Empathy is the secret ingredient in this Ypsi woman's financial services business

Financial illiteracy can cause numerous issues that trained financial advisors can help to resolve, but advisors aren’t always equipped with a thoughtful understanding of the origins of their clients' financial challenges.

That’s where Eboney Byrne comes in for Ypsilanti’s community. Byrne founded Liberty Financial Services in 2019 in order to help others become financially stable through not just budget calculation, but also empathy.

"Financial literacy is 80% emotional and 20% math," Byrne says. "I work with my clients to figure out why they make the decisions they make at an emotional level, and after that is when we start talking about numbers."
Liberty FInancial Services founder Eboney Byrne.
Byrne started her business after her divorce, finding while balancing her own budget that many financial advisors often blame clients for their current financial issues. She hopes to help her clients realize that splurging on a self-care item once in a while won’t completely tank their budget, but should actually be built right into it.

"A lot of what you see in this space, especially talking to women, is there is a lot of shaming language," Byrne says. "The issue is your divorce or you’re widowed or caring for elderly parents. Those things don’t get talked about enough, so getting rid of that shame and guilt is huge."

While Byrne initially began working with divorced women, she’s since expanded her services to work with everyone from single young people to married couples, even helping a client in their 70s straighten out their finances enough to purchase their first home. She says that when money is not a primary stressor, individuals have more opportunities to participate in their community.
Liberty FInancial Services founder Eboney Byrne.
"If you’re stressed about money, you aren’t fully present in the other places in your life," Byrne says. "If you can put systems in place, you have a plan that you are confident with, then confidence will bloom in other areas of your life."

Byrne works on a personal level with clients, but she's also been working with the Ypsilanti District Library to provide seminars and workshops to the greater Ypsi community. She hopes she can eventually offer similar services to local businesses, where discussions of saving and retirement planning can be limited to a phone call with a 401(k) administrator.

"Being able to provide knowledge to folks in organizations and businesses is definitely needed," Byrne says. "If more companies provided that level of support to their employees, I think it would help with retention and their overall business."
Liberty FInancial Services founder Eboney Byrne.
Byrne wants to help clients and the Ypsi community at large tackle their budget struggles by understanding money-related trauma they may not even realize they have. She says understanding personal finance starts not with learning about it in school, but with "what you see at home as a child." Through her business, she not only sees clients’ relationship with money improve, but also their relationships with their loved ones and themselves.

"This isn’t a short-term business. That might be tricky for some people to understand," Byrne says. "This is about helping people change their lives."

For more information on Liberty Financial Services and Byrne’s style of financial coaching, visit her website.

Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and longtime Washtenaw County resident. She wants to use her journalistic experience from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.

All photos by 
Doug Coombe.
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