S Debt consolidation How to consolidate your personal debt to rein in finances

INSIGHTS
WEALTH MANAGEMENT
Debt consolidation
How to consolidate your personal
debt to rein in finances
INTERVIEWED BY JAYNE GEST
S
ome people are in denial about
their personal finances, thinking
that they’ll get to it one of these
days.
“You need to have a lot of discipline
around your finances because getting
into financial shape is tough,”
says Jeanine Fallon, Senior Vice
President and Market Executive, First
Commonwealth Bank . “It requires
focus, planning and a lot of sweat, but
the end result is a happier and more
fulfilled life.”
Smart Business spoke with Fallon
about taking control of your debt and
spending habits.
®
How should you assess your
debt situation?
Look at your current obligations by
gathering monthly statements and
listing loans and debt. Think about the
creditor and your balances, interest
rates and payments. Total all payments
and divide your gross income by the
debt to find your debt to income
ratio. The target should be around 36
percent, but those with high disposable
income can go a few percent higher.
Then, use your partnership with
a lender you trust to create a solid
financial plan.
It’s also helpful to pull your credit
report three times per year from
annualcreditreport.com because not all
credit reports are free.
What are some warning signs your
finances are heading out of control?
Some warning signs are if you have no
emergency fund, typically three to six
months of your income, to fall back on;
you experience stress when thinking
JEANINE FALLON
Senior Vice President and Market Executive
First Commonwealth Bank
(412) 886-2540
[email protected]
SBNONLINE.COM: For a link to a debt
consolidation calculator, view this article online
at www.sbnonline.com.
Insights Wealth Management is brought to you by First Commonwealth Bank
about your debt; you don’t know what
you owe; and/or you continually charge
more on your credit cards than you can
pay back.
How can a debt consolidation
loan help?
Consolidation loans don’t reduce your
debt but can reduce your payments.
You take your debt and consolidate
it into one big loan to simplify your
payment and tracking. Your banker
will help you decide on a secured loan
or an unsecured loan, the right term
to quickly pay off your debt without
creating hardship, and choosing
between a term loan or line of credit.
Keep the end number in mind, which is
what you’re paying back with principal
and interest.
What are some best practices
to help stay debt free?
Even if you consolidate your debt, it’s
important to take steps to ensure you
don’t end up right back in the same
financial bind you were in before.
Manage your expenses by establishing
a budget. Keep a spending diary of
every penny you spend for at least a
month — similar to a food diary when
on a diet. When looking at your funds,
break it into percentages:
■ Foundation expenses, such as
shelter, groceries and transportation,
should be 45 percent of your takehome income.
■ Include 15 percent for fun,
vacation, dinner, clothes or whatever
your passion is.
■ Typically at least 25 percent is used
for taxes.
■ Keep about 15 percent for savings
— 10 percent for retirement and 5
percent for emergency or big-ticket
items.
Then, manage, reduce and eliminate
debt. It is important to make wise
decisions when assuming new debt by
using good debt to improve your net
worth. Tie savings and spending plans
with what’s important to helping you
to live with a purpose. For example, if
vacation time away with your extended
family is important to you, yet you
own a huge, expensive house, your
financial obligations may not be in
line with your values. Also, prepare
for life events by taking a disciplined
approach to building up the money you
put into your retirement plan as well
as your emergency fund. Ultimately, if
you don’t change the way that you’re
spending money when you experience
significant life changes, it can cause
hardship in the end. ●
© 2013 Smart Business Network Inc. Reprinted from the January 2013 issue of Smart Business Pittsburgh.
INSIGHTS
WEALTH MANAGEMENT
20/20 foresight
How succession planning provides
for your business and family’s future
INTERVIEWED BY JAYNE GEST
E
state planning is important for
everyone. But in the case of a
business owner, not giving serious
consideration to what could happen to your
business could potentially shut it down
entirely, thereby eliminating your family’s
income at a time when it is critical.
“It’s important that business owners
understand that their plan only works the
way it’s set up to work if the circumstances
that originally determined the nature of the
plan remain the same,” says Carly Fagan
Neals, J.D., Senior Trust Officer and Vice
President at First Commonwealth Advisors.
“So if there are changes in the business
structure, goals or family structure, they
have to be communicated to the adviser —
the accountant, the lawyer, whoever put the
plan in place.
“A business owner has to take an active
role in making sure the plan still works
because only he or she knows the facts as
they are today,” she says.
Smart Business spoke with Neals about
how a succession plan is thoughtfully
created in conjunction with your estate plan
and what factors need to be coordinated and
reviewed.
