Hannah: Well thanks for joining us today, Rianka.
Rianka: Thank you so much for having me, Hannah.
Hannah: First of all, I have to say congratulations for the Investment News, Women to Watch Rising Star Award that you just received.
Rianka: Thank you so much.
Hannah: It is so exciting to see women like you really being successful in their career at such a young age. Did you ever think that you would get to that point at such an early … Well number one, did you ever think you’d get to that point much less at a young age?
Rianka: To be honest Hannah, I don’t know. I don’t know. But what I do know for sure is that I’ve always been very mindful, and passionate about what I do and so I think because of that I don’t do anything just to do it. I do it and there’s a purpose behind it. Whatever I do, I do it with a lot of passion and I think it shows. I’ve been like that since I’ve been a young girl, in middle school, in high school. I see that there’s something that I feel like I can help, or change or make a difference and I always raise my hand. I was class president when I was in high school. I ran for vice president of the SGA when I was in college. I have a track record of not being able to just sit on the sidelines and do something about it, and I think it’s just overflowing into my professional career.
Hannah: Did you know that you always wanted to get into financial planning?
Rianka: No, actually. When I was younger, and I remember this, in the fifth grade we had career day and I dressed up as a doctor because my nana was a nurse. I just wanted to follow in her footsteps. I saw how she was helping other people and so that’s what I wanted to do. She had all these books around. I loved watching ER as a young kid. I was like, “Oh, this looks so cool.” She had her stethoscope. So I was just walking around, just wearing it all the time and that’s what I wanted to be.
When I got much older, somewhere it changed. I turned to have a love for math because it was very exact, like A plus B equals, I don’t know, AB. I don’t know, but with math there was something exact about it that you know you’re right or you’re wrong. And so I just turned to have a love for math, and then that love for math turned into helping other people who were having trouble with it, and that’s actually how I met my husband. I was tutoring him in high school. That’s a long story.
Hannah: Oh, that’s great.
Rianka: Yeah. But it turns out, Hannah, that he’s a brilliant smart person and he knew what he was doing the entire time, and he didn’t tell me until our engagement party six years later. So yeah, that’s a long story, maybe for another podcast on relationships, but here we are almost 15 years later, still together. Anyways.
Hannah: Oh, that’s so funny.
Rianka: Yeah, so I have a love for helping people. In middle school, high school, I turned to have a love for math, and then I paired the two and I started helping other people with math. Got to college, that was my major. I declared it to be a math major and then my sophomore year, I took a class called Vector Geometry Calculus. That was one class, Hannah, and I got a C- in that class. I was like, “And this is no longer for me.”
I immediately tried to find alright, what else is there to do? I took an elective course. It was Personal Finance 101. I can’t remember the exact name of it, but this is where I learned about disability insurance, credit scores, social security. My eyes lit up because I was like, “Wow.” Here is actual knowledge that is tangible, that I can use not only today but for the rest of my life. And again, knowing my history of being that type of person that feels like, “Okay. If I can make a difference, if I can fill a void, I will.” I became that financial guru person in college and started spreading the good gospel of personal finance amongst my peers and like, “Hey, did you know this student loan, you’re gonna have to pay it back six months after you graduate, and you’re probably incurring interest? So make sure you’re taking out as much as you actually need, not to go shopping.”
Hannah: Oh, that’s great. So you really bought into this idea of financial planning, really as a helping profession, as something to use what you’re naturally good at to help other people?
Rianka: Yes. For those of us who are financial planners, we know that that’s exactly what this profession is about. It’s about helping others. It’s about building relationships. There’s a lot of misconceptions and myths about financial planning. It’s all about numbers. Definitely if you have a love for math, there are pathways that you can take where you can heavily focus on something like investments, or stand behind the scenes, being the data person. There’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone doesn’t have to be a lead advisor if that’s not what you wanna do. But for me personally, I love that client interaction. Numbers is a small part of what we do. Well, it’s a big part, but the biggest part is building relationships and building that trust with that client, because you are learning things that most people don’t know about. Honestly, sometimes you learn things that their spouse don’t even know about. That’s huge. That’s a huge responsibility.
Hannah: Yeah, very much that confidante for a lot of people.
