Financial planner all about compassion for clients

| Julie Pfitzinger | September 14, 2011 | 0 Comments
Paul Leighton

Leading With Faith winner Paul Leighton talks with staff members Ingrid Strauss, left, and Carol Ferris at North Star Resource Group in St. Paul. Photo by Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

One might assume a financial planner like Paul Leighton would be all about the numbers. But, in reality, empathy and compassion are the qualities he believes are most important when it comes to interactions with his clients through North Star Resource Group in Minneapolis.

Many of his clients are facing retirement or are already retired.

“What I’m really about as a financial planner is making sure the interests of my clients are always paramount,” said Leighton, who has been with North Star since 1983. “Sometimes we’ll have to talk about difficult issues, and someone with real concern for their clients isn’t afraid of those conversations.”

Cheryl Peterson, parish leadership manager for Catholic Charities and coordinator of the local Catholic Campaign for Human Development, on whose advisory council Leighton serves, nominated him for the Leading With Faith Award.

Helping others

Of her colleague’s approach to his role as a financial planner with North Star, which serves both individuals and businesses, and his Catholic faith, she wrote the following:

“Paul has always put the needs of his clients before his personal commissions — respecting the dignity of the person and what’s best for him or her, rather than making decisions based on his own fear or greed. He is generous with his time, talent and treasure . . . to the needs of the church and organizations that work to end poverty and support the common good.”

Leighton’s commitment to compassion carries over into a very active volunteer life. He and his wife, Jeanne, have been parishioners at St. John Neumann in Eagan for about 30 years.

Last year, the couple served as facilitators for the JustFaith ministry at the parish, an intensive 30-week program Leighton called “a deep dive into the Catholic Church’s teaching on social justice,” adding that the leadership experience had a “transformative effect” on their lives.

The Leightons, parents of three grown children, travel to Guatemala each year and have been involved with the ministry at San Lucas Toliman with Father Greg Schaffer.

“There are no better examples of the JustFaith principles than the work that is happening in Guatemala,” Leighton said. “Our experiences there have changed our hearts to see things a bit differently.”

Everyone deserves a chance

As a board member for Hope Community, Inc., a neighborhood revitalization program in the Phillips neighborhood in Minneapolis, Leighton has also been integrally involved in an organization he said is “transforming a neighborhood and empowering people.”

“The way God has worked in my life, I’ve had the opportunity to be actively involved in my local parish, in the inner city through Hope Community and in Guatemala on a global level,” he said. “All of that, plus the work I do for North Star, stems from a notion that has always motivated me — everyone deserves a chance in our society.

“I want to help improve opportunities for those who might not have them,” he continued. “And God puts me in situations where I’m allowed to do that and to grow in those experiences.”


Title: Partner with North Star Resource Group in Minneapolis

Parish: St. John Neumann, Eagan

Spouse: Jeanne

Children: Tim, Dan and Kristin; four grand­children with another one on the way

Activities: Catholic Campaign for Human Develop­ment local advisory committee; parish capital campaign chair, couple sponsor and Latino mentor, all with Jeanne


Category: Leading With Faith