Women Leading The Finance Industry: “Culturally, I don’t think Wall Street firms have changed as much as we might like to think.” with Brieanna Mason and Tyler Gallagher

Culturally, I don’t think Wall Street firms have changed as much as we might like to think. Maybe some of them have changed their advertising, but it was only a couple of years ago that they were still airing commercials like “Yacht Life” by E* Trade. The star of the commercial was the “dumbest guy […]

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Culturally, I don’t think Wall Street firms have changed as much as we might like to think. Maybe some of them have changed their advertising, but it was only a couple of years ago that they were still airing commercials like “Yacht Life” by E* Trade. The star of the commercial was the “dumbest guy in high school” hosting a party on his yacht with bikini-clad models, champagne and stacks of cash.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Brieanna Mason, the Principal Advisor at Woman’s Worth® in California. Woman’s Worth® focuses on working with women and their families. What makes the team stand out is their understanding that financial issues can come with emotional and physical health issues. The goal is to help women and their families achieve Total Well Being because it’s not all about the money. Her residency began at Regent Wealth Management, the sister company to Woman’s WORTH®. Her passion for providing people with advice is rooted in planning for a fruitful retirement. Brie has an exceptional understanding of the unique financial needs of women. Brieanna majored in International business which sparked a desire to study abroad. She attended college at the University of London’s School of Economics, where she helped write policies on trade for the newly formed European Economic Community (EEC) before making her return to the States. She also studied at San Francisco State University and Cal State East Bay then continued her education at Saint Mary’s College’s graduate program. Currently, Brieanna and her family live in Willow Glen, a neighborhood in central San Jose, CA. She has two teenagers and three rescue dogs. She volunteers locally to support victims of human trafficking and various charities that help local children.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Banking/Finance field?

In college, I studied international business because I wanted to be involved in international finance. My “a-ha!” moment occurred while I was studying abroad in England and was submerged in the London Stock Exchange, sparking my interest in Wall Street.

I set my sights on becoming a stockbroker until I started spending time with people from Wall Street firms. I was so appalled and offended by their lack of business ethics, personal behavior, and the culture of Wall Street that I vowed never to work in the banking or financial industry.

Well, fast forward 30 years, I’ve had an eclectic and successful career in the commercial interiors industry and the medical device industry. In the early 2000s, I choose to leave the medical device industry before “aging out,” something prevalent in today’s professional realm. I watched people in their late forties, mostly women but many men too, get replaced by younger, less costly employees. This was an industry issue that anyone who works in the medical device field, was aware of. After I moved on, I wasn’t called back to Wall Street, but I was ready to see if I could make a difference in the way women are seen and treated in the finance industry.

I found my place as COO and Principal Advisor at a fiduciary advisory firm that was unlike any I had ever seen. After a few years, I began to develop a program for women, by women that I felt would be worthy, not only to the women of the Silicon Valley but to women everywhere. Through my process and collaborations, I shared the Woman’s WORTH® philosophy and planning with my clients.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far?

There are three things I would like to share with you that bring me to the passion for what I do today.

The first is my early experience with Wall Street firms and the people I met who worked in the financial industry. As I mentioned just previously, I was very disappointed by the actions and ethics of Wall Street employees, but it was the recruiting process that I experienced that ended up repelling me from the industry I thought would encompass my career.

The second example is an audio clip I heard recently. It was two stockbrokers talking about how much cash they pay the receptionist at their firm to forward the phone calls from widows directly to them. This tells me that the culture on Wall Street hasn’t changed and thank goodness I’m doing what I am to reach any woman I can.

The last example is one I experienced early on at Regent Wealth Management. Our founding partner was finishing a meeting with a couple, and as they were leaving his office, I overheard the woman say to him, “thank you so much for answering my questions. When I asked our advisor a question, he turns to my husband and answers him.” That was the moment that I started developing this program for women. Not only does Woman’s Worth® respect female clients and their families, in any situation, the Lifestyle Protection Plans® we provide allows them to live their lives in ways that matter to them.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Currently, we are working on a webinar series so that women anywhere can access our workshops. It does not make sense to be in Silicon Valley and not be able to connect with the rest of the world when the tools are right at our fingertips. We are also working on a series of podcasts. Last but not least, we are drafting a financial literacy curriculum that can be used by teens and young adults. It’s crucial for us to educate the next generations and provide them the tools we should have had at their age. I think these projects go without saying how helpful they will be. By sharing knowledge, we are building a community.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Both Woman’s Worth® and its sister company, Regent Wealth Management, take a completely customized and holistic approach to planning. When people visit us, we are analyzing and determining their financial futures. We believe in our fiduciary responsibility.