Is there a good time to begin planning?
Every individual should have a will, a
financial power of attorney and a health care
power of attorney/living will. As soon as you
have assets or children it’s imperative to plan
because otherwise your assets don’t get to
where they need to go and your heirs don’t
necessarily get cared for the way you’d want.
For many, this can occur at an early age.
What’s involved with establishing long-term
goals and determining succession risks?
Every person’s long-term goals are
different, and they often evolve and
28 Smart Business Pittsburgh | March 2013
CARLY FAGAN NEALS, J.D.
Senior Trust Officer, Vice President
First Commonwealth Advisors
(412) 690-2131
[email protected]
WEBSITE: To learn more about succession planning,
visit ask4fca.com.
Insights Wealth Management is brought to you by First Commonwealth Bank
change. So continually question how you
can accomplish what you need to, such as
passing the business on when you retire or
providing for your family in the event of
your death or incapacitation.
If your long-term goals involve
transferring the business to some specific
person, constantly re-evaluate whether that
person is able and willing. What training
and education might be necessary? When
do you start transferring the business, and is
it in a monetary sense or just voting stock?
And if you’re retiring, how and when do
you phase yourself out?
What are some strategies for success?
Ensure there’s sufficient insurance on the
owner’s life or the necessary liquidity for
all situations, and hands-on training and
education for whoever is taking over the
business. Also, is a spouse with power of
attorney making business decisions? Do
you want it to work that way? Be aware of
the capabilities and willingness of those you
name to have this authority.
Estate and succession plans need to work
in tandem. For example, company stock
may be a very large asset of the estate, but
you need to know how that stock will be
used to provide the surviving spouse with
the necessary cash flow. Does your business
successor need a life insurance policy on you
to buy the stock so the resulting cash can go
into a trust for your spouse?
Regularly work with your advisers to
analyze the possible tax consequences of
any transfer or proposed transfer. You don’t
want to trigger a big gain or loss as a result
of a transfer without planning for it.
Finally, a business succession plan needs
to take into account the business’s operating
structure. Whether it’s a corporation, LLC
or partnership, how will the business run
during the period where the transfer is
taking place? It can be a matter of signatory
authority on bank accounts, being able
to order inventory, or having someone
authorized to sign for accounts payable or
receivable to keep daily operations going.
How should you monitor these plans?
Any time there’s a change — in business
operations, key employees, family dynamics,
goals, etc. — communicate it with the
people who helped put the plans in place.
Even without changes, it doesn’t hurt to talk
to your advisers annually, or at minimum
every few years. Even though you may not
meet with your accountant or lawyer every
year, if you’re working with an investment
manager or wealth adviser doing regular
performance reviews, a good adviser will ask
the questions necessary to help determine
whether it’s time to go back and get in
front of your other advisers including your
accountant and/or lawyer. ●
INSIGHTS
WEALTH MANAGEMENT
Protect your money
How banks can aid companies in
the fight against financial fraud
INTERVIEWED BY JAYNE GEST
T
wo-thirds of businesses experienced
some type of attempted or actual
payment fraud in 2011, according
to recent industry surveys, and more than
25 percent of banks are reporting a rise in
attempted fraud incidents. Although not all
attempts result in financial loss, when they
do it’s typically around $20,000.
There’s also reputation risk and extra
work when somebody gets account
information and starts utilizing it in an
inappropriate manner, says Ted Sheerer,
Senior Vice President and Group
Manager of Cash Management at First
Commonwealth Bank.
“Companies need to understand the risks
and take them seriously,” he says. “It may
cost a little bit and make things slightly less
convenient, but they need to do everything
necessary to protect their financial assets.
They need to take proactive steps and not
wait until a loss occurs.”
Smart Business spoke with Sheerer about
guarding against corporate financial fraud.
Why has financial fraud increased?
Fraud has increased primarily because of
technology — from software that makes it
easy to create authentic-looking checks to
phishing scams, viruses and malware that
can compromise a network and PCs. A
company’s financial assets could be more
vulnerable today than ever. However, there
are ways to substantially reduce risk.
What are some examples of financial fraud?
If a company’s account and routing numbers
get compromised, they can become exposed
to individuals generating fraudulent
checks. Some businesses, through the
utilization of Positive Pay, which matches
check issue data, including payee line, with
items presented to the bank, can catch this
TED SHEERER
Senior Vice President,
Group Manager of Cash Management
First Commonwealth Bank
(412) 690-2213
[email protected]
WEBSITE: Protect your business against online fraud with
Trusteer Rapport software. Visit fcbanking.com to learn more.
