About Cindy Couyoumjian
Cindy Couyoumjian’s greatest passion is to empower people by expanding their financial literacy and awareness. As the founder of Cinergy Financial, Cindy believes that financial literacy is a moral imperative, which is why she devoted her professional life to help people understand the constantly evolving financial and economic landscape. As a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), with 34 years in the industry, 7 securities licenses (the series 63, 6, 65, 7, 22, 24, and 26), as well as a California Insurance License (License # 0719038), Cindy has become not only a leader in the financial industry, but also an innovator of investment methodology.
Cindy’s unwavering commitment to the retail investor is only exceeded by her passion for education. She believes that well-informed and knowledgeable investors make rationally governed and fact-based decisions. Cindy’s enduring success is attributable to her unwavering dedication to her clients, enthusiasm, a customer service that is second to none, and an overarching moral framework that guides her decision making.
In addition to guiding her customers towards their financial goals, Cindy has immersed herself in a thoroughgoing education and painstaking research. After endless days and sleepless nights, Cindy developed the innovative REALM model, as well as author the forthcoming book, Redefining Financial Literacy. The theme of her book is twofold: to expand our understanding of financial literacy and introduce her multi-asset class investment model. Cindy’s book takes a macro, big picture perspective of the hidden forces that impact our financial future. These political, historical, and economic forces affect our financial decisions, which is why we must be aware of them.
For more on her book, go to: https://cinergyfinancial.com/redefining-financial-literacy/
In addition to her innovative REALM model and writing a book on financial literacy, Cindy is also a highly sought-after financial planner. Since 2012, Cindy has been part of an elite group of advisors ranked as the top 10 producers within her broker dealer, Independent Financial Group, LLC, with over $200 million under management.
Why Did You Become an Entrepreneur, Speaker, Author, Etc. in the First Place?
Let quote the Scottish poet, Robert Burns, who wrote, “The best-laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.” I don’t think any of us become who we are as a result of a master plan. In other words, our existential unfolding is often shaped by forces beyond our control. After college, I was fortunate to land a job with one of the largest financial services and insurance companies in the world. This was during a time when the financial industry was dominated by men (it still is). I had to work twice as hard as my male colleagues in order to be recognized. After spending 17 years with the Equitable, I decided that I’ve gained enough knowledge and experience to open my own company.
For the first time, I felt I was helping others, which is one of my core values. When the market crashed in 2003 (following the dot-com bubble bursting), most of my clients lost money, I was devastated. I internalized their loss as my failure. Although there is an inherent risk to every investment, I felt that I let me clients down. There is something about failure; something that is dense in its capacity to freeze you into inaction. After getting counseling from my pastor, I set myself on a path of learning about the hidden forces that impact the market. I made it my mission to educate and inspire others. I spent endless hours and sleepless nights searching for a new investment strategy. Rather than stick with the traditional 60/40 investment model, where you devote 60% of your investment in stocks and 40% in bonds, I created the flexible, adaptable, and customizable REALM model. Beyond the success of my innovative investment strategy, I made it my life’s mission to education others.
I gave lectures, created a YouTube channel devoted to financial literacy, and recently published my book, Redefining Financial Literacy. I recently completed my second book, Feminine Courage, to tell women everywhere that their time is now; that meaningful change cannot wait. This is why I’ve defined the fourth wave of feminism as the financial revolution. Women can no longer afford to depend on men for their financial self-worth.
How Do You Deal With Fear?
Let me tell you something about fear. Fear has a power and a density that can freeze you into inaction. I experienced this type of fear before and it tears at the very fabric of your soul. When I was knocked down by the stock market crash of 2003, I learned an invaluable lesson. If we allow fear to envelop our lives, we will never achieve our goals and realize our dreams. It’s that simple. Fear is part of life. We cannot know joy and success without fear trying to derail us. I deal with fear by confronting it head-on. If fear is a vulnerability, then I make that vulnerability my strength. In other words, I act and engage in the world because the alternative is inaction.
How Do You Deal With Rejection?
I remember a time I believed that rejection caused by some deficiency in me. What nonsense! Once we understand the burden of rejection rests on others, we become liberated and free from its insidious effect. Let’s keep in mind that there are different types of rejection. If someone is rejecting me as a person, what I call a sweeping rejection of who I am as a person, then such a rejection nothing to do with me and everything to do with that person’s insecurities and other shortcomings. If, however, someone rejects an idea that I have, or a presentation, or an argument I make, then I prefer to examine why so that I can learn and grow from it.
What’s the Name of Your Company? What Exactly Does Your Company Do, How Do You Help People?
I’m the founder and CEO of Cinergy Financial. Our mission is to empower investors with actionable information and knowledge to help navigate the complex world of finance. We believe this new found knowledge will help investors change their investment mindset, potentially improve their investment outcome and potentially provide a sustainable retirement.
With over $200 million under management, Cinergy is poised to become a financial service leader by educating and empowering clients with the knowledge and tools to make informed decisions. Education is at the core of what we do. With lectures, podcasts, blogs, radio shows, YouTube channel, and books, our multi-platform approach is to address the financial literacy crisis through education. Cinergy Financial is also geared towards women.