Every person or family are individuals with different goals, values, time frames, needs, expectations, etc. We formulate unique strategies for individuals and families that are built by picking the best fruit off the tree. We are an independent RIA, which means we can choose the best investments without limitations or requirements from the companies whose tools we want to use. We are not a franchise that is mandated by the parent company, it’s stockholders or Wall Street networks.

Clients of franchised firms will be fit into predetermined models, investment choices, and portfolio recommendations that are suitable, not necessarily what is financially best for the client.

We speak the language of planning versus the language of investing. We have a prime example of the difference. We met a new client, let’s call her Diana Prince a.k.a Wonder Woman, and months before she became our client, Diana was suddenly widowed. A few weeks after her husband’s death, she received a call from their advisor. He said something to the effect of, “ I am so sorry for your loss now is the time we need to make some changes to secure your future.”

Diana thought to herself, “He must know best. He must deal with this all the time,” so she followed his advice. By the time Diana came to us, this advisor had burned through one-third of her nest egg by using very volatile, high risk and illiquid investments that paid him significant commissions. He never asked Diana what she wanted her future to look like, how would she like to spend her time, what legacy did she want to leave, therefore leaving many questions unanswered. It was these unasked questions that could have helped determine and create a plan that was exactly what she wanted.

Diana’s advisor never disclosed the risk and fees her investments would be exposed to. He didn’t tell her this was not the time to be making big financial decisions. Her protection and best interest was the farthest thing from his mind. This is a typical, transaction minded, investment advisor we see coming from Wall Street and franchise firms.

Diana became our client. She is now retired and living a purposeful life with an ironclad retirement plan that fits her lifestyle, values, and goals.

Wall Street and Finance used to be an “all boys club.” This has changed a lot recently. In your opinion, what caused this change?

I might have to disagree about Wall Street and the finance industry changing “a lot recently.” Maybe it has started to change, but it will be decades before women and men are on equal footing.

I find it interesting that as women control 51-percent of the wealth in this country and increasing, that it’s only now we are starting to see the industry change? Personally, I do not think there has been enough change.

The industry is still made up of 84-percent male advisers that seem to be making a lot of assumptions about their female clients. Little do people know, 73-percent of women report that they are unhappy with the financial services industry and 80-percent of women switch advisers within a year of their husband’s death. However, 87-percent of women say they can’t find an adviser with whom they can connect.

Women have unique financial needs, and Wall Street’s status quo isn’t speaking their language. Slapping pink labels on the same old investment brochures is not a women’s program, as so many Wall Street firms have done.

Culturally, I don’t think Wall Street firms have changed as much as we might like to think. Maybe some of them have changed their advertising, but it was only a couple of years ago that they were still airing commercials like “Yacht Life” by E* Trade. The star of the commercial was the “dumbest guy in high school” hosting a party on his yacht with bikini-clad models, champagne and stacks of cash.

Adding to the questionable advertising, in 2018 Sallie Krawcheck of Ellevest posted on LinkedIn a copy of a newspaper announcement from Morgan Stanley listing their newly-appointed managing directors. Out of the 46 employees, three of them were women.

Wall Street will follow the money, so as the U.S. wealth continues to shift toward women, there will be more women advisors and more options for female clients.

Of course, despite the progress, we still have a lot more work to do to achieve parity. According to this report in CNBC, less than 17 percent of senior positions in investment banks are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a) individuals b)companies and /or c) society to support this movement going forward?

Well, I think the first thing we need to do is attract more women into this industry. I don’t necessarily support filling seats with a deadline, like the Board of Director’s mandate here in California, but we should at least be given a truly equal shot at promotions, etc.

Currently, I don’t think there are enough women in this industry to equalize it, so we need a longer-term plan. As I mentioned, most managing director, analyst, and broker positions are currently held by men. I know I could do my part and set up more internships. Colleges could do a better job educating business and finance students on the vast array of professional paths they could take. Companies need to steer their culture away from the “boys club” mentality, focus less on a competitive “dog eat dog” work environment where personal life and family aren’t important.

Get away from a culture where colleagues and bosses say, “just work this weekend and go to Tiffany’s on the way home; she’ll forgive you.”

Companies need to focus on how they help their clients, promote it realistically and in a way that would attract more women to the field.

You are a “finance insider.” If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive things one should do to become more financially literate, what would you say? Can you please give a story or example for each.

