Who knew when I sat at the head of the table for my 9th Wealth Academy debrief with faculty and volunteers that this meeting would alter the course of my life?
"Tracy, why aren't you leading us?!"
There I was at 8:00 a.m. sitting with 11 of the most loyal, competent, powerful women professionals you could assemble. As we went around the table talking about the recent event, each of these stalwart supporters got progressively more furious. With me! Why aren’t we taking this incredible program on the road? Why are we not sharing this life changing financial empowerment program with women all over the world? Then it became, "Tracy, why aren’t you leading us?!" I began sputtering and gasping as the revolt accumulated intensity and turned in my direction! That I was needed to spread the word. That the methods and stories and processes we had been using for almost a decade in our day long program were radical and inspirational. And by the end of the hour the call to action for me to act was laid down like a gauntlet. Their collective message:
"Get off your little self-limiting high horse and reach out wide and far with these ideas. Lead the charge!"
Well here we are... and the challenge has been taken on. It took 55 weeks to get this financial literacy company through the various stages of compliance and securities regulators in Canada. It was seen as a potential risk management problem for the broker dealer I work with and the financial advisory firm, Sophia Financial Group that I co-founded with Kamal Basra in Vancouver, BC.
But we have persevered and succeeded. Sophia Financial is my primary business. This is where we actually do the financial planning and investment management for our local clients. I like having a foot in the real world of implementation and the movement of the capital markets. Most online educators are not participating or regulated in the investment world. They are journalists, financial planners, counsellors, or motivational speakers. This is fine, to a point. They are on the sidelines. This has the benefit of apparent objectivity but the disadvantage of not being in the game or current. There is a significant, unmet need for high calibre, objective, and current information. And although we address this at Sophia Financial, education and support for women to become confident financial decision makers is a far reaching need exceeding the scope of our local firm.
If women are to step up to the table economically and participate at all levels of financial decision-making there are a few impediments that need to be overcome. This online forum will address these issues.
You will feel the influence of my psychology education and background in the tone and flavour of our offerings. This reflects my basic belief that money is more about our heads and hearts than numbers. You will also see that I started my career in the non-profit world of social services. People matter. I understand and respect that not everyone starts their financial life from the same point. Nor are they headed in the same direction. Nor do they want the same things. Some women have serious handicaps and some start with significant advantages. We are going to try to reach you wherever you are on the financial continuum. Every one of you has different life goals and beliefs. We honour this.
I have a master’s degree in counselling psychology. I have a background in sales and marketing and, of course, the last couple of decades have been spent as a financial advisor, first in the US with what is now Morgan Stanley and later in Canada with a bank-owned firm and now Sophia Financial Group.
I have owned 4 businesses, sold one, and am starting this new one. I am an entrepreneur at heart. But a nervous one. I love money and the excitement of the capital markets but believe that only with personal values at the base of each decision can a person truly control their finances. You must boss money around and not vice versa. I have written an award winning book on women’s financial empowerment and one book on child development and outdoor play. I am Canadian, have been divorced, married, and single. I lived in the US for 10 years and went through the dot com bubble, its rupture, and 9/11. My kids are dual citizens and for the most part, grown.
My fervent desire is to create a place where women can have facilitated discussions, community support, and clean, clear information to inform their individual financial process.
"This is a place where courage is the currency and no one gets left behind. Welcome on board! I look forward to co-journeying with you."
Prior to co-founding Sophia Financial, Raymond James* Group in 2009, Tracy worked as a financial consultant with Smith Barney, a US brokerage firm and after returning to Canada was an advisor with a large bank owned investment firm. Sophia Financial Group is a full service investment advisory and financial planning firm in Vancouver, BC with a special expertise in the economic issues facing women investors.
Tracy Theemes has an M.A. in Counselling Psychology. She is a Certified Financial Planner, is insurance licensed and is a Fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute. She is also a Financial Divorce Specialist. Before becoming a financial advisor Tracy spent 10 years in management with an international play equipment company. She also founded, then sold, a specialty children’s furnishing company based in the US.
In 2013, Tracy was nominated for the YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Education and the Association for Women in Finance Award for Excellence in Business. She was just awarded the International Alliance of Women Global 100 Award for her work in empowering women through education. Her book “The Financially Empowered Woman: Everything you want to know about your money” was recently published and won the Bronze Prize for the Living Now Awards for Finance and Economics and the Axiom Gold Medal in the category of personal finance. She is one of the 2015 UBC Faculty of Education Alumni 100 honourees for her outstanding leadership and significant contributions to her community.