Beyond the Boardroom

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Ylisa Sanford Seymour

Author: Alexandra Russell
September, 2015 Issue
Financial advisor Ylisa Sanford Seymour, CFP, comes to her profession naturally. “My mother is a CFP practitioner, and she’d told me I was suited to be a financial advisor. I was certain she was wrong and instead managed a $10 billion loan fund at Wells Fargo Bank,” she recalls. “But when I was helping my team allocate its 401k plan options and instructing them on the ESPP program, I decided perhaps mom was right. That started my pursuit as an independent woman financial entrepreneur.”
Seymour, who started her practice in San Francisco in 1999, credits her driven personality for her success. “People would say I’m an analytical driver, which basically means I like to problem solve and take action. Plus I rarely sit still. I’m always doing or thinking about something.”
She’s currently partner, with her mother, Alice Sanford, at Spectrum Private Wealth Advisors in Santa Rosa.
Do you believe in miracles?
I believe in a higher power, and I think it’s often hubris on the part of mankind to expect that we can know or understand everything.
In what situations are you most uncomfortable?
When I feel like someone is going to embarrass themself or isn’t paying attention and will have an accident. Case in point: people walking down city streets on their phones and crashing into things.
Of all the places in the world, where would you choose to live (besides the North Bay)?
Probably the East Coast. I’m originally from upstate New York and, for the longest time out here, I felt like a New Yorker. When I’m there now, I feel like a Californian.
What advice can you give that would help people conquer fear?
Assess what it is you’re afraid of and create a community to help you overcome it. It can be a support group, a class or structure. But oftentimes, if we take the emotion out of the equation and analyze what we’re actually concerned with, it can be liberating. I see it a lot with clients and we take the same approach.
What spells adventure for you?
Not having reservations!
What do you love to do outside of work?
Tennis—and being with my children, obviously.
What remedy for the common cold works best for you?
Rest and won ton soup.
Are you a good patient?
Probably not. It goes back to my always doing something. I remember once saying to a doctor, after I damaged my Achilles, “Is this something I have to worry about or should I just play through the pain?”
What was your favorite childhood snack or candy?
I loved Bit-O-Honey and ice cream. Still do.
What’s the nicest thing you’ve ever smelled?
My children’s baby clothes. There’s something so magical about the way a clean, happy baby smells that encapsulates every happy moment into one scent.
What’s your favorite birthday memory?
When I was in college, we celebrated my birthday over the course of a week as friends and family’s schedules didn’t align. It was one of my favorites, because I had quality time with all the important people in my life. There was laughter more than anything.
What’s your favorite song to sing?
“My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music.” Yes, really.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in life, and who taught it to you?
We have something to learn from everyone and we should never stop learning. My mom, a partner and former teacher, taught me that, and it’s served me well.
How would you describe the perfect day?
A great cup of coffee, a delicious breakfast, some tennis, relaxing in my backyard with friends and family swimming in the pool, watching some great tennis and finally a great meal with outstanding wine.
What’s your most prized or sentimental possession?
My mom gave me a gold Tiffany locket and chain with a matching bracelet and crab charm. She had it made using a gift given to her for her own accomplishments as a Hall of Fame advisor. It really feels like the perfect combination of a gift from my mother and also an acknowledgment of what she’s accomplished and what she hopes for me.


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