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Ep. 26 | Vanessa Wieliczko – Women In Leadership: How Being Patient can Get You What You Want

Updated: Mar 15





ASHISH NATHU

November 18, 2021

1:35 pm





On this episode of The Rich Equation Podcast, Ashish is joined by guest Vanessa Wieliczko. Ashish and Vanessa discuss a series of topics including her career journey after college, obstacles and challenges she faced as a woman in finance, her investment philosophy and her long term mindset of wealth creation. Ashish and Vanessa also speak about balancing family life with work life and her aims for her kids as adults.

HIGHLIGHTS:

0:00 – Intro 0:10 – Ashish shares a brief introduction to his guest Vanessa 0:36 – Ashish states that this episode will cover the topics of Vanessa’s career journey after college, the obstacles and challenges she faced as a woman in finance, her investment philosophy and her long term thinking about wealth creation. Vanessa also shares how she balances being a mom of three boys and a successful career 4:04 – Vanessa shares some insight into her career journey after college 8:53 – Vanessa speaks about how it’s rare that people stay at the one firm for 13 years and how her experience working at the same firm for that long really served her 11:20 – Vanessa shares some of the struggles and challenges she experienced whilst working at the same firm for 13 years as a woman 13:30 – Vanessa speaks about being a mom of 3 boys 15:30 – Vanessa talks about aspects of her career that she didn’t expect and that surprised her 19:50 – Vanessa mentions how she thinks sometimes people feel too restrained mid-career but how it’s completely ok to completely shift your career path at 40 20:42 – Vanessa speaks about her investment philosophy 21:53 – Ashish asks Vanessa about what her clients are asking her and what are they wanting from their investments 25:00 – Ashish asks Vanessa about what conversations are happening within her boardrooms about potential risks and catastrophes that could happen and what people can do to think through those things 27:35 – Vanessa states that all the research shows that equity markets do trend up over time 32:37 – Vanessa talks about the Cathy Woods of the world who are trying to create more transparency within the investment ecosystem and explains why she thinks it’s a double edged sword 34:47 – Vanessa speaks about women in leadership and her experience with being a woman within finance 41:11 – Ashish asks Vanessa what is she most afraid of 44:15 – Vanessa mentions how she hopes that her children learn to be aware of their feelings and learn how to communicate effectively 47:17 – You can contact Vanessa through LinkedIn: Vanessa Wieliczko

FULL TRANSCRIPTION:

Hey, welcome back to the rich equation podcast. Thanks so much for listening. Today, I have an old time friend, Vanessa Wieliczko. Vanessa is the chief investment officer at a firm in San Diego called Hoyle Cohen, a wealth management firm with over $3 billion in assets under management, serving high net worth individuals and fan families.

As the CIO, Vanessa oversees the firm’s investment department and leads the investment committee. She joined the firm in 2008 and helped develop the firm’s core approach, a unique blend of traditional and alternative investments. On this episode, we get into Vanessa’s career journey After college. We discuss some of the obstacle and challenges she faced as an ambitious and driven woman in the world of finance. We get into her investment philosophy and long term thinking about wealth creation. And finally, we talk about her family and how she balances a successful career with her family being the mom of three boys.

Vanessa is so great. And I know you’re going to have some takeaways on this episode. Here she is Vanessa Wieliczko. If you enjoy this episode, be sure to share it with someone that would be inspired by this or this information could be helpful and subscribe right now to the podcast and leave a review so we can continue to bring value to you.

Welcome to the Rich Equation podcast. Are you ready to discover how to live rich today and not wait for retirement? If you’re tired of struggling and want to live your best life now, you are in the right place.

Outdated principles will no longer work in today’s environment. It’s time for a new approach. Your host Ashish Nathu will help you discover methods to live the new American dream. It’s time to start living the good life on your own terms and experience a new way to live rich. Now here’s your host Ashish Nathu

Ashish Nathu: Vanessa Wieliczko, welcome to the show. Thank you for having me. I’m really excited for you to be here. I think there’s a lot of different topics we can talk about and you have this really rich career path that you’ve had in the last 13, 15 years. And I really want to get into that with you. And I want people to learn from that journey that you had, and some of the obstacles. I want to talk about you’re the CIO of an investment firm. So I want to talk about money management and the way that you guys think about money and some of the advice you give people. And then we’ll transition into some really fun, personal stuff. And talk more about your journey. So let’s start with, I guess, your career journey. How did you end up where you are? And before we get there, I think I probably should tell the audience that we actually went to college together and we haven’t seen each other in over 13 years. And one of the reasons I reached out to you because that I so distinctly remember even in school of how strong and ambitious and intelligent you were and to see you sort of manifest who you should become and how you’ve kind of well-rounded your life, both in family and in business, I think is really magical. So I’m really excited to dig into some of these topics with you today.

Vanessa Wieliczko: Well, thanks. Those are all really nice things. And of course, I thought the same about you. It’s interesting because looking back on it, I realized just like how type A I was. And even though I still have that in me I think that as I’ve matured, I appreciate some things that aren’t all about, you know, winning or being the best.

Ashish Nathu: Absolutely. Which is what this podcast is all about. It’s about letting people achieve everything they want to achieve, but really doing it in the right way and doing it in harmony. So let’s start with your career. Tell us about your journey and how you got to where you are.

