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Sarah Catherine Gutierrez

Founder and Partner, Aptus Financial

Three years of helping the homeless in Arizona, a Master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University and equity analysis at an investment bank constitute an unusual background for a financial adviser. But Sarah Catherine Gutierrez’s background is not all that’s unconventional. From the mix of who she serves, to how she serves them and what she wants to accomplish are all unusual. Half the clients of the Little Rock, Arkansas-based RIA and planning firm she founded in 2011 are individuals, the majority of whom are young physicians. “We help them eliminate their massive student loan burden, invest simply and stick to a budget,” said Gutierrez, a CFP who also volunteers at a local medical school to teach personal finance.

The firm’s other clients are retirement plans — served based on hourly fees, which lowered one plan’s costs by half while encouraging its employees to save 58% more and also reduce their credit card balances. “We want to radically reform the retirement plan business,” said Gutierrez, who rails against the high costs of some retirement plans and the poor or nonexistent advice most participants receive. “We’re going to change the world by talking to people.”

Evan Cooper