Unexpected Dividends

Christine Rutt SchmitzPop quiz: Who said the following—a CPA/certified financial planner or a former Peabody voice major?

“We’ve had about 13 bear markets since World War II, so while it seems really painful now, my thought continues to be to stick with your investment plan, maybe have a consultation with your planner. The biggest money can be made right after a bear market.”

The correct answer is both. The financial advice comes from Christine Rutt Schmitz (BM ’75, Voice), a senior specialist for wealth protection at Glass Jacobson who also happens to be a Peabody-trained singer. She studied with the late Wayne Conner during her undergraduate years and other instructors since then.

Her path from the halls of a conservatory to the offices of a financial planning firm started with a crossroads she faced in spring 1975. “Right after graduation, I had the opportunity to join the Gregg Smith Singers,” she recalls. “But that was a part-time position,” she says, and she desired a year-round income.

After an initial stint as a secretary with a Baltimore law firm, she moved into bookkeeping, then accounting, discovering a passion and aptitude for the financial world. She longed to use her financial acumen to help people, to work with them “before trouble set in.” This led her to pursue more education— a master’s in legal studies, accounting classes leading to a CPA designation, numerous financial advising and insurance certifications—and jobs with insurance companies and investment firms, culminating in her association with Glass Jacobson.

In that role she has been able to use her financial expertise to help other musicians, who make up part of her client roster. Schmitz understands their atypical employment situations and doesn’t raise an eyebrow at patchwork income sources and the sheaf of 1099 tax forms that go with them.

Her job is to help them organize those materials, pay the appropriate taxes, and plan for the future. She advises such clients on how to depreciate musical instruments, what insurance products to buy, how much money to set aside for a rainy day, how to invest for retirement, and the importance of paying regular estimated taxes to avoid being hit with a big bill in April.

Although she is dedicated to her work in finance, she still finds time for music and Peabody. She’s taken lessons with Marianna Busching, sings with various local groups (including the Columbia Pro Cantare), and serves her alma mater on the Alumni Steering Committee. She’s been an officer of the Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association and was a president of its Peabody Chapter.

“Being at Peabody was a wonderful time in my life,” says Schmitz. “There is so much you learn from being a musician, going to a conservatory, studying music at that high a level.” She credits the rigor of recital training, language lessons, and music study in general with the preparation she needed to make the switch to finance. “It’s a discipline,” she says, “that you can translate to other fields.”

—Libby Sternberg (BM ‘75, MM ’78, Voice)