At Planning Strategies, we use a team approach. While each client will usually deal with one advisor as their key contact, all of our planners are available to provide their individual strengths and expertise to each of our client’s unique financial situations. With each of our partners being familiar with each client’s financial profile, we are able to make sure that urgent needs will be addressed even if your key planner is away from the office. All partners of Planning Strategies are registered with the State of Pennsylvania as Investment Advisory Representatives.
Steven M. Mitchell MBA, CLU, ChFC, RICP® | Financial Advisor
Steve has been actively involved in the area of finance since 1977. He graduated from Shippensburg University, with a business degree, and immediately put his skills to work for the U.S. Marine Corps. He was an officer and Aircraft/Helicopter pilot, but assigned duties as a comptroller while earthbound and chained to a desk. He also spent one year in purgatory as an Air Liaison Officer with an infantry (Grunt) Battalion.
In order to further his career, he went on to obtain a Master’s degree in Finance from Boston University. Upon leaving the Marine Corps and starting his own financial planning practice, he continued to develop his education, ultimately receiving the Chartered Life Underwriter and Chartered Financial Consultant designations from The American College in Bryn Mawr, PA. Steve serves as the firm’s Chief Financial Officer.
Steve currently serves as Chair on the Board of Trustees for the Lancaster YWCA. He is a past Board member of the Society of Financial Services Professionals, as well as a past Board Chair of the St. Joseph’s Health Ministries and past Board Chair of St. Joseph’s Health Ministries Foundation. The primary concentration of his practice is in the analysis and design of investment portfolios, as well as estate and personal financial planning.
Steve and his wife, Bonnie, live in Lancaster, and have one daughter. Steve’s daughter shares his passion for aviation having graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and attaining her pilot’s license. Steve’s hobbies include running, woodworking, but his true passion is his work.
Scott Glenn Smith ChFC, RICP® | Financial Advisor
Scott was born and raised in central Pennsylvania, graduating from Hershey High School in 1986. From there he continued his education in Pennsylvania, attending and graduating from Penn State University in May of 1990 with a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences, with major studies in Marketing, Psychology, and Philosophy. Scott began his career in the financial services industry immediately after college, attaining his insurance and securities licenses through Prudential Securities, and he has been practicing financial and investment planning in this area since 1991. Scott says his career actually began before that, having been born into the field to a father who spent 35 years as a licensed stock and insurance broker. So, investment planning is in his blood.
During his career Scott has continued his professional education in the areas of estate planning, business planning, retirement plans and portfolio management, and has attained both the series 7 General Securities License and the series 65 Registered Investment Advisor License. In addition, Scott holds The Chartered Financial Consultant® and Retirement Income Certified Professional® designation from The American College in Bryn Mawr, PA. Scott is currently registered as a financial advisor of Planning Strategies, Inc., where he also serves as Chief Investment Officer and Chief Compliance Officer. In 2006 Scott was a recipient of the “Top 40 Under 40” award, which honors 40 businessmen and women of Central Pennsylvania under the age of 40. Scott has also served on the Board of the Hershey Pa Chamber of Commerce from 2003 to 2012, and was President of the Organization in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Scott and his wife Elizabeth make their home in Palmyra, Pennsylvania, with their daughter Angelina. When Scott is not working, he is an avid backpacker, martial arts student and is a founder of the Epicurean Cultural Society, a culinary club of central Pennsylvania.
Vanessa Zook, MBA| Financial Advisor
Vanessa was born and raised in Lancaster County. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in April of 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, majoring in Marketing and minoring in Studio Arts. While she loved living in Pittsburgh and London, England (where she studied abroad), Vanessa decided to move back home because of the amazing opportunity and sense of community that Lancaster provides. After working several years, she graduated from Millersville University of Pennsylvania in May 2008 with her Master of Business Administration. It was during her time in grad school that she discovered a keen interest in finance and cash flow.
In total, after spending nearly 10 years in the small business arena, working in a variety of capacities alongside business owners, CEOs/presidents, leaders/managers, mothers, fathers, friends and family, Vanessa discovered she was passionate about helping people live their life to their fullest potential. Vanessa began her career in the financial services industry shortly thereafter in 2012, attaining her insurance and securities licenses through Guardian Life Insurance Company of America and Park Avenue Securities. She has been practicing financial, investment and cash flow planning ever since.
During her career, Vanessa has continued her professional education in the areas of estate planning, cash flow, business planning and portfolio management and has attained both the Series 6 Investment Company and Variable Contracts Products and Series 65 Registered Investment Advisor License. Today, she is privileged to help business owners, families and individuals employ strategies designed to maximize their life’s potential and protect, grow and enjoy their wealth one decision at a time.
Vanessa enjoys spending her free time with friends and family, being active outdoors (walking, running, hiking, etc.), taking photos, creating artwork and gardening.
Kathy Kelly | Operations Manager
Kathy, Operations Manager of Planning Strategies, Inc., believes her previous three years as a senior living sales counselor provided an ideal foundation for her work as an operations manager. As part of Brethren Village’s marketing group, her sales team won a hard-earned award for Sales Team of the Year in 2007. Her background also includes working as a liaison for the Boards of the Delaware Group of Funds for 11 years as well as working as a client analyst at Goldman, Sachs where she obtained her Series 7 NASD license.
Attention to detail, good listening skills and great empathy are symbols of her appreciation by the clients. She effectively supports Steve, Scott and Aaron with her professionalism to help build long-term relationships with our growing client base and provides excellent customer service.
Kathy is a proud recipient of Temple University’s Bachelor of Business Administration graduating Magna cum Laude with a concentration in Finance and Human Resources. In September of 2011 she studied and passed the NASD Series 65 exam and is now licensed as an Investment Advisor Representative by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Away from the business, she enjoys traveling, scuba diving and spending time with family and friends.
Tara Cruz | Advisor Assistant
Tara joined Planning Strategies, Inc as the Advisor Assistant to Scott, Steve, and Aaron after relocating to Hershey, Pa from Orlando, Fl. Along with assisting in the preparation of reviews and logistics, Tara also plays a vital role in client interaction. Tara’s professional background includes working in various roles throughout retail banking for the past 9 years, most recently as a personal banker for Regions Bank in Orlando.
Outside of the office, Tara spends her free time traveling and exploring new places with her husband and son.
Denise Drudy | Client Relationship Representative
Denise is the newest member of the Planning Strategies Family.
As Client Relations Representative, she’s your first connection for scheduling and can refer you to whom you need to answer your financial questions. Denise has a special connection to our clientele, having resided in Lancaster County her entire life. Having worked at RR Donnelley for 26 years, Denise looks forward to this new and exciting challenge at Planning Strategies.
When not answering the phone at PSI, Denise and her dog (a Goldendoodle named Morgan) can be found gardening, traveling, hiking in the rural areas of southern Lancaster County, boating on the Susquehanna and snowmobiling in Potter County.