The Importance of Charting Your Own Path — with REDW’s Lorin Saavedra

The Importance of Charting Your Own Path — with REDW’s Lorin Saavedra

March 8, 2022

REDW

Lorin Saavedra is an Albuquerque-based Outsourced CFO in REDW’s Client Advisory & Accounting Services (CAAS) group. What exactly is an Outsourced CFO? At REDW, it is a new position created to serve clients who are seeking more guidance to better plan for the future, and in which Lorin is helping bridge the gap between the provision of accounting and tax planning services and the more extensive financial analysis and consulting.

Lorin Saavedra“Before I came to REDW, I was working in banking on the lending side,” she says. “I saw many small business owners come in whose books were in good shape. And maybe they had an accountant who helped with taxes, but they needed help understanding their financials better to plan their company’s future,” she says.

Changing a company’s mentality to understand—and have the confidence—to address issues right away, rather than fixing them later, brings the operations and financial sides together, Saavedra adds. “No one loves accounting except accountants. But when you explain to them the importance of the operations side working with the financial side, they start to. That’s why I’m always asking why, not just how. It’s the ‘why’ that really involves the entire company team.”

Before coming onboard, Saavedra began talking with REDW about how the firm could help her banking customers make sense of the possible routes to reach their goals – like buying a building, or how opening a line of credit could leverage the company’s equity.

The value Lorin is known for bringing to her clients is having a handle on how backward-looking financial statements can be used to successfully develop a company’s forward-looking potential.

So REDW hired her to do just that.

While her current clients don’t fall into any one industry, a common thread linking them is that they don’t need or have the budget for a full time CFO, yet. Instead, they are small to medium-sized businesses that want someone to keep an eye on the big picture.

The variety and diversity of her clients – ranging from construction companies to professional services like architecture and engineering, and now cannabis – keeps her energized and engaged. “I love that as a CFO you get to see the whole picture and use that picture to make strategic decisions as to where the company is going,” she says. “Helping my clients make these decisions to positively affect the bottom line is exciting and keeps me in the profession.”

Family Influence

Early in her career, some members of Saavedra’s large, extended New Mexico Hispanic ranching family would have loved to steer her to engineering because of her love of math and finding the “right” answer to a problem. While her first career path choice was in marketing, early on, a cousin suggested accounting, where the same love of numbers and problem solving were at play, and the skills she’d learn would always be marketable.

“So, I switched from marketing to accounting and really loved it. In fact, I was a summer intern at REDW here in Albuquerque during college at New Mexico State University. I loved the diversity of clients and the work, and learned more that summer than I would have in five years on a job,” she says.

Joining an accounting firm fresh out of college wasn’t in the cards, however. With a young family and a firefighter husband who was often away overnight, taking a job that required extensive travel wasn’t feasible. Instead, she took positions as working in accounting in different industries such as public utilities, chemical warehousing and transportation, manufacturing, hospitality, and eventually found herself in banking. In her more than 15 years of experience, she gained skills in human resources, risk management and finance, and became a chief financial officer before joining REDW in the fall of 2021.

Centered by Strong Women

Saavedra credits the many strong women in her family, especially her mother and grandmothers, for her work ethic and desire to make a difference. “These women were strong in different ways. My mom was a professional, went to college and became a driven professional —and a pillar in the community— directing a nonprofit and running a business. One of my grandmothers was a homemaker who also started working at a restaurant after her kids were gone and loved it.” The other grandmother helped raise her brothers and sisters as well as her own children and then ran her own business by opening a salon later in life.

“They all taught me the importance of family, but also of charting your own path.”

Coming from a large, diverse family has also given Saavedra the ability to relate to and talk with her clients, whose businesses and individual experiences are just as varied. She continues to spend time in rural New Mexico connecting with family, and exposing her three children to a farm and ranch lifestyle. She and her family live on several acres in Albuquerque’s South Valley, where keeping chickens, cows, goats and other livestock is not unusual.

“I am a native New Mexican, born and raised here. Part of what makes that so special to me is the culture I acquired during my time with family. Especially while out at our ranches. I am lucky to come from a large family with hard work and grit at its core. They remind me to stay grounded and humble in my work, community and family,” she says.

She also learned that she could stand up for her beliefs and do the right thing, even if meant losing a job. “I’ve had setbacks in my career because of my moral stands. But in general, if you follow your gut and moral compass, you can sleep at night and not worry about compromising your values. This put me on the path I am on today. My kids see that I love my job and that I do it because I love it. That’s a positive thing,” she says.

Community Service

Giving back to the community is also energizing for Saavedra. She serves on the boards of several local non-profit organizations working in social services, health and legislative areas. The commonality is that she’s building deeper relationships to improve the community, and using all her applicable skills to help the groups achieve their respective missions. As a result, she was named a 2019 40 Under 40 by Albuquerque Business First in recognition of her community service and business influence.

“Volunteering makes me a better person, mom and employee. I get to meet people I wouldn’t normally meet, and see their passion for what they do. That makes me passionate about being able to help on the strategy side.”

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