As a parent, it would be so nice if our children listened to the things we said and acted on our tidbits of wisdom. But change often does not occur until we show them, either by example or shoulder to shoulder with them as they test the waters. Here are some things that I believe would help parents guiding young adults to be independent and financially literate.

1. Show them how to set a financial foundation now, when it’s easier and requires less money. Use calculators that show how quickly compound interest credits can grow. Start with 10-percent of every income source going straight into savings. Use direct deposit into a savings account. Most employers allow for more than one account to be set up for direct deposit, which makes separating checks easier and quicker.

2. Tell them to maximize their annual 401K/IRA contributions and contribute to a Roth 401K/IRA, if possible.

3. Credit cards can be a good financial tool and very convenient, but there is no reason that a young adult needs more than one or two at most. Department store credit cards don’t offer enough discounts to make it worthwhile long-term. Credit card incentives and points can be useful, but you have to do your research first. Decide on a credit card that is going to meet your lifestyle; then make sure you pay that bill on time.

4. Start monitoring your credit score. Choose and download an app that can help manage your payment accounts and other financial aspects.

5. Whenever possible, buy good quality items. Whether it’s a car or a designer handbag; consider used, recycled or upcycled. There are so many options to stay on the “greener side” as a consumer and will save your pocketbook a little. Every little bit helps.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I can easily say that my gratitude is sprinkled among many members of my family. My mother was a criminal defense attorney and a single mom. She taught me love has no boundaries; racism has no place in our country and that we are responsible for our planet.

My father, a general contractor, who from the age of eight years old, was driving nails on weekends with his father. He showed me how to have a strong work ethic, not only in my professional work but as a single mother of two teenagers.

I’ve had a few mentors in my career, but there is one person that has really made a difference. I was interviewing for jobs when I decided it was time to leave the medical device industry before I aged out. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I thought I would take a job that just paid well while I went to nursing school, or maybe become a teacher. I wanted to find something I was passionate about, but at that time, I simply needed a job to support my family.

I got a job offer from a big tech company in Silicon Valley, but I asked for 24 hours before I gave my answer. While the money was great, my kids are more important than anything else in my life, and I had to consider what kind of Mom could I be whilst being a great employee.

I already had an interview scheduled that same afternoon with Don Bergis and Jared Elson the Partners of Regent Wealth Management, Woman’s Worth ®’s sister company. After nearly five hours of insightful and open conversation, I knew this was the place for me.

I left a pile of money on the table with that Silicon Valley company, but I never looked back. I am filled with so much gratitude to my colleagues and clients for allowing me to contribute to their lives. I have indeed found my passion.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.” Coco Chanel said it. I apply this to so many aspects of my life from a well-tailored article of clothing to the way I educate and communicate with my clients.

Straight forward, open, and transparent is the simplest way, and I believe it is always best.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

We live in a society that is rampant with adverse news, selfishness, wastefulness, and other negative actions and influences. Social media portrays perfect lives that no one really has but, we influence each other by only posting the best, the good, and the successes to the world of “friends,” but we don’t even know our neighbors anymore.

It’s like we are all standing in a circle but facing outward. If our education system, starting in kindergarten, would implement a curriculum where “paying it forward” was practiced, our world would change for the better and very quickly.

Young people would be empowered, not entitled. People would see the positive in each other, not just the negative. It would be such a simple thing, and there is no end to where this could lead our society.

Articles supporting data acknowledged:

Thank you for all of these great insights!

About The Author:

Tyler Gallagher is the CEO and Founder of Regal Assets, a “Bitcoin IRA” company. Regal Assets is an international alternative assets firm with offices in the United States, Canada, London and Dubai focused on helping private and institutional wealth procure alternative assets for their investment portfolios. Regal Assets is an Inc. 500 company and has been featured in many publications such as Forbes, Bloomberg, Market Watch and Reuters. With offices in multiple countries, Regal Assets is uniquely positioned as an international leader in the alternative assets industry and was awarded the first ever crypto-commodities license by the DMCC in late 2017. Regal Assets is currently the only firm in the world that holds a license to legally buy and sell cryptos within the Middle East and works closely with the DMCC to help evolve and grow the understanding and application of blockchain technology. In addition to his role with Regal Assets, Tyler is a regular contributor to Forbes, Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global and Authority Magazine. Tyler has also been featured in many news publications and has been a guest expert on “The News with Ed Shultz”. Tyler is a proud member of the Forbes Finance Council a private invite only-group of hand-selected industry leaders.

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