Women who achieve senior positions in management are the exception, rather than the rule. According to Fortune, of the CEOs leading companies on the 2018 Fortune 500 list, only 24 are women. There are many factors involved, but not being qualified or unable to cope with the job are not among them. Women have successfully breached the glass ceiling into senior-level positions in many fields, and we are specifically looking at the women who have made it in the world of finance.
Daniella Rand is a San Francisco-based financial planner. She is currently Managing Director of The Rand Group, a wealth management and financial planning company she founded in 2005, under the umbrella of Merrill Lynch. Rand is a graduate of the University of California San Diego, and she has nearly 20 years of experience in the world of financial planning.
Rand and her group take an unusual approach to wealth management and financial planning – their guiding principle is that money is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. I spoke with her to find out more about the life of a woman finance executive, and the challenges coming with the job.
You’ve been a financial planner for nearly 20 years. What are the most significant obstacles you had to overcome to achieve success?
Investing is a marathon, not a sprint. The same applies to a career as a Financial Advisor. Unfortunately, our industry does contain its share of bad eggs who would rather cut corners and violate the industry’s high ethical standards than do the long, hard work necessary to succeed in a demanding industry. I have always taken the path of long work hours, persistence and the utmost dedication to my craft, surpassing the industry’s high ethical standards.
When your record is like mine, especially as a woman, not everyone wants to give you credit for rising and succeeding, while always putting the clients’ interests first. Someone once told me, “It’s always easier to shoot at a target from the bottom of a mountain.”
You seem to have achieved an optimal balance between work and personal life. Do you have any advice for young women struggling to find that balance?
I didn’t travel for the first seven years of building my brand, working 12 hours a day, even Saturday and Sunday. I still work 10 hours a day. As I have grown in my career, however, I’ve realized that life affords us ample time to achieve everything that’s important in our lives, both personal and professional; that the office, the team and the clients would still be there when I returned home from that trip. I wouldn’t regret hiking Machu Picchu or learning about global economies and cultures when I’m lying on my deathbed. I’ve learned to explore my passions outside of the office and to not feel guilty about it. Life is short, it’s fleeting, and it’s precious. I always carry my cell phone and I’m always ready to remote in, but if I’m in the Alaskan wilderness or doing community service in Africa with no cell or internet coverage for a few days, I don’t sweat it. This approach has made me a better educated and more productive Financial Advisor, and a role model to my accomplished clients who also enjoy the fruits of their success.
Your company, The Rand Group, says it delivers “bespoke financial planning.” What is it, and why is it a good thing?
At the Rand Group, everything that we do is customized to the clients’ unique set of needs. No two clients are exactly alike, therefore no two financial plans are identical, either. Many firms offer “calculators” or “algorithms” and call them “financial plans.” They don’t allow for different scenarios, and they aren’t flexible. Sometimes a client asks us how selling the family residence will affect his or her financial plan. We’ll perform scenario A and scenario B for that client. Maybe a client wants to know how his or her financial plan would be impacted if he or she lived to 80 versus 90, or to run a scenario for estimated future healthcare costs. As retirement planning specialists, we’ve also run numerous scenarios to help clients determine the impact on their financial Plan if they roll over their employer retirement plan as a “lump sum” versus choosing to annuitize it. We have the tools, time and resources to do that, whereas many other financial planning practices do not. All of our customized financial planning is complimentary, and we offer regular revisions as often as needed to most accurately prepare our clients for potentially unforeseen events in today’s increasingly uncertain world.
You and your team say you take a holistic approach to wealth management and financial planning. What is the overall big picture you focus on when developing a plan?
When developing and executing a holistic financial plan, the focus is achieving the highest probability of success with the lowest risk. We plan for any goal the client has in mind–and we achieve it. We include trust and estate planning, retirement planning, job transition planning, employer stock plan diversification strategies, options analysis and strategies, detailed employer plan advice, college planning, lending and mortgage refinancing, planning and analysis for major purchases or sales such as for a business or a large asset, diversification strategies, and insurance and healthcare solutions and planning. We also help our clients budget, identifying unnecessary expenses and fees in order to save more for retirement.
We offer virtually every investment solution alongside regular rebalancing and monitoring, from alternative investments like commodities, futures and hedging strategies, to “best in class” money managers and mutual funds, no-load funds, index and exchange-traded funds, CDs, bond-laddering for a fixed-income or tax-free fixed income stream, and tax-efficient investing and tax-loss harvesting. We also offer a philanthropic approach. You name it, we can do it. We do recommend that our clients seek a tax advisor and estate planning attorney so that we can work alongside him or her.
If you could go back all those years when you were looking to start out in the world of finance, what advice would you give to your younger self?
If you work hard, follow your passions, and always do the right thing, you will rise to the top despite all obstacles, and no one can ever shoot you down.
Thank you for your time and thoughtful observations.
Equities Contributor: Faizan Raza
Source: Equities News