From Financial Success to Financial Significance

Shelley Sanders, ’92, came to OBU for a quality education and discovered her passion for financial management along the way. Because of the values reinforced in her on Bison Hill, she does more than help her clients invest their money and accumulate wealth, she helps them envision how their wealth can impact others for good.

Sanders never shied away from hard work. While studying as a full-time student at OBU, she also worked in a bank trust department.

“Working and going to school at the same time was challenging,” Sanders said. “However, the support I received from many of the professors and the genuine concern for my spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing made the challenge seem possible. The lesson of hard work leading to personal growth and success has stayed with me.”

Although she obtained a degree in finance, Sanders says Dr. James Hurley, former professor of biology, significantly impacted her life because of his passion for education, science and his students.

“He was exceptionally demanding and, in hindsight, that helped prepare me for the career I have today which requires both the passion and the rigor that Dr. Hurley demonstrated every day,” she said.

Sanders credits Dr. Dan Reeder, Albert J. Geiger professor of finance, with solidifying her love for financial management and encouraging her to pursue her career.

“I was blessed to have one year with Dr. Dan Reeder. He joined OBU my senior year and saw something in me that, at 22, I could not see in myself,” she said.

After graduating from OBU, Sanders entered the world of investment management and by the time she was 24, she was managing a $300 million bond portfolio. A few years later, she moved to Austin, Texas, to accept a position as a portfolio manager where her work focused on nonprofit organizations, families and individuals. While there, she completed her Chartered Financial Analyst designation.

Sanders moved back to Oklahoma to manage the investment division of a trust company and years later returned to her passion working directly with families on their wealth management needs.

“Just as I did while I was a student at OBU, I continued to work while completing my master’s degree in finance from Boston University. I’m very fortunate to have found my calling in life early and still be passionate about my work today,” she said.

Her passion for investment management shines brightest when she has the opportunity to help clients see past the numbers and create significance in their lives.

“I get to help people move their focus from money and investments to what that money and investments can do for them, their family, their community and even the world community,” she said. “I like to refer to this as moving from financial success to financial significance. Accumulating wealth is one thing, but when I can help a client understand how their wealth can have meaning and be significant for the people and causes they love, then I know that I’m making a difference and that is my great reward.”

According to Sanders, taking the time to truly understand her clients is the biggest key to her success.

“My 30 years of experience has taught me that successful wealth management is about the comprehension of a client’s goals, needs and personality traits. The daily market volatility requires nerves of steel and patience, but it is the understanding of the uniqueness of each client that is the greatest challenge and that is critical to the success of the wealth management process.”

Sanders’ time at OBU helped her understand how to succeed in financial management without losing her passion.

“OBU did a great job of reinforcing what my parents taught me. Hard work pays off. Hard work with a Christian spirit of love, understanding and serving those around me is how I sustain my passion for my career,” she said.

One of her favorite verses in the Bible is Proverbs 16:3 which says, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”