn't borrow from her either. He manages a private equity fund (which differs from a hedge fund in investing primarily in stocks). The couple has four children, two sets of twins, including three boys and a girl. Finerman described her husband as "very, very involved in their schedules."

In addition to taking short family vacation, she said that she makes it a point to join them from six to nine p.m. most evenings, in the hours leading up to bedtime. Once the kids are asleep she's likely to tune into Bloomberg Financial to check in on the overseas markets. Although rarely away from family and work, she said she celebrated her 40th birthday by taking four women friends she has known since kindergarten on a trip to London. Finerman is also active in raising money to find a cure for Parkinson's disease. It's difficult to imagine anyone juggling so many responsibilities. But then, again, like the most successful of investors Finerman seems to have stuck a balance between taking risks and taking control.

Finerman's Wealthy Outlook informs the way she perceive situations and responds to them. Wealthy women balance immediate needs with future goals. You can develop a Wealthy Outlook by visualizing the world as your oyster and giving yourself license to pursue your dreams. The very thought of getting everything you want may sound frightening.

A Purseonality Assessment: Finerman's story can remind you to:

  • Accept no restrictions: Even as a teenager, she rejected the prince charming myth and the idea that something would rescue her. She didn't rule out relationships, but didn't depend on one for survival. Finerman also refused to accept that she'd have to choose between a kind man and a successful one. Those may have been her mother's choices but they were not hers. I hope you will also reject the damaging belief that having the right mate equals financial security. To marry for money for what a mate can do for you potentially springs from the false assumption that someone should take care of you now and always. This belief can only bear bitter fruit.
  • Define What Success Means For You: Finerman threw down the gauntlet. She would accept nothing less than her own success, which is what women have long craved.. As 18th Century author Mary Wollstonecraft wrote, "I do not wish [women]to have power over men, but over themselves." Finerman wanted a full purse so she could exert power over her own life.
  • Leverage Your Strengths: Today, like wealthy women the world over, Finerman knows what she needs to be most effective. She has maintained friendships with women who add richness to her life. She views limitations as possibilities. She stepped into a field in which so many men and women are unable to thrive because of the tremendous pressures and long hours. Finerman knew her strengths, and certainly flexibility is one of them, which is why she can back up and admit when she's wrong. Flexibility allowed her to adapt to the needs of her family, marriage and job, and to make time for one of the most important aspects of the Wealthy Outlook, to give generously of her time and talent, which she does through her efforts in raising money to fight Parkinson's disease. At the core of creating wealth is the ability to add value to others. In other words, in order to gain, you must also give something of value.

Used by permission. Fireside. A Division of Simon and Schuster. Copyright 2010 Deborah Owens and Brenda Richardson

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