Hannah: I know a lot of new planners find this idea of this helping profession, really wanna help people, and then they get into quote, “the real world,” in their first jobs in the profession. What was that like for you, making that transition of being completely bought into this idea of financial planning, to actually doing financial planning?
Rianka: Well you know, Hannah, I was really lucky because the firm that I started off with, they believed that in order to be a successful financial planner, you had to be in the meetings. My first month I believe it was, I was sitting in client meetings. I started off as a paraplanner. I’m not a huge fan of that term, paraplanner, only because … My first tangent of our interview. Paraplanner, when clients hear that word they automatically compare it to paralegal. With the paralegal, you don’t necessarily have that foundation of education to become a lawyer. You just have this set of knowledge that is capped at what paralegals do.
For paraplanners, we actually have that set of knowledge and education so that we can continue to advance to be a CFP, or a certified financial planner. Though paraplanner is used widely, I would advocate for us to start using associate financial planner, or associate financial adviser because that’s exactly what we are. We have the education. Now it’s just us actually going through and getting our experience so that we can become that lead financial planner or financial adviser. That’s my first tangent.
Alright, going back to your actual question, with what I was assuming, did I get what I expected and the answer is yes. Again, the first month I started at my new job at the firm, we were in client meetings. Our responsibility was to be a sponge and to listen. What I appreciated about that time that we get a little antsy as new planners, because we are eager and ready to just start giving advice and everything, but I believe your first couple of years out of school should just be listening, being a sponge and learning body language. I took notes. I did the paperwork.
It came a time where the client looked to me to ask questions about the paperwork. It’s only paperwork, but you felt so empowered because it’s like I did this, I took ownership. I know exactly how to answer the question for this paperwork, and if anyone has ever filled out a brokerage account form or a transfer or rolling over of the 401K into the rollover IRA, it’s not easy paperwork. Now I feel like I’m dating myself. Now we can probably do it all electronically. But back in my day when we had to highlight the paperwork and put sticky notes in there, you feel empowered and you can answer those questions.
And then you sit, you learn body language. You take notes. It’s the lead adviser or the senior adviser that goes back, read the notes and say, “Hey Rianka, great job on catching this,” or, “You missed something and here’s what you missed.” It’s these little nuances that the senior adviser or lead adviser catch that you may not catch, and it’s a learning opportunity and learning moment. But you don’t catch it if you’re not sitting in the meetings.
I know that there are some firms out there that don’t allow their senior … Excuse me, their paraplanners or associate planners to sit in the meetings, and I think they’re completely missing out. They’re missing out on so much training that they can be giving their paraplanners or associate planners. It’s stunting the growth of that person and that person’s career, because I learned so much just listening and sitting in on those meetings. At that time, also I was building a relationship with the client. Even if I said hello and goodbye, it was still okay, this person could put a face to a name. Oh, this is Rianka.
Hannah: So your first job out of school, how long did you stay there?
Rianka: I was there for almost five years. Almost five years I was at my first firm. It was again, great learning, comprehensive financial planning firm. They actually taught me what it meant to a comprehensive financial planner. That was my example to go upon. When people say, “Oh yeah, I’m a comprehensive financial planner,” but the only thing you talk about is investments, I look at you sideways.
Hannah: You have this great job. You have this great firm. What prompted you to move onto a different role or different company?
Rianka: It was time for me to go. The best analogy I can view it is as a relationship. The first couple of years it was great. With any type of relationship, you go through growing pains. You’re learning me, I’m learning you. I’m learning what buttons I can push. They’re learning what buttons they can push. They know how far to push me. I know how far to push them. It’s great. And then it’s more growing pains, and it’s more growing pains. It started to be it’s me, it’s not you. So that we can just have a good relationship going forward, it’s time for me to spread my wings. If anyone personally knows me, they know I am a bird that cannot be caged. I started to feel that way, where I truly believe for me personally that I am a certified financial planner. I’m a financial planner but I’m so much more. I have so much to give to this world. That if you hold me hostage to my title of just a financial planner, you’re not allowing me to give all of my gifts to this world. And so I had to leave.
Hannah: Okay. Let’s talk about that really quick, because I think that’s a really interesting point that you’re making, that you’re more than your title of financial planner. When you say that, what does that mean for you?
