- Fee-Only Financial Services
- Comprehensive Financial Planning
- Investment Management
- Retirement Planning
- Education Planning
- Estate Planning
- Insurance Analysis
- Charitable Giving and Trusts
- Planning for Business Owners
- Cash Flow and Budgeting
- Hourly Planning Fee Structure
- Women's Financial Issues
Columbia, SC 29212
Laura Scharr-Bykowsky is a NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor.
NAPFA is the country's leading association of Fee Only Financial Planners.
What is "Fee Only Financial Planning," and why is it important?
My life is centered on my Christian faith, my family, and my love for personal finance. After a successful career in brand management, I found my passion in managing my family’s finances, and decided to reinvent my career as a financial planner. Today, I serve as principal of Ascend Financial Planning, and find fulfillment in working with couples and individuals to achieve their financial goals and dreams.
As a chemical engineering major in college, I’m still a bit of a nerd: I’m an avid reader of everything from financial white papers to books on quantum physics, and enjoy attending conferences on personal finance, investing, and macroeconomic trends. When I’m not focused on learning, I love walking and pilates, spending time on Lake Murray, and travelling to visit my son who works as a consultant in McKinsey’s Atlanta office.
I grew up in a household where money was very tight. It created a lot of anxiety and pain in the family. I vowed at a young age that I would be financially secure.
As I became older and had to navigate investing, obtain loans, and procure insurance on my own, I realized how vast and overwhelming these financial matters could be. I was both fascinated and intimidated by the financial world, and wanted to better understand it.
Determined to grow wealth quickly, I read the Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley. It was a particularly compelling read for me as my husband was just starting his medical career. The book contrasts Doctor South versus Doctor North. I wanted us to be like “Doctor North” and his wife. I did not want to keep up with the Joneses, but rather live frugally so that we could maximize our savings.
Over the years my husband and I saved at least 30-40% of our income and invested it in a low cost way. By my early 40s, I had reached what I believed to be financial independence. Retirement was on track, we had enough saved for our son to attend a 4 year private college, and our dream home on the lake was paid off. We had no debt and sufficient assets for retirement. I suddenly realized that if we could do this, anybody could. My husband was the son of a window cleaner and my dad was in the construction business. We had very little in terms of assets when we started out, but were able to build wealth with a disciplined and coordinated approach.
Eager to help others achieve their own version of financial independence, I completed my CFP® education requirements and passed the board the first time in the fall of 2007. I wanted to work in the industry, but did not want to sell products or work on commission, so I researched various models in the industry. I chose to become a fee-only planner who provides objective, affordable advice.
I continue to enjoy my job and my diverse set of clients who make me want to wake up in the morning every day to do what I do.
- BS in Chemical Engineering from Lehigh University
- MBA from Rutgers University Graduate School of Management
- CFP® certification program in Personal Financial Planning, USC Moore School of Business; Most Outstanding Student Award