Investment Strategies

Venita Zavidny, Senior Vice President and Relationship Manager with Mercer Advisors, spoke to the WFE on March 15th at the Briar Club to provide guidance on personal financial planning

Venita started by giving advice on how to maintain awareness of your total net worth, all by focusing on paying yourself first. She outlined a way to deploy a disciplined or automatic approach to achieving this and illustrated a manner to keep track of where you are. Next, Venita talked to the group about ordinary people with extraordinary wealth to give examples of what healthy savings attitudes and practices can help you achieve.  Attitude is EVERYTHING!

When it comes to investing, Venita gave the group guidance on ignoring hyperboles, being patient, and diversifying risk.  Following those rules, the odds will tend to be in your favor over the long run.

The group asked a lot of great questions to which Venita answered with great examples and advice!

Laurie-Leigh White Promoted to Partner at BVA Group!

Laurie-Leigh White Promoted to Partner at BVA Group!

Congratulations Laurie-Leigh White! 

WFE Member Laurie-Leigh White of litigation, valuation, and financial advisory firm BVA Group has been promoted to Partner after 10 years at the firm. Her commitment to excellence represents the fundamental spirit of BVA’s legacy and the ingrained values of the next generation of leadership.

BVA Group is nationally recognized for providing insight and responsive service to clients seeking guidance regarding complex financial issues. The firm was founded in 1974 to pursue a simple but powerful purpose: to empower others through its expertise in valuation, economic damages, and corporate finance issues.

For more information on Laurie-Leigh’s achievements, visit

About BVA Group

BVA Group is a nationally recognized litigation, valuation, and financial advisory firm that has a reputation for providing valuable insight and responsive service to clients seeking guidance regarding complex financial issues. The firm was founded in 1974 to pursue a simple but powerful purpose: to empower others through its expertise in valuation, economic damages, and corporate finance issues. Today, BVA’s professionals offer a broad collection of experience including Big Four accounting, investment banking, and strategy consulting. BVA has valued business interests ranging from small family-owned businesses to multinational corporations valued in the billions, and evaluated damages ranging from small commercial disputes to conflicts with over $25 billion at stake. In addition, BVA professional have testifying experience in a wide variety of jurisdictions including federal district courts, bankruptcy courts, state courts, and domestic and international arbitration. For more information on BVA Group, visit

The Role of Evolving Technology and How it Affects Business

Britney Proctor, Director of Operations of Fenway Group, spoke to the WFE on February 13th at the Briar Club to provide an overview of the Fenway Group and talk about the role of evolving technology and how it affects the way we conduct business.

Britney discussed the various types of technology but then scaled down the conversation to the key factors affecting the Banking and Financial industries.  Those key factors include AI & robotics, Advanced Data Analytics and Blockchain.

She then went on to describe how to use technology as a competitive advantage and outlined a global movement called Agile.  Because software is inherent in all human situations, the Agile way of conducting business includes the software development and implementation provide advantages for those willing to embrace the change.

Because of burdens in regulatory compliance, banking and financial industries hesitate to adopt the Agile mindset because they don’t readily embrace change well and it is a major cultural shift.  There has been some success though and Britney described a large success for CapitalOne.

To summarize, in the end, it’s all about the people.  Adopting Agile starts at the top with the executive layer and needs user involvement, emotional intelligence and eager participants to thrive.  The key is agility.

Economic Outlook 2018

Dr. Klineberg, Professor of Sociology and Founding Director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research spoke to WFE on January 9th at the Federal Reserve to provide an overview of the Kinder Houston Area Survey that was completed in 2017 and to discuss the future of the Houston region based on their findings for the past 35 years.  Dr. Klineberg illustrated that in just the past three decades, the region has been transformed from an essentially bi-racial Southern city into the single most ethnically and culturally diverse metropolitan region in the nation. Such rapid change can become either a source of great strength or the basis for deepening social and economic divides.

Given the distribution by age of the ethnic communities, no force in the world will stop Houston from becoming more Latino, more African-American, more Asian, and less Anglo as the twenty-first century unfolds. Houston will set the precedent. There is no other place or time to which this region can look for a blueprint to ensure its success. How Houston navigates the demographic transformation will determine its future. The region’s burgeoning diversity could be a tremendous asset in this increasingly globalized, knowledge-based economy. Yet if most area residents continue to live and work in largely segregated enclaves, reinforced by widening educational disparities and mutual misunderstandings, the expanding diversity is likely to diminish Houston’s competitiveness in the new economy and to set the stage for serious social conflict.