Rianka: I believe sometimes we get stuck in what it says on the paper that our role is. As an associate financial planner, you do X, Y and Z and then it stops. Or when you’re the lead financial adviser, financial planner, it says X, Y and Z and then you stop. Again, for me I see that, and I see that okay, that’s what I’m supposed to do. That’s what I’m getting paid for. However, I have so much more to give. Sometimes what ends up happening is that the firm owners look to you and say, “Well, this is all that I expect of you. Of course, you can do a little bit more, but that’s it.” Then they hold you hostage to that title.
What I mean by I’m so much more than that, is yes I’m a financial planner, but I’m also an educator. I’m also a community leader. I’m also a mentor. I’m also a mentee. Sometimes those things are gonna take me out of the office. Those things will never come in the way of what I know what comes first, which is my clients. If you are at a traditional firm, and the firm has been doing things a certain way for over 20 years, and for someone like me who is a disruptor … And I say that in the most positive way.
A disruptor with technology, right? Technology right now is a disruptor because we have the robo advisers, which is just technology for investments. They’re not true advisers. But we have the robo advisers. That’s a disruption of technology. We have virtual firms now. That’s a disruption. That’s what I mean by just being that disruption of saying, “Hey, we can do things a different way.” Honestly, all of the new planners that are coming into this career, into this profession, they’re all disruptors because they are looking at things in a new light. Some people look at that as a negative, where I look at that as a positive. I’m saying if we’re going to continue to move this profession forward, we have to disrupt what has been going on so that we can stay with the pace of what’s happening around the world.
Hannah: This idea of that we’re all disruptors, I think that’s a really powerful idea of realizing you look at … I was talking to somebody recently about disruptive leadership. New planners coming into this profession, they’re not the future leaders of the profession. They’re the leaders today-
Hannah: … of the profession.
Hannah: I think that’s such an important point, and such an important thing for new planners to realize. To me, that’s the most exciting thing for entering this profession is the impact that you can have in your first couple years. It can be so powerful on firms and the profession at large.
Rianka: I definitely agree. I definitely agree. For me, the lens that I’m looking through, I’ve said this before, you will be the disruptor or you will be the disrupted. I hope that these firm owners wanna be on the disruptor side, meaning they are looking at technology and seeing that as a tool that they can use from an advantage standpoint, and to also help move the profession forward. We have video technology where now we don’t have to physically ask clients to come into the office. I’m on the East Coast. I’m in the DC area. We can have clients in California. We can have clients in Italy. We can have clients literally all over the world. We can still build a really great relationship with them because it’s not just a phone call. It’s video. They can actually see us. We can see into their homes. I can meet their cats or dogs. I can meet their children, where a lot of that cannot take place necessarily in an office.
So from a disruption standpoint, it’s technology. You will either try to fight it, or you will embrace it. For the new planners coming in, what I will ask of them is please have patience because the firm owners have been in this profession for 15, 20, maybe even 25 to 30 years. They have been used to doing things a certain way. For them, that’s safe. Maybe they are almost at a point where they’re about to retire, where they’re just like, “You know what? I don’t wanna do anything different. I just wanna do things the way I know how to do it, and that’s it.” If that’s the mindset they have, don’t fight it because that’s who they are and you cannot change them.
Then there are firm owners who have been in the profession for 20 years, 20, 30 years and they are embracing change. They’re like, “Oh, well I can learn this bit of technology. Let’s try to bring this video technology into the office. Oh, you mean we can have a group discussion quarterly with our clients?” And they’re embracing it. Again, you’re gonna be the disruptor or you’re gonna be disrupted. You are going to embrace or you’re gonna try to fight. The firms who are fighting this new technology, the firms who are fighting these new ideas, they will be the disrupted.
Hannah: Yeah. I would add it’s really frustrating being in the job when you’re working with somebody who it’s so obvious to you that they’re gonna be the ones getting disrupted. But just know that there’s other planners out there who don’t think like that. If you don’t see them, find them.
Hannah: Go to FPA events. Go to national events. Find those people, because those are your people. Those are the people you wanna be associated with.
Rianka: Yes. Yeah, and you touch on a good point, Hannah. Sometimes, especially as a new planner, your first firm is the only thing you know. That is your world. You make the assumption that all firms are like this, and that is not true. That’s the beauty about our profession, and that’s also the challenge. But the beauty is that all firms are not alike. All clients, the subset of clients that you’re working with, they’re not the same at every firm as well. If you are truly not living or bringing your full self forward, if you don’t feel comfortable bringing your full self forward every single day at your firm, you’re not at the right firm.
