From Egypt to the American Dream: How Laila Pence defied all odds
It is 1967 and Laila Pence is driven from her home by the war. She had had “all the luxuries,” a home embellished with nuances of wealth and warmth, and a family with a deep sense of integrity. In a single instant – a bomb dropped in the context of the Six Day War with Israel – Pence had to reimagine his world without it all.
And, without Egypt.
After immigrating to the United States at the age of twelve, arm in arm with only her mother, Pence had the intangibilities of fear, femininity, and Arabism that threatened her; today, she is a Barron Hall of Fame holder and a recurring Forbes icon. With an unprecedented legacy in financial planning, Pence Wealth Management (PWM) sits at the top of the food chain as one of the largest and most successful wealth consulting firms in the United States. .
A privately held company focused on “creating practical, goal-oriented financial and tax management plans,” PWM is dedicated to securing our clients, their futures and their families. With over 30 years of experience and a “servant’s heart”, PWM is rooted in California as a true testament to the American Dream, the story of Laila Pence.
Night terrors in the American dream
The Zoom call opens with a charming, glamorous woman written in her costume and kindness in her smile. It was Laila Pence, the face behind unimaginable success. Born and raised in Egypt, Pence sees herself as nothing but Egyptian, recognizing where she came from as the driving force behind her success.
“It’s hard to lose everything,” she remarked, “especially when you have everything.”
Pence’s previous years have been a jumble of political noise and turmoil, with Egypt falling into one of the many wars to come to the region. Although she lived her childhood in relative seclusion from the clamor, the fateful bombing of her home in Zakazeek became a catalyst for both choa and fortune.
“[Our family] couldn’t live in the same place after that. I have two older sisters who we had to leave behind, âPence told Egyptian Streets. The memory stirred her voice and softened her. âWe all went to a French school at the time, [and lived] with my grandmother. “
The unfortunate event left the family torn apart. Another left her father injured and unfit to travel – but for Pence, it was never about having it all, but rather losing it all.
“Being away from my family [â¦] builds a lot of character for me. I had to do everything by myself. Pence painted the scene of how she and her mother, both young and foreign, arrived on Staten Island without knowing a word of English. She chose to become a waitress, studied hard, and made sure that the odyssey to the west would not be in vain.
âI was my father’s last hope for a boy,â and as the youngest of four girls, Pence felt the need to âwork twice as hardâ to prove himself. Although her father was never the type to put pressure on her, the insatiable urge to grow as a career person and woman peaked inside Pence from high school onwards.
“It was never a thing,” Pence insisted. âIt was really hard working every day – with a teamâ, whether with family or colleagues.
College at a cherry desk
With a banker as a father and a knack for numbers, Pence excelled in arithmetic and math. For her, it was the pleasure of the job, and in college, she pushed it further. Getting into wealth management was no easy task, and Pence fondly remembers his first brief stint.
âI remember my first twenty thousand dollars! ” She laughed. The woman who had entrusted him with investing the money was a humble, goodwill, kind soul, and Pence couldn’t help but view this moment as the first foothold of Pence Wealth Management in the world. “It means a lot – for someone to tell you their [livelihood]. “
PWM is an investment advisory service that meets the needs of each client. This includes a wide range of services, including investment advice, estate planning, accounting, retirement, and tax planning. In essence, Pence’s goal is to ensure that even the smallest capital can flourish and grow enough to leave its clients comfortable and well protected financially.
Soon after meeting her husband Dryden Pence and starting a family, their prospects met with major success. When asked what was behind it, Pence had a simple response:
“To have empathy,” she said, shrugging her shoulders. âRecognize that when people sit across from me, I have to listen to their needs. Most people want to talk about themselves. In this job, it’s the other way around: it’s an emotional salary. It’s about changing someone’s life.
For Pence, hearing that individuals could comfortably retire or send their children to school was enough driving force, enough motivation.
âThat’s really what keeps me going.
A servant’s heart
Although successful in her financial endeavors, Pence carries the same heart in her philanthropy across the seas. For her, Egypt is an embodiment of what she once was, of the privilege granted to her, and thus, she desires to give back in all her capacities.
“I realized, [after witnessing Egyptian poverty]”She explained of her incentives,” that here in America I had to focus on some things we could do. “
Between his visit to 57657 Children’s Cancer Hospital in Egypt and working with world-renowned cardiac surgeon Magdi Yacoub, Pence has been both inspired and dedicated to charitable work in Egypt. In recalling their coaction, Pence’s pride goes hand in hand with his humility.
” It was the first time [Dr. Yacuob] had money raised from America. We continue to support [his hospitals] in Aswan and I know he is delighted to open a new hospital in Cairo.
She instilled the same love in her daughter, Sarah Pence, who, at only nineteen, raised an extraordinary amount for the Haya Karima (âDecent Lifeâ) initiative. Likewise, Pence described his American acquaintances who are keen to donate to Egyptian charities, but are struggling to find a reliable and transparent way to do so.
“I have a great friend who does [a lot] to raise funds for the Egyptians, her name is Suzie Meyers, âdetailed Pence. âShe does it through Rotary International.
Over the past several months, the Pence family have insisted on supporting the Haya Karima initiative to pave this way and bridge the overseas philanthropy divide.
Haya Karima is an initiative launched earlier in 2021, by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The initiative aims to “provide decent housing, water and sanitation services, medical and educational services, support small and medium-sized enterprises and periodically provide in-kind support to families in difficulty”.
âWe can’t send money to Egypt, but we can send material. Pence worked with the Haya Karima team on two central projects: classrooms on wheels and equipment used to facilitate jobs and create opportunities.
The first project is a workforce dedicated largely to digital literacy: a truck will travel from village to village in rural Egypt to educate women and children to help their present perspectives and futures. The latter is the purchase and donation of equipment for simple and complex tasks, in order to create opportunities where they would not have been found otherwise.
Examples of such practical gifts include sewing machines and computers. The process includes video footage, in which things are seen as they are delivered; for Pence, it’s about “making a difference in people’s lives.” To do this, sources and trust are of the utmost importance.
âWe have been given so much, and we have been so blessed,â his voice softened. âIt is important to bless others. “
What is your greatest achievement?
“It’s recognized by my country,” Pence said. “This is my greatest achievement.”
Despite being on many Forbes lists and sitting at the top of Barron’s Hall of Fame, Pence still cites the meeting of ministers and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at the “Egyptian Women Can” conference as one of his fondest memories. As one of Egypt’s most international names, Pence says he is humbled by this recognition.
She highlights how dear this experience was to her and her family, how she remains a part of this world even though she may no longer reside there.
Simply, she said:
âI love Egypt. All Egyptians I have spoken to want to go back.
Subscribe to our newsletter