How She Got Her Start with Jerri Hemsworth—Jennifer Caruso

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How she got her start with-Jerri Hemsworth

Jerri Hemsworth, CEO of Newman Grace Marketing, interviews Jennifer Caruso, Wealth Advisor at Morton Wealth. Jennifer shares her story of how her journey into becoming a wealth advisor began. How did her finance degree prepare her for her journey? What drew her to Morton Wealth? Where is the next marathon she is running in located? Listen to how Jennifer got her start.

More About Jennifer Caruso
About Jerri Hemsworth
About Echelon Business Development Network  


How She Got Her Start 

How She Got Her Start is a podcast devoted to the stories of women business owners and women executives. Listening to their stories, their challenges and their successes is meant to inspire other women while they maneuver the world of business. Whether they are attorneys, accountants, marketing and public relation execs, or IT specialists, every woman has a unique journey with shared threads of commonality. Hearing how we are a community of common goals and dreams hopefully inspires those on the journey with us and those coming after us.

Listening to other women business owners and executives allows a listener to tap into a wealth of knowledge, experiences, and support. Actively seeking out and engaging with our community, one can accelerate their own growth. One may also overcome obstacles, and find inspiration and guidance along the way. 

Women business owners and executives can bring diverse perspectives and insights to the table. By listening to How She Got Her Start, one can gain a broader understanding of different industries, markets, and client segments. This diversity can inspire fresh ideas, creativity, and innovation in one’s own business approach.


Click here to read the transcript

Announcer 0:03
And now from the Echelon Studios in Los Angeles, California. It’s the How She Got Her Start podcast. So let’s all get started with your host, Jerri Hemsworth.

Jerri Hemsworth 0:16
Hi again, everybody and it’s a great day today it’s sunny outside, and it’s a Friday, which we all love. That’s I think everybody lives for Friday’s around here. And, and I get to sit here with Jen Caruso. Jen is a wealth advisor with Morton Wealth in Calabasas out here in the suburbs. How’re you doing today?

Jennifer Caruso 0:41
I am doing very well. Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Jerri Hemsworth 0:45
Oh, I’m so thrilled. I’ve been waiting for you to come in and chat with me because I know you’ve got a great story. And a very inspiring story too.

Jennifer Caruso 0:54
Thank you. Thank you.

Jerri Hemsworth 0:55
So tell me tell me about Morton wealth. It’s a different kind of place. And it’s, it is it has a reputation of being a different kind of wealth advisory. Tell me about Morton.

Jennifer Caruso 1:07
Well, Morton has been around for almost 40 years. So we are a staple in the community. We are an independent advisory firm. And we focus on financial planning for small business owners, family businesses, individuals, of course, and professionals, young, young professionals who are accumulating their wealth. And of course, retirees

Jerri Hemsworth 1:33
and your, the culture there is different isn’t it?

Jennifer Caruso 1:36
Very collaborative. We’re we’re very, it feels a lot like a family. Everyone is very encouraging. And once their colleague, their friend to succeed, and we we work together to make that happen as a whole. Yeah.

Jerri Hemsworth 1:54
And the offices. I’ve been there, there’s a different vibe when you walk through the door. There’s very friendly, very open a lot of glass walls, but I’m sure a lot of office buildings out here have that. And this was not your first office for wealth advisory that you’ve worked for. And how does this now compared to places you’ve worked before?

Jennifer Caruso 2:26
Well, it is larger than places that I’ve worked before. I’ve been with more smaller boutique firms. But the attraction for me was that everyone, and I can say that everyone in the office, they are sincere. They are genuine. They’re just kind, hearted people.

Jerri Hemsworth 2:52

Jennifer Caruso 2:52
And that’s the type of environment that I thrive in.

Jerri Hemsworth 2:56
Yeah, it’s it’s really evident. And I think I’ve heard, it’s not just me saying that it’s a lot of other people who are not in your field, have have said that, and that’s part of the reputation of Morton.

Jennifer Caruso 3:11
And you know, the caliber of people working, they’re very intelligent, highly educated, but very down to earth. and just real,

Jerri Hemsworth 3:19
Real people. Yeah, that’s nice. Now, you are a wealth advisor. You’re a CDFA? What is a CDFA?