Now it’s just like what Hannah said. You go to these conferences. You go to the FPA Annual Conference. You go to gathering, retreat, residency. You find your people and you just chat with them. I’m pretty sure there’s gonna be a firm out there that fits for you, because the world is missing out. If you’re not bringing your full self forward every single day, if you’re not bringing your full self forward with the passions, with the gifts that you have been blessed with, then the world is missing out. The profession is missing out.
I was talking to someone the other day, and he is a minority. He’s a minority in a sense of from an ethnic standpoint. He shared with me that he feels like he can’t, maybe from a confidence standpoint, can’t be his true self. Everyone has a different upbringing. Everyone has a different starting line. When you start to hear these stories, listen. Don’t place judgment or oh, it shouldn’t be that hard. Just listen, first of all. When I was listening to his story, this is the exact same thing I shared with him. We need you to be confident. We need you to bring your full self forward because of the gifts that you share. He started sharing with me of his upbringing and all of this.
I’m like, “We need to hear that, because you can resonate with clients. Clients can then open up more, because they’re learning more about you. The more you share about yourself, the more the clients are gonna share about their self.” That’s when that trust starts to happen. That’s when you’re building relationships. For some firms, where their bread and butter is how the market is doing and they’re focused on investments, these are the clients that are gonna stay when the market tanks because they have a personal relationship with you. Their value of you as their adviser or their planner is not placed on how well the market is doing. It’s placed on you.
Hannah: Yeah. It’s such an important point. What makes you different actually sometimes is your most valuable asset, when working with clients or engaging in the profession. That’s what helps you stand out. That’s what’s gonna draw people to you, that they don’t feel comfortable anywhere else. What a gift to those people, when you bring your full self to them.
Rianka: Yes. And if at any profession, this is the profession to do it. Everyone is different. That’s the beauty about it. Everyone is different. Everyone has a different upbringing. You being able to share your story with clients is empowering, because then they can share their story with you as well.
Hannah: I was talking to a girl. Her family immigrated here. Her English, she didn’t feel her English was good enough to be a financial planner. It was so fascinating to me because she was talking about the confidence of this, and I’m just like, “Why do you have to speak in English when you’re doing financial planning? What a gift to your community if they could go, and instead of them struggling with their English too, that they could actually talk to somebody in their native language.”
Rianka: Their native language. Yes.
Hannah: What a gift.
Rianka: That falls under diversity, right? The inclusion that we need to start highlighting in this profession, instead of trying to have everyone fit the mold of what this profession has been for the past 20 years, which is working with millionaires, working with older clients who are pre-retirees or retirees. We can meet the clients where they are, instead of the clients meeting us where we are.
Hannah: It’s an entrepreneur’s dream profession, I say.
Rianka: Oh, yeah. Yeah, well we’re both entrepreneurs, right? We know exactly how fulfilled we both feel in our roles as business owners, so yeah.
Hannah: When did you decide that you were gonna become an entrepreneur?
Rianka: I didn’t decide. My health decided for me. I don’t share this story too often, but I think I can be open with you, Hannah. It’s just you and I listening in, right?
Hannah: Just us. No big deal.
Rianka: It’s just us. Honestly, what happened … And again, going back to I don’t wanna be held hostage to my title. That’s what I started feeling again at my second firm, again. There are people who are still there who are thriving and loving what they’re doing. That’s totally fine. It’s me, Hannah. I figured out it’s me. It’s me. What happened was before I left my first firm, I had this desire of launching my own firm. But I wasn’t confident enough, though I had my CFP designation. I don’t know. You go into this I’m too young, I’m a woman, plus I’m a person of color. Who’s gonna hire me?
I wasn’t confident at all to start my own firm, so I went to the second firm. It was blissful. Again, with relationships, bliss. Very blissful. It was a 180. Felt support, all of this, and then I started getting these migraines about a year into … Maybe it wasn’t even a year. Almost a year into my new firm I started getting these migraines. There were some things I wanted to do outside of work that I felt restrained that I couldn’t do, because it’s okay, well what are they gonna say if I do this. Again, not truly bringing my full self forward or being truly who I am. I started to say no to things where I really wanted to say yes.
