FEATURING: Susan Veligor, Principal at Cornerstone Financial Planning
(Photo Credits: Cornerstone Financial Planning)
In 2004 Jill Boynton and Susan Veligor started Cornerstone Financial Planning, a now 8 person consultancy firm that works with clients primarily from Maine and New Hampshire. Originally colleagues, Jill and Susan found that they worked really well together. Both driven and passionate about their work, they set out on their own to create a business that not only flourished on their model for strong team relationships and purpose driven work, but also centered this focus in their work with clients.
“Who we work with, their values and what they care about is always more important than what they have,” says Susan, “the client is more important than the client’s money.” By being invested in finding out what matters to their clients - their values, Cornerstone works with clients to set goals. “We engage with people across the spectrum: career beginners through retirement. We also work with many nontraditional couples. Our goals are always driven by what matters most to each of them.”
Socially responsible investing, also known as impact investing, is something that’s become more mainstream. Cornerstone shares responsible investment opportunities with clients and these opportunities are often in alignment with clients’ own values, a drive to be better for the planet as well as profitable. Susan explains, “[impact investing] used to mean that you may not get the same return, but now that’s different. You can have your heart in the right place and have it be be profitable, too.” On the client end, Cornerstone is finding that retirees feel a similar responsibility as millennials to affect change and, increasingly, people are asking for more responsible investing opportunities.
|Susan Veligor, Jill Boynton, Mackenzie Arsenault, Christina Traurig|
As a certified B Corp, Cornerstone upholds its own responsibility to have a direct community impact. 1% of the consultancy’s annual revenue is donated and all employees play a role in deciding where these funds go based on the causes that matter most to them. Employees also get time off to volunteer and team-building days and projects often involve some way of giving back. Bringing this same ethos of care inwards, Cornerstone prioritizes employee health and wellness. During summer months, their Portland and Newington offices close early on Fridays so that employees can get out and enjoy themselves.
“We encourage feedback and ideas for improvement. There’s this spirit of common goals for the company,” adds Susan, “We’re also very proud of being female-owned in an industry that’s heavily weighted in favor of men. We’re used to bringing conversations and different perspectives to the table and that’s been key in how we work and communicate so well as a team.” This care for community and coming together is the same driving force behind Cornerstone’s care for the planet, which, says Susan, “feels very dear to our hearts.”
From using green cleaning products to direct community investments, the team at Cornerstone is keenly aware of how they can act on their values and contribute to something bigger. “I would describe Cornerstone as thoughtful and progressive,” says Susan, “an empowered organization that wants to make a difference in people’s lives, with the hope that they can then go out to make a difference in the world. That is the heart of who we are and why we do what we do. Being generous in how we treat employees, being generous with clients and taking the time to get to know them, these are the things that matter and make a difference.”
To learn more about Cornerstone Financial Planning, you can reach out to Susan at Susan@cornerstoneplanning.org