Managing Money #LikeaGirl: Interview With CFP® Pro Brittney Castro

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We love talking finance here at Miss Millennia and what better person to talk to about finances than a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) professional? Meet Brittney Castro. She is the Founder and CEO of Financially Wise Women and is all about helping people make better financial decisions so that they can live better lives. I had a great time talking to Brittney and learned so much in our short convo. I am sure you will feel the same after hearing her story!

This post is brought to you on behalf of the CFP Board Center for Financial Planning in support of the “I am a CFP® Pro” campaign. The content does not necessarily reflect the views of CFP Board or the Center for Financial Planning.

This article contains affiliate links.

Jasmine Watts (JW): Tell me a little about yourself.

Brittney Castro (BC): I’m Brittney Castro, I am a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and the Founder and CEO of Financially Wise Women. I started the company about 5 years ago. It is a financial firm for women offering fee-only financial planning, online courses, and workshops. I have some other partnerships with Chase, Entrepreneur, and CFP Board. I live a full life running the company. I live near Los Angeles; I have a dog and a very busy social life. I like to dance, travel, and just enjoy life to the fullest.

JW: That’s awesome! Congrats to you! I know it can be difficult to balance work and a personal life and it seems like you are doing that!

BC: It’s a work in progress! But I have a good flow right now.

JW: What inspired you to become a CFP® professional?

BC: When I first started in the industry after college, I didn’t even know I wanted to be a financial planner. I took a job as a financial advisor. I was 22 years old, so I wanted to get extra credentials and knowledge so when I was working with clients they trusted me and respected me.

A few years into my career, I heard about the CFP® certification, and I started to study for it and go for it. When I was at my first company, they really did promote financial planning. I saw a lot of other people get their CFP® certification, and I was inspired to do it myself.

JW: How has being a CFP® professional opened doors for you?

BC: It’s helped me a lot regarding feeling confident and credible. When I got the CFP® certification, I was 26 years old. I was really young, and it made me feel like I know what I’m doing. When I am talking with people I could exude a little more confidence. And since then it’s opened so many doors for me and continues to do so in ways I didn’t know at the time.

I am able to get clients and market myself so much stronger. I’m a woman, I’m a CFP® professional, and I’ve led partnerships with CFP Board and helped with their campaign. It’s fun because I feel like it’s helped me become a thought leader and pioneer in this industry. That was a part of my overall ambition and vision way back when. But it has also offered more opportunities to help people and educate them on what it means to be a CFP® professional.

JW: I know that is something that we as women struggle with. Getting that confidence to say we know what we are doing in our career and we care more about being good at what we do as opposed to people liking us. That’s huge, and I am glad to see that this has helped you in that regard.

JW: What are you most proud of, and why?

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Photo Credit: Kofa Boyah

BC: I am most proud of starting my company. It was not easy like you mentioned! I was 28 years old, and I was sick of corporate restriction with regards to marketing. I wanted to have more freedom with how I operated with clients and how I marketed myself. At the time, you know it’s going to take a lot of work, but you don’t have a clue how much work it takes. Because not only was I starting a company, but a financial company. There’s a lot of compliance and legal hurdles in the beginning. I learned so much about myself, about life, and how to live and have a business, but not get lost in it. It’s been an incredible milestone in my life and career to start Financially Wise Women and see what it’s become today. It is a lot more than what I envisioned when I first started it.

JW: Who has impacted you most in your career and how?

BC: So many people! Honestly, there are a lot of people outside of my business world who have impacted me. Family, friends, and mentors who believed in me, and supported me, and helped me become the woman I am today. Someone who can be a leader, be confident and talk to people about their money.

When it comes to my career, I would say that one woman, Eleanor Blayney, impacted me. She is a CFP® professional and the Special Adviser on Gender Diversity for the CFP Board Center for Financial Planning. Before I started Financially Wise Women, actually right after I got my CFP® certification, I read her book called Women’s Worth, and I spent time following her. She’s a big advocate for women in the financial planning industry.

There was this mentorship program at the time, and she was my mentor for about six months. This was before my company, and I was telling her what I wanted to do, how my pricing model worked, and how it would be different. She was so encouraging and sweet and lovely with me. She helped me a lot because she understood being a woman in financial planning. She understood the hurdles you may face, and she really believed in my new approach and the way I would do it. That was paramount and incredibly impactful.

JW: That whole story is amazing. If you could see me right now, I am touching my heart. I love hearing that. Just women helping other women, and I know what that feels like to read a book about someone and then meet them in person. That has to be one of the most incredible things ever. To me, books are like my mentors, too.

BC: It’s funny that you say that! I always tell people, look, I’ve had a lot of mentors, but most of them don’t know. They’re virtual. I read so many books, and they are my mentors.

JW: I am very curious to hear more about how you do things differently than in your corporate environment. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

BC: Basically, I wanted to become more of a media personality and launch online courses to teach women about money. I wanted to become a speaker, like a brand ambassador, and use my voice to help more people than I could just with the individual services.

I looked a lot to a Suze Orman model and thought, okay, she’s built a company out of being a speaker for women in money {editor’s note: Orman is a CFP® professional}I’ve been a financial planner, so I wanted to merge the two sides of me and my experience to create what Financially Wise Women is today, which I feel is a really cool financial and media company. And I think that is unique because there are a few companies out there that do it but it’s still very divided. You are either a financial planner or a media personality and author.