I started getting these migraines to a point where it was debilitating, where I had to go to the ER almost every weekend. I called out of work a couple of times because I couldn’t move. Opening my eyes was so painful. It was because of work. It wasn’t because of the environment. It was because that’s not where God wanted me to be. I spoke with my husband and I said, “Reggie, I think I have to start my own firm. I am getting these migraines.” He was the one who was taking me to the hospital, so he knew this was real. I said, “I think it’s because I need to … God has something else for me and this isn’t it.”
He said, “Alright. Well, how are we gonna do this?” I put my financial planner hat on. I became my own client, which eventually we hired another financial planner, but we looked at our budget. What would it look like living off of one salary? How much should we be saving? Do we have enough in our emergency fund, and all of that? Once we decided that I was going to leave, all of my paychecks we started saving into just capital for the firm or whatever. I tell you, Hannah, the moment I decided that I was gonna start my own firm, the migraines went away.
Whatever your religion may be, whatever your spiritual connection may be, listen, because my health was at risk because I wasn’t listening to what my calling was. The moment I surrendered to what my calling was for my life, my health got better. It’s been almost three years, Hannah, and I have not had a migraine since. If that is not God just saying, “You’re on your right path, I don’t know what is.” Since I’ve left and started my firm, I have done things that I’ve never thought would happen. Just here recently in March, being the recipient of the inaugural Women to Watch Rising Star Award is just a testament to I am on my right path.
Hannah: That is so inspiring to hear. I love it.
Rianka: Yeah. I think this is one of the professions that you can truly follow your calling, follow your passion. It just so happens that for me personally, that’s what needed to be done for me. Everyone doesn’t need to be an entrepreneur, though. You can be an intrapreneur. What I share with the young planners who have this desire to work with their cohort or their community, is build a business case. If you just go to your manager or your boss and say, “Hey, I wanna work with young clients.” To them, what immediately comes to their mind is alright, that’s great. However, we’re running a business, so how can we make sure that one, we can continue to pay your salary, but two, that it makes sense from a business standpoint to service these clients.
My advice to these young planners who want to work with younger clients, these thriving young professionals, build a business case so that when you’re walking into this meeting, you’re prepared. They’re gonna ask you, “How many clients you wanna serve?” Make it clear that you will continue to serve the clients that you’re servicing for the firm, as far as these millionaires, or they have at least a million dollars of investible assets. You’ll continue to serve them. But say, “Hey, Mrs boss lady, can I bring on at least ten clients who may not be necessarily millionaires yet, but they will be? And here’s the salary range that we’ll work with. Here are the type of professionals we’ll work with.”
Who has a really good business case for this is FJY Financial. They work with thriving young professionals where they don’t pay the actual retainer that the normal pre-retirees or retirees pay. Even RTD, RTD Financial, they also have this as well. Check out their website. You can get some more information on that. Because we’re missing out, we are missing out if we are not working with these young professionals who are at an impressionable stage of their career and their life. They’re gonna say, “When I needed help and no one else would take me, you did.” They’re gonna become very loyal to you.
Hannah: Well, even just the marketing case for that. You look at the costs. Talking just straight business, because you have to be able to speak the language of the business owners, just from a business case, what’s the marketing acquisition cost of a new client? If you can onboard them for significantly less now, continue servicing them, and in 10, 15, 20 years you already have that client. A client is paying you to be in your marketing pipeline. It really is a compelling argument.
Rianka: Right. For these young clients that you’re bringing on, it’s definitely a long play. You may not make a profit for the first couple of years, but seeing the trajectory of their salary, seeing the trajectory of what they’ll potentially be able to invest is a good business case. Even, Hannah, as far as you were mentioning with the acquisition of a client, it’s become cheaper. These particular clients, you don’t necessarily have to ask them to come into the office. They can be clients that you just talk to through video, where it’s a legit hour. You turn on your webcam, turn it off and it’s an hour.
When I talk to other advisers and I tell them I have never met majority of my clients in person … Some of my clients I’ve known them from college and now they’re reaching out, or we just got the opportunity just through my travels and me reaching out to them, being able to meet them in person. But majority of my clients I have never physically met in person, and I have a phenomenal relationship with all of my clients. They’re like, “How?” I’m like, “I am in their house.”