Insights Wealth Management is brought to you by First Commonwealth Bank
with no financial loss. The bank alerts the
business regarding items that do not match,
and offers the opportunity to pay or return
those checks. Unfortunately, many others
wait until they experience a loss before
taking steps to implement Positive Pay.
A more current example is corporate
account takeover, where a company’s
network or specific PCs get infected with a
virus or malware, somebody obtains access
to the system and then performs keystroke
logging. The fraudster can then sometimes
capture the necessary credentials to get into
the business’s online banking.
How should fraud education be handled?
You can educate employees, especially those
conducting company financial transactions,
by using the knowledge of your IT staff. If
you don’t have an in-house IT staff or want
to supplement this education, work with
your bank to see if it offers any security or
fraud seminars. You also can find local and
regional fraud awareness seminars through
professional organizations.
How can you prevent or mitigate fraud?
To minimize the potential of check fraud,
companies can incorporate security features
into their check stock, store checks and
digital signatures in a secure environment,
segregate financial duties, reconcile
accounts regularly, and utilize Positive Pay
with payee line protection. If something
doesn’t match, the bank alerts the business
customer who decides to pay or return it.
With increased electronic fraud, which
includes Automated Clearing House
(ACH) transactions and wire transfers, it’s
important to have ACH block and filter.
This stops unauthorized transactions from
hitting accounts. Companies should also
ask if their bank offers malware detection
and/or account takeover detection software.
This is sometimes provided for free.
Some other preventative measures are to:
■ Understand procedures around user
authentication and limit users to those who
absolutely need access.
■ Establish dual verification for any
outbound electronic transactions.
■ Have dedicated PCs used only for
online banking services.
■ Change passwords regularly, don’t share
or write down logins, and routinely update
anti-virus and malware protection software.
What’s the priority with fraud prevention?
The priorities should be Positive Pay, ACH
block and filter, and then everything the
organization can do to protect its network.
Many businesses don’t take the necessary
preventative steps. Only when companies
seriously understand the risks can they
partner with their bank to combat
financial fraud. ●
© 2013 Smart Business Network Inc. Reprinted from the April 2013 issue of Smart Business Pittsburgh.
INSIGHTS
WEALTH MANAGEMENT
Health savings accounts
How HSAs allow you to take control
of health care costs and planning
INTERVIEWED BY JAYNE GEST
H
ealth savings accounts (HSAs) are
a savings vehicle increasingly being
used to offset health care costs and
improve awareness when utilizing health
care simply because there is additional
skin in the game. Further, HSAs provide
potential savings and accumulation of assets
that work well with long-term financial
planning.
“HSAs encourage us to be better
consumers, plan ahead and consider the
ramifications of health care, as it applies to
your long-term financial plan,” says Michael
Bartolini, President and CEO of First
Commonwealth Insurance Agency.
“It might be a very good opportunity to
save more tax-deferred and tax-free money,
depending on your situation,” says Nancy
Kunz, Lead Financial Planner at First
Commonwealth Financial Advisors.
Smart Business spoke with Bartolini and
Kunz about how health savings accounts
operate and where they fit in with your
financial planning.
How does an HSA work in conjunction with
your health insurance?
Many people are going to a high-deductible
health care plan that has premium savings
as a result of the larger upfront deductible.
The idea is to shift those premium savings
to an HSA, which can be used to pay for
unreimbursed medical expenses on a pre-tax
basis. The list of applicable expenses is long
and includes dental, vision, long-term care
insurance premiums, home improvements
for medically necessary conditions, etc.
An HSA does not have to be provided
by an employer; it can be set up on an
individual basis. You also are able to
accumulate funds year after year, with the
idea of using those dollars against future
medical expenses.
MICHAEL BARTOLINI
President, CEO
First Commonwealth
Insurance Agency
(724) 349-6028
[email protected]
NANCY KUNZ, CFP®,
ChFC®, CLU®
Lead Financial Planner
First Commonwealth
Financial Advisors
(412) 562-3232
[email protected]
FOLLOW UP: To learn more, call
(855) ASK-4-FCA, or visit ask4fca.com.
Insights Wealth Management is brought to you by First Commonwealth Bank
The current annual contribution limits,
which tend to increase, are $6,450 for a
family or $3,250 for an individual. If you are
over the age of 50, you are able to contribute
an additional $1,000.
How does this differ from a flexible spending
account?
