Mary Sterk, CFP® CPFA
CEO and Founder
Named to Forbes List 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 Best-In-State Wealth Advisors*
Named to Forbes List 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Top Women Wealth Advisor*
Named to Forbes List 2022, 2023 Forbes Top Women Wealth Advisors Best-In-State, ranking #1 in South Dakota*
My Background & What Brought Me Here
By the time I was 19 years old, I was already a divorced single mother of two kids under two years old. We lived in a low-rent apartment complex, and I bought my groceries with food stamps. I didn’t get any child support and had to try desperately to make ends meet with my minimum-wage job and a welfare check.
When I looked around me, I realized that many people living here were never able to dig themselves out of that financial hole. I didn’t want that to be my future. I didn’t want to let the fact that I had been a pregnant teenager dictate the rest of my life. I wanted something better for myself and my children. And I realized that to create a better life for us, I had to learn how money worked.
And so I did. I spent days working and taking care of my kids, and I spent nights with my nose in a book, taking classes. It wasn’t easy, but I learned a number of really important things along the way that have shaped my money philosophy, and ultimately defined how I work with clients today.
I believe that money does not buy you material things; it buys you choices. When you learn and appreciate the value and the freedom those choices afford you, you can approach your financial philosophy—and your life—in a whole new way. I have used that approach to create value for thousands of clients as I built my financial planning practice. What started as a simple desire to provide a better life for myself and my children has taken me from welfare to wealth management. I obtained my CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM certification, and I now lead a large financial planning practice staffed by an amazing team of talented advisors. We are headquartered in South Dakota, with four affiliated offices across the Midwest that serve clients throughout the country.
Something Unique and Different About Me
Back in 2001, I took a ride that changed my life–in a little twin engine airplane! From that day on I had the flying bug. I came home, took lessons, and have been an instrument-rated private pilot ever since.
Outside of Work I’m Most Passionate About
The two things that really matter most to me are family and creating better futures. My oldest son is in Hollywood, CA pursuing his music dream and my youngest son is attending Univ of Colorado - Boulder studying International Business. Go Buffs! My daughter is in the Midwest studying for a nursing degree while raising her very active little boy. I have to say that this grandparent gig is one of the greatest rewards after raising three beautiful children of my own.
My other passion in life—my purpose, if you will—is to inspire people to create their own best future. If I can show you how to use the money you have to create the life and retirement that you want, then I feel I’m living my purpose.
When Not in the Office, Look For Me
In my art studio! I’m an avid painter and this creative outlet allows me to play in the other side of my brain. My work has a very colorful, feminine slant to it and is filled with uplifting messages to brighten your day (Check out my online gallery here). In 2015 I had my first solo show in New York City – a dream come true!
How I’m Advancing My Career Knowledge
Staying sharp in this industry comes from constant awareness and education in resources, programs, and changing laws. I regularly attend conferences, pursue continuing education, and research topics for new books and seminars. All of this translates into stronger advice and strategies that help people move forward in their own financial journeys.
CFP® through the American College, Bryn Mawr, PA
Series 6, 7, 24, 63, 65
Media Appearances :(Click to view)
* Forbes Best in State Wealth Advisors list includes 10 recipients per state. The award is based on qualitative and quantitative data, rating thousands of wealth advisors with a minimum of seven years of experience and weighing factors like revenue trends, assets under management, compliance records, industry experience and best practices. The award is not based on portfolio performance or client reviews. There is no fee in exchange for rankings.
Third-party rankings and recognition's are no guarantee of future investment success and do not ensure that a client or prospective client will experience a higher level of performance or results. These ratings should not be construed as an endorsement of the advisor by any client nor are they representative of any one client’s evaluation.