Getting divorced is never a happy, fun experience, but Allegiant Financial Planning LLC hopes to take some of the cost and stress out of the situation for its clients.
Lauren Estes founded Allegiant in March and has already built a solid client list through word of mouth and social media.
“This business is so much more than just investing money,” Estes said. “There’s estate planning, tax planning, and making sure your spouse and loved ones are taken care of when you are gone.”
Estes has been involved in the financial planning industry since 2008 and previously worked for two wealth management firms in Memphis, most recently as an associate adviser at Fish & Associates. She became interested in the financial planning world after dealing with issues surrounding her grandfather, who had been in declining health in the mid-2000s and became a victim of elder fraud.
“We began to review his information and found that he had significant charges made to supposed charities over months and months of time. He had never mentioned any of it, and we discovered it was elder fraud,” Estes said. “I realized that if that could happen to my grandfather, it could happen to anyone.”
Prior to 2008, she worked as a paralegal for seven years and handled a good deal of divorce work and general litigation that involved aspects of financial planning.
“That’s why I decided to become certified divorce financial analyst,” said Estes, who is also a certified financial planner. “With that background, I was able to transition into planning and now work with divorcees.”
Estes narrowed her focus one day when she noticed how many people she knew were getting divorced.
“I started Allegiant because I want to be able to help people who are going through a divorce and also help younger professionals who might not have built up a huge amount of wealth yet but have the potential to,” Estes said.
One of the most common things she sees with divorce cases is that one spouse just does not know what assets they have because they were not the ones to pay bills or take out loans during their marriage.
“What I help to do is pull everything together, come up with ideas, and review documents to help find where everything really is. I also help people understand what their investments mean and look at their insurance,” Estes said. “My focus is to reduce the time and cost and stress that a divorce takes by being able to be the one who can pull out historical and projected budgets and provide that to the attorneys.”
In an effort to spread the word about her services, Estes maintains a website with links to Facebook, Twitter and her blog, and she is also enjoying strong referral business.
“It’s interesting to see where business will be coming from in the future. Right now I’m seeing a great deal of referrals coming for traditional planning clients,” Estes said.
She chose a unique office location near the middle of the city in the 4600 block of Poplar Avenue.
“It’s more of a loft space. I want my clients to feel comfortable and at home. I don’t want them to feel like they are in a stuffy office,” she said. “It’s a different take on financial planning offices.”
Estes is a native Memphian with an intense love for the city.
“I really want to build a business within Memphis that can continue to grow with the city,” said Estes, who stays involved in her local community.
She is the current chairwoman of the Financial Planning Association of Greater Memphis, where she has been involved for more than four years, and this year she also joined Project Green Fork as a board member. Also this year, she graduated from the Nexus Leadership program at Second Presbyterian Church as a protégé.
Going forward, Estes plans to hire an assistant in the next six to 12 months, and she would love to see local companies institute financial planning as a job benefit.