Vanessa Wieliczko: Yeah. So I graduated in 2008, which as we all know is like a horrible, horrible time to be graduating and trying to get a job in finance. At the time I was studying for the CFA, had a great professor at Boston university who had given me great advice to say, like, don’t waste your time going and getting another minor or something, just get out there, graduate early and start studying. So I did that, moved out to San Diego. Also another story we might look back to got married in my first semester of senior year. So moved out to San Diego with my new husband. We now have three little kids and have just reached our 14 year anniversary. So it’s like crazy how time just flies. So we moved out to San Diego. I started studying as soon as I had taken level one of the charter financial analyst designation, the CFA, I started looking for jobs. And I think what maybe is a little bit different about my path is I basically found the firm that I wanted to work for. And they weren’t hiring, you know, no one really was at the time. And I just said, give me any job. I don’t care what it is. Give me any job. And I’ll prove to you why, you know, I should be in an investment focused role within the firm. They didn’t have an investment department. It wasn’t typical at the time for a registered investment advisory firm to have a dedicated investment research analyst. Typically the advisors did that, like on the side. So that’s where I started.

Ashish Nathu: And what happened after that?

Vanessa Wieliczko: So I worked in a client relationship manager role, which is kind of in the industry most people call it a client service associate. So you’re basically the admin support for the advisor doing lots of paperwork, setting up lots of meetings, doing a lot of prep for those meetings. At the time I don’t think I appreciated how valuable that experience would be. I just wanted to get to where I wanted to go. And definitely had some days where I was like, you know, really down about it. So I think that is one of the biggest things that I have learned over time and that I think has contributed to my success is not being so shortsighted, you know, like not expecting things to happen in a really short period of time. It’s really about like the long game. So I did that for two years. And then while I was working in that role, I was studying for the CFA. I was also trying to do some analysis at night, you know, as a 21 year old does and kind of trying to show the boss that I had, you know, skills to actually contribute. So then I moved into an investment research analyst role, and at the time we were 12 or 13 employees, we had under 400 million in assets under management, and fast forward today, we are roughly 60 employees, four locations, 3 billion in assets under management. So it’s like an entirely, entirely different firm. And I’m really lucky to have a wonderful team of people that I work with, you know, every day. So I’m now in the chief investment officer position, I have three people on the trading and investment operations side of things, and then three people on the portfolio management and research side of things.

Ashish Nathu: Wow, such a cool story, one of the things and I want to get more into the investment philosophy and some of the things you’re seeing right now, and some of the trends, et cetera, so that people can really learn from your knowledge. But I think what’s really interesting to me and I want to get into this is that, you know, not very many people in our generation let’s call it can stick around and have the patients to work in one firm for 13 years. And I think having this sort of, and I kind of take you as somebody who’s patiently impatient. Like you’re really ambitious. You want to move really fast. You want the results that you want now, but you have this patience that you know, like I’m willing to stick it out. I just, people need to give me a shot or people need to see what I know, etc. Tell me a little bit about that.

Vanessa Wieliczko: Yeah, I would definitely say it is rare. I was lucky that I was surrounded by lots of, you know, really great mentors. And I asked for advice and feedback frequently. And I think another really compelling factor for me was that my firm was willing to completely cover any education that I wanted. So they paid for and supported me as I pursued the CFA, the charter financial analyst designation. I next step moved on to the Kaya, which is the alternative investment analyst designation. And then the last one I did was the CFP, which is the certified financial planner. So all of that combined, like just to have an employer that will pay for it, support you through it and you know, help you grow through it, I think is really invaluable. And yeah, I think I believed in the future of the firm enough to see that the day to day, even if there were issues and even if there were frustrations that like the future was worth it, I still have that, you know, like still there are days where you’re just like, oh, this is frustrating me so much. But if you believe in the future enough and you’re like, believe in yourself and your team enough, then you’re willing to fight for it.

Ashish Nathu: You definitely have to have this opportunistic positive outlook for the future. Because you just can’t control what you can’t control. One of the things I want to ask you is, is in that process, I think it’s really cool and beautiful that your firm was allowed to grow and had space to grow, but it also had this trajectory for you as well. And both flourished, right? At a similar pattern. Are there things that you experienced during that journey that you expect or obstacles or headwinds, or did you find it that it was like, no as long as I kept my head down and kept grinding or working that I just was along for the ride, do you feel like there were things that you, you know, didn’t really expect to challenge you or maybe, talk a little bit about that.

Vanessa Wieliczko: So I have a couple things in that bucket. One is, you know, you’ll hear like these designations I went after. Sounds great. Like, it sounds, you know, highly ambitious driven person, maybe like she must be smart. It took me so much effort, so much work I failed CFA level two, twice. I failed CFA level three once. So it took me five years to get the CFA. It took me a year to get the Kaya. It took me three months to get the CFP. So it was like a lot of work that went into that. A lot of tears, a lot of frustration falling asleep on your books. All stuff that I think made me a better person, a better professional also could not have done it with kids. So that would be a point of advice for someone who’s coming out of college. Like, go do that stuff before you have kids. Cause once you have kids, it’s just new things that you learn, like patience for one which I think everything in your life ends up impacting other areas. Now that I am a parent, I realize all the ways in which my kids have actually made me such a, just a better manager and a better asset to the firm.

Ashish Nathu: Let’s go there. Let’s go to the family because you are this amazing mom, three boys, correct?

Vanessa Wieliczko: Yes. My house is absolutely crazy. I’m outnumbered. I have a five year old, a three year old and an almost two year old.

Ashish Nathu: So you’re a boy mom and I’m a girl dad. And what I want to know is how you deal with the opposite hormone, cause I am struggling with all the time. I’m outnumbered by women all the time and sometimes they want nothing to do with me.

Vanessa Wieliczko: Well, how old are your kids?

Ashish Nathu: I have a two year old and a four year old.

Vanessa Wieliczko: Okay. I don’t know. I have no experience with girls and my kids are like glued to me. And sometimes I’m like, can I just peel you off so that I can, you know, like run to the bathroom.

Ashish Nathu: So like what you were saying is, I feel the same in that you become a different leader, you become a different manager. You think about the world, the priorities, you know, your purpose so much