Ayana Anderson-Stringfellow was born in Detroit, Michigan. Both of her parents worked for the Ford auto plant and were transferred to St. Louis. Anderson-Stringfellow graduated from Hazelwood East High School and began her own work history at the Hazelwood Ford plant.
Her mother strongly encouraged her to go to college so that she would have other options, should the Hazelwood plant close in the future. Anderson-Stringfellow earned her undergraduate and master’s degree from Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville while working full time at the auto plant.
When the Hazelwood Ford plant announced that it would close, Anderson-Stringfellow elected to take the severance package that was offered.
“Because my degrees were in finance, I thought I understood the market,” she said. She soon realized that “money does not come with instructions.”
Unfortunately, she learned the hard way that going to school for finance, and understanding practical application of that knowledge, are not always the same. Within 18 months, the sizeable severance package was gone. That was the moment that she focused her efforts to learn all she could about investing, so that she would not make the same mistakes ever again.
Anderson-Stringfellow enrolled in some investment courses at St. Louis Community College –Meramec, where her first instructor was a financial advisor for Edward Jones. This instructor’s ability to make finance lessons interesting sparked a desire for her to learn more and more. In addition to understanding the importance of knowledgeable planning and investing, she said, the instructor specifically “highlighted the importance of women being knowledgeable about their finances because statistically they are likely to outlive their spouse.”
Now Anderson-Stringfellow enjoys her career as a financial advisor for Edward Jones, knowing that she is helping others and positively impacting the future for their families through the confidence and comfort that comes with financial planning and stability. She enjoys a busy life with her husband, Jason, and their two grade-school-aged children.
In between family commitments and sports activities, Anderson-Stringfellow spends time sharing her knowledge and experience with the community. She volunteers for the United Way of Greater St. Louis and is a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and of the Regional Business Council Young Professionals. She volunteers for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri’s One Smart Cookie program, which sees financial advisors visiting Girl Scouts to train them on financial matters before their cookie sales start. She also works with area school kids to teach them about the foundations of finance.
In addition to helping young people understand finance, Anderson-Stringfellow spends time educating adults. She participates in lunchtime education sessions for the National Coalition of Black Women’s St. Louis Chapter, and her career has come full circle as she works with United Auto Workers to help their members understand financial matters.
Looking back at the Hazelwood auto plant closure, she said she can’t help but think “how much better off my life would be for me and my family had I sought professional help with my finances.”