While every woman entrepreneur could talk taxes and tax reform (especially this month!), no one on the NAWBO National Board is more well-versed on the subject as Loreen Gilbert—our featured Q&A for April.
Loreen is an experienced wealth manager who has spent more than 20 years creating successful wealth strategies for her clients. Loreen launched her career at Fidelity Investments where she assisted clients with investment management services. She then worked for a private company selling retirement plans to municipalities and their employees. Loreen has been in private practice as a wealth manager since 1997, and is currently the president of WealthWise Financial Services, which offers securities and investment advisory services to individuals, business owners and corporations through her affiliation as a registered principal with LPL Financial.
A member and past president of NAWBO-Orange County and NAWBO-California board member, Loreen is also actively involved in her Southern California community. She is a member of the Women’s Philanthropy Fund as well as Impact Giving, and serves on the Advisory Board of Directors for International Princess Project, and on the Regional Advisory Board of Hope International. She is an advocate for the arts, and as such, serves on the Corporate Council for the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
We recently spoke to Loreen about this month’s topic of taxes as well as her passion for and dedication to women entrepreneurs and NAWBO:
What drove your decision to become a woman entrepreneur?
In high school, I participated in the Junior Achievement program, and I remember coming home and telling my parents that one day I was going to be the president of a company. At the time, I was thinking of a corporate career. But once I started along my career path, I hit a ceiling and decided that only by owning my own business would I be able to accomplish my dreams both professionally and personally. I wanted my success to be based on what I was able to produce versus what a corporation was willing to pay me, and I wanted flexibility with my time.
How have you been able to help other women business owners through your financial expertise?
I specialize in working with business owners to help move them forward towards their financial goals. I especially enjoy working with women business owners to help them achieve their financial dreams. I have been privileged to help many women business owners not only become financially independent, but also in growing their wealth so that they can exit their companies and live the lives they want to live. I help women business owners save millions of dollars each year in order to save on taxes, save more for retirement and strategically pass money to the next generation. I have two podcasts specifically on this topic called, “Building Wealth for Business Owners” and “Top 10 Financial Mistakes Women Tend to Make” on my iTunes podcast called WealthWise Moment. (Click here to check it out!)
What’s the most critical piece of advice you can offer another woman entrepreneur in terms of managing wealth?
In order to create and maintain wealth, every woman entrepreneur should have a financial team in place working collaboratively on her behalf. That financial team should include a financial planner/advisor, a banker, a CPA, a bookkeeper and an estate planning attorney. Most of the time, my role is to be the quarterback of that team so that there is a concerted coordination of efforts.
The theme of this issue is tax reform. What one thing would you change, if you could, about current tax laws that would benefit small business owners?
The most important change in the tax code is to make sure it is a comprehensive tax bill that helps both corporations as well as individuals. The last comprehensive tax reform bill was accomplished under Reagan in 1986 and we are overdue in updating our tax code to fit the 21st century. We need to reduce the corporate tax rate for all businesses. Our corporate tax structure is one of the highest in the world and a reduction in the corporate tax rate ultimately helps both businesses and individuals.
Why did you first join NAWBO and what has kept you a member?
I first joined NAWBO because two of my friends told me about it and encouraged me to join in 2006. I joined for the networking aspect. But what has kept me a member is that I want to participate in advocating for women business owners.
What’s the one greatest benefit you’ve received from your involvement with NAWBO?
NAWBO has been a safe community where I have built confidence as a woman business owner. When I came to NAWBO, I had only incorporated my business a year beforehand. I had a lot to learn as a business owner and NAWBO helped me in becoming a better business owner. As a result, I have grown my business exponentially.
What do you hope to accomplish by serving on the NAWBO National Board?
My goal in being on the NAWBO National Board is to be an advocate for women business owners, both locally and globally. Locally, I have been able to participate on policy matters on Capitol Hill through our lobbying efforts in Washington D.C.
Internationally, I have been able to establish a partnership between NAWBO National and Opportunity International. Opportunity International creates micro-lending and micro-savings programs in third world countries, mainly for women business owners. I am leading the first NAWBO/Opportunity International trip, which will be to Nicaragua at the end of November. We are looking for 15 interested NAWBO members to go with us to meet and support the women in the Nicaraguan Opportunity International program. Our goal is to make a significant impact on the women in the country of Nicaragua over the next 10 years.
What other women’s or community causes are important to you and what are you doing to support them?
I am involved in many different causes; however, most notably this year, I am co-chairing the Women’s Philanthropy Fund Breakfast on May 10th on behalf of Orange County United Way. All the money we raise will go to help at-risk women and children in Orange County, California. We will have more than 700 people in attendance and Leigh Anne Tuohy is our keynote speaker.
Why do you think every NAWBO member should consider taking on a leadership role with their chapter or at the national level?
Every woman business owner should consider how she can also be an advocate not only for herself but for other women business owners. Being a leader in NAWBO means you are a role model and advocate for women business owners. Also, I am a big believer in the concept that the more you give, the more you receive. And I have the philosophy that a life well-lived is a life of service to others.
What’s something interesting or surprising about you that most people don’t know?
I grew up speaking French at home and I hold not only a U.S. citizenship, but also a Swiss citizenship. The fact that I speak French as well as maintain a Swiss citizenship are completely unrelated!