Category Archives: Uncategorized

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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


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Transparency With Diana B.: From Riches to Refugee



Many people tend to dwell on horrific experiences, making it difficult to move forward and live their lives. Others embrace the trauma, using it to build strength and a thick skin. 

In this episode of Transparency, Diana Britton, managing editor of WealthManagement.com, is joined by Kashif “Kash” Ahmed, founder and president of American Private Wealth, an advisory outside of Boston. In 1990 at the age of 17, Kash and his family found themselves at the center of Iraq’s invasion and annexation of Kuwait by Saddam Hussain’s forces, over oil pricing and production disputes. Hussain led Iraq with an iron first for several decades, and Kash’s family, including his father who was instrumental in building Kuwait’s oil industry, was at the top of his list of people to take hostage. Kash went from riches to refugee in a matter of hours. 

In this episode, you will learn:

  • About his six-week journey out of war-torn Kuwait into Pakistan
  • How Kash at a young age learned the importance of sticking to his principles
  • How he learned to embrace these traumatic experiences and be grateful for what he has
  • How he turns his adversity into strength
  • What led Kash to become a financial advisor, and how he dealt with biases against Muslims 
  • And more

Tune in now to learn how to embrace adversity and use it to build strength. 

Editor’s Note: This podcast was recorded before we found out that Kash had contracted COVID-19. Our editors have been in touch with him, and he’s recovering with no extreme symptoms. As with his experience fleeing Kuwait, he’s got a positive attitude, saying on Twitter “#COVID19 – You will not defeat me!” 

Resources:   WealthManagement.com | Diana Britton | Contact Diana | American Private Wealth


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Transparency With Diana B.: Life in Lockdown During COVID-19



The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on the U.S. economy and citizens’ health, as the death toll continues to rise daily. It’s also upended personal lives, including those of financial advisors, who may serve as an even greater source of support to their clients during this time.

In this episode of Transparency, Diana Britton, managing editor of WealthManagement.com, is joined by Hui-chin Chen, a Certified Financial Planner and owner of Pavlov Financial Planning, who was living temporarily in the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia with her husband, due to work, when the pandemic escalated. Time elapsed too quickly for them to return to the U.S. when all citizens were ordered home. Now they sit and wait in a foreign country that is on complete lockdown with a 24-hour curfew imposed, and all businesses have been ordered closed.

In this episode, you will learn:

  •     How COVID-19 is affecting citizens that are stranded abroad.
  •     The perspective of someone who has had more time to digest the effects of the coronavirus, with Hui-chin having family in Taiwan and friends in China.
  •     How Hui-chin is using her financial planning background to help her clients plan for emergencies.
  •     How to be flexible when a huge change suddenly strikes.
  •     How to get out of panic mode and see a way forward during this time.  
  •     How one advisor is dealing with the stress of the situation.
  •     How her communication and interaction with clients has changed during this time.
  •     And more

 Tune in now to get insight into how advisors and clients are coping during this stressful time.

 Resources:   WealthManagement.com | Diana Britton | Contact Diana | Pavlov Financial Planning | Coronavirus Coverage


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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.: A Top Advisor’s Immigration Story



As a young girl growing up in Egypt, Laila Pence was very well off; her family lived in a seven-bedroom mansion in Suez. But all of that was taken away in almost an instant, when the Israeli army bombed her village during the Six-Day War. Struggling to survive, her family decided to emigrate to the U.S., but only Laila and her mother were able to go at first. The transition would not be easy; Laila grappled with drastically different weather, not knowing the language and making friends in a foreign land.

In this episode of Transparency, WealthManagement.com Managing Editor Diana Britton, is joined by Laila Pence, president of Pence Wealth Management in Newport Beach, Calif., who shares her life journey, how she overcame adversity and how her struggles shaped who she is today. Her family lost everything in terms of wealth, and as an immigrant, a woman and English-as-a-second-language speaker, she felt she had three strikes against her. But she is, perhaps, the poster child of the American Dream. Now, she manages an advisory firm with over $1.5 billion in client assets. She achieved it by working hard, focusing on her passion, and not listening to the biases out there.   

