Tag Archives: Diana Britton

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Transparency with Diana B.: The Road to Recovery

Advisor Gary Schwartz was always able to make money; at the young age of 12, he started delivering newspapers in the Bronx. That’s also when he discovered drugs and alcohol, which became a way for him to self-medicate and cope with his self-esteem issues. From there, the addiction progressed; cocaine and speed were his drugs of choice. 

In this episode, Diana Britton, managing editor of WealthManagement.com, is joined by Schwartz, president and CEO of Madison Planning Group in White Plains, N.Y., who’s been clean for 32 years. Gary shares about how he eventually got on the road to recovery. But once he got clean, he felt the need to overcompensate for his addiction and his past by buying things for his family and sending his kids to the best schools. But that eventually caught up to him as well, and he nearly had to file for bankruptcy. 

He discusses his journey of overcoming those struggles to build his own advisory business, which is now thriving. 

Gary discusses: 

  • The experiences that shaped him early on in life;
  • What led him to become addicted to drugs and alcohol;
  • What his career looked like while he was struggling with addiction and how it has changed throughout recovery;
  • How family and friends played a role in getting help;
  • How his desire to overcompensate eventually led him to near-bankruptcy; and 
  • How Gary’s experiences shaped his career in financial services.

Connect With Gary Schwartz:

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About Our Guest:

Gary Schwartz opened the doors to Madison Planning Group in White Plains, N.Y. in 1997, followed by the Syracuse office in 2007, Long Island office in 2013 and Lake Worth, Fla. office in 2017. He attributes the firm’s success to the fact they are focused on one thing: managing the success of every single client. As part of his personal commitment to financial education, Madison Planning Group provides worksite educational seminars for employees of state agencies, unions, as well as financial workshops for employees of private and public corporations.


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Transparency with Diana B.: Empowering Women to Take Control of Their Finances

Advisor Robert Schein’s father worked hard his adult life to provide for his family, and just four months into retirement, at the age of 70, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer. After about three years battling the disease, his father ultimately passed, thrusting his mother into having to take over the family finances. 

Luckily, Schein and his brother stepped in to help and set her on a positive financial path. But many women aren’t as lucky. The experience inspired Schein to launch The Society of Financially Empowered Women, a non-profit organization dedicated to facilitating a community and forum where independent women may acquire the confidence to take control of their financial lives, in 2011. 

In this episode, Diana Britton, managing editor of WealthManagement.com, speaks to Schein, managing director and partner of Blanke Schein Wealth Management, a Hightower firm, in Palm Desert, Calif. about why he decided to dedicate his life to helping women better understand their personal finances.  

In this episode, you will learn:

  • About his father’s journey to America and the values his father taught him growing up;
  • How his father’s stage four cancer diagnosis changed his life;
  • How Robert helped his mother navigate her finances after his father’s death;
  • Robert’s impression on how Wall Street treats women;
  • What inspired him to create the Society of Financially Empowered Women (Society of the FEW) and the Confidence Summit;
  • About the mission of the Society of the FEW, and how its efforts are expanding

Connect with Robert: 

Connect with Diana:

About Our Guest

Robert L. Schein, is Managing Director, Partner, and Chief Investment Officer of Hightower/Blanke Schein Wealth Management. With more than 25 years of experience as a financial professional, Robert demonstrates a strong commitment to both his clients and community.

Robert leads the asset allocation, design, and implementation of the investment portfolio review process for Hightower/Blanke Schein Wealth Management. He specializes in developing and supporting investment strategies for high-net-worth individuals and families with complex estates, as well as philanthropic and retirement planning needs.


Robert also specializes in the leadership of a community and forum where independent women can acquire the confidence to be leaders in their financial lives. As Founder of The Society of Financially Empowered Women Inc. (www.thesofew.com), he has vowed to empower women with education, support, and community. Recognized for his leadership in this area, Robert has been featured in various publications, such as The Wall Street Journal, CNBC.com, Forbes, Yahoo! Finance, On Wall Street, Investment News, The Desert Sun, and Palm Springs Life. Robert is a national speaker on the topic of financial education for women and was recently asked to speak at the Desert Woman’s Show and P.E.O. International.

