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.
Seth Elam, CFP® – Wealth Advisor
About Seth Elam
My passion for financial planning started while serving in the military. It began by simply educating my co-workers on how to budget efficiently and sparked a new hobby that I grew to love. After conducting research, I learned about the prestige of the Certified Financial Planner ™ designation and knew this was the career for me.
I graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2018, earning my bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and Consumer Economics with a concentration in Financial Planning.
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 others to deliver the best service possible. I am honored and fortunate to work among these individuals who strive to serve clients with such dedication.
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 love keeping us busy with activities.
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.
Melissa Hendricks, CTFA – Wealth Advisor
About Melissa Hendricks
When I first began working in financial services 20 years ago, I’ll be honest…I wasn’t sure it was the right career path for me. I always had a desire to be a high school English teacher. However, after working with families to bring meaningful financial solutions to them, it didn’t take long before I discovered I truly had a passion for wealth management. The peace of mind I give my clients, some with unique situations, is the reason I look forward to partnering with our clients every day. While I still love literature, working with people to enhance their financial security has become my true ambition.
I’m a proud graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor, having worked for many years at a regional bank and trust company. My experience has provided me with robust expertise in estate planning and trusts, which I am thrilled to bring to our clients at Sterling.
When I’m not serving our clients, you can find me spending time with my husband and young twin boys cheering on the Fighting Illini. Go Illini!
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 – 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 – 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 settling down in 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. 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!).