Jennifer Caruso 3:28
That is an acronym that stands for Certified divorce financial analyst. Yeah. And so the role of the financial analyst in a divorce proceeding, is to really bridge the financial communication gap between the legal professionals and the parties involved in divorce. So it might be one of the parties, it might be both, it just depends, but really, you know, the family law, professional league, the legal professional, they don’t typically concern themselves with maybe the tax ramifications of a decision or, you know, for example, if a person wants to keep the house, should they keep the house? Can they afford to keep the house so they don’t necessarily do the cash flow modeling associated in the financial planning associated with making decisions. They’re just trying to divide the assets as equitable as possible, according to what the legal parameters are. But there are tax considerations. There are cash flow considerations, there are business valuation considerations, you know, if you’re selling your business or selling your home, if you’re wanting to keep your business and you need to have it evaluated, how much is it worth? You know, and how much should you give the other person to pay out the other person and should you do that in payments, or should you do that up Present value of lump sum. There’s a lot of considerations that the legal professional, professional doesn’t necessarily want to get involved with that part.

Jerri Hemsworth 5:10

Jennifer Caruso 5:10
So so I will come in and I will help with, basically bridge that gap.

Jerri Hemsworth 5:15
And so do you come in what at what point do you get called in? Is it at the end? Who calls you in? Is it the attorney? Is it the client? And, you know, before the final papers are signed, I’m

Jennifer Caruso 5:26
so it could be. It could be it either juncture, the client might reach out to me first. If and then I will typically advocate for one party or the other the person who reached out to me. However, if the financial, excuse me, if the legal professional reaches out to me, then I would represent all parties involved. Sure. So it just depends. And it depends on the scale of the mediation or collaboration or it just depends, right.

Jerri Hemsworth 6:04
Where’d you grow up?

Jennifer Caruso 6:08
I grew up here in Southern California. I’m actually a valley girl. Tried and true valley girl. Yeah, it’s I don’t get to meet too many locals these days. But yes, I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley.

Jerri Hemsworth 6:25
Oh, my gosh. And when what happened after high school?

Jennifer Caruso 6:31
after high school, I got married.

Jerri Hemsworth 6:33
right away.

Jennifer Caruso 6:34
Right away.

Jerri Hemsworth 6:34
Wow. Wow.

Jennifer Caruso 6:37
I was. That’s let’s not say impatient. Let’s let’s phrase it as I was ready to move on to the next phase of life. I was eager.

Jerri Hemsworth 6:48
Yeah. Come on. Let’s get the grown up stuff started. Yeah, really? How was that adjustment for you? Was it okay, was it eh?

Jennifer Caruso 6:57
the getting married was great. Yeah, that was great. The adjustment was I also moved to Atlanta.

Jerri Hemsworth 7:04
Oh my gosh, so San Fernando Valley to Atlanta.

Jennifer Caruso 7:06
That was the adjustment.

Jerri Hemsworth 7:08
Oh. Oh, okay.

Jennifer Caruso 7:11
Yes. So I grew up here. Yeah. And I got married and moved across the country, where I spent the next 10-11 years.

Oh, my goodness.

Without my extended family. So that was the adjustment.

Jerri Hemsworth 7:28
Oh, boy. Yeah. Now, did you work? Or were you full time mom?

Jennifer Caruso 7:33
I was a full time mom

Jerri Hemsworth 7:35
with how many kids?

Jennifer Caruso 7:37
At the time one, okay. And then I went back to get my undergraduate degree.

Jerri Hemsworth 7:43
Where at?

Jennifer Caruso 7:44
Kennesaw State University in the Atlanta area.

Jerri Hemsworth 7:48

Jennifer Caruso 7:49
And then, by the time I was halfway through, I had another child. And by the time I graduated finance degree, I was pregnant with my third.

Jerri Hemsworth 8:02
There you go. That’s like Jennifer Felten, one of our attorney members. I think every time she went back to school, she got pregnant. It was crazy. So you you go back and get your undergrad. And at graduation, you’re like, oh, my gosh, I’m gonna have three little ones. Yeah. Did you go into the finance business? Or what happened then?