Some of the critical challenges Dr. Klineberg identified as we move forward are developing closer connections across all of Houston’s varied ethnic communities, strengthening the “talent pipeline” that will nurture the new multi-ethnic professional and community leadership of the twenty-first century, ensuring equal access for all children to quality education from pre-K through college, achieving comprehensive immigration reform and enhancing economic opportunity, financial literacy, and the neighborhood transportation and housing policies that will foster the development of stable, mixed income, multi-ethnic communities.

About the Kinder Institute

The Kinder Institute for Urban Research is a multi-disciplinary “think-and-do tank” housed on the Rice University campus in central Houston, focusing on urban issues in Houston, the American Sunbelt, and around the world. Created in 2010, the Institute was endowed with a $15 million gift from Houston philanthropists Richard and Nancy Kinder.

Originally housed in the Department of Sociology, the Kinder Institute is now an independent campus-wide institute working with a wide variety of partners on the Rice campus, including the School of Architecture, the School of Social Sciences, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, the Shell Center for Sustainability, the SSPEED Center, and the Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology. The Kinder Institute is also developing partnerships with a wide variety of other universities and think tanks, including the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, the Urban Institute, the University of Texas School of Public Health, and the National Resource Network.

The mission of the Kinder Institute is to:

  • Advance understanding of the most important issues facing Houston and other leading urban centers through rigorous research, policy analysis, and public outreach; and
  • Collaborate with civic and political leaders to implement promising solutions to these critical issues.
Laurie-Leigh White Promoted to Partner at BVA Group!

Meet The Member: Faith Allen

Welcome to our latest installment in our “Meet the Member” series, where we will feature a WFE member. This quarter meet our 2018 President, Faith Allen!

Read on to learn more about Faith:

How did you get involved with WFE and how long have you been a member?

I became involved over 15 years ago as a member, then served 2 years as Treasurer and 1 year as Pres. Elect.

What is your favorite thing about WFE?

Meeting really amazing, strong and smart women each month while learning from solid programs.

10 Quick Questions:

1. What was your first job?
My first office job was as a teller for a Savings and Loan in my hometown.  We worked the drive through as well as the lobby and handled all transactions almost manually.

2. What do you like most about your current job?
Building relationships with the key decision makers from different industries and companies to help them achieve their goals.

3. What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
“The Ball is Always in Your Court” which is helpful for sales oriented roles, but also all types of roles we have in our careers.  If you’re not getting paid enough, ask for a raise.  Being treated unfairly, have a crucial conversation or a new job.  Bored, find an interesting job.  Change is inevitable, and sometimes we don’t like the change, but remember the Ball is Always in Your [personal] Court.

4. Who is your role model?
Over my life, it has to be my maternal grandmother.  She was a single mom when my mom was 16 and managed through WWII working at a sandwich shop and playing piano like a saloon player in the Baptist Church.  She worked for over 30 years at the Post Office in our small town and knew everyone because she was gregarious, smart with names, could count money, and a hard worker.  We played rummy together after school, worked on spelling words, and she taught me about saving money and being there for family.  Friendly, Nurturing and Tough, all rolled into one.

5. If you weren’t [A Commercial Banker] what would you be doing?
I would plan projects and events that help women or children, which would warm my heart too. 🙂

6. Do you have any pets?
Not at this time. We lost our dog about 2 years ago and just can’t face getting a new one.

7. What are you currently reading?
Honestly—the LL Bean catalog—I want everything in there. Also “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown (U of H professor) and The “Art of Tidying Up”.

8. How do you handle stress?
A walk usually. Sometimes I also write with a pen and real paper in cursive all my thoughts around the stress, then make a decision tree.

9. What do you make time for no matter what?
I could say exercise every other day, but……there are days that is not true. However, no matter what, if a family member, friend, or child need help or a talk, I am always there.

10. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I am a member of The University of Texas Longhorn Alumni Band, because I’ve been a band nerd on the sexy saxophone since 5th grade.

Bonus Question!
11. What “lesson from mom” do you still live by today?
When my mother passed away we found a book in her house titled “How to do Everything Right”, and my sisters and I cracked up laughing–yes that was Mom. This also came from her mother, our grandmother, but in her words it was “If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well” as I raked leaves or washed her car.  I still live by this lesson.