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Case Studies // “I knew I was destined t...

“I knew I was destined to be a financial planner”

This story is about…

Name: Brittney Castro

Location: USA

Company: Financially Wise Women

Industry: Financial Programming for Women

What motivated you to start your business?

After observing many advisors communicate with women clients in counterproductive ways – making them feel more confused, shamed and humiliated, I knew something had to change. Women struggle with different fears and frustrations than men. Women want clarity around their money and their financial strategies. They want to worry less, have more time to do the things they enjoy most, and want a financial planner who listens to them and understands their unique goals and concerns.

I know this because this is what I want too. I’ve been there – worried about money, stressed by the future, and feeling misunderstood. It is my goal to change that for the women I work with.

I’m on a mission to help women create a healthy relationship with money and use their money to create the life of their dreams. I want to be the financial planner that changes the relationship women have with money for generations to come.

Tell us about your business…

Financially Wise Women is a financial planning firm for entrepreneurial and professional women based in Los Angeles.

While planning a financial future can be a challenge for anyone, juggling life as a busy professional, wife, mom, and caregiver on top of all of that can be downright daunting.  Today, we’re living longer, doing more and having to take much more into consideration than ever before. As women, it’s important to not only be educated, but to also work with people who understand us. Because we think differently. We have different goals. Especially when it comes to finances.

With all these variables, it’s important that we are able to understand how each decision impacts our financial futures. That’s why I’ve made it my job to assure that you do. I love helping other women pursue their goals in life. I’m passionate about the work I do. So I take the time to get to know you and understand your unique situation, your goals and your aspirations. You’ll be able to ask questions in a comfortable, non-judgmental environment. And, together, we’ll figure out how to get you where you want to go. I understand how important this is to you. This is not just your money. It’s your future.  My goal is to assure that when we work together, you are educated and empowered so that you feel confident and  in control handling finances for your future.

What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?

I studied business economics at UCSB. I excelled in my courses and really enjoyed learning about how the economy worked. However, while I was in college I still had the idea that I was going to be an event planner and have my own event planning business. It wasn’t until I met a woman financial planner, who had a very successful practice, did I realize I could combine my love for money, planning and helping people. After meeting her, I knew I was destined to be a financial planner.

Upon graduation, I started my career as a financial advisor with Ameriprise Financial. While there, I learned how to run a financial planning practice, how to excel as a financial planner, and that I loved financial planning. However, more importantly I realized I did not fit into the traditional financial planning role. Although I was successful, I was unhappy. I tried to fit in with an old school model of financial planning and was not living my authentic life. I wanted to do things differently and serve my clients in a way that made sense to me. I needed an environment allowing my entrepreneurial side to shine and allow me freedom and flexibility when working with clients.

In June of 2010, I left Ameriprise and joined an independent Broker/Dealer to allow for more freedom in how I could build my business. In 2011, I received the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation from the CFP Board of Standards. The CFP® designation is a mark of distinction for the individuals who have met the education, examination, experience and ethics standards established by the Certified Financial Planners Board of Standards (CFP Board). Additionally, I have designations as a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor and Accredited Asset Management Specialist.

In December of 2012, I officially launched my own firm, Financially Wise Women, and decided to focus my practice on helping people like me – busy professional and entrepreneurial women who are passionate about life. I strive to be a financial partner for my clients, giving them more time to do what they love most. I want to be the financial planner who understands them, empowers them, and makes their life simpler by helping them make smart financial decisions.

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?

I definitely think building relationships with other like-minded women professionals has helped my business grow substantially over the years. I have a lot of women in my network who refer my business. I have a regular routine of connecting with and meeting new leaders and strategic business partners all the time. I also use a lot of social media to grow brand awareness and go to where my ideal clients already spend a lot of their time, i.e. Facebook, twitter, youtube.

What have been your biggest challenges so far with running your business?

My biggest challenge has been mastering all the cash flow changes as I grow from stage to stage.  Right when I have my business finances in order, things change, which as a financial planner, drives me crazy!  The funny part is I know this is true with your personal finances, and that’s why it is important to review your finances often and become flexible but for some reason I thought running a business would be different.  Turns out I was operating under a false belief system, LOL!

How did you overcome these challenges?

I review my business finances every week to make sure I am growing and moving in the right direction.  This also ensures that I am getting the right systems and foundations in place as I continue to grow my business.  I believe having the right business finance systems in place is what separates the top achiever entrepreneurs and business owners from the rest.  If your business finances are not in order, your business will not be able to sustain long term and grow at the rate you desire.

What do you love about running your own business?

I love being able to create a life I love using my money. This is exactly what I teach and help my clients do as well. My business supports my idea life and allows me to fulfill my higher mission in life which is helping others live their best life. I truly am blessed.

What advice would you give to other business owners?

Ask for help often and surround yourself with people who believe in you and are ahead of you in business.  You can learn a lot from people who have already “been there, done that” and cut out a lot of unnecessary challenges, the more proactive you are.

How do you keep motivated through difficult times?

I have a very strict personal care routine as it is so critical that I am operating at my best at all times.  For me, I need to do certain things every week to keep me motivated.  They include – working out, yoga, meditation, playing with my dog Arya, spending time with my family and friends, dancing, getting massages, reading, going to the park and enjoying art and culture.  The more I do only what I love to do, the more I am motivating by being able to sustain that life.  I know if I want to live my ideal life, I have to work to make it happen.  That means staying the course during the difficult times.  But I would much rather “work to live” than “live to work.”

What’s your favourite quote?

“What is the meaning of life? To be happy and useful.”
{Dalai Lama}

“Find a meaningful need and fill it better than anyone else. This is success.”
{Author unknown}

“I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living now.” 
{The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho}

“Don’t worry about what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
{Howard Thurman}

Who inspires you?

My family and friends inspire me.  My clients and all the amazing women I get to work with inspire me by who they are and all they do in life.

Do you have a business philosophy?

Yes, my business philosophy is to work hard, be authentic, conduct business with integrity, professionalism and transparency and most of all play the game with heart.  Love conquers all.

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