JW: So, in a way, you are kind of like a coach.

BC: Kind of. I am not a certified coach by any means, but I’ve worked with so many people these past 12 years now that I bring all of those client situations and knowledge and experience to the table and help people understand money in a more holistic way. Which I feel is like a coach. Not just a budget and a plan but everything else.

JW: What is your personal mission statement?

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BC: I’ll tell you my purpose. It’s actually written on my wall behind me.  My purpose is to see life as an adventure. Fearlessly embrace who I am. Create moments of bliss by being awake, aware, and in the moment, and extend my endless love to everyone I meet. That is my personal mission and purpose in life. And it relates to my business because I really do feel like I care a lot about the people I encounter. I bring my all to everything I do. And you know my mission is to use the gift and knowledge I have to help as many people and connect with as many people as I can. And the form that I do that in this lifetime is with financial planning.

JW: What would be your inspirational message to young women who are struggling to fulfill their dream?

BC: Go for it! Honestly, just go for it! Those moments in my life where I was so scared to death and almost sick to my stomach, those were the most pivotal times in my life. And they are not over by any means.

For example, I remember when I left that first company, and I went to an independent company. I was so scared, but I went for it. And then I trusted this intuition, this burning desire in me to pursue this dream and idea I had. And no matter how many people are behind you and rooting you on, you have to believe in yourself. Because I’ll tell you, there are still moments of self-doubt and insecurity, but I’ve lived a life where I always pursue the unknown and go after the unknown. You just have to go for it because otherwise, you’re going to always wonder and maybe have a regret. I’m just not that person to live that way. I think that, even if it doesn’t work out, even if I fail a million times, at least I tried. At least I went for it. And if I look back at my life at the age of 80, I won’t have any regrets or moments where I’ll wish I would’ve done something or I wish I would’ve done something better – because I did it. That’s how I live my life.

JW: Do you find yourself having to explain your career to people very often? And, if so, explain that in a sentence or two?

BC: I say I am a financial planner. I help people create a budget and a plan and teach people about money so they can use the money to live a life that they love. I usually say I am a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. Most people kind of know what that is, but some people don’t. So, I’ll explain that means I took extra courses and took a board exam to get more knowledge and expertise to be a financial planner. That I really know how to give you holistic advice and look at the big picture to get the right products and solutions in place. Obviously, I am a CFP® professional and I am biased, but you should work with a CFP® professional because I know what it takes to become one and less than 30% of financial advisors have the designation.  If you have a choice between a doctor who is average vs. a doctor who is excellent at his craft, which one would you choose? You would probably want the one who is excellent. I think that is the thing with any professional that we hire. Work with the best. The ones who are at the top of their game. You deserve to. And when you work with the best, you become the best.

JW: What advice would you give to women interested in becoming CFP® professionals?

BC: I would say, go for it. Find a mentor in the industry.  And look at your options. Do you want to start at a firm like I did and learn what you need to – then possibly create your own company? There are many options regarding how you work as a CFP® professional, and you have to learn what will be best for you at this stage of your life. What type of work-life balance are you looking for? There is such a great opportunity for more women to become CFP® professionals because it gives you the three things that I ultimately wanted when I first started at a job out of college which was:

The ability to help people. The ability to make good money – unlimited money really – and flexibility. As a woman, those things are still very important for me in my work. I think this is such a great field for women because we help people and naturally we are the planners and the ones to take care of people. This is just taking care of them in the money department.

JW: Tell us about a mistake you made in your job and how you handled it.

BC: I still make mistakes. Communication is important. So, if I had to think of times when there were errors made or mistakes made it was probably my lack of communication. Lack of asking enough questions. Lack of getting people what they needed to feel good. Or not asking my clients if they have any more questions. Making sure people are not wondering or guessing. I always want my clients to think I am doing a good service for them so if I don’t ask those right questions they may not be telling me what I need to know.

Another mistake I would say is taking on clients I knew were not a good fit just because I wanted a client on so early in my company. Sometimes you need to do that because you need the money and you need to make your business profitable, but not listening to my intuition is usually when those mistakes happen. I’ve really tried over the years to let my intuition be the guide always. I’ve always gotten what I need and want when I listen. Especially as a working woman, that has to be one of our biggest strengths. Just trusting our intuition. Usually, the short-term decisions that we thought were good could lead to long-term headaches, so don’t be quick to make decisions that are not true to you and what you want.

JW: Where do you see yourself five years from now in your industry?

BC: Still doing something like what I am doing now. Being a thought leader in the industry, helping clients with money, maybe more regarding a scalable platform so we are building a lot more online courses on my website. Working with big brands and probably working more with financial companies to teach them how to market to women and use the experience I’ve gotten over the past 12 years, and working on bigger projects within this industry.

JW: Anything else you would like us to add?

BC: I am thinking about a woman who wants to be a CFP® professional. Go for it and ask for help. Always ask for help. I didn’t do it alone; I’m still not doing it alone. And it’s a lot more fun when you have a whole team of cheerleaders and a whole support group around you. I know that has been the leading factor in my success over the years.


Financially Wise Women

Brittney Castro on Instagram

Financially Wise Women on Facebook

Brittney Castro on Twitter

The Center for Financial Planning

Managing Money LikeaGirl Interview With CFP® Pro Brittney Castro

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