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Transparency with Diana B.: Overcoming the Racial Wealth Gap

Growing up in inner city Baltimore, Denika Tokunaga and her family struggled financially and couldn’t afford many of the luxuries that others had. That racial wealth gap affected many in the Black community, but she was determined to work hard and get educated so that she could get out of the inner city and overcome that wealth gap.  

At the age of 18, with the help of her grandmother, she was able to enter school to become a nursing assistant. She eventually found financial services and a passion for closing the racial wealth gap.

In this episode, Diana Britton, managing editor at WealthManagement.com, speaks with Denika Tokunaga, president of Maven Wealth Management in Fulton, Md., who opens up about how she fought to overcome her circumstances and change her life’s path.

You will learn:

  • What Denika’s life was like growing up
  • How she experienced the racial wealth gap firsthand
  • How she got out of the inner city
  • How she overcame the challenges of being an African American woman in the wealth management industry
  • What advisors can do to help close the racial wealth gap, and
  • How her experiences shaped her work as an advisor.

 Listen now to hear Denika’s journey to get to where she is today.

Resources: WealthManagement.com | Diana Britton LinkedIn | Denika Tokunaga | Maven Wealth Management  | Email Diana  | Email Denika

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Transparency with Diana B.: Dealing With the Emotional and Physical Abuse of the Past

When he was about six or seven years old, Rob Bartenstein’s parents got divorced. The rest of childhood had its ups and downs, with some emotional and, at times, physical abuse caused by the men in his mother’s life.

His family also faced financial hardships, especially when his stepfather declared bankruptcy. Living on government cheese, processed cheese provided to welfare beneficiaries, the family had very little money to get by, putting further strain on the adults raising him. He eventually found his way into the military, which put him on a better path. But then an expected hospitalization and risky heart operation ended his military career and changed his perspective on life.    

In this episode, Diana Britton, managing editor at WealthManagement.com, speaks with Bartenstein, CEO at Kestra Private Wealth Services in Austin. He shares some painful memories of his upbringing and describes how he ended up in financial services.

You will learn:

  • What Rob’s childhood was like
  • The emotional and physical abuse Rob dealt with at a young age
  • How Rob navigated through the dark moments in his life
  • How his life experiences informed his worldview, and ultimately his path to financial services

 Listen now to hear Rob’s life story and how several events led him to where he is now.

Resources: WealthManagement.com | Diana Britton LinkedIn | Kestra Private Wealth Services | Rob Bartenstein on LinkedIn | Contact Rob Bartenstein | Contact Diana

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Transparency with Diana B.: A Tremendous Loss on 9/11 and the Path Forwards

Sept. 11, 2001 is a day most Americans can’t forget, when Al-Qaida coordinated four terrorist attacks against the United States, including on the Twin Towers in downtown Manhattan. 

But for Chloe Wohlforth, managing director of Angeles Wealth Management in New York, it was the day she lost her father. Chloe was a junior in high school at the time, and that day her father went into work at Sandler O’Neill, an investment bank with offices on the 104th floor of the South Tower. He didn’t come home, and that tragic event would shape the rest of her life. 

In the midst of this extreme tragedy, there was uncertainty surrounding her family’s financial situation; her father was always in charge of the finances. Fortunately, a family friend stepped in, and introduced Chloe and her mother to a financial advisor, who supported them during that extremely difficult time and helped them find financial security. 

In this episode, Diana Britton, managing editor at WealthManagement.com, speaks with Chloe, who shares how the events unfolded and the blessings that 9/11 has brought to her life, despite the loss.  

In this episode you will learn:

  • What happened on 9/11 for Chloe and the following days
  • How Chloe and her mom were able to find financial security 
  • About the support offered by Sandler O’Neill following the attacks
  • How Chloe’s human connections and opportunities lead her to the advisory space
  • How her experiences have shaped the work she does now at Angeles Wealth Management
  • And more.

Listen now to Chloe’s story and how the emotional and financial support from others made a difference in her life.

