Sharon Allen, CFP®, CTFA – CEO & Co-Founder
About Sharon C. Allen
When Martin and I founded the firm in 2004, it was with a desire to be a “beacon of light” in the financial services industry, to elevate the conversation around true wealth, client service, and technical excellence. I am passionate about creating, growing, and stewarding the Sterling Community…our clients, Sterling team members, and each client’s unique team of professional advisors both in and outside of our firm. Our mission is to help our clients change their world – something I devote much of my time to ensuring is a reality.
Being the oldest child of a middle-class family in the Chicago suburbs, I was the first person in my extended family to go to college. Graduating from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign with my Finance degree, I began a professional journey of intimate involvement in all levels of managing the financial lives of affluent families and individuals. I am now the “personal chief financial officer” for my clients, specializing in helping them create tailored financial plans to help guide them through life’s transitions, such as transferring wealth to the next generation, loss of spouse, divorce, retirement, job changes or sale of a business.
Being a positive voice within the financial services industry and giving back is important to me. I am an adjunct instructor at the University of Illinois in the Certified Financial Planning program, as well as a guest lecturer on various financial planning, investing and business topics. I am an active member of the nationally recognized wealth management study group, Family Wealth Advisors Council, and co-author of Caught in the Middle: How Does The Sandwich Generation Woman Not Get Squeezed?
My sense of community extends beyond the walls of Sterling Wealth Management. I give of my time as a board member and former Chair of the University of Illinois Community Credit Union, and Board and committee member of various non-profits in our area, as well as invest time in supporting and mentoring entrepreneurs.
Outside of my professional endeavors, I enjoy spending time with my husband and our two sons doing whatever brings us together as a family, staying active in the gym, reading, floral arranging and investing in my beautiful friendships.
Martin Allen – COO & Co-Founder
About Martin Allen
I have always been an entrepreneur. Building something tangible from just a tiny idea is a passion of mine. When we started Sterling Wealth Management, I found it a fantastic opportunity to utilize the experiences I had gained over the years in real estate and technology to create an infrastructure that would allow our firm to grow to meet our client’s needs efficiently. In my role now, I am always looking for ways to make our client’s lives easier. Entrepreneurship is at the heart of everything I do and I welcome opportunities to help others further their entrepreneurial dreams.
Creating partnerships is important to me. Whether it is within our organization or in our business to business relationships, I am always thinking of ways to help a situation be a “win-win” for everyone involved. I enjoy cultivating relationships and building mutual understanding to help find solutions to challenges and bring a project to successful resolution.
Outside of building our business, I enjoy spending time with my wife and two boys, playing guitar, and investing time in my community of friends.
Daly Andersson, CFA, CFP® – Wealth Advisor
About Daly Andersson
From the time I was very young, I have always been driven toward a purpose-filled career. My personal and professional philosophy is to help those around me feel supported and loved, to listen without judgment, and to always seek to understand. Personal wealth management has allowed me to live this philosophy and serve families through financial planning and investment management for over a decade. Being able to help clients make financial decisions that strategically support their unique vision of a life well-lived brings me joy. I am honored to be a part of the Sterling team that is making this approach a reality for our clients every day.
A continual learner, I am a Certified Financial PlannerTM professional, hold the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and spend time lecturing in the financial planning program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My interest in financially empowering families, entrepreneurs, and women investors extends to our community where I frequently speak on topics related to personal leadership and financial education.
I live in Champaign with my husband, our three active children, and our fluffy golden doodle. All of us love making our community better. Some of our “family favorites” are the amazing Champaign Public Library and hiking and picking berries on vacation in Sweden.
Seth Elam, CFP® – Director of Wealth Planning
About Seth Elam
A native of Southern Illinois, I found my way to Champaign with my young family to pursue my college degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I have always enjoyed helping those around me make smart financial decisions and discovered my academic home in the Financial Planning concentration in the department of Agriculture and Consumer Economics, earning my Bachelor’s degree in 2018. The powerful future of planning focused young advisors and the ability we all have to change the lives of clients led me to give back through mentoring and teaching the students from my alma mater.
My belief is that altruism is the only way to offer a quality financial planning experience, and I found that with Sterling Wealth Management. The team truly believes in putting the client’s needs above all to deliver the best service possible. I am honored and fortunate to work among individuals who strive to serve clients with such dedication. As the Director of Wealth Planning, I have the privilege of partnering with our clients and team members every day to discover new ways to make the Sterling community the best it can possibly be for everyone.
I like to spend much of my free time in the warm company of my family. My wife and I have two wonderful sons and a daughter who keep us busy with sports and other activities. When the weather is nice, you can find us having fun together swimming, hiking, or riding dirt bikes.
Mary Ellison – Client Service Specialist
About Mary Ellison
Born and raised in Champaign County, my life adventure has taken me across the country from the Allegheny Mountains to the heart of bourbon country, landing back in the Champaign area. My family is very important to me and being back in the area has been a wonderful move. I am so pleased to have found a fantastic “work family” at Sterling Wealth Management and a community of clients that I am honored to serve. Service is something that I am truly passionate about, and I have dedicated much of my life to finding ways to meaningfully serve those around me to make their lives better and days brighter.