This is why my second book, Feminine Courage, which will be published March, 2022, explores the marginalized status of women throughout history. While women have made progress over the past century, true gender equality cannot happen unless women reach financial parity with men. I call this the fourth feminine wave.
Name One of the Biggest Challenges You Have Faced and How Did You Overcome It?
My biggest challenge was the stock market crash of 2003. I was just starting out on my own. When the crash occurred and my most of my clients lost a great deal of money, I was devastated. I was gripped by fear and doubt and questioned everything. I questioned if I, as a woman, could make it in this male-dominated field. Do you notice what I just said? I questioned if I as a woman belong in the financial field. The power of patriarchy is so invasive that women internalize the male-centered myth. I grew up believing that men were responsible with money and are rational enough to keep their emotions in check. It sounds silly now, but this was my mental framework at the time.
I remember going to see my pastor who asked me a series of rapid-fire questions. He asked me if I’m honest, have integrity, if I truly want to help others, etc. I answered yes to all of his questions. He looked me in the eye and said to me that I have a moral obligation to continue to help not only my clients, but future generations of people who will rely upon me for guidance. I overcame this challenge by fundamentally questioning everything I though I knew. I questioned the status quo and realized that there must be a better way to invest money. I immersed myself in rigorous study of economics, financial theory, history, psychology, political ideology, etc. I developed my innovative REALM model to help clients withstand the potential swings of the market. Let me finish by saying that success in this world cannot come about without setbacks and challenges.
What Piece of Advice Do You Wish Someone Had Given You at the Start of Your Career?
I wish someone would have told me how unimaginably difficult it is to make it in the male-dominate world of personal finance. I would have, of course, rejected such advice. Part of my success is that I thrive on challenges. The more difficult a goal is to attain, the harder to work to achieve it. Let me give some advice to young people. What I’m about to say is counterintuitive, so you need to listen carefully. Although encouragement boosts our self-esteem and strengthens us, it is only when “advices” us not to attempt to do something that you should listen to. These are the challenges, particularly for women, that will define you. These challenges focus us and set us on a singular course to prove other wrong.
Who Are Your Biggest Influences and People You Admire and Why?
This is a difficult question in the sense that I have to choose. Let me separate my intellectual and historical influence from the biographical influences. It was the Italian philosopher, Antonio Gramsci who said, “we are all the product of an infinity of traces that shape and define our sense of identity. I remember when I was writing my second book, Feminine Courage, the amount of research that went into the book. Let me give you some names of historical figures, both men and women, who inspired me. Socrates, Plato, Marry Wollstonecraft, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Frances Perkins, Betty Friedan, Simone de Beauvoir, Brené Brown, etc.
In terms of biographical influences, I’ve been fortunate to have three towering figures who defined, shaped, and molded the person I am today. Beginning with my mother, who was disciplinarian. My inner strength, spiritual impulse, commitment to others, honesty and integrity come from her. Then there was my high school volleyball coach, Jan Sanders. This was a woman of singular toughness. She was my coach and mentor She used sports as a metaphor for life. She would always tell me, “it’s not the fact that you fall that will define you, it is how you get up that will separate you from the others. It was coach Sanders that gave me the strength to push on regardless of the obstacles or challenges. The third maternal influence was Jean Burns, who worked for Cinergy for 17 years. This woman did everything around the office. Although she was 65 years old when she started working for me, she possessed a kind of boundless energy. She taught me that great things happen when we demand a tireless work ethic from ourselves.
Name a Person Who Helped You Along the Way?
It is impossible to answer this question. I would point the answer to the previous questions of the three women who helped every step of the way.
What Do You See as Your Greatest Success in Life, So Far?
My greatest professional success is the fact I developed the innovative, flexible, and customizable REALM investment portfolio. I spent endless hours and sleepless nights searching for a multi-asset investment strategy that would potentially offer consistent return while managing risk. Many years ago, I questioned the virtue of using the traditional 60/40 investment portfolio, where investors would allocate 60% of their money in stocks and 40% in bonds.
While this model worked for many years, it has not offered strong return over the past few years. I needed to find a strategy that can potentially withstand the sudden swings of the market, as well as major market correction. I’m proud of creating this investment strategy, which is helping my clients potentially realize their retirement goals.
What Book Would You Recommend and Why?
Again, this is a difficult question to answer, as there are dozens of books I can recommend. The one book I would perhaps recommend is Evil Geniuses by Kurt Andersen. This book is both powerful and compelling in exploring why our capitalist system is broken and what we need to do to address the problem.
What’s a Personal Self-Talk, Mantra, Affirmation or Self-Belief That Contributes to Your Success?
Let me share a quote from Einstein that has always guided me.
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
I believe that intuition offers us deeper insights than the rational mind is capable of grasping at first. I’m someone who believes in facts and figures; in rigorous research, but all of that comes after intuitive breakthroughs. When I developed my REALM model, I had intuitive insights that would later be proven correct with research.