In this episode, you will learn:

  • The story of Laila’s childhood and experience as an immigrant in New York.
  • How Laila was able to overcome adversity and rise above.
  • Who supported Laila in her journey to becoming a financial advisor.
  • Laila’s struggles being a woman and having a child in this industry and how she overcame those.
  • Her advice for other folks struggling to adapt to a new country.
  • And more.

 Tune in now to hear how Laila used her perseverance and grit to become a top financial advisor in the U.S.

 Resources:   WealthManagement.com | Diana Britton | Contact Diana | Pence Wealth Management


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Transparency With Diana B.: Focus on Outcomes, Not Income



Growing up in Monmouth County the child of two schoolteachers, Conor Delaney struggled being one of the poorest kids in school, dumpster diving for toys and going through several foreclosures on his family’s homes. But the months following his high school graduation were, perhaps, the worst. His father died suddenly; his aunt, heartbroken by her brother’s death, killed herself; and his mother’s health was deteriorating. On top of that, he was living out of his car as he entered his freshman year in college.

He could’ve easily given himself over to an alcohol addiction, which ran deep in his family. Instead, he took a positive approach to life, and channeled his struggles into building a book of business and creating a company aimed at helping those who need financial advice the most—middle class Americans.

In this episode of Transparency, Diana Britton, WealthManagement.com’s managing editor, is joined by Conor Delaney, founder of The Good Life Companies, an independent advisory firm with about 200 advisors. Conor draws on his own personal experiences, but also discusses the tendencies and issues that he’s observed among the advisors he oversees.

“What are we chasing, and is it the right thing and if it’s not, how can we channel that into doing something better?” he asks.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • The story of Conor’s childhood and the hardships he would overcome
  • How he chose to use his addictive tendencies in a positive way 
  • How his experiences shaped him as a financial advisor and community leader
  • The negative tendencies of successful financial advisors
  • The importance of taking care of yourself first, before clients
  • How to shift your mindset to focus on outcomes, not income
  • And more.

 Tune in now to hear how Conor found the strength to change the pattern and choose to create a positive outcome.

Resources:   WealthManagement.com | Diana Britton | Contact Diana | Good Life Companies | Conor Delaney Email


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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.: Advisors and Mental Health



As a graduate student, Dr. Alden Cass conducted a clinical survey on the mental health of Wall Street’s advisors. Conducted in 1999, the study, titled “Casualties of Wall Street,” examined nearly 50 reps, and found that 23 percent of them exhibited significant signs of clinical depression, while another 36 percent showed mild to moderate symptoms. Interestingly, million-dollar producers were the most dysfunctional when it came to mental health, as they were most prone to burnout.

Financial advisors may even be more prone to stress and burnout today than 20 years ago. These feelings are all too common for today’s advisor, who not only has to manage their own emotions but serve as financial therapists to anxious clients.

In this episode of Transparency with Diana B., your host Diana Britton, managing editor of WealthManagement.com, is joined by Dr. Cass, a licensed clinical psychologist and performance coach who specializes in treating advisors and helping them improve their job performance. 

Dr. Cass uncovers the surprising reality of what it’s like to be an advisor, what contributes most to their mental health issues, and actions you can take to help yourself.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • How advisors’ stress levels compare to non-advisors
  • Results from Dr. Cass’ study, “Casualties of Wall Street”
  • Which mental health issues today’s advisors are experiencing
  • Which negative and positive coping mechanisms advisors use
  • How to avoid falling into the trap of depersonalization
  • And more.

Tune in now to learn how to cope with mental health issues in positive ways, where to turn to for support, and how to overcome the stigma associated with seeking therapy. 

Resources:   WealthManagement.com | Diana Britton | Contact Diana | Competitive Streak Consulting | Bullish Thinking: The Advisor’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving on Wall Street by Alden Cass | Casualties of Wall Street: An Assessment of the Walking Wounded by Alden Cass et al.Contact Dr. Alden Cass