5 Questions with Chris Sarlo, Founder and Wealth Consultant at Life Science Wealth
“5 Questions With…” is a weekly BioBuzz series where we reach out to interesting people to share a little about themselves, their work, and maybe something completely unrelated. For our first feature of 2022 we welcome Chris Sarlo, Founder and Wealth Consultant at Life Science Wealth.
Chris is a wealth management advisor and the founder of Life Science Wealth in Urbana, Maryland. He has spent his entire career in financial services, working towards his current focus on providing specialized financial services to life science owners, executives, and professionals.
1) Please introduce yourself to our audience by looking back at your education, training, and career.
I was born and raised in Sault Ste Marie, a small city in Ontario, Canada that borders Michigan. Growing up in a border town some distance from other Canadian cities, we regularly spent lots of time in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, and I consider it my other hometown!
I knew from a young age that I wanted to work with numbers. I took both finance and economics while attending university and I started my career in financial services by working at a small credit union while I was still in school. I graduated from McMaster University in Canada with a Bachelor of Commerce and a minor in Economics and immediately began work at a national bank.
My passion for finance resulted in quickly moving up the ranks within the bank and I took the necessary courses to write and become accredited as a Financial Advisor by the age of 24. It was definitely challenging convincing clients to trust their life savings with a kid, but my focus, service, and growing knowledge allowed me to build one of the most successful practices within the bank.
In 2019, I sold my successful practice in Canada and moved to Frederick, Maryland to marry my wife, Lauren. With relatives in the US already, the transition to life here was quite smooth, aided by the fact I’m a long-time fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. My wife Lauren and I actually met at a Steelers game!
Life Science Wealth was created shortly after the pandemic restrictions were lifted.
2) Tell us more about the services that Life Science Wealth provides, and what drove you to start this business?
When I speak with people about why I started Life Science Wealth and why I have a passion for helping professionals in this field with their financial needs, the answer is simple. My father Albert is my mentor and idol, and I almost lost him at a young age due to cardiac issues. He is still with us today due to the work and advancements made by professionals within the life sciences.
My talents lie in wealth management, not the life sciences, and I find it extremely motivating and satisfying to take the weight of financial decisions off of industry professionals so that they can do what they do best and concentrate on scientific advancement. In doing so, I feel that I am helping make sure that someone else’s mentor or loved one will continue to be with them for years to come.
3) What value does Life Science Wealth bring to the table vs. other financial planning services, and why is this important given the current life science job environment?
Due to the demanding nature of scientific work, other areas of life, especially finances, can be neglected. I am passionate about making sure our clients don’t have this happen because I have seen first-hand how the right financial decisions by professionals in the life sciences can have very positive effects on both their personal and professional lives. We focus on the unique aspects of how life science professionals are compensated, how founders of life science companies can optimally structure the company and compensation model, and how executives who are transitioning between firms in the industry can make a seamless change.
Our methodology goes beyond basic investment advice and uses nine areas of wealth to help life science professionals see the best results from their hard work. Our roadmap of success covers planning for areas in tax, estate, credit, cashflow, retirement, education, protection, and philanthropy. We fundamentally believe that the people within the life sciences industry truly have unique financial needs and goals.
During the COVID pandemic, Life Sciences was at the forefront of advancement and played a crucial role in helping the world move forward. The demand for jobs has risen dramatically and now, more than ever, professionals in this field have opportunities for growth and advancement. During such an intense period of change, there are significant and new financial decisions to be made that require advisors who understand the best path forward for those advancing life sciences.
4) Speaking of Philanthropy, you’re also a board member for City Youth Matrix. Tell us more about what this organization does and what inspired you to get involved.
City Youth Matrix is a non-for-profit that eliminates barriers so that youth can experience life. It provides enrollment and transportation for programs in such things as sports, music, art, and cooking — basically, anything that can stimulate the mind while providing a potential passion for an activity. As for how I got involved, when I first moved to Maryland my intention was to start my own charity for children. I had previously been deeply involved in fundraising and initiatives helping children in Toronto and I wanted to go further here.
My wife and I were introduced to a gentleman named Bob Smith at Frederick Parks and Recreation. When we told him about our idea for a charity, he told me our concept was similar to City Youth Matrix. Bob introduced me to Aaron Vetter, the Executive Director of CYM. As Aaron and I talked, we realized it would be better for Lauren and I to focus our efforts on supporting the good work that he and his team are accomplishing at CYM. He asked me to join their Board of Directors and we are now currently helping 34 families with plans to add more in 2022 and beyond.
5) What is your favorite activity to do in the Frederick area?
There are so many great things to do in this area. I love spending time outside with my step-kids and Lauren. From walking through Baker Park, along Carol Creek, or hiking many of the trails that the DMV has to offer, we feel fortunate to be in such an exceptional area. The history and scenery of DMV is truly amazing. Our other passion is food, whether it is making meals at home or exploring some of our favorite restaurants in the area. Moving from one of the largest cities in North America, I am extremely impressed at how world-class the culinary scene is in Frederick.
Be sure to check out our other “5 Questions With…” interviews to learn even more about our local talent in the BioHealth Capital Region!
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Sarah Ellinwood is BioBuzz’s Managing Editor. A scientist by training and a science communicator at heart, Sarah specializes in making complex concepts understandable, engaging, and exciting. She received her Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology with a focus in infectious disease immunology from the University of Maryland and is passionate about all things related to scicomm, peer mentorship, and women in STEM.