Staci Scharadin is living proof that hard work pays.
Although she’s now CEO of her own firm, Diamond Wealth Management, Scharadin’s path to success wasn’t easy.
She graduated from high school early and pursued degrees in telecommunications management and law before she realized neither was for her.
“Meanwhile, I’m a single mom,” Scharadin said. “I graduated when I was 16, I got married when I was 17, had two children and was divorced within two years of that. I raised these babies by myself, working two jobs and going to school full time.”
For years, she juggled work, school and parenthood, waiting tables and working various jobs until she was recruited at age 23 to a financial services group, Primerica, which was then owned by Citigroup. She quit school, earned investor licenses and worked four or five years building a team before deciding to focus on wealth management with more affluent clients.
She was hired at Wall Street Financial Services, which she bought in 2007 and rebranded Diamond Wealth Management in 2011. Diamond, Scharadin points out, is Greek for “unbreakable.”
“We are comprehensive, holistic wealth management,” she said. “We collaborate with our clients, with all of our clients’ advisers. We do everything through a financial plan, a financial blueprint that lets us look at their entire situation, identify gaps and opportunities.”
In her free time, Scharadin likes rock crawling in her Jeep and spending time with her sons and grandson. She is a passionate advocate for single mothers, and hopes to one day build a residence that offers classes and day care services. She also supports the nonprofit Hero School, which teaches life skills to the homeless.
As for her determination and making it through the lean years, Scharadin offers an unapologetic philosophy: “You just get up and do it. You don’t think about. You just do it.”
Question: You have a long history in Nevada. How long?
Answer: Our family was sent down from Brigham Young in the early 1900s to middle Nevada. From there they went into mining business. From there they moved to the Las Vegas area. My grandmother was partner with Charlie Keene, who started Bonanza Airlines here locally. My dad was a hotel investigator at Caesars for 20 years. My mom and stepfather bought Dot’s Flowers, which is now one of the signs in the Neon Museum. I spent every summer in that flower shop helping out with the family business. I need to check the factuality, but I think Oscar Goodman’s first office was right above our flower shop. My great-grandfather Pop Simon had Pop’s Oasis. It was a truck stop coffee shop on the way out to California. The family also had the gold mine out at Nelson’s Landing. I’m native, but I wasn’t physically born here. Mom and Dad had me in Colorado and then moved back. My kids were born here.
Question: How did you get into wealth management?
Answer: The owner of Wall Street Financial Services took me on, I told him what I wanted to do, it fit in line with his firm. He said, “You can come in and intern since you’re not fully licensed yet. You can work at the front desk and help everybody out while you build your book.” I don’t know that he had a lot of faith that I was going to make it. I really doubt that he did. But I was determined and I did. I built that business right over the top of that receptionist’s desk. Two years later, I got my own office and I became vice president on the fourth year. We partnered on the fifth year, the partnership ended on the seventh year and I started looking to open my own firm. He sniffed out that I was looking to open my own firm and said, “Why don’t Syou just buy the business from me?” Literally five minutes later, I put an offer on his desk.
Question: When your boss didn’t believe in you, how did you prove yourself?
Answer: I was very, very clear on what I wanted to do. I’ve been a goal setter my entire life. I was a gymnast. I did club gymnastics until I hurt my back. I was pushing for elite level. I was a goal setter then, I’m very high on self-improvement. I’m constantly feeding my mind thoughtful, positive messages that nobody gets in my way. I fight just as hard for my clients. You’re very much in a man’s world. You’re underestimated when you walk in the door. I was young, I was blonde, I was from Las Vegas. I had nine things going against me and honestly I used that to my advantage. Please underestimate me and let me gather as much intelligence as I possibly can and let me quietly get exactly what I want.
I went through a lot as a single mom, working three jobs. I had no family here. The dad was not present. I had zero financial help and zero family support. I was utilizing as many resources as possible, but the gap in the resources available, you make nothing. When you start making money, you make just enough to survive and you have no access to any help. Then there’s this gap between that and trying to make a living.
