WEST PITTSTON — Jean Baun likes to tell clients she’s different.
The financial consultant operates JSB Financial, LLC out of her home on Ann Street. The business sign is flanked by a big American flag, and petite purple flowers (“Phlox … easy to maintain, sun-lovers,” she said) fill the patch of lawn out front.
Two of her “assistants” — Beagle, a 6-year-old beagle, and Moose, a 12-year-old beagle/pug mix — greet clients at the door with howls and wagging tails.
And Baun, dressed in jeans and sneakers, welcomes those looking to get a handle on their finances with open arms.
“I’m a hugger,” said the 48-year-old divorcee.
From that homey atmosphere, Baun can help clients take the bull by the horns on Wall Street and beyond.
As president of JSB Financial, LLC, Baun offers services including retirement planning, estate strategies, risk management, investment planning and more, according to her website.
She said business for her multimillion dollar company doubled in 2015, and she currently serves about 185 families in 10 states.
But Baun wasn’t always so money savvy.
After high school, she dreamed of designing album covers for her favorite musicians, which led to obtaining an associate’s degree in commercial art from Luzerne County Community College.
Not long after she realized the part-time jobs she held during school would pay her more than a budding art career.
After college, Baun found herself in a pickle — locked out of the house she shared with a roommate, without her belongings and a place to sleep. She was homeless.
“I came home from waxing my ‘66 Super Sport in my Nike sneakers, cut-offs and T-shirt to a locked door,” she said. “So that was a rude awakening. That was some tough stuff.”
It took her a few months to get back on her feet. “I got by with help from friends … you rebuild it,” said Baun.
Later, married with a son and two step-daughters, there were times the family struggled to put food on the table. “The month before I came into the business, I put Thanksgiving dinner on a credit card because my kids were going to have Thankgiving dinner,” she said.
It wasn’t until she was laid off from her job as finance secretary for the local Boy Scouts of America council did she find her true calling. Baun worked during the day for a local broker, soaking in the intricacies of the industry, and studied at night to prepare for her licensing tests.
She got into the financial field in 1999, founded her own business in 2006 and started working from home in 2014. “It’s scary going out on your own,” she said. “… You’re leaving a salary.”
Her Nissan Altima logs about 15,000 miles annually, but wear and tear on her car doesn’t stop her from driving near and far to help clients. Baun always keeps her work cell phone handy and tries to limit herself to working 12-15 hours a day, with Sundays (mostly) off.
“I took about three days off last year — it was the first moment I’ve had off in five years,” she said.
Through it all, Baun said the most important and rewarding part of her job is helping people. She said clients are often nervous and afraid when they first enter her office, but she works hard to make them feel at ease.
“The first question is always, ‘How can I help you?’”