Jennifer Caruso 8:24
Not at the time. So I have a beautiful graduation picture with my youngest at the time on my hip and my oldest at the time next to me and, and I underneath my, my gown. I, you can’t you can’t tell no one can tell. But the third one was there in the in the photo with me. But so yeah, so I focused on raising them. That was my focus at the time

Jerri Hemsworth 8:50
For how long?

Jennifer Caruso 8:51
Until my youngest started kindergarten. Wow. So yeah, so at least kids are four years apart. Okay. So it was about 1213 years.

Jerri Hemsworth 9:00
Wow. Wow.

Jennifer Caruso 9:03
And when my youngest was about one, we moved to Richmond, Virginia at the time.

Jerri Hemsworth 9:08
Okay. So that’s another adjustment now. I’ll be on the east coast. But three little ones moving up the coast to Richmond. Yeah,

Jennifer Caruso 9:23
Very different lifestyles very,

Jerri Hemsworth 9:26
very, what was that like for you?

Jennifer Caruso 9:27
You know, I loved it. So it was the perfect little dream. You know, I loved being home, being able to stay home and raise my children and I valued that more than anything. And so I was the that corporate wife and but I enjoyed that season. And when my youngest was old enough to go back to school to start school. She was in a pre K program, and it was time for me to start, you know, okay, I have this finance degree what am I? You know, it’s time to start using it.

Jerri Hemsworth 10:04
Sure. So how did you start?

Jennifer Caruso 10:06
So, I so in Richmond, Virginia, there’s a huge company they they’re headquartered there, Genworth Financial, they sell life insurance long term care. And so I started there just because it was convenient. And it was more of a, a call center environment supporting financial advice advisors with immediate annuities. Okay. So I felt like that was in the vein of my field should the customer service environment was not good for me. Here I came from, I am manager of my home, I am CEO of my home. Yep. To being told when I can take a break and go have lunch. Oh, that just didn’t work. So it lasted about a year. But every day, I was talking to financial advisors on the phone. I was like, You know what? I need to be on the other side of this phone.

Jerri Hemsworth 11:10
Now. Could you understand what they were talking because of your degree? And all of that you were? Yeah. I

Jennifer Caruso 11:16
mean, I was offering product support to them. And I knew what I was. I wasn’t selling it. I was offering the support. Sure. I knew what I was talking about. I you know, I got to learn there. Okay, verbiage, if you will, on any thought, oh, I need to. I like that I

Jerri Hemsworth 11:32
And then you thought, oh, I need to. I like that I want to be doing what they’re doing.

Jennifer Caruso 11:34
Yeah. So that’s probably how it started. And so I ended up interviewing with some some firms, I didn’t want to be at a large firm, because well, the firm I was at was huge. But I knew I wanted to be at a smaller firm, a little bit more family friendly, so I can have some work life balance. And so I ended up working for a small boutique independent, actually he was a broker dealer, hybrid RIA. And that’s where I started to learn the trade, if you will.

Jerri Hemsworth 12:14
How did you feel? Taking that industry on? What did that do for you internally, when you started learning? Was it right away? Did you know this is what I was meant to do? Or did you have to ease into it that way?

Jennifer Caruso 12:30
No, I knew. So when. When I was in my undergraduate program. I was a finance major. So funny a little bit to me, I find it funny. When I first came out of high school before I went into my undergraduate program, I loved Suze Orman.

Jerri Hemsworth 12:51
Yes. Yes.

Jennifer Caruso 12:53
Loved Suze Orman. And I learned everything I could about personal finance from interest her watching PBS specials and get a hold of her at the time CDs.

Jerri Hemsworth 13:08
Yes, yeah.

Jennifer Caruso 13:09
And I would read every book, I could, you know, even if I had to go to the library. So I learned a lot about personal finance.

Jerri Hemsworth 13:16

Jennifer Caruso 13:17
And the reason why I wanted to teach myself that was because I didn’t learn about personal finance or investing or money growing up. It wasn’t something that was taught and

Jerri Hemsworth 13:28
I didn’t either.

Jennifer Caruso 13:29
Yeah. Even now, it’s not taught in school. I understood cash flow and I understood about budgeting because I grew up in a single family home. And so I knew how to make $1 stretch.