Question: What year did you finally become comfortable financially?
Answer: Probably 2005. 2006 and 2007 were very good years. In 2007, I purchased the firm. Things were going really well, then the market crashed and we took a 30 percent hit in revenue. I had just signed the deal and it was based on 2007 prices. I bought that firm priced at a high point.
My kids were my team. I would share every single success with them. When I got my first real account at the new firm, the kids were 12 and 10. I would go home and say, “I got a $50,000 account.” They knew what that meant because they grew up in the business. They went through and I shared with them every struggle. But it wasn’t a struggle it was, “Hey guys, this is what we’re going to do today. Hey guys, I’m going to buy a house by the time I’m 25 years old.” That was a big goal. We worked our butts off and every time we got closer to that goal I shared it with them. They got to celebrate and see what setting a goal and making it was.
They’re both in business and they thank me for that all the time. I don’t hand them things. I’ve always taught them to fend for themselves. When they needed money I taught them how to interview and how to build a resume. I had to tell them no a lot. But I taught them how to get it. Both had jobs by the time they were 13 and 15. My son was top salesman for the R-J. He sold papers on the corner. The older one, too. They both know what it’s like to work for a living and to earn what you have. I shared all my successes with them and they held me accountable. When I got my first $100,000 account, first $500,000 account or the largest, we celebrated every time. I told them at 21 I would buy a house by 25. The day we moved in was awesome.
Question: Your staff is all women. Was that intentional?
Answer: It wasn’t intentional, actually. It’s not by design. We had three guys in here as of last summer. Two retired and one moved to a different firm. I very much like the mixed gender. They brought something to the table. Honestly I don’t think they could hang with these girls. These girls are wicked. They’re wicked good at what they do and they are wicked nonemotional and they don’t take any grief from anyone. I pity the fool who isn’t strong enough to come in here and go against these girls. I’ve been through several different assistants and administrators in here and I’ve got a golden, awesome, diamond-level team for sure. We’ve mentored my 38th or 39th intern from UNLV. But yeah, I’m not particular on gender at all.
Women always come to me and say, “Oh my God, I’m so glad I found a female adviser. I was embarrassed to talk to my husband’s adviser. I was embarrassed to talk to a guy. I can’t keep up but I’m embarrassed to say anything. Thank you so much for educating me and taking time to go through this with me and say it in a way I can understand it.” I don’t think they would ever say it to the people who did it to them. That demographic is growing. It’s not uncommon for women to make all financial decisions.
Question: What’s your criteria for accepting clients?
Answer: Our requirement is that everybody who works with us must work through a financial plan. I have been a proponent of the financial plan since the day I stepped into the business. Having gone through two market downturns in 2001 and 2008, my experience has been that those who did the planning came out of the market successful. They might have lost their homes or their businesses, but they planned for it, so they came out much better off than those who come in and say, “Here’s a million dollars, manage it.” If I’m making financial recommendations to you and I don’t know what else is going on in your world … what’s your family dynamic? What’s going on at work? If I’m not intimate with your entire financial situation, I can’t make good investment recommendations.
Question: What attracted your to wealth management and made you want to stay?
Answer: The minute that I saw that there was a huge problem of people not being able to retire, I put myself in their shoes. How would I feel if I thought that I was going to have to work until I was 90 because I had no choice? There was a high amount of passion around what we do to make sure that our clients get to and through retirement, that they preserve the wealth they have with high integrity. I’m very results-based. In 19 years, I’ve got to see people in the workforce who were in their 40s to 50s who were able to retire who would not have been able to do it without my direction. I’m clear on that. I’ve seen kids go to college, paid for, because of the planning that we did. I’ve seen widows come in who are hopeless, have no idea and have never touched the money, and we’ve been able to create independent women out of them, financially, and give them guidance and instruction. This is where my passion lies — taking somebody from hopeless into success. Being instrumental in that process is the biggest payment I can possibly get.
Contact reporter Kristy Totten at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3809. Follow kristy_tea on Twitter.