I know their cat’s name. I see their cat. I see their children. They show me a new painting that they just got. They’re walking around with their laptop, sharing with me some of the things that is awesome to them. They’re showing me their bowling trophies that they just won, because they go bowling every Wednesday at seven PM, and so I know I can never meet with them at that time. When their year anniversary came up, I sent them a gift certificate to one of the really nice bowling allies here in DC where they could play a couple games. They can have a few cocktails and some food. They were like, “Wow.” I’m like, “Yeah. I listen.” That’s building relationships right there.
Hannah: Oh, I love that example. You’ve talked a lot about being passionate about what you do, feeling the sense of calling, and that really helped you take the leap into starting your own firm. When you started your own firm, what was your passion around that? Who did you wanna serve, how did you wanna serve it? What was really that vision that drove you?
Rianka: What drove me to start my firm was that a lot of people were reaching out to me. Either colleagues of my husband, peers from school for me, peers from school for him, and they were reading articles that I was writing. When I was at my first firm, I started a blog. It was called Golden Financial Nuggets, because I was like, “Alright, we’re learning this information. This is information everyone can use, not just people who can pay us $10,000 per year retainer.” I got approval to start a blog because I wanted to share the knowledge. Again, if I feel like doing something that can help a lot of people, I’m gonna share it. That was my way of sharing.
Because I was planting those seeds I didn’t even know I was planting of just that knowledge, and being that trusted person in their sphere of influence when it comes to personal finances, when people started to hit a pivotal point in their career as far as a huge salary jump, or a huge bonus, or something so special as expanding their family, I was the first person that they reached out to. To continue to tell these people I can’t help you because you don’t have $10,000 in annual retainer, or you don’t have a million bucks of investible assets, it stated to hurt.
It started to hurt me personally, saying, “I can’t help you because you don’t have money,” then I started to look at just me. I couldn’t even afford to be a client of my own firm, nor could my family. I did not grow up rich. I did not grow up with the white picket fence. I grew up poor. Let’s call a spade a spade. That’s how I grew up. Now here are other people who are trying to break that cycle, or break this chain of being financially illiterate, and now they’re trying to expand their personal finance knowledge and I’m saying I can’t help them. No. That didn’t feel right to me.
And so I started my firm. It’s called Your Greatest Contribution. I didn’t want to make this about me. I wanted to make it about my clients. I asked my clients, “What is it that you want your greatest contribution to be?” They share that with me. Now it’s my job to make sure that they have the foundation, whether from a career standpoint or a financial standpoint to make that happen. That’s why I started my firm, because I wanted to help people who wanted help. Not everybody wants help. But for those people who are reaching out and saying, “Hey, I’m willing to pay something. Can you help me? Can you help a sister out?” I wanna be there to help them.
Hannah: You start your firm and you have this great vision. You have this great story. It sounds like you might have even some clients lined up, just from the work that you’ve done previously in your natural network. Was it easy starting your business?
Rianka: Hannah, again, I believe if you walk in your purpose, things will not be hard. I take that back. When you walk in your purpose, things will not be impossible. Yes, things will be hard, but it will not be impossible. I believe that when you put out in the atmosphere what your goals and desires are, it conspires with you, not against you. Again, seeds that I’ve been planting for years that I didn’t even know was going to become fruitful when I started my firm. When I started out in this profession, I had no inkling that I was gonna start a firm. I had no desire to start a firm. It just so happened to happen. But when you walk in your purpose, things are not impossible. They’re possible.
I left my firm, the second firm, October 31st, on Halloween. That was my last day. I opened my virtual doors of YGC on December 1st, and I got my first client within the first two weeks of me launching my firm. She called me randomly. I didn’t even know how to answer my business phone. “Hello, Rianka Dorsainvil with Your Greatest Contribution. How can I help you?” I’m still learning. Before I got the phone, she was like, “Yep. You’re exactly who I want. I wanna work with a woman, and I wanna work with a woman of color. I’m so happy I found you, because I’ve been looking for years.”
Rianka: I was the right person at the right Google search. She hired me right off the bat. Then I got another call the following day and I was just like, “Wow. Okay, I don’t have any fears anymore. This is what I’m supposed to do.” Again, when you’re walking in your purpose and when you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, you’re bringing your full self forward, the world will conspire with you, not against you.
Hannah: Let’s talk about some of the other projects. You’re not just a financial planner or just a business owner.
