Category Archives: ASD

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Transparency with Diana B.: Living With Type 1 Diabetes



As an estate tax attorney, Melanie Schnoll-Begun spent so much of her life helping others plan their for their futures. But when she applied for a life insurance policy of her own during pregnancy, she never imagined she’d get a rejection letter. That was the moment she learned she had Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disorder that now impacts every aspect of her life.

In this episode, Diana Britton, managing editor of WealthManagement.com, is joined by Melanie Schnoll-Begun, the managing director and head of philanthropy management at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. She opens up about her journey living with diabetes, and how the disease has shaped her career. Melanie was later inspired to help launch Morgan Stanley GIFT Cures, a program that advances the development of research discoveries into new cures and treatments for a broad range of diseases. The diabetic community—and especially those with Type 1—is very compromised right now due to the coronavirus, and Melanie has had to have a heightened level of awareness during this time.    

 In this episode, you will learn:

  • How Melanie learned about her diagnosis
  • How having diabetes has shaped Melanie’s life and career
  • Misconceptions about Type 1 diabetes
  • How COVID-19 impacts people with Type 1 diabetes
  • What kind of work Morgan Stanley GIFT Cures is doing around COVID-19 
  • Melanie’s advice for coping with Type 1 diabetes
  • And more.

 Tune in now to hear about Melanie Schnoll Begun’s experience living with Type 1 diabetes.

WealthManagement.com | Diana Britton | Contact Diana | Contact Melanie | Morgan Stanley


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Transparency With Diana B.: Working Mothers in Quarantine



When shelter-in-place orders started cropping up in mid-March, as the coronavirus started to spread in cities across the country, many schools and daycares closed. Babysitters and other caregivers, such as grandparents, were forced to separate from the kids they typically cared for. The circumstance brought a new challenge to working parents, who have been struggling over the last few months to work remotely, home-school their children, and keep the young ones engaged, occupied and happy. 

In this episode of Transparency, Diana Britton, managing editor of WealthManagement.com, talks to three mothers in financial services about the challenges they’ve experienced balancing work and childcare during the quarantine.

Shana Sissel, chief investment officer of Spotlight Asset Group, has an energetic little boy who is feeling increasingly antsy inside their apartment. Kristine Porcaro, co-founder and president of Lexington Wealth Management, is preserving emotional energy for her two teenage girls. And Blair DuQuesnay, an advisor at Ritholtz Wealth Management, is balancing the care of her young son and newborn daughter.

Diana’s joined by Shana, Kristine, and Blair who discuss the challenges of keeping their children emotionally and mentally fulfilled while stuck inside, as well as their mechanisms for staying sane. Diana draws on her own experience in this episode, working from home while caring for her 4-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter.  

In this episode, you will learn:

  • About their experiences working from home with kids
  • How these moms feel about screentime and how they manage it
  • How they’re dealing with schools and daycares being closed 
  • How they’re dealing with acting out and heightened emotions
  • How to run an advisory business while caring for children
  • Ways these mothers maintain sanity and relieve stress
  • And more. 

Tune in now to hear a candid discussion about the challenges of caring for children and working from home during COVID-19.

WealthManagement.com | Diana Britton | Contact Diana | Spotlight Asset Group | Shana Sissel on LinkedIn  | Lexington Wealth Management | Kristine Porcaro on LinkedIn | Ritholtz Wealth Management | Blair DuQuesnay on LinkedIn  


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Transparency With Diana B.: More Tales From the “Boom Boom Room”



When Julie Johnson started out as a financial advisor at Smith Barney in the 1990s, she was “smiling and dialing” to build up her book of business. She excelled in her rookie year, so much so that she was sought after by another wealth advisor who needed help expanding his practice. She jumped at the chance. But what seemed like a good opportunity turned into a nightmare.

In this episode of Transparency, Diana Britton, WealthManagement.com’s managing editor, is joined by Julie Johnson, former senior vice president of UBS Wealth Management and current president and CEO of XY Communication, an executive coaching and public speaking firm. Julie shares her experiences being a female in a very male dominated industry at a time when there were places like “the boom boom room,” a famous party room at Smith Barney’s Garden City, N.Y. branch. Many women flocked to Wall Street in the ‘90s only to be held down by chauvinists. Julie was at the center of it, as she stayed in a years-long toxic relationship with her male partner, who made inappropriate advances.  

The stress of it all ended up taking a bad toll on her physical health, which eventually led her to leave the industry.

“When you feel so small and so disrespected for so many years, it has a physical and very real physical effect on you,” she says. “We have to give ourselves permission to say ‘no,’ and to get help.”

In this episode, you will learn:

  • The story of Julie’s successes and struggles in financial services
  • The negative tendencies of successful financial advisors
  • The importance of taking care of yourself first, before clients
  • How Julie learned to be her own advocate for her health
  • How she found the power to stand up for herself and leave the industry
  • How to let go of the pursuit of perfectionism and seek support
  • And more.

