Category Archives: Finance Industry

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Transparency with Diana B.: How a Life-Threatening Discovery Can Change Your Practice



One incident can change everything. Everything you once believed in, and worked towards can be turned upside down. 

In this installment, guest host David Lenok, senior wealth planning editor at wealthmanagement.com, sits down with Craig Hersch, estate attorney and CPA. Craig shares his story of suddenly discovering he had a life-threatening cardiac problem, and how that changed his life and practice. 

In this episode, you will learn:

  • When Craig first suspected something was wrong and how he reacted
  • The enhancements Craig had to implement for his business after his surgery
  • Why you should be selective with employers
  • Two questions that have changed Craig’s perspective on his work life
  • The importance of providing clients with comfort and clarity
  • And more!

Listen now as Craig shares how his brush with death turned his outlook on life and practice around, shifting toward a healthier and happier working life

Resources: WealthManagement.com | Diana Britton | David Lenok | Craig R Hersch LinkedIn


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Transparency with Diana B.: Life in a Wheelchair



Shortly after Jonathan’s parents noticed his struggle to crawl as a baby, he was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a genetic disease affecting the central nervous system, peripheral nervous system and voluntary muscle movement. He has been in a wheelchair ever since and now aspires to become financially independent, no longer having to navigate the bureaucratic systems, like Medicaid, that present numerous hurdles for people with disabilities. 

In this episode of Transparency with Diana B., Diana Britton, managing editor of WealthManagement.com, talks to Jonathan Greeson, founder of Jonathan Greeson Financial Planning in Pikeville, N.C., about how SMA has impacted his life. 

Jonathan discusses the cost of living with a disability like SMA, what it was like to become a financial advisor, and what drives his sense of purpose today. 

In this episode, you will learn:

  • How Jonathan’s childhood experience compares to adulthood
  • About his experience in a coma and a vision he had 
  • What expenses are involved in having a disability like SMA
  • What challenges Jonathan experienced when he first became a financial advisor
  • How using a wheelchair has shaped who he is today
  • How his faith has helped him find healing and realize he’s meant for a greater purpose
  • And more.

Tune in now to hear about Jonathan’s experiences living with SMA. 

Resources: WealthManagement.com | Diana Britton | Contact Diana | Jonathan Greeson Financial Planning | My Online Angel by Jonathan Greeson | Contact Jonathan


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Transparency with Diana B.: Six Years Sober



Growing up in the 1970s in the bay area of California, Tim Brisson never had alcoholism in his family. But he was raised with the notion that “children were to be seen and not heard,” so he grew up not knowing how to deal with his emotions, feelings and disappointments in life. 

So later in life, after he had gone through law school and become a partner in a patent law firm, he turned to alcohol as a way to numb his feelings. As a partner at that firm, Brisson says the job was hard, stressful and involved a lot of travel, away from his family. The pressure got to him, as it does many attorneys, who tend to experience problematic drinking at higher rates than other professionals. 

In this episode of Transparency, WealthManagement.com Managing Editor Diana Britton is joined by Tim Brisson, an estate planning attorney in Auburn, Calif., who shares his journey with alcoholism and recovery. 

In this episode, you will learn:

  • How alcohol got a hold of Tim
  • How music and his faith have been healing factors in his life
  • Background on Alcoholics Anonymous
  • How his experience overcoming alcoholism has shaped his work as an estate attorney 
  • How he became a law enforcement chaplain
  • What his work as a chaplain can teach us about addiction and recovery
  • How folks with family or friends who struggle with addiction can offer support
  • And more.

Tune in, as Tim shares his experience and advice for those struggling with addiction. 

Resources: WealthManagement.com | Email Diana B


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Transparency With Diana B.: When a Sudden Health Crisis Hits in a Foreign Land



About six years ago, when financial advisor Esther Szabo and her then-husband David boarded a cruise ship headed for Russia, she never expected their grand vacation would end with him on a stretcher in a medevac.

Many of us are faced with feelings of uncertainty and hopelessness, whether it’s due to COVID-19, the volatile markets, or our political system. But we can learn a lot from Esther’s experience; she braved her way through a very scary and uncertain time in Russia, when her late husband went into cardiac arrest in the middle of their vacation. 

In this episode of Transparency with Diana B., Diana Britton, managing editor of WealthManagement.com, talks to Esther, the founder and CEO of Gates Pass Advisors, about what she went through during those several weeks when David was fighting for his life in a Russian hospital. 

She shares in this episode that it was an emotionally difficult time for her, but it was also very challenging from a logistical and financial standpoint. That’s where her planning background kicked in. 

In this episode, you will learn:

  • How the ordeal unfolded for Esther and her husband 
  • Why she says that nothing can take the place of human support during a crisis
  • How to go about asking for help
  • What decisions Esther had to make once they were back in the U.S.
  • How the ordeal has helped her deal with fear in other areas of her life
  • How routine and connection helped get her through those several weeks
  • How her experience shaped her and the work she does with her women clients
  • And more.

Listen now as Esther recounts this life-changing scenario and the complexities of navigating a health crisis in a foreign country.

Resources: WealthManagement.com | Diana Britton | Contact Diana | Gates Pass Advisor | Women and Wealth Podcast


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Transparency With Diana B.: The Gifts and Trials That Come With Dyslexia



Dyslexia is the most common of all neurocognitive disorders, but contrary to what many may believe, some of the most innovative people in the country have dyslexia, including Charles Schwab and Bill Gates, to name a few. There are so many benefits and gifts that come with dyslexia, if only our society embraced people with the disorder and knew how to harness it. 