Rianka: You got that right, Hannah.
Hannah: Okay. There might be even more things that I don’t know about. You’ve been NEXGEN president.
Hannah: Served in the national leadership there. You’re on the CFP Pr, volunteering a lot of time with the C-
Hannah: Yeah, with the campaign.
Rianka: CNBC financial adviser.
Hannah: Yeah, CNBC financial adviser. You have a new podcast and we’ll talk about that in a minute. What else is there?
Rianka: Right. Let’s see. What in the world is Rianka doing? It’s so funny because when people see all that I’m doing, they’re just like, “How?” I’m like, “You learn to build a really great team around you.” You see me on stage. You see me on this podcast. You see me, but I couldn’t do this without a really great team behind me. I take that back. I couldn’t do this with a really great team beside me, because people work with me. They don’t work for me. That is the reason why I can do all of the things that I can do. I think you named them all.
Hannah: I’m sure there’s gonna be more coming soon. Let’s talk about your new podcast. You just launched it. At the time of recording you just launched your first intro episode. By the time this podcast airs there will be several episodes up, but it is 2050 TrailBlazers. Can you tell us the vision behind this podcast?
Rianka: Yes. Again, I’ve learned to stop fighting God and just listen. Remember, when I launched YGC, it was because I was literally put on my back. It was silence, and it was just me listening to God. The same thing almost happened with this podcast, Hannah. People started to come to me about diversity inclusion, what can they do. I fought it, because I’m like, “Just because I’m a woman, just because I’m a person of color, I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know everything.” I fought it for so long when people would reach out to me, wanted to talk about a podcast about diversity. I’m like, “No. I’m much more than a woman of color in this profession. I have expertise in other things. Don’t just talk to me about that.”
I fought it for so long, and then just things start happening in the background. I started to notice that when people did go on podcasts and start talking about diversity within the profession, I would follow up and look at these group chats. It was negative commentary around it. I’m like, “How can diversity be negative?” If anything, we should try to embrace it, because America is growing to be a beautiful melting pot. Our profession needs to look like the clients we are serving today, and who we are going to serve in the future. By seeing that negative commentary, and I started to see a division. We already have enough division in the world today. We don’t need it in our profession.
I think the reason why this commentary became so negative, and just people feeling threatened by the word diversity. It’s because the conversation happens so few and far in between. It’s one episode out of 50. It’s one panel session out of a whole conference that happens once a year. There’s no continuous dialogue that’s happening around diversity and inclusion. I was laying in bed. I was like, “I need to do something.” I fought it for a few months, Hannah. I was like, “No, no. I’m too busy. I got a whole bunch of stuff going on. I don’t have time for this.”
And then I started to lose sleep, where I couldn’t sleep. Just small things. I would randomly go on Twitter and somebody is saying something, and it’s negative. I would fall asleep with that. A couple of days later I would go onto Facebook, look at some group chats and something else. I’m like, “Are you serious? We can’t be divided in this profession. We just cannot be divided in this profession.” And so I was like, “Okay. Alright. What vehicle, what avenue, what platform makes the most sense?”
Then the podcast came about. I didn’t know what the name was gonna be, I just knew we needed a space, a very comfortable platform where people can just talk and be their selves, where it feels like, Hannah, you and I are in my living room chatting. It just so happens that thousands of people are just gonna be listening to our conversation. It’s an opportunity for them to listen. That’s how the conversation goes on 2050 TrailBlazers. It’s conversation around just addressing the lack of diversity in the financial planning profession. We’re engaging industry experts and leaders in this conversation so that we can encourage cultural awareness and cultural perspectives, and figuring out ways to make a measurable impact. We’re just not talking the talk.
First thing, one, we need to educate. What is the state of the profession today? The CFP board, they just through the censor for financial planning, just really it’s a press release, by the time this airs maybe a month ago, just sharing the numbers. I don’t see that as a negative thing. I see that as a positive. I’m like, “Alright, well now we have a foundation. Now we have the numbers so now we can build upon that.” We don’t know where to go unless we know our starting point. I don’t see this as now we need to be negative towards the CFP board and say, “Why is there only 1,200 African American CFPs when there’s 80,000?” No. It’s how can we get more, because we know that there’s more than 1,200 African Americans in the United States.
