Susan Blaylock – Financial Advisor
What was your career ambition when you were growing up?
For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed numbers, how they work together, and what we can learn about the world from them. By the time I started high school, I knew I wanted to incorporate the language of math into my career. But that doesn’t narrow it down much! At that point, I was excited about fields as different as research in infectious disease and business.
The defining moment occurred in high school when my accounting teacher, a CPA, included his students in working with the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program that helped people from underserved populations prepare their tax returns. It was eye-opening and hugely rewarding to take skills we had learned in the classroom and put them into practice helping people with real-life problems. Clients of the program were often people who were overwhelmed and frightened by trying to understand their taxes and might not otherwise have filed a return. On several occasions, we were able to help a client to understand that they were owed a refund (often under the Earned Income Credit) worth more than a month’s salary. I found it extremely rewarding to apply my skills and expertise, especially at such a young age, to help people and add value to their lives. This experience helped start me on a path that led to a CPA of my own, and eventually to a career as a financial advisor.
What brought you to the UK?
What do you miss most about the US?
The thing I truly miss the most is seeing friends and family in-person. I also miss special locations from the various places I’ve lived. I grew up in Colorado enjoying hiking in the mountains and eating burritos from my favourite small restaurant, Taco de Mexico. In college in Minnesota, I liked exploring the arboretum and reading in the library. Then I moved to DC and loved wandering through the Smithsonian Museums, especially the Freer Art Gallery. My final stop in the US was Seattle, where I enjoyed the clear days when Mt. Rainier was visible. I am incredibly thankful for technology as a way to reach across the distance and excited for the return of travel and visits in the future.
What is your favourite thing about living in the UK?
There’s something enchanting about seeing for myself places and people and things that I had only encountered in books, for example walking up Box Hill to the place where Jane Austen’s Emma had a picnic. It’s such fun to make so many discoveries and connections.
NFL or Premiership?
Brentford Bees in SW London! They are part of the championship league, which is the second tier of the English football system. I got to go to a game last January before the pandemic and looking back, that’s a highlight. Come on you Bees!
What is the biggest issue affecting mixed Anglo-American families living in the UK?
Awareness, knowledge, and expert advice. You have to have awareness that there are additional tax considerations given that we’re subject to two tax jurisdictions who each have many complex rules! You have to have knowledge to understand how to efficiently navigate that complexity especially given that it’s subject to change. Finally, finding expert financial advisors can be challenging. Only a limited number of companies in the UK and the US have chosen to work with Americans living abroad because of the regulations and reporting complexities.
What is it you most enjoy about helping Anglo-American households?
Working at Tanager allows me to help people in a uniquely challenging situation. I provide information and guidance about financial constraints and opportunities so that people’s decisions can best meet their needs and goals. It is extremely satisfying to me to know that I am helping people to achieve their life goals, to feel good about where they are today, and to have confidence in their future.
How is the pandemic affecting your work and the clients you serve?
Tanager has done a great job of transitioning smoothly to remote work. That’s been fortunate as the pandemic has caused a lot of people to prioritize getting on top of their finances. As a result, we’ve started many new relationships in the past year. All of my meetings have been via video or phone call since March 2020, and I now have clients who I have not yet met in person. The remote system has been working well, but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing people in-person again!
What’s the last book you read?
I like reading a lot and have finished quite a few recently. Since I wish I could be having outdoor adventures, I have read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail about her hike of over a thousand miles up the West Coast through California to Washington. For a hike on the other coast, I read Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail. Both of those keep the spirit of roaming the wild alive until I can hike again! In a different vein, a classic resource that I have returned to is Kate Fox’s Watching the English: the Hidden Rules of English Behaviour to help prep for re-entry into society.
Beatles or Beach Boys?
If I’m feeling nostalgic, the Beach Boys, otherwise the Beatles. When I was little, a good friend and I would create dance routines to songs (e.g. Wouldn’t it be nice?) by the Beach Boys and perform for our parents. It’s a good memory that I am reminded of whenever I hear those songs.
Tell me about someone who has inspired you and why?
Many people have inspired me, starting with my parents and grandparents, and continuing into my friendships. I have been inspired as they pursue a life meaningful to them. For example, my grandmother Marge. She started in an unusual way for a woman of her time by being a researcher and getting her PhD, after some time she took a teaching position, and finally she found her passion seeing patients and helping them with their problems. She’s written and published multiple books including work-related ones such as Sixty-Five Lively Ideas for Successful Aging and fun ones dedicated to or written with her grandchildren, Little Frog and the Sticky Pancake.