Hi, I’m Zach Teutsch and I love helping people improve their financial lives. I have worked with dozens of clients and thousands of union members. I combine evidence-based techniques and don’t accept kickbacks, gifts, or any form of remuneration from financial firms. You can read more about that on the page dedicated to my approach.
I am unusual in that I think that when tackling financial issues, it is critically important to consider emotional ones as well. Different clients have different concerns and anxieties. I try to help you identify what issues are in the background so that I can help you come up with sustainable solutions.
It is rare to find someone who can help with financial topics who is also committed to feminism, economic equality, and other areas of justice and social change. If you happen to share these values or have other closely held ones, it is important to find someone who understands them and can help you apply them to these topics.
So, how did I become interested in and learn a lot about these topics? I’ve been interested in financial issues for a long time and have learned a lot about them over the years. My first stock purchase was Topps–I was roughly 9 years old (I’ve gotten better and don’t recommend individual stick purchasing!) and my first work in financial services was an intern, not long after, with Mather Associates.
When I went to college, I focused on studying social sciences and the way they related. Economics, sociology, and psychology all gave me useful insights into how people make financial and life decisions. I was (and am) very curious about how those decisions do and do not provide fulfillment. I graduated with honors from Brown University with a dual concentration in Economic Sociology and Public and Private Sector Organizations.
I began my career in the labor movement. At SEIU I conducted strategic research and worked extensively on retirement policy, pensions, and investment issues. Based on that work, and prior teaching experience, AFSCME hired me to help build their Investor Education for Working Families program. I designed curricula, taught union members, and focused on ways that middle-class people could become more financially aware, empowered, and successful. The program was a major success. I became the project’s director and I expanded it (with lots of help) to include many more unions and to reach over half-a-million people. I spent the last few years directing the project as a member of the AFL-CIO’s Office of Investment and a faculty member at the National Labor College.
While I was spending my days figuring out how to breakdown complicated concepts (asset allocation, for instance) into simple ideas, friends began to seek me out. They had financial issues and wanted help thinking them through carefully. I happily obliged–I love this stuff! Before long it was clear that I needed to create a better structure for helping people. That’s where this practice came from. I now accept new clients when I have enough room in my practice to meet your needs.
In 2013, I joined the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In my first role at the Bureau, I worked on identifying and investigating practices in the mortgage industry that violated consumer protection regulations. Since then I switched to the CFPB’s Consumer Education and Engagement Division where I work in the Office of Financial Empowerment. I don’t do work in my coaching practice that relates to mortgage or debt collection regulation, consumer protection, or policy since that would create a conflict. I am happy to discuss how to think about mortgages and real estate more generally but I don’t, for instance, help people file CFPB complaints. As with other areas, I don’t recommend specific financial products but rather help clients get to a place where they can make informed, prudent decisions for themselves.
If you have any questions about my background, please contact me and I’ll be happy to answer them.