From a cultural perspective, there’s a lot of cultural nuances that we need to learn as financial planners so that we can properly serve the clients, the melting pot of clients that America is growing into. Again, this podcast is gonna be able to shed light on that. What does it mean to have a client who is from African descent? Not necessarily African American, because it’s two totally different things. Or Asian descent, and how they deal with money, or Latino descent, and how they deal with money, or their fear of dealing with the public sector of money because of now this fear of deportation.
It goes deeper than just the color of our skin. We have some culture around us, and some nuances that we are fighting to deal with as clients. If we’re gonna be great financial planners to our clients, we need to know how to work with them, how to ask the appropriate questions, what is not okay to ask, or how that could be deemed offensive. For so long, we have dealt with a small subset of America. We have worked with pre-retirees and retirees who have a million dollars of investible assets. It’s a very homogenous subset of clients. Now, if we’re going to not only expand our knowledge but expand our cultural awareness, we have to listen and not take offense to it, and not feel threatened when you hear the word diversity.
Hannah: What’s so … I don’t know if exciting is the right word. Maybe it is. What’s so exciting to me about this idea of diversity, within financial planning especially, is that is what makes us good at our jobs. The ability to listen to a client and understand them, the ability to listen to another adviser who I have a different background from. I’m not a person of color, but to hear that those stories, that’s what makes me good at my job. That’s what gives me hope about diversity in financial planning. We should be the leading industry in diversity.
Rianka: Yes. Oh my gosh, Hannah, you have hit the nail on the head. We need to be the example for other professions. We can. That’s the exciting part. We can set the foundation of what other industries and professions need to be doing. You also said something else, too. Just because we have different cultures or different backgrounds, there’s some similarities that we’ve shared off air amongst each other, where we have some similarities with our upbringing and all of that. Again, just building that relationship and that personal connection that it goes … Culture is an aspect of how we work with clients, but it’s a huge aspect.
In order for us to be really great planners, we have to understand that we have to look beyond just the dollars. That’s why I started 2050 TrailBlazers. I felt, with the connection that I have made throughout my career, the panels that I have spoken on, and honestly the leadership that I have in this profession, I feel is a responsibility. I can’t go comfortably in this profession just doing the bare minimum. I can’t. I just can’t. I feel like I have a larger responsibility, and I have finally stopped running away from what I feel like another responsibility is for me, which is being a vessel as we talk about diversity and inclusion.
Again, I don’t have all the answers. But I will bring people to the table who have some answers, who have great examples, and who want to share best practices. This podcast is just not for people of color. That’s preaching to the choir. This podcast is for everybody. This podcast is for industry leaders, professional leaders who want to make a difference, who want to bring cultural awareness into their firms for their personnel, and also for the clients so that they can better serve their clients. This podcast is for the technology leaders in this profession who want to make their technology more comprehensive from a diversity lens.
We haven’t even touched on the LGBT community, and how it just says you can only do Mr and Mrs. What about Mr and Mr, or Mrs and Mrs? What about hey, don’t call me that. Just I’m a human. This podcast is for people who, again, want to be the disruptors in a positive way, but who want to bring the profession forward, who want to move the profession forward. The only thing you have to do is listen. If you feel like you can play a role in pushing the profession forward, that’s when you raise your hand. That’s when you reach out to either a guest on the podcast, or you reach out to me. I’ve shared this on my podcast. This platform is available for anyone who has solutions, whoever want to share solutions.
Hannah: Where can people find you, find the podcast?
Rianka: Yeah, so you can go to 2050trailblazers.com. We’re on all the social medias. It’s @2050tbs. Me, you can find me. I’m at rianka_d for most social media platforms, for Twitter, for Instagram, Facebook. I have a public facing Facebook profile, Rianka R Dorsainvil. Rianka is spelled R-I-A-N-K-A.
Hannah: Your firm name is Your Greatest Contribution so I have to ask you, what do you want your greatest contribution to be?
Rianka: That’s a good question, Hannah. Oh goodness. It has been said that the wealthiest place on this planet is not gold mines or diamond mines. It is the graveyard, because there lies the dreams that never came to reality, or inventions that were never acted upon. My greatest contribution will be for me to continue to give my full self to this profession, and to not hold back, and to stop running from my callings. Whenever my last day is on this earth, I want God to say, “Well done.”