Jerri Hemsworth 13:45

Jennifer Caruso 13:46
But I didn’t learn about investing and personal finance. Yeah. So I, for some reason, thought that if I became a finance major, I would learn more about investing. And I did I learned about the analysis of stocks and all of that, but it’s so boring. I was so bored, but I am a non traditional student. Yeah. So I was at the point of no return. Yeah, it was just faster to finish and get my finance degree. And I’m so happy that I had that foundation. And I did learn about you know, all of the technical skills behind investing. But what I loved was dealing with people. Gotcha. And so personal finance, and financial planning made more sense to me. And so I was working with financial planner, after my first real full time financial planning firm, yeah. And so I learned a lot from him and move but it was time to move back home at that point. I was there for few years, couple few years, and I finally had an opportunity to move back home to Southern California, in ’09. Okay. And so yeah, so I

Jerri Hemsworth 15:11
Packed it all up to the West Coast. Nice. Yeah. And then what happened out here? And what was your journey like once you landed back here? So you’re taking care of the kids? How did the kids make that transition? Okay. Yeah.

Jennifer Caruso 15:25
You know, yeah, typical. Yeah. Typical. Yeah. Typical story, right. Yeah. But yeah, we it took, it took a while to settle in. You know, and there were so many different things going on at the time, personally. So you know, it was a hard transition. If you recall in ’09. There was some some jobs scarcity there. And so I didn’t, I started working right away, but more in the banking realm. But that’s not where I wanted to be. I knew I wanted to be back in wealth management. So it took, it took about a year. Okay. But it took about a year to get back in a firm. And so I found a position with a company in the Westlake Village area. And that lasted for several years, and then moved up to another firm and in the same general area.

Jerri Hemsworth 16:23

Jennifer Caruso 16:23
And so yeah, I was there for eight years. But yeah, I’ve been in the industry. Gosh, I guess now it’s been almost almost 20 years, about 18 years. Yeah.

Jerri Hemsworth 16:36
So it’s shocking when you stop and think about how many years I’ve been doing this? Oh, dear.

Jennifer Caruso 16:42
So I’ve been able to see how, you know, three or four different firms ran their business and ran their investment strategy and

Jerri Hemsworth 16:53
and who is your typical client?

Jennifer Caruso 16:55
My typical client, our families, I work with a lot of multi generational, meaning parents who are in their 60s and 70s. And so their children are grown adults, about my age. That’s, that’s the typical client, a lot of retirees and pre retirees helping them get to that stage where they can pull the trigger. That is my typical client. And then of course, I have been working with clients who are going through the divorce process quite a bit.

Jerri Hemsworth 17:32
Which you ended up going through yourself.

Jennifer Caruso 17:35
I did go through my own divorce back in that same timeframe around 09. Yeah, yeah.

Jerri Hemsworth 17:40
Lots of turmoil.

Jennifer Caruso 17:42
Yeah, it’s a fun fun year.

Jerri Hemsworth 17:45
Wink wink, nod nod.

Jennifer Caruso 17:46

Jerri Hemsworth 17:48
What do you do when you’re not working? What do you enjoy doing?

Jennifer Caruso 17:51
I enjoy long distance running long distance,

Jerri Hemsworth 17:55
Long distance running. Yes, that’s right. She said long distance running? Well, when she told me that I said why?

Jennifer Caruso 18:00
That’s a subjective so as to some to some people, what I do is not that long of a distance. So my short runs are four or five miles. Long distance longer runs are anywhere from eight to 20. But when I’m training, if I’m training for something

Jerri Hemsworth 18:15
An you do marathons?

Jennifer Caruso 18:16
Yes. Yeah. So I tried to do one marathon a year, a couple, two or three half marathons. The last couple of years. I’ve slowed down a little bit. But

Jerri Hemsworth 18:27
yeah, do you stay local for the runs, or, or do you really travel?

Jennifer Caruso 18:31
I’ve done several local, but I prefer to travel. Last year, I ran the London Marathon.

Jerri Hemsworth 18:37
Did you? Oh, my goodness,

Jennifer Caruso 18:40
This year, I’m going to be running Berlin now. And then next year, my goal will say, I’d like to get into Tokyo. And

Jerri Hemsworth 18:40
now you see like the International stuff?

Jennifer Caruso 18:52
I just started the international stuff. But it’s the best way to travel.

Jerri Hemsworth 18:56
Why not?

Jennifer Caruso 18:57
Yeah, I only have so much time off. I’m working so hard. I have to combine activities. So run and travel.

Jerri Hemsworth 19:05
But see, here’s a good question. So you’re running through a city you’ve not really been out before? or been in before? Are you paying attention to what’s around you? Are you just concentrating on your breathing and getting through the pain?

Jennifer Caruso 19:17
I’m paying attention.

Jerri Hemsworth 19:18
Are you.

Jennifer Caruso 19:18
Yeah, I don’t run for speed anymore. I just I’m pretty consistent in my pace. And I really just enjoy being present.

Jerri Hemsworth 19:25
It’s got to be, is a great way to take everything in that. And you go oh, I want to come back to that diner or Yes, sir.

Jennifer Caruso 19:33
You never go and then you never go back. Yeah, yeah, I do that. Of course. Yeah, you know, it’s just it takes so much preparation and effort to get there.

Jerri Hemsworth 19:42

Jennifer Caruso 19:43
That once you’re there, I prefer to just be present and enjoy being there. And

Jerri Hemsworth 19:49
do you pinch yourself in? I’m running through London right now.

Jennifer Caruso 19:51
Absolutely. Very thankful.

Jerri Hemsworth 19:53
This is London.

Jennifer Caruso 19:53
Very thankful. Yeah.

Jerri Hemsworth 19:55
And then hopefully Berlin and then maybe Tokyo.

Jennifer Caruso 19:58
Maybe Tokyo. Awesome. Yeah.

Jerri Hemsworth 20:02
You have a grandbaby?

Jennifer Caruso 20:03
I do.

Jerri Hemsworth 20:04
Tell us about your little grandbaby.

Jennifer Caruso 20:06
She is one years old. She is the daughter of my oldest son and his wife. They live in Florida. Now. It was a recent move, so I don’t get to see her every day. I’m not the traditional grandmother. Yeah.

Jerri Hemsworth 20:24
Yeah. Thank goodness for zoom though or FaceTime

Jennifer Caruso 20:27
Yes. Oh, yes. Interestingly, though, it’s very difficult to schedule those FaceTime calls. They’re busy working

Jerri Hemsworth 20:37
three hours difference.

Jennifer Caruso 20:38
Yeah, the time difference. Yeah. But when we roll with the punches.

Jerri Hemsworth 20:44
how was it for you to take on the role of a grandmother was that an easy?

Jennifer Caruso 20:49
I’ve only recently used the word grandmother,

Jerri Hemsworth 20:51
What was it before?

Jennifer Caruso 20:53
my son’s daughter.

Jerri Hemsworth 20:54

Jennifer Caruso 20:58
So he’s mainly my son’s daughter.

Jerri Hemsworth 21:03

Jennifer Caruso 21:06
So because I am a younger grandmother, you know the word I so so my title is Lita. It’s short for Abuelita. So Lita is my nickname.

Jerri Hemsworth 21:19
I think that’s beautiful. Oh, I would totally embrace Oh, yeah. I can see you as Lita. Yeah. I won’t call you that. But it’s great. It’s fits you perfectly. Jennifer, thank you so much for sitting down with me. I just love it. I love chatting with you. Thank you and I’m really grateful that you came in.

Jennifer Caruso 21:40

Announcer 21:44
You’ve been listening to the How She Got Her Start podcast. Brought to you by Echelon Business Development. More than just networking. Way more!

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

As CEO and Creative Director at Newman Grace, Jerri leads one of Los Angeles’ most respected marketing firm and brand communication firms. Newman Grace has been providing marketing, brand and advertising consulting, graphic design, and social media services to growing companies since 1996. Newman Grace serves the professional services, manufacturing, sports, publishing and non-profit markets. Jerri is an adjunct professor in the School of Media, Culture and Design at Woodbury University. She is also a co-founder of Echelon Business Development Network. Learn more about Jerri here at Newman Grace.