Typically provided by employers, a flexible
spending account (FSA) works on a pre-tax
basis for many of the same unreimbursed
medical expenses, but the money does not
roll over to the following year. If the monies
that are in the FSA are not spent by the end
of the calendar year, they are lost. Unlike an
HSA, all monies you plan to contribute to
the FSA throughout the year are available as
soon as you sign up, whereas only the actual
contributions are available in an HSA.
How does an HSA help you better manage
health care expenses?
When something hits your pocket or you
have a new cost, it causes you to be more
responsible and a better consumer. If you
have to pay $2,000 first with the highdeductible health plan, you’re going to be
more mindful of where you go for health
care expenses, including which hospital or
provider you choose for a procedure.
The economics of health care don’t follow
traditional economics where you choose
wisely based on price points and/or quality.
What one provider may charge for an MRI
versus what another provider charges could
be very different, but you’re not likely to
care if it’s a $10 or $15 copay. We don’t have
the mindset that even if insurance companies
are paying, so are we — one way or another.
HSAs and high-deductible health plans
with their greater level of upfront deductible
pushes consumers to exert more energy
to pick up the phone and find out what a
procedure costs. In addition, many health
insurance carrier websites are starting to
populate this kind of transparent data to
show provider price points.
How does an HSA fit into your overall
financial plan?
An HSA can act as another retirement
vehicle, especially if you start young
enough to accumulate funds without
having to — or choosing not to — use
those dollars against medical expenses.
Once you’ve reached age 65, HSA
funds can be used without penalty for
any purpose. An HSA also will follow
you wherever you go; it’s not tied to an
employer.
Many people have reached their
maximum on 401(k) or IRA contributions,
so depending on your age and health
needs, this may be an option to look at
seriously for tax benefits and long-range
financial planning. ●
© 2013 Smart Business Network Inc. Reprinted from the May 2013 issue of Smart Business Pittsburgh.
INSIGHTS
WEALTH MANAGEMENT
Demystifying trusts
How to tailor trusts to meet your
needs and care for beneficiaries
INTERVIEWED BY JAYNE GEST
W
hether you are looking to manage
your own assets, control how your
assets are distributed after your
death, plan for incapacity or enable your
business to continue uninterrupted should
something happen to you, trusts can help
you accomplish your estate planning goals.
By establishing a trust, you ensure that the
assets gathered during your life will not
disappear because of the inexperience or
inability of beneficiaries. A byproduct of
that is the peace of mind that comes from
knowing your loved ones will continue to be
financially protected.
“One of the benefits of a trust is that
it’s established based on the unique needs
and objectives of the individual and the
individual’s family, and tailored to meet those
needs,” says Susan L. Nelson, CTFA, Senior
Trust Executive and Senior Vice President at
First Commonwealth Advisors.
Smart Business spoke with Nelson about
the benefits and management of trusts.
What are the different types of trusts?
There are many types of trusts, the most
basic being the revocable and irrevocable.
The type of trust you use will depend
on what you are trying to accomplish. A
revocable trust, often referred to as a living
trust, allows the individual establishing
the trust to remain in control of the assets
and allows them to change the beneficiary,
the trustee, the trust terms and even end
the trust. The grantor can use the trust
for investment management, bill paying,
tax planning and avoidance of probate. It
can continue on in the event of incapacity,
providing seamless financial management
for the grantor, and can continue on after
death for the benefit of others. Once the
grantor dies, the trust becomes irrevocable.
An irrevocable trust is where the grantor
SUSAN L. NELSON, CTFA
Senior Trust Executive, Senior Vice President
First Commonwealth Advisors
(724) 832-6062
snel[email protected]
FOLLOW UP: To learn more, call (855) ASK-4-FCA,
or visit ask4fca.com.
Insights Wealth Management is brought to you by First Commonwealth Bank
gives complete control to an independent
trustee who manages the assets for the
grantor and beneficiaries. You cannot easily
change or revoke this type of trust. It’s
frequently used to minimize potential estate
taxes by reducing the taxable estate of the
grantor because the assets transferred to
this trust, plus any future appreciation, are
removed from the grantor’s gross estate.
Additionally, property transferred through
an irrevocable trust will avoid probate and
may be protected from future creditors.
What are the benefits of trusts?
Some benefits are:
■ Continuous financial management in the
event of incapacity.
■ Professional investment management.
■ Financial privacy — a trust isn’t public like
a will.
■ Probate avoidance with no lapse in asset
protection and investments — probate
can take a year or more, depending on the
complexity.
