As a college student, Christine Pikutis-Musuneggi, CPRC, CLTC, LACP, planned to study architecture. Her plans changed, however, when her family inherited a third-generation business and needed a financial planner to work with insurance agents, attorneys, accountants, and the other professionals required to run a business. So, Pikutis-Musuneggi changed her major to business management and became a financial planner.
The Keys to Success
For Pikutis-Musuneggi, financial advising means problem-solving. It’s an intricate puzzle unique to each client. She works collaboratively with her clients to put each piece in its place. She works with business owners and analytical Generation X professionals with insurance, retirement planning, exit planning, and more.
Pikutis-Musuneggi believes the best advisors are motivated, conscientious, and empathetic. “A lot of times we overcomplicate this business when it's really about what that client needs, or what they're afraid to ask for,” she says. Once an advisor knows what their client needs, they can go behind the scenes and work out the details. An important aspect, however, is understanding what their clients need and making sure clients know that their advisor is listening. As a fiduciary, Pikutis-Musuneggi is dedicated to working for her clients’ best interests.
Making a Difference
Pikutis-Musuneggi talks about one particularly impactful experience that occurred last summer. Separately, three of her clients each experienced the loss of their surviving parent were faced with the responsibility of being the sole executors of their parents’ estate. They needed help understanding what they were inheriting and what their financial obligations were. Pikutis-Musuneggi worked through the intricacies of their finances, giving them the time and space they needed to grieve.
A NAIFA Leader
For nearly 20 years, Pikutis-Musuneggi has been deeply involved in NAIFA leadership and advocacy. With NAIFA-Pittsburgh, she served as Board Member, Political Action Committee (PAC) Chair, Treasurer, Vice President, and President. Then, with NAIFA-PA, she was elected by members and took on responsibilities at the state level, serving as Board Member, Secretary, Vice President, President, Young Advisor Team (YAT) Co-Chair, and Professional Development and Programs Chair. She is currently serving as Programs Chair and National Committeeperson.
Pikutis-Musuneggi says the leadership skills she’s acquired through NAIFA have helped her learn and grow. She took NAIFA’s Leadership in Life Institute (LILI) course early in her career, when she was President of NAIFA-Pittsburgh. “My LILI class really prepared me to look at my practice differently,” she says, adding that the skills she learned in LILI helped her move her clients forward. The course also helped her become an effective leader within NAIFA. With LILI, she learned how to communicate to her centers of influence, continue to grow to build networks, set up profit centers, and communicate with different types of people and lead them.
The Benefits of NAIFA
Being a NAIFA member gives Pikutis-Musuneggi a broad perspective of the insurance and financial services industry. As an independent financial planner, she finds learning from and sharing ideas with colleagues outside of her firm useful. “[Those relationships] are helpful to get outside of your own bubble and hear what else is happening—what else someone is working on and what other creative design, communication, or marketing ideas there are.”
Pikutis-Musuneggi says that attending NAIFA meetings also helps her stave off complacency. “When you’ve been a member for almost 20 years, things kind of get stale and you get stuck in the same old 'This is how you do things as a volunteer leader’ [mindset],” she begins. “Having a sense of getting a shot in the arm and really being around other volunteer leaders can only come from being engaged and coming to meetings and seeing people.” And her hard work has paid off—she's received NAIFA’s National Quality Award seven times and received NAIFA’s Advisor Today 4 Under 40 award in 2011.
The Value of NAIFA’s Political Advocacy
In her role as PAC chair for NAIFA-Pittsburgh, Pikutis-Musuneggi was responsible for communicating to her local chapter the political advocacy that NAIFA was doing at the national, state, and local levels through NAIFA-National's political action committee, IFAPAC. At just 26 years old, she learned how political advocacy had a real impact on Main Street USA and found it fascinating.
Being involved in NAIFA’s political advocacy has also made her a better advisor, Pikutis-Musuneggi says. By staying informed about current legislation, she can anticipate how potential laws will affect her clients. “When you know more about the impact to your client, you're really serving them in a deeper capacity,” she says.
Outside of the Office
When she’s not working, Pikutis-Musuneggi loves spending time outdoors, hiking, and trail running. She’s passionate about giving back to her community and has been active with several organizations, including the American Diabetes Association and The Early Learning Institute. She also used her financial expertise and the leadership skills she learned from LILI to help launch a local children’s museum. As a firm, The Musuneggi Financial Group participates in local charities, including Dress for Success, the Salvation Army, and Light of Life Rescue Mission.
Thank you, Christine, for your service to our industry and association. We’re #NAIFAproud to call you one of our own.