When I am not spending time at Sterling, you can find me outdoors with my son and extended family. Most of the time, we are joined by our dog, George, who loves to be outside. If it’s an indoor day, I am trying to prove to my cat, Frank, that I am, in fact, worth a snuggle. I enjoy working in community theater having spent much of my extracurricular time as a young person in theater and dance, and also love reading in my spare time.
Joshua Kushner, MBA – Wealth Advisor & Investment Manager
About Joshua Kushner
I have spent most of my career in and around many different types of organizations, from financial advisory firms and banks to large government organizations and smaller entrepreneurial ventures. My diverse professional experiences have given me a unique perspective that I am excited to bring to our clients.
Being a lifelong learner is part of my DNA. I have always been a student of financial markets and believe that understanding and managing risk and return effectively is central to sound investment strategies. As a former bank examiner and analyst, I participated in not only identifying complex risks, but also creating meaningful solutions. Using these skills to help our clients through thoughtful asset management and portfolio construction is an area I am delighted to contribute to as part of the Sterling team.
Outside of my time at Sterling, you can find me enjoying time with my family and friends. Spending time with my daughter is at the top of that list! I am also a world traveler, a strong supporter of UNICEF, have lived abroad in Israel for three years, can speak three languages, enjoy experiencing different cultures, have a passion for entrepreneurship, and find great joy in bringing people together.
Joseph McAllister, CFP® – Associate Wealth Advisor
About Joe McAllister
My definition of “financial service” is using personal understanding, research, and logic to improve the situation. I believe strongly that in this industry, you need honor, empathy and commitment to properly serve our community.
Hailing from the Metro-Detroit area, my interest in finance began when I was young. Through my love of technology and videogames, I learned how to use the virtual markets in many of these applications to make enough money to fund a burgeoning game collection. When I entered Eastern Michigan University through an early-college program, I was drawn to business and accounting, where I earned my Bachelor of Business Administration with a focus in Accounting.
In financial planning and wealth management, I have found a career that aligns with my personal goal of making a positive impact in the lives of those around me. After relocating to the Champaign area with my girlfriend and life partner, I found Sterling Wealth Management and a team of professionals that truly embodies the same values that I dedicate my life to.
Outside the office, I spend my time with my girlfriend and our Westie enjoying film, theater and animation. I am excited to be a part of the Champaign community and to make a difference in the lives of all those around me.
Katie Rector – Director of Client Service
About Katie Rector
Originally from the Pacific Northwest, I have lived around the country and worked in logistics, management and operational planning. After moving to Central Illinois I wanted to work for a local company that has a strong sense of purpose. I could not be happier to be part of the Sterling Wealth Management team, a team who believes in providing unparalleled support and always doing the right by our clients.
My passion is working with others and developing relationships. As the Director of Client Service, I ensure that our clients have excellent experiences with Sterling and that their relationship with our team is seamless. It is an honor to be a part of many strong relationships that Sterling Wealth Management has built. I thoroughly enjoy working with each client and supporting them as they transition through different seasons in life. It is an honor to work with such a skilled team and support our community.
In my free time I teach and practice yoga. Whenever possible, I love to be outdoors with my husband and young son. Keeping very active I snowboard, wake surf as well as camp, hike and rock climb.
Aimee Thomas – Client Service Coordinator
About Aimee Thomas
Two things that are most important to me: family and community. Having deep roots in the Champaign area, I was drawn to the Sterling family because of their dedication to providing unparalleled personalized service to their clients as well as their commitment to the Champaign-Urbana community. I see “community” as something that extends beyond a geographic area.
Making genuine connections with individuals is central to who I am. I believe that everyone needs to experience authentic connection and in my role as Client Service Coordinator, I am most excited to ensure that our clients have that connection with Sterling. My extensive professional experience in hospitality industry operations and information and systems management allows me to help make the Sterling client experience as smooth and enjoyable as possible.
Being with my three children and friends is life-giving to me. I have a love of travel and will take every opportunity to see the world when I can (and you may also find me reading a good book or two along the way!).
Jenna Woods – Associate Wealth Advisor
About Jenna Woods
Growing up in Champaign, I have learned to love our community and appreciate the warmth of the individuals within it. It was during the COVID-19 pandemic when my interest in pursuing a career as a wealth advisor began. With my newly found free time, I was diving into books on wealth advising. My desire to learn more led me to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where I earned my degree in Agriculture and Consumer Economics with a concentration in Financial Planning.
Lifelong relationships are something that I deeply value. Sharing different phases of life together as you grow with others is amazing. I find that this is one of the most beautiful things about my profession. We have the honor of witnessing and supporting our clients’ growth into different phases of life, achieving their goals along the way. Sterling does an incredible job nurturing lifelong relationships with clients and I am thankful to be a part of the team.
Most of my free time is dedicated to growing my relationship with friends and family. I enjoy going to the gym, eating delicious food, and being a movie fanatic. Conversations around wealth management excite me, but conversations over a beloved movie fill me with joy!