Wendy Hanophy, Residential Organizer and Feng Shui Consultant, answers questions about her consulting business and Big Financial Goals. She also talks about her passion for helping clients transition during big life events (good and bad).
What is your title and what does it mean? How did you earn your title?
I specialize in creating comfy, supportive homes and peace of mind. I am a Life Transitions and Residential Organizer, trained and certified through NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals).
A life transitions organizer is trained to assist people through their most celebratory (birth, marriage, etc.) and horrible (death, divorce, disability, etc.) life events.
I’m currently working on a Brain-Based Conditions certificate through NAPO and have taken coursework with the Institute for Challenging Disorganization. A brain-based condition is anything that causes a person to have ongoing difficulty or challenging differences with cognition, emotion, socialization, and/or behavior.
I’m also a Feng Shui practitioner, trained and certified through the Western School of Feng Shui. The Western School uses traditional forms of school wisdom and adds the study of anthropology, sociology, biophilic design, and environmental psychology. Additionally, I have a BS in Wildlife Biology and an MA in Education; both of these contribute to the services and value I provide for clients, especially some groundbreaking work done in the fields of environmental psychology and biophilic design.
How do you help your clients achieve Big Financial Goals?
While most people associate organizers with Instagram worthy closets and pantries (yes, I can do that too!), that’s not why I became an organizer. In my view, the most important organization tasks of any adult is to have systems in place to manage their finances (pay bills on time, etc.), obtain all of their essential documents and know where they are (and how to keep them safe and accessible), and organize all of their important records and information in a personal planner that can benefit themselves and their loved ones.
My WHY for doing this is a pretty big reason. I was widowed early with a daughter who was just starting college at the time. Having had the vital documents in place and knowing how to access them made a devastating life event more manageable. I’ve had friends lose a spouse and not know anything about the household finances, have no knowledge of a will or where there might be one, discover that there was no life insurance, and not have information that could be helpful. I have also had friends whose 18 year-old was in a car accident and couldn’t release information about their condition (HIPAA laws). There was also an organizer whose mother suffered a fatal accident in another country and didn’t have the documents in place to get her home for her burial.
On the brighter side, it’s a joy to see a new mother with a record keeping system for her newborn (vaccinations, growth charts, health records, feeding and sleeping charts, etc.). While I can’t make anyone a millionaire, I can certainly help them avoid financial losses.
What are some of the questions people should ask a Residential Organizer before they officially join their Financial A-Team?
Organizing is an unregulated field, which means that anyone can call themselves an organizer. It’s important to ask a prospective organizer what their training has been. NAPO, NASMM (National Association of Specialty and Senior Move Managers), and Institute for Challenging Disorganization are the three biggest associations for training and certification in North America, but there are others.
Ask prospects if they are bound by a code of ethics in their training. Since an organizer is going to see some very confidential documents, it is essential that they can state exactly what their privacy policies are and how they are implemented. Do not work with an organizer who does not have a confidentiality agreement in their contract.
What are some red flags that a Residential Organizer may not be the right fit for someone?
It’s very important that you feel comfortable with an organizer. You must trust and like the individual and feel that they are there to find the best way to meet your needs. An organizer is not a therapist, lawyer, financial planner, insurance expert, or doctor, but should be well-versed in identifying gaps or needs in those areas.
On my side, I will not work with anyone who doesn’t want to be involved in the process. A good organizer wants to work themselves out of a job and transfers skills to the client so that they can maintain any system developed for them. In some cases, such as clients with brain-based challenges, ongoing help is needed. However, for the most part, I want to help someone achieve their organizational goals and be able to maintain them.
Who is on your Financial A-Team?
I have a huge list of people on my A-Team. I’ve already mentioned lawyers, financial planners, insurance agents, and therapists. Additionally, I have real estate professionals, estate sales companies, mortgage professionals, ADHA coaches, and senior placement professionals.