■ Asset management for inheritances.
■ Creditor protection for heirs. If a
beneficiary is going through bankruptcy,
money in the trust cannot be touched.
Trusts can provide lifetime financial
protection for a surviving spouse or disabled
child, an inheritance for children from an
earlier marriage, can minimize estate taxes
and provide a future legacy for charity.
Trusts can be used in order to protect,
preserve and transfer wealth for the benefit
of individuals, families and organizations.
While trusts can be used for myriad
circumstances, they are not for everyone.
Discuss the advantages and benefits of a trust
for your situation with a financial adviser.
How should a trust be managed?
Every trust is based on your needs and
objectives. When setting up the trust,
determine what you’re trying to accomplish
so you and your financial adviser can decide
how to reach those objectives. One of the
first things looked at are tax implications and
how to reduce pain points. Providing for
future beneficiaries should also be examined.
After the trust is established, you’ll need to
meet periodically to discuss the investment
portfolio and life changes to be certain the
trust still meets your needs.
Why choose a professional trustee?
Institutional fiduciaries are pros at what
they do, have professionals on staff with
years of experience, and are on the cutting
edge of regulatory and tax law changes.
They may be the best option for reliability,
experience, responsiveness, neutrality and
arms-length objectivity with beneficiaries,
objective investment guidance, convenience
and consistency over time. An institutional
fiduciary doesn’t age or die. ●
© 2013 Smart Business Network Inc. Reprinted from the June 2013 issue of Smart Business Pittsburgh.
INSIGHTS
WEALTH MANAGEMENT
Diversifying your life
How to construct passive portfolios
to offset large wealth concentrations
B
usiness owners and corporate
executives tend to overinvest in their
businesses, often ending up with a
large portion of their wealth at risk to the
fortunes of one company. However difficult,
these owners need to diversify their
financial assets to better survive periods of
stress. The rules of prudent investing tell
us that any more than 10 percent of one’s
wealth invested in any one company is too
much.
“Diversifying is not natural to individuals
so closely connected to one business, but
it can be a serious risk to their underlying
wealth and the financial health of their
entire family,” says Nina M. Baranchuk,
CFA, Senior Vice President and Chief
Investment Officer at First Commonwealth
Advisors.
Smart Business spoke with Baranchuk
about how to structure portfolios to
diversify or offset these concentrated risks.
Why do corporate executives or business
owners need to diversify?
Even regular employees get a company
paycheck and buy company stock in the
401(k) or the employee stock purchase plan,
so the concentration risks for all employees
can be severe. Senior executives often
accumulate additional large holdings of
company stock and options as part of their
compensation.
A business owner’s company may also be
a disproportionately large part of his or her
portfolio as well. An owner bears the risk of
the entity and any economic, competitive
or regulatory forces that might impact it.
Like putting all your chips on red, there are
serious consequences to holding so much
‘concentrated’ wealth if things don’t go well.
In addition, these holdings can be illiquid
— there is no easy exit under times of stress.
NINA M. BARANCHUK, CFA
Senior Vice President, Chief Investment Officer
First Commonwealth Advisors
(412) 690-4596
[email protected]
FOLLOW UP: To learn more, call (855) ASK-4-FCA,
or visit ask4fca.com.
Insights Wealth Management is brought to you by First Commonwealth Bank
How should business owners construct their
passive investment portfolios?
In some cases, it may not be possible to
diversify much. If an owner can take cash out
of the business, he or she should work with
a qualified portfolio adviser to ensure that
all of his or her passive investments are built
to complement or offset the risk. A qualified
adviser can craft a portfolio that helps to
mitigate your specific concentration risks
and manage your overall exposures.
For example, a local Pittsburgh
businessperson might be concentrated in a
steel or metal fabrication business. So, he
or she would share exposure to the fates
of this or other industries as well their end
markets in the U.S. or overseas. He or she
also may have significant risks to things like
geography, interest rates, significant product
input costs, etc.
You can easily have issues of exposure
based on subtle or indirect connections.
Some risks to a firm are really in your
supply chain or the financial health of a
customer’s industry. Maybe you have one
or two dominant clients that represent a
large percentage of your revenue stream.
Geographical risks loom large for some
companies as well.
A portfolio built to offset these risks
might exclude many other holdings in the
industrial arena and overinvest in industries
that often do well when industrials/metals
do not — think consumer-purchase staples
like food and household products or utilities.
What’s another example of offsetting your
risk?