Tune in now to hear how Julie got through these difficult times.

Resources: 

WealthManagement.com | Diana Britton | Contact Diana | XY Communication | Julie Johnson LI


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Transparency with Diana B.: Coming Out of the Closet



Robert Castillo came out of the closet to his friends and family when he was 16 years old. But when he first got a job at a financial advisory firm in his 20s, he didn’t feel comfortable coming out to his colleagues. The financial services’ reputation for being very male-centric contributed greatly to that decision. He felt he didn’t fit in, and even considered leaving the industry at one point. He eventually did come out at work, and has become a leader in serving and empowering LGBT clients.

While Greg Fields didn’t come out of the closet himself—he’s straight, his son did at 13 years old. Fields wasn’t surprised by it; he spoke frankly to his son about gender and sexuality from a young age. But when his son came out, it did make him nervous; the first thing that came to his mind was his child’s safety. And even living in progressive Los Angeles, that was one of the realities he had to navigate with his son’s sexual orientation—bullying. Greg took action to help protect his son and to become an ally of the LGBT community.

In this episode of Transparency, WealthManagement.com Managing Editor Diana Britton talks to Robert and Greg, both financial advisors with Gerber Kawasaki Wealth & Investment Management in Santa Monica, Calif., who co-lead the LGBT group at their firm. They share their stories in greater depth and explain what they’re doing to support the LGBT community in an industry that is—in many ways—still closed off to this culture. 

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Robert’s story of coming out in the financial industry
  • How Greg educated himself on the LGBT community and what he did to help protect his son from bullying
  • The importance of bringing good advice to this underserved community
  • Robert’s advice for other financial advisors who are in the LGBT community
  • What should be done to change the industry’s approach to LGBT issues
  • How to be more open-minded about the LGBT community and the financial needs of the community
  • And more.

Tune in now to hear their stories and find out what you can do to better understand and support the LGBT community within the financial services industry. 

Resources: 

WealthManagement.com | Diana Britton | Contact Diana | Gerber Kawasaki | Gerber Kawasaki LGBT Group


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Transparency With Diana B.: An Advisor’s Battle With Stomach Cancer, Addiction and Himself



About 12 years ago, Steve Melen had just started a new job as an advisor at Morgan Stanley, was remodeling his house and had a new baby girl when he got the shock of his life; he was diagnosed with stage III stomach cancer. Not long after, he went through a very serious surgery, with doctors removing several of his organs, including his stomach. But the real problems started after he left the hospital.

In this episode of Transparency, WealthManagement.com Managing Editor Diana Britton is joined by Melen, who shares the intimate details of his battle with cancer. He would later come out of a complicated treatment with an addiction to pain medication and later on, alcohol. Listen to Steve’s story about how he found the strength to change his life for the better. 

In this episode, you will learn:

 The story of Steve’s diagnosis and battle with cancer

  • What lead to his addiction to pain meds and how he eventually kicked them
  • How Steve’s fears, insecurities and broken relationships lead him to self-medicate with alcohol  
  • What his “rock-bottom” moment was
  • What kind of psychological toll health issues could have on one’s family and caregivers
  • How Steve got past the addiction and started being open and honest with others about what he went through
  • About Steve’s new beginning
  • And more.

 Tune in now to hear Steve’s very personal and emotional story about overcoming cancer and addiction.

 Resources:  WealthManagement.com | Diana Britton | Contact Diana | Debbie’s Dream Foundation


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Transparency With Diana B.: The Ups and Downs of Living on the Spectrum



Welcome to the first episode of Transparency with Diana B., a podcast that explores the deepest struggles and hardships that many advisors face. Our mandate is to bring these issues out into the open so that others may find healing. 

Today your host Diana Britton, managing editor of WealthManagement.com, is joined by Andrew Komarow, the founder of Planning Across the Spectrum, a financial planning firm that specializes in special-needs individuals and their families. The firm has a specific focus on folks with autism spectrum disorder, a neurological and developmental disorder. Andrew is actually on the spectrum himself, so he knows the disorder first-hand. This conversation about Andrew’s adult diagnosis of autism peels away layers of misconceptions about the disorder and encourages others to cast down their masks. 

In this episode, you will learn:

  • The definition of ASD and typical behaviors and symptoms
  • Why Andrew believes there is almost too much awareness of ASD and a need for more acceptance and understanding
  • About one person’s struggle with autism 
  • What helped Andrew to become successful in the financial industry
  • The truth about common ASD misconceptions
  • How Andrew overcame the struggles with the disorder
  • His advice for folks who may be different
  • And more.

Tune in now to hear a candid conversation with Andrew that unravels the many misconceptions about ASD and offers a practical path to healing. 

Resources:   WealthManagement.com | Diana Britton | Planning Across The Spectrum | Andrew Komarow | Contact Diana