Getting to Know Your Allegiant Team: Melissa Walsh

Melissa Walsh, CFP®, CFAAPA Walsh 3x4HI RGB, joined Allegiant Private Advisors as a Wealth Advisor with a focus on helping clients define and achieve their financial goals through a comprehensive financial planning process which constantly evolves. After a decade working in the financial services industry in Boston, she decided to return to Sarasota in 2017 to join the Allegiant team, who already knew her quite well! We hope you enjoy getting to know Melissa better through her own words: 

I’ve been at Allegiant Private Advisors for a year and a half now, and feel lucky to say that I’ve reached a stage of my career—and life—where I’ve come home. I recently returned to my hometown of Sarasota after living up in Boston for the last 10 years, and Allegiant was my first choice of employers here. While I’m newer to the team, I’m not new to my colleagues, as I’ve known Marty for 20 years and Ben for 10. In fact, it was Marty who initially put me on an independent financial advisor path when I began my career, introducing me to the people at Commonwealth Financial Network in Massachusetts. I worked in the strategic planning department at Commonwealth, and after earning my Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, I transitioned to a role on the research team, specializing in fixed income manager analysis. After that, I branched out for a few years, working as a portfolio specialist at Pioneer Investments, before returning to Commonwealth as an independent advisor and subsequently earning the CFP credential. 

While I was born in Connecticut and lived in Ohio through my early childhood, our family relocated to Florida’s Gulf Coast when I was 10 years old so I’ve always called Sarasota “home.” Returning to Sarasota has been a great experience for me, and to join a group of exceptionally talented, dedicated, and genuinely nice colleagues has been such a pleasure. Additionally, Marty and Ben have put together a group of clients who are interesting and fun to work with, so I wake up each morning excited for the work day ahead of me. Seeing the Sarasota area expand and thrive without losing the close-knit community feel and dedication to the arts has been a very rewarding part of my homecoming as well. 

Unlike many of my colleagues, I had no idea that I would be a financial advisor, or even that I’d have a career in finance. In fact, as I write about it now, I am still a little surprised that I ended up where I am. My passion in life has always been about making the world a better place. I am most satisfied by finding injustices and righting them. I think finance ended up appealing to me because of the industry’s widespread and systemic problems related to conflicts of interest, gender inequality, and lack of transparency. I’ve made a commitment to improving our industry so that it becomes one that is more ethical and attractive to clients as well as those considering finance for their own career. 

It should come as no surprise, then, that despite my credentials and career commitment to the industry, I wouldn’t do this job at all if I were unable to act in my clients’ best interests. Indeed, nothing makes me more dedicated to this profession than the days when I’m reminded that there are people holding themselves out as financial advisors who do not put their clients’ interests ahead of their own. Since people who often get taken advantage of are often those who need the most help, I find myself constantly rededicating my career to doing the right thing, every time, every day. 

Ultimately, I love being a financial advisor because of the position it puts me in to help individuals and families achieve what they want out of life. While money is often a small piece of this, I’ve found that it is a critical component—both fundamentally and emotionally—that can either ease the way or be a prohibitive burden. When I think of my proudest moments in this job, it is not a great portfolio return that first comes to mind, but rather seeing long-time client goals come to life. Whether it’s organizing the family reunion, finally taking that “bucket list” trip, or making the game-changing donation to a favorite charity, seeing clients achieve what they set out to do is a thrill that I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of. 

Personally, I live in South Sarasota with my husband Steve. I come from many generations of families filled with women, so my husband and I were thrilled (and unsurprised) to welcome two daughters to our family over the last three years - Willow is now two and Lila just turned one. Because of my past and future, I’m inspired to work in the Sarasota community with organizations that support women and girls, and I currently sit on the Finance Committee of Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida. I enjoy reading, cooking, and running, and pursue these hobbies today by reading to and cooking for my daughters, and of course, running after them. This phase of my life is incredibly rewarding, and I am thankful each day for my career, my family, and my supportive clients and friends.