Resources: WealthManagement.com | Diana Britton LinkedIn | Angeles Investments | Contact Chloe | Contact Diana

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Transparency with Diana B.: On the Brink of Bankruptcy

Every FINRA-registered rep is required to publicly disclose on their BrokerCheck profile certain events, such as regulatory actions, client complaints, and terminations. But the regulator also requires reps to disclose certain personal financial events, such as tax liens.

Advisor Justin Reckers has always been transparent on his U4 about his troubles, which included a short sale on a home by his former wife, an employment separation and tax liens. But despite the disclosures, those things hurt his career, and brought him to the brink of bankruptcy. It all started with this short sale on his former home, something he really didn’t have anything to do with and had no control over.

In this episode, Diana Britton, managing editor at WealthManagement.com, speaks with Reckers, lead financial advisor at Fonte Financial Advisors, and CEO of Wellspring Divorce Advisors in Carlsbad, Calif. Justin shares details about how his past affected his career in financial services, but also how he has come back from those troubles.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • The events that led up to Justin’s money problems
  • How his two divorces affected his personal finances and business career
  • The importance of taking your own advice
  • How these events helped shape Justin’s work
  • How he built up his current business from $12 million to nearly $100 million today
  • And more.

 Listen now to hear Justin’s story and the lessons he has learned from his past experiences.

Resources: WealthManagement.com | Diana Britton LinkedIn | Justin Reckers LinkedIn | Contact Justin | Contact Diana

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Transparency with Diana B.: Dealing with Personal Traumas of the Past

Growing up the son of a firefighter, Brian Walsh Jr. was taught to give back to the community and help others, and that led him to pursue one of the most difficult jobs in the U.S. military as a Navy SEAL (Sea, Air, Land), the country’s special operations team. But, just days before he was set to enter the SEALs’ training program, he got into a serious car accident while driving home from Baltimore, and his life suddenly changed.

Walsh survived, against all odds, and went on to become a police officer. But he experienced even more personal trauma in that role, and not dealing with it ultimately led him to thoughts of suicide and a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.  

In this episode, Diana Britton, managing editor at WealthManagement.com, speaks with Brian Walsh Jr., a senior financial advisor at Walsh and Nicholson Financial Group in Wayne, Pa. who shares details about the rock bottom time in his life, and how he sought help and healing.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • What led Brian to became interested in the military
  • How his training in mixed martial arts possibly saved his life
  • The challenges and life lessons he experienced as a police officer
  • His mental state after leaving the police force
  • How he overcame PTSD
  • How his personal trauma has shaped him and his work as an advisor
  • And more.

 Listen now to hear Brian’s story.

 Resources: WealthManagement.com | Diana Britton LinkedIn | Brian Walsh LinkedIn | Walsh and Nicholson Financial Group |  Contact Diana | Contact Brian

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Transparency with Diana B: Battling Lymphoma in the Midst of a Pandemic

Douglas Duerr was having medical issues for three years, including various skin problems and swollen lymph nodes. During that time, he was misdiagnosed and blown off by doctors, many of whom said he was a perfectly healthy man. His bloodwork kept coming back normal. But Doug knew his body, and it was telling him something was wrong. 

After a long time searching for answers, Doug was finally diagnosed with lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, last February, just before COVID sent the U.S. into lockdown. 

In this episode, Diana Britton, managing editor at WealthManagement.com, chats with Douglas Duerr, founder of Duerr Financial Group in Montville, N.J., who shares the details of his recent battle with lymphoma, including how the illness has affected his life and business practice. Thankfully, he’s currently in remission. 

You will learn:

  • The events that led up to Doug’s lymphoma diagnosis
  • The emotional and physical toll the treatment had on him
  • How the COVID-19 pandemic impacted him—in good and bad ways
  • How his faith helped him get through this rough period
  • How Doug kept his practice going during this time
  • And more.

Listen now to hear how Douglas’s persistence––and refusal to ignore minor health warnings––saved his life.

Resources:  WealthManagement.com | Diana Britton LinkedIn | Contact Douglas Duerr | Contact Diana | Transparency with Diana B.: How John Hyland Fought Cancer and Won—Three Times 

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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