Advisor Daren Blonski is also in that camp, having struggled with dyslexia throughout his life. From an early age, he would be filled with anxiety when teachers would call on him to read aloud. Once he entered college, he was officially tested and discovered he had dyslexia, changing his plans for college. But he always had to work harder than others to succeed in academia. After years of diligent work, he graduated and went on to become successful within the financial industry. 

Diana Britton, managing editor of WealthManagement.com is joined by Blonski, managing principal of Sonoma Wealth Advisors. He recounts his experiences with dyslexia and how the challenges shaped him as a person. He also discusses the impact of dyslexia on society, the success of some and the challenges even more face.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • About his early life with dyslexia 
  • How his work ethic and efforts got him through school
  • How his struggles have shaped his outlook on life and career 
  • The lessons he learned by facing his struggles
  • About the gifts that dyslexia can bring to a person 
  • What one prison in Texas can teach us about phonemic awareness and larger societal issues 
  • And more.

Tune in now to discover the benefits and struggles of those with dyslexia.

WealthManagement.com | Diana Britton | Contact Daren | Sonoma Wealth Advisors | Contact Diana


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Transparency with Diana B.: The Reality of Divorce With a Special Needs Child



As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, and, perhaps, the preeminent divorce advisor in the industry, Michelle Smith has helped hundreds of women through the financial maze of divorce. But she’s even more qualified to advise on divorce because she’s gone through it herself—and with a child with special needs no less. 

In this episode, Diana Britton, managing editor of WealthManagement.com, is joined by Michelle Smith, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and CEO of Source Financial Advisors, an RIA in New York City. Michelle discusses her own experience with divorce, co-parenting a special needs child, learning to ask for help, and more. 

Michelle received her son’s Down syndrome diagnosis three minutes after he was born. Although she didn’t feel equipped to parent a child with special needs, she instantly flipped into “I’ve got this” mode. But she was petrified when she saw her husband shut down. In that moment, she knew in her gut that her marriage was over.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • How the birth of her son sparked a realization about her marriage
  • Why it was important for her to take a step back during the divorce process
  • About her experience co-parenting a special needs child
  • How she ultimately learned to ask for help from her friends and family
  • Why Michelle and her friends decided to start their own school in New York City
  • Her advice for people going through divorce: how to mediate safely and why you should reconsider litigating 
  • How COVID-19 could impact divorces
  • And more

Listen now to hear Michelle’s experience going through the divorce process and parenting her special needs son. 

WealthManagement.com | Diana Britton | Contact Diana | Michelle Smith’s Email | The IDEAL School of Manhattan | Source Financial Advisors


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Transparency with Diana B.: How John Hyland Fought Cancer and Won—Three Times



A lot of people in the industry know John Hyland, the co-founder and executive officer of Private Advisor Group, who has been in the industry for 31 years. But few know his personal story. When John was younger, he became involved with the New Jersey chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, a cause that was dear to him at the time because a beloved aunt had died from acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the most deadly form of blood cancer. But he couldn’t know at the time how fateful that choice would be. In 2010, John was diagnosed with AML himself. He never imagined he would be facing his mortality at 43 years old. 

In this episode, Hyland joins Diana Britton, managing editor of WealthManagement.com, to share his experience with the disease, including the unimaginably painful treatment process, his challenges with depression, relapsing in 2014 and 2016, the road to recovery, and beyond. 

In this episode, you will learn:

  • About John’s Iron Man triathlon training, and what events led to his AML diagnosis
  • How he discovered that he had relapsed
  • How he coped with being quarantined and separated from his kids during treatment
  • How COVID-19 has impacted him and drudged up old feelings of being in quarantine for long periods of time
  • About John’s biggest takeaway from his cancer experience
  • How he deals with thoughts of dying, and how the experience taught him to appreciate the time he has
  • And more.

As of three months ago, he had no signs of Leukemia. Listen now to hear John’s experience recovering from AML. 


WealthManagement.com | Diana Britton on LinkedIn | John Hyland’s Email | Leukemia and Lymphoma Society | Contact Diana


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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.: A Near-Death Experience



While the numbers are constantly changing, the coronavirus has claimed many, many lives, and the casualties continue to climb. And during this time, as mortality is top of mind for many and emotions are running high, it may help to hear from someone who has faced death, head-on, and lived to tell the tale.

In this episode of Transparency, Diana Britton, managing editor of WealthManagement.com, is joined by Brandon Garrett, president and chief investment officer of Snow Garrett Wealth Management, who had a near-death experience several years ago. What began as a fun vacation to the beautiful Cayman Islands with his wife and friends ended with him laying in a hospital bed, with a bacterial infection that led to septic shock. He thought it might be the end of his life.

The infection, of course, did not claim his life. But the experience did change him permanently and helped him to live more purposely going forward.

In this episode you will learn:

  • The details of Brandon’s own near-death experience
  • What he was feeling and thinking during the ordeal
  • How he found inner peace in the face of death and fear
  • How the experience changed his life
  • The importance of focusing on yourself as much as your clients
  • The importance of personal and professional communication
  • And more.

Tune in now to learn how to recognize whether you’re living purposely, with a bigger picture objective in mind, or simply living in the moment.

Resources:  Wealth Management | Email | Coronavirus Coverage | Diana Britton’s LinkedIn | Snow Garrett Wealth Management