Susan Inwood has been focusing for more than 35 years on investment consulting for non-profit organizations, retirement plans, and high net worth individuals. As a Financial Advisor, Inwood helps retirement plans and non-profit organizations with their ongoing investment responsibilities. She specializes in creating, supervising, and monitoring relationships between organizations and third party investment firms.
Inwood is a member of the Investment Management Consultant Association (IMCA) and is a Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) through the prestigious IMCA program in conjunction with the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Every year from 2006 to 2011, she was one of approximately 400 financial advisors who were selected to attend the “Barron’s” Magazine Top Women Financial Advisors Summit in the U.S. Susan was also honored by The Concern Foundation in July 2009 as one of the three “Exceptional Women in Los Angeles” for her work with non-profits.
Currently she acts as a Vice Chairman of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, and as Chairman of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce Foundation. In 2010, she was keynote speaker at the Western Regional meeting of the Association of Small Foundations and was also keynote speaker at the “Behind the Bench Foundation’s,” Wives of NBA Players annual conference.
To what do you attribute your career success?
Education, firstly. I am from a rather poor family in Kentucky, and the only way, I felt, to “see the world” was to be educated. When I graduated from University of Louisville, jobs were virtually non-existent for female Kentuckians. So I decided to go back to school for my Master in Business to become more competitive in the workplace.
The other key factor was moving to California. In 1972, coming to California didn’t just mean coming to the “land of opportunity.” It meant coming to a place where it didn’t matter where you were from, or who you were, or who your parents were. It didn’t even matter if you were green and had three legs! All that mattered was that you worked harder and smarter. I got my Master of Business from University of Southern California, and never left. My first residence in California was an apartment in Santa Monica.
I began my Financial Advisor career in 1976 at E F Hutton, on Third in Wilshire in Santa Monica. Decades later, I again returned to college to earn my CIMA (Certified Investment Management Analyst) certification at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, still continuing in my field of finance.
From there, I never stopped learning, reading, training, and getting more and more educated. That, and trying to be the best at what I do.
Can you tell me about your work with non-profits?
My work with non-profits has been heavily on the advisory side through my job, helping a diverse array of non-profits manage their assets. My experience in advising them has led me to sit on boards where I don’t manage their assets, which would be a conflict of interest, but can give them advice from my experience such as how to fund-raise, set up endowments, set up investment policies, and make other board related decisions.
Why are you so passionate about these organizations?
First of all, with non-profits, they tend to all be nice people who genuinely want to help with a cause. That makes it a pleasure to work with them.
Moreover, these organizations really want to make a difference in the world-whether it’s educating or clothing children, helping the homeless, contributing charities, forming museums to preserve history for posterity, or whatever.
Can you tell me more about your keynote speeches with the NBA?
In September 2010, I was invited to be the keynote speaker, and sponsor a day of financial education, at the annual weekend event for “Behind the Bench,” the charitable foundation for wives of NBA players. This, in turn, led to my being invited as a speaker at this year’s NBA All Star weekend in Orlando, in conjunction with Laurel Richie, the President of the WNBA. Our topic will be “Physical, Professional and Financial Empowerment.” It’s an exciting opportunity!
What advice do you have for up and coming young women in the business world?
I’ve never thought of myself as a “woman” in business, just a “person”. That being said:
1) Get a mentor to support and guide you along the way.
2) Watch people who are already very successful in your field, and imitate everything that they do.
3) Don’t be a generalist. Be a specialist. And whatever you’re a specialist in, be the best at it – the “expert” in your field so to speak.
4) Try to know more than your competition. Keep informed and current in your field. There will always be someone smarter (I run into incredibly intelligent people in my field every day), but just do the best you can.
You are on the Board of Directors of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce. What is the current project you are personally currently working on?
The Chamber of Commerce has set up a foundation to support education in the community of Santa Monica. The Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization. Some programs already in existence will be under the umbrella of the foundation, such as the Career Day at Santa Monica High School, held annually, which is coming up again on March 12, 2012. Also, annually the “Chamber Challenge,” a program where students are given a project and the challenge of finding a solution.
We have also developed an array of financial literary programs for elementary school students, teens, and adults, and will begin the programs formerly within the next six months. Some will be in conjunction with the Santa Monica School District, and Santa Monica College has also experienced interest in participating.