When Elora Abdi Brumbaugh opened her B2B financial advisory business 20 years ago, most small firms didn’t require a formal CFA designation. After obtaining one herself in 1998, she stayed true to her Aboriginal roots by helping entrepreneurs of all ages — and races — learn and use the skills of small business finance.
Brumbaugh, a native of the southeastern Saskatchewan aboriginal community of Kumsheen First Nation, is a shareholder in Omaha-based Abc3 Financings and an advisor at Boston’s HSA Advisory LLC.
For two decades, Brumbaugh has been championing the financial needs of Indigenous and ethnic minorities. She co-founded the STARM Model Actuarial Report (Stars), a hub for the country’s first Indigenous actuarial practice focused on solving accounting challenges.
“Whether you work in a retail business or a financial-service firm, you’re talking about smart people who think about the greater good of the people they serve,” says Brumbaugh, who is treasurer of the First Nations Women’s Association of America.
We talked to Brumbaugh about the obstacles she overcame to pursue her dreams, and why she made great strides in an underserved sector.
What’s the biggest thing you wish someone had told you early on?
I wish someone had told me that reaching for the stars was possible. It’s not easy, but I think that I could have done it if I had the courage.
Is there anything about you people don’t know?
I wear special shoes for a special job. I was born with feet and hands that are so small, their second toes were placed in front of my first, while my third toe was placed on my mother’s foot. My toes were also underdeveloped, so they rarely get wet. My long, slender legs are also rare because of complications after birth.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
I would really like more full-time Aboriginal investment literacy programs. We have enough resources to provide what I call Aboriginal CFA training for every single Aboriginal CFA member.
What do you do to unwind?
Doing the lottery drawings every day because I get paid that money, gets me off the edge. I use it to pay my bills.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
The way some people speak about themselves. That’s my biggest pet peeve. I call it vanity on someone’s part.