Odyssey is another name for a long, complicated journey that often is undertaken in pursuit of a goal.
It’s the name Anna Maassel gave to the wealth management firm she founded — Odyssey Private Wealth in Maumee, Ohio — as tribute to the journey she made to overcome the financial abuse that left her tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Now she wants to help her clients on their own journeys toward financial freedom and a comfortable retirement.
Her private odyssey began during a physically abusive first marriage, which led to her spending eight years fighting for custody of her children during her divorce. A few years later, she married her second husband and said she was hit with a devastating surprise shortly after their wedding.
“Two weeks after we were married, I tried to use my credit card to buy a plane ticket. But my card was declined, and I didn’t understand why,” she recalled. “Up to that point, I had a perfect credit score, and I never really carried much of a credit card balance. And I hadn’t even used this particular card before.”
When she called her card issuer, Maassel was shocked to learn that her new credit card already had been charged up to its $10,000 limit. Checking further into the issue, she discovered charges to home improvement stores for purchases her new husband had made without her knowledge.
And the news got worse.
Maassel soon learned her new husband had charged up her other credit cards as well, and she was about $40,000 in debt.
“At the time, I was working for a school district and was making $14 an hour,” she recalled. “I knew that getting out of that kind of debt would be insurmountable.”
Maassel said she had spent years paying for attorneys fees and counseling fees from her abusive first marriage. This credit card debt knocked her down financially again. She and her husband filed for bankruptcy, and she hoped for a fresh start. But during the bankruptcy proceedings she discovered that their combined debt was more than $100,000 — and that she was pregnant.
My husband also is an attorney, and we do a lot of trust work for clients. And when clients do their trust work, they fund their trust. That leads them to doing a lot of financial services business with us. Anna Maassel
But things eventually turned around. Maassel said she worked her way into a better-paying job and her finances improved enough that she was able to obtain a credit card again. She was even thinking about applying for a mortgage on a new home. However, it didn’t take long for Maassel’s situation to spiral downward again.
“He did it to me again,” she said. “He took my credit card and maxed it out.” She filed for divorce. “The fun never ends when you have this situation with fraud and abuse,” she said.
New career, new start
Maassel said she met with a financial advisor at one point during her second marriage and was interested in joining the profession. But it wasn’t the right time for her to do it.
“I needed to find a job that would enable me to earn a better living and to be able to better myself,” she said. “But at the time, I was the breadwinner for my family, and I didn’t want to be in a situation where I had to depend on commissions.”
Maassel met her current husband, Aaron, in 2019 and married him a year later. Aaron is the founder of Voyageur Advisory Group, also located in Maumee.
“When I met my current husband and found out he was working in the financial industry, I thought it was really cool because I always wanted to have an opportunity to get into that profession and build myself in a way that I knew I was capable of,” she said. Maassel works with Voyageur in addition to running Odyssey.
“I work with him on the insurance side, as I have an insurance license,” she said. “But I recently obtained my securities license, so I have my own business, Odyssey Private Wealth, which is the securities piece of our company.”
She and her husband not only blended their businesses, but they also have a blended family of eight children. Maassel said her family keeps her busy, but she also finds time to paddleboard and do some other fitness-related activities.
Maassel said she and her husband mainly work with retirees.
“My husband also is an attorney, and we do a lot of trust work for clients,” she said. “And when clients do their trust work, they fund their trust. That leads them to doing a lot of financial services business with us. They may choose annuities or indexed universal life policies, or they may do some generational planning with different insurance products.”
Maassel said an average client is around 65 years old, either retired or close to retiring. “I would say our average client has a net worth of between $1 million and $2 million. But we have clients who have a net worth of maybe only a quarter-million dollars and some who are closer to $5 million in net worth.”
As her practice grows, Maassel said, she wants to serve more female clients.
“We do serve some single women, and I would like to build that piece of our business a little bit more and serve more women in general,” she said. “Starting next year, we’re going to lean toward offering some woman-centered seminars on topics that empower them.”
Maassel said one of her goals is to broaden her practice’s base to serve women of all ages — not only those who are of retirement age.
“I want to give them the ability to think ahead and think about how they can plan for their future — whether it’s the long-term goal of retirement or how they will pay for their kids to go to college,” she said.
Maassel said her experience in overcoming financial abuse provided her with tools that she uses to work with her clients.
“I would say empathy is the No. 1 thing that I came away with that applies to my practice,” she said. “I think I have the strength of intuitiveness and empathy that men don’t necessarily have,” she said.
“I’m very good at picking up on subtle, nonverbal cues. I can see when someone’s getting lost in our discussion that there’s an emotional piece they are struggling with. I’ll say to them, ‘You’re kind of quiet; tell me what you’re thinking here.’ Then we stop the conversation and move it from being more educational and talking about how annuities work, for example, and move into, ‘Wait a second here. What are you feeling here? There’s something going on in your mind that you’re not saying out loud.’ I’m good at digging into those types of things.”
Maassel said she believes women, especially single women, often don’t trust themselves to make the right financial decisions.
“I have spent a lot of time explaining to them and helping them through the process,” she said. “I teach them that they have the strength to make a good decision, they have the ability to make the decision. I want them to trust me because I can speak from a woman’s perspective. Sometimes women get intimidated by the man in the room and they look to another woman for comfort. So I definitely pick up on that.”
Some female clients, she said, feel a sense of privacy around their finances.
“They don’t know who to trust. So they’re not going to divulge their financial information for fear of being taken advantage of.
“I do see some embarrassment and shame among women who are widowed and whose husbands always took care of the financial issues, and now they are faced with taking care of them. They feel embarrassed about their lack of knowledge. And I see some women who are more independent and they’ve dealt with finances themselves.
“They have a little bit of reluctance to allow someone else to take over. But I would say overall that women are embarrassed and feel a lack of competence over their finances. They’re not sure what to do or who to trust.”
Maassel said she plans to offer some workshops and other events to teach women about their finances. “I even thought about developing an online course geared toward women so if they’re too embarrassed to come in person, they can still sit behind a computer screen and learn,” she said, “and then they might feel comfortable enough to start asking questions and having a conversation.”
Advisors who want to serve women must teach and empower women to help them overcome their embarrassment about their finances, Maassel said.
“I try to think about everything from my perspective,” she said. “When I was single, I needed somebody to teach me and to empower me. I didn’t have anyone who was willing to sit down and explain it to me.”