Austin Under 40 Awards recently named ML&R Wealth Management Partner Stuart Vick Smith 2020 “Mentor of the Year.” We’re proud of Stuart’s well-deserved recognition, but not surprised after working alongside her for 17 years at Maxwell Locke & Ritter and ML&R Wealth Management. Stuart is passionate about educating her clients, building their financial security, and mentoring women to develop successful careers.
Serving Women in the Financial Services Industry
Early on Stuart discovered that women are underserved in the financial services industry because they aren’t always allowed to participate in their own financial future. To impact change, Stuart began building her client base with women who had gone through a major life event, giving them support to affect their financial security.
This passion for her clients extends to the women in her profession. In the wealth management industry, fewer than 25 percent women serve as advisors and less than 10 percent are client-facing. When Stuart started with ML&R Wealth Management, she was the only woman on the team. She now leads the practice where 50 percent of the advisors are women and client-facing.
“As a partner and mentor, it’s important for me to support women in their careers and give them the opportunity to grow, succeed and change the future of our profession,” Stuart says.
Carli Smith, advisor at ML&R Wealth Management, credits Stuart with setting a good example and helping others blossom into who they are supposed to be.
“Mentorship is more than teaching someone to be good at their job. Stuart believes in people and provides opportunities for them to develop skills and confidence. Shortly after I joined ML&R Wealth Management, Stuart asked for my opinion on a client matter and took my advice. That simple question showed me that she values my opinion and gave me confidence early on,” Carli says.
Giving Back to Austin’s Women and Children
Stuart’s mentorship isn’t limited to clients and colleagues at ML&R Wealth Management and Maxwell Locke & Ritter. She also spends considerable time serving the Austin community.
“The firm supported the pursuit of my career passions and gave me a platform to give back to our community. I’m fortunate to work for a firm that not only values community service, but also includes community service in our vision and core values,” Stuart says.
Initially, Stuart served Austin Children’s Museum and Girl Scouts of Central Texas and grew into board roles at Austin Children’s Shelter and The Ann Richards School Foundation. Her time spent with The Ann Richards School Foundation was very meaningful. “I’m passionate about their mission to prepare girls to attend and graduate from college,” Stuart says.
Stuart began as a mentor to a high school girl, meeting with her weekly to talk about her challenges and hopes for tomorrow. Then Stuart’s focus shifted to board service as treasurer for many years and finally as chair. Her most rewarding experience as chair was hiring and mentoring the school’s executive director, Jennifer Long. While her board service has come to an end, Stuart continues to mentor Jennifer.
“As my board chair, Stuart committed to a weekly meeting, offering me a trusting space to bounce new ideas, problem-solve challenging situations, and celebrate successes. As her term as chair ended and she eventually rolled off the board, Stuart continued to prioritize our time together, scheduling monthly meetings to provide support to each other in our respective efforts and to brainstorm fresh ideas together. We’ve been meeting regularly for over four years, and I’m grateful for Stuart’s investment in me, both professionally and personally. I’ve learned much from Stuart by witnessing her leadership in the corporate and nonprofit arenas and her thoughtful problem-solving approach in action, as well as how she expertly balances her career, philanthropic, and family commitments,” Jennifer says.
Making Work More Enjoyable
In addition to the impact she’s had on her clients, colleagues, and community, Stuart is a joy to work with.
“She never has a bad day. She is always in a good mood.” – Steve Harvey
“She is jollier than the man in the red suit.” – Rachel Roth
“BEST. BOSS. EVER!” – Alicia Horn
“No matter how busy Stuart is, she is always willing to help out or answer questions.” – Scott Adair
“When she arrives to the office, even if I haven’t seen her yet, I know she’s here because I’ve already heard her laugh.” – Carli Smith
Want to learn more about Stuart and the services offered by ML&R Wealth Management? Reach out to us.