Since graduating from Biola in 1981 with a degree in intercultural studies and business, Julie Sagatelian has become a respected financial planner with a passion for creating financial strategies. As a financial adviser at Waddell & Reed in Pasadena, Sagatelian puts into practice the skills she first learned working in her family’s business and from observing entrepreneurs in her church. Meanwhile, she and her husband, Alex, have a full home life thanks to their 4-year-old triplets, Natalie, Nicholas and Garren — born when she was a young 49! She recently shared her story with Biola Magazine.

A lot of my business is working with couples, women and families in their financial planning and investments. I specialize in retirement plans for small- to mid-sized family-owned businesses as well, having grown up in my family business. I especially love working with seniors.

What we do is help clients put together a plan and a strategy for their financial future. If you think about it, every goal we have, whether we want to buy a house or invest for our retirement, costs money. Having a plan and a strategy to reach our financial goals so we can reach our ultimate goals as an individual and as a family is very rewarding.

I grew up in a phenomenal church, Bethany Church in Sierra Madre. Many families in our church owned their own companies. They were all entrepreneurs creating legacies for their families and our church. My dad was one of those business owners and real estate investors, so I learned a strong work ethic from when I was a toddler. I am so blessed to have grown up with such wonderful role models. Thanks to them, I’ve always had a strong background in business and finance.

The summer before I trans­ferred to Biola I really had an eye-opening experience on a short-term mission trip to Indonesia. I lived in a village with two missionary families and all four parents were Biola alumni. I was already accepted into Biola, but it confirmed for me that I had made the right choice in Biola. Because of my missionary trip, I changed my major from business to intercultural studies, with the thought that I would go into international business as a tentmaker.

My senior year, I served on the SMU Missions Conference Committee, where I was responsible for lining up all the speakers. Elizabeth Elliot was our keynote speaker and I had the amazing opportunity to spend two days with her. Her now famous story of her husband’s murder along with other missionary men in Ecuador gave her strength as a Christian woman, mother and missionary — a real inspiration!

I met my husband later in life and we married in 2005. Neither of us had children, so we thought we would try for one. Be careful what you wish for! We say that God knew that at my age there was only going to be one pregnancy so he decided to bless us with triplets!

When our first ultrasound showed three heartbeats, our fertility doctor talked to us about “selective reduction” (code for abortion). My husband said, “Doc, look at that screen … that’s life!” The doctor agreed and that was the end of the conversation. It was a pretty powerful moment to make a stand for life and God’s perfect plan!

My doctors started my labor at 26 and a half weeks by accident. They could not stop my labor, so I was in labor and in bed for two months!

Our three miracles were born healthy in September 2008. All at the same time, the credit crisis hit, the stock market turned south, Alex got laid off of work and the Sagatelian household exploded with three premature babies — followed by four years of sleep deprivation!

Recently, Rick Bee invited me to guest teach his “Faith and Money” class at Biola. While discussing the basics of investing, I shared a few stories about clients who started saving small amounts of money and over decades their monthly investing has grown into large family trusts and retirements. I reminded the students that the decisions they make today will affect them, their children and their grandchildren for the rest of their lives! What legacy do they want to create and leave for their families, their church and for God’s kingdom?

After the class, the students surrounded me, anxious with questions of how they can get started investing today. It’s rewarding for me to “pay it forward,” sharing the wisdom and advice my role models passed on to me when I was a kid growing up and after I graduated from Biola.