Former Therapist Helps Clients Prepare for Golden Years
By D. J. MORROW INGRAM
PERSONAL SERVICE: Founder and President of Waterstone Private Wealth Management Melanie Hasty-Grant takes pride in the high-touch personal investment service offered by her firm.
D. J. MORROW INGRAM for Tulsa Free Press
During her 11 years as a marriage therapist, Melanie Hasty-Grant helped a lot of couples get through fights about money—one of the leading causes of divorce.
Today, Hasty-Grant is helping couples and individuals avoid the stress over money issues in her work as a financial counselor and stockbroker, and president of Waterstone Private Wealth Management in Owasso.
“As a therapist, repeatedly I saw how money worries and problems would drive a wedge between the happiest of couples and bring some individuals to a near-breakdown,” she says. “I decided I wanted to do more than help them through it—I wanted to help them avoid it.”
Hasty-Grant started her new career at a big name brokerage house but realized a more personal, one-on-one approach was more her style.
“I wanted to be able to really know my clients and provide them with high-touch personal service,” she says. “Starting my own firm allowed me to do just that.”
Waterstone was founded in 2004 to serve a growing population in the investment world—serving a select number of more involved, sophisticated clients.
The relationship between Hasty-Grant and her clients is built on a series of meetings, where she learns as much as she can about her client, their background, financial history, feelings about money and risk, and what kind of retirement they ultimately desire.
“In some ways I am like an investment therapist,” she says, “because I try to learn my client’s values, how they developed their views about money and, on couples, where they differ.
“Many couples have never had a real discussion about money beyond the basic household budget if they’ve gotten that far. Together we find common ground on where they want to be five, 10, 20 years from now and develop a plan to get there.”
Without the pressures of worries about dependents, she says it is common for single individuals to simply never get around to proper retirement planning.
“With increased concerns about Social Security, pension plans and 401(k) plans, people are looking for answers. Our goal at Waterstone is to help find the right answer for each client.”
Hasty-Grant says the younger one starts out planning for retirement the better. She has several clients in their early twenties.
“I encourage young professionals to try to put back six to seven percent of their annual salary from the very start,” she says, “because then they develop the habit of saving for retirement. When they get a salary increase I further encourage them not to spend it or automatically elevate their standard of living. They will be much better off in the long run if they put that increase, or at least part of it, into savings or retirement.”
For those who start planning for retirement later in life, there is still hope, she says.
“I help people take a realistic look at what they want during their retirement years. If it is sitting back, relaxing, gardening and enjoying grandchildren, it is not going to take as much money as those whose goals include lots of travel and multiple homes.
“We have to know where they want to be in order to know what investment road they should take. If they’re not headed in the right direction because of lack of planning or poor planning, we get them back on track so they can retire with confidence.”
In the year and a half since Hasty-Grant founded Waterstone her “active investment management” philosophy has grown the firm to managing some $30 million in assets. More than half of Waterstone’s business is working with retirees to ensure a steady stream of lifelong income. Waterstone also works with businesses to effectively manage their retirement programs.
“If it has to do with the financial and investment world, Waterstone can make it happen,” Hasty-Grant says.