One family we worked with had made its
wealth in the real estate business — owning
everything from apartment complexes to
high-rises. Our analytic work found that
two good offsets for these holdings were
private equity and financial stocks. Thus
invested, whatever happens to interest
rates, private equity and financials will react
in opposition to the direction of real estate,
counteracting one of its most impactful
environmental factors.
What should executives consider?
While many executives have limited ability
to divest their options or stock, they should
certainly not invest their 401(k) in the
company stock or buy additional shares.
Remember that the executives at Enron
and WorldCom went down together, along
with their options, pensions, paychecks and
other compensation.
In this world of heightened competitive
and financial risks, no business is immune
from potentially negative outcomes. We
urge our clients to make sure they have
done everything possible to ensure their
family’s financial health by planning for
worst-case scenarios. ●
© 2013 Smart Business Network Inc. Reprinted from the July 2013 issue of Smart Business Pittsburgh.
INSIGHTS
WEALTH MANAGEMENT
Women business owners
Business development in a male
dominated energy industry
INTERVIEWED BY JAYNE GEST
N
etworking is key to growth when
it comes to business development.
Women business owners, however,
face unique challenges, especially in a rapidly
growing, male-dominated energy industry.
In a recent survey conducted by First
Commonwealth Bank® and Campos Inc.
of 125 local women-led businesses, more
than 47 percent of respondents said business
development was their greatest need.
“Based on this percentage, it shows that
there is a significant opportunity for women
to better understand how to network and
successfully grow their businesses through
these unique relationships,” says Megan
A. White, Vice President and Regional
Manager at First Commonwealth Bank.
Smart Business spoke with White about
how women in business, particularly within
the energy industry, can tackle business
development.
What challenges do women face with
developing their businesses?
In the same Campos survey, 67 percent of
respondents said they seek business advice
and guidance from peers and colleagues.
However, the challenge for many women
is that they do not know who to network
with for business advice beyond their peers
and colleagues, and sometimes need help
getting outside of their industry. When
they expand to other industries, such as
education, finance or government, it helps
them build a solid network and creates many
opportunities for developing their business.
How can women build networks that become
their center of influence?
One way to create a networking system
to benefit your business is to reach out
to business professionals — your banker,
attorney and accountant — who each have
MEGAN A. WHITE
Vice President, Regional Manager
First Commonwealth Bank
(724) 836-6694
[email protected]
FOLLOW UP: Call (800) 711-BANK (2265) or visit
fcbanking.com/womenfirst for resources specific to
women in business, local events and more.
Insights Wealth Management is brought to you by First Commonwealth Bank
networks that you can plug into.
People often have tunnel vision, thinking
a banker only does loans and deposits,
but a good banker who wants to see your
business grow and succeed can help with all
your business needs, and connects you to
community leaders or business owners.
A banker, along with the network of
other professionals, can open doors,
make introductions and be your strongest
advocate.
With the energy industry’s growth, what’s
important for women to understand about
business development in this arena?
According to Rigzone, which provides oil
and gas industry news and information, in
the first quarter of this year, more women
than men entered the oil and gas industry.
Locally, many women operate in leadership
positions within the manufacturing and
service industries related to oil and gas.
People may think of the energy industry
as male-dominated, but it’s an avenue for
women to build leadership roles and own
companies within the industry.
Like many, when I first started to develop
contacts within the energy industry, as a
woman I thought there might be hurdles to
overcome. However, in general, everybody
within the industry is very welcoming, which
helps you learn the network, and a lot of
women already operate within the space.
Women shouldn’t hold back, assuming
they may have a hard time, when they
actually have a skewed perception of the
industry. It’s also short-sighted to assume
their company may not tie into the energy
industry because they’re just thinking of the
wells, pads and drilling. That’s not really
looking at what the industry can do, or what
your business can do for the industry.
Is there still a ‘boy’s club’ mentality in the
energy industry?
Not as much. We do have a lot of room to
grow, quite frankly, but there are women’s
organizations that help with that. For
example, the Women’s Energy Network,
which was primarily Texas-oriented, formed
an Appalachia chapter in 2011 that focuses
on Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
Women in the energy industry are being
proactive. They want to get together to
form a team and network within themselves,
as well as being able to work together to
become an industry force.
Business is still very much relationship
driven. Yes, you need to have a competitive
product and know what you’re doing in
your industry. But in order to grow with
other companies in your market area, it’s
important to understand what each industry
is doing and how you can work with others,
or create something that makes your market
stronger. ●
© 2013 Smart Business Network Inc. Reprinted from the November 2013 issue of Smart Business Pittsburgh.