Seeking to fill a niche, Blair Hodgson DuQuesnay starts a firm targeting young professionals.
Blair Hodgson DuQuesnay always imagined herself onstage, as a professional ballet dancer.
She’s on a different sort of stage these days, playing the lead role in a new advisory firm focused on clients younger than 50.
The name of her New Orleans venture, Ignite, is a call to action. “My goal is to engage younger people to get involved in financial planning now, because it will make their lives so much easier,” she says. “Time is on their side. Making small changes when you are younger is so much better than having to play catch-up later.”
Dance to Finance
DuQuesnay, a 2003 University of Georgia graduate, entered college as a dance major. To hedge her career bets, she opted for a second major in the business school. She especially enjoyed her finance courses and began an internship at a Smith Barney office in Athens, Ga. She moved to Atlanta after graduation, joining a UBS wealth management office. The office served high-net-worth clients, as well as foundations, endowments, and 401(k) and pension plans.
Though she was the youngest team member, DuQuesnay’s strong analytical skills meant she handled quarterly reviews of asset managers for the firm’s institutional clients. It was a valuable learning experience, but after a year, she transferred to UBS’ New York office, fulfilling a longtime dream of living in the city. She studied for the Chartered Financial Analyst designation, which she was awarded in 2009. A year later, she became a Certified Financial Planner.
While in New York, she considered moving away from wealth management and into investment research.
“That was something I struggled with for a long time—not understanding whether I was a salesperson, a relationship person, or an analyst,” she says. “I’m interested in research and portfolio construction, but I also like client interaction. I saw a lot of people on either side of that spectrum, but not a ton of people who were in the middle, like me. It took awhile for me to realize it was an option to pursue both.”
After five years with UBS, she joined a New York-based independent registered investment advisor, Wealthstream Advisors. She considers Wealthstream founder Michael Goodman a mentor. At the firm, she learned to focus on comprehensive financial planning, along with portfolio risk management.