By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal Corinth Bureau
RIPLEY – Many people who work for an hourly wage at the local grocery store, a chain retail store or on a production line in manufacturing may not think they have enough money to build an investment portfolio.
Financial adviser Starlette Vance of The Peoples Bank in Ripley is trying to change that perception one customer at a time.
With a commitment of as little as $50 a month, anyone is able to begin a retirement program or build a college fund for their children, Vance said.
“A little money invested over a few years can be a good start to building a secure retirement,” she said.
Vance has become adept at sharing knowledge of how to make investing work for both the small and large investor, and recently she was featured in a national investment magazine for the work she does with her clients.
She’ll be offering more of that knowledge soon in an Oct. 17 informational seminar about how to invest for retirement to supplement social security income.
“Starlette represents our company in the highest fashion with the greatest amount of professionalism and dignity that one could exhibit,” bank President Bobby Martin wrote in the letter he disseminated to Vance’s co-workers. “She has been very successful in serving our customers with their investment needs and we are very proud of her.”
With her associate’s degree in business from Northeast Mississippi Community College, the 54-year-old began her 34 years of employment with The Peoples Bank in 1977.
After marriage and rearing two children, she returned to complete a bachelor’s degree at Blue Mountain College in business technology, graduating in 1999 at the same time as her youngest daughter.
“I started out at the bank as a bookkeeper,” Vance said.
Though divorced with two young daughters, Vance never lost sight of her desire to advance educationally and professionally.
“I had an aunt, Katie Storey, who went back to college at an older age and got her nursing degree,” she said. “That was a great example and inspiration to me.”
She took as many classes in the evenings as she could, and as she got closer to her degree and some classes required her to attend during the day, she did so with Martin’s full support.
One advantage of pursuing her degree through evening classes was the opportunity to take Bible classes with many students who were ministers. She graduated with a minor in Bible.
“It was a blessing to sit in classes that advanced my desire to get my degree while hearing the word of God at the same time,” she said.
In 2006, Vance married the Rev. William Vance of Blue Mountain, and each of them brought two adult children to the marriage.
Vance’s older daughter, Freda Braddock, lives in Ripley, and after several years of teaching elementary and high school, and receiving her master’s degree, she is now teaching for a university online while pursuing her Ph.D. degree. Her second daughter, Tracey Barnett, is currently pursuing a Ph.D. degree in social work at a university in Texas.
Vance’s work life moved along a path that has allowed her to continuously grow, from bookkeeper to customer service representative, giving customers access to their safe deposit boxes.
“That was when I first started putting the customer names that I saw in bookkeeping with the faces,” she said. “I worked in that dual capacity for several years before moving completely into securities. I was always looking for a challenge.”
It wasn’t long after Vance received her bachelor’s degree that she became licensed to sell mutual funds and annuities, two key products she uses to build her clients’ portfolios, which she offers through the registered brokerage firm of Sorrento Pacific Financial.
“My goal with the seminars is to educate people,” Vance said. “I invite current clients and ask them to bring a friend, but also welcome people from the general public. It’s a way to help the customers become comfortable with me and the idea of investing. Even when people are going through layoffs or job changes, they can use help with rollovers of their 401(k) or retirement plans, or if they decide they want to use their income tax refund as a way to start an investment program.”