“Wealthy families don’t want their children to become demotivated… those who succeed teach their children to earn rewards…”

“Wealthy families don’t want their children to become demotivated… those who succeed teach their children to earn rewards…”

Los Angeles, CA

Michele Havens, CFP®

West Region President


Michele leads our professionals in the western United States to improve the financial outcomes and experiences of high-net-worth families and business owners. She has been recognized for her leadership within and contributions to the financial industry and broader business community through several awards and nominations.

Wealth Management Executive Q&A

In your more than 20 years of experience serving a wide variety of clients, what concerns do you hear most? What keeps clients up at night?

Wealthy families don’t want their children to become demotivated or entitled. Their wealth generally has been earned through sacrifice, hard work, and ingenuity – values they want to instill and pass down. And from my observations, those who succeed are those that teach their children to earn rewards. I practice this with my own kids. For example, I’ll never forget when I took my daughter to the American Girl store when she was five. I told her she could pick out one outfit, which quickly escalated into a request for a doll bed. I told her I would pay for half of it but that she would need to earn the rest. And she did – proudly – even at such a young age. This approach has been very effective in my own life and for my clients. My children will ask me if I will match the cost of something they wish to purchase rather than buy it for them.

“Let your kids teach you. Help them find activities in which they are more talented and interested than you, rather than imposing your own talents and interests on them.”

You usually advise clients, but do clients ever advise you? What lessons have you learned from them?

I share the same concern as many of my clients. I want to raise well-grounded, hard-working kids. So I have made a point of asking my clients for advice in this area, and they have taught me two invaluable lessons. First, devote one-on-one time to each child. We live busy lives and are often balancing careers, marriages, friendships and other priorities with raising multiple children. But slowing down and taking time alone with one child can immeasurably benefit both parent and child. Second, let your kids teach you. Help them find activities in which they are more talented and interested than you, rather than imposing your own talents and interests on them. For my daughter, this has led to a love of horseback riding, and my son is beating me at golf at the age of 10.

Favorite Quote

“Fortune does favor the bold, and you’ll never know what you’re capable of if you don’t try.” – Sheryl Sandberg

Are there particular life experiences that shaped your career? What drove you to become a wealth management professional?

My parents taught me to work hard. Neither one had a college education, but my Dad fought in Vietnam. And both worked tirelessly to provide for us and advance their careers. My mother even took another job behind a deli counter to help pay for my college education. Also, I’ll also never forget when my family was swindled by a travel agent. We planned a big trip to Disney, but when we arrived, learned that no reservations had been placed. The agent had taken our money and run. This incident stuck with me. I never wanted to be taken advantage of again and was determined to take control of my financial future.

“Divorce is a common and trying life event for which many women are ill-prepared. The industry needs to make this transition easier rather than more complicated.”

As a female leader in the industry, what opportunities do you see for the wealth management industry to better meet the needs of female clients?

In my experience, women going through divorce tend to be underserved. Divorce is a common and trying life event for which many women are ill-prepared. At Northern Trust, we are trying to make this transition easier. I also see a lot of women taking on the role of “family CFO” and believe there is an opportunity to target advice for this segment. The reality is that there are a lot of highly educated, wealthy women, many who have given up careers to raise children, driving day-to-day financial decisions and transactions for their families. For example, women in this cohort may direct investment decisions, manage cash flow and take charge of college savings. We need to more fully understand the needs of this market and become better partners with them.

Philanthropic Pursuits

Michele serves on the board of the Jonathan Club as First Vice President. She is on the Young Presidents’ Organization of Los Angeles Board of Directors and is the outgoing Membership Chair. She has served on the Board of Directors for United Way of Greater Los Angeles from 2013-2019. She is passionate about improving our education systems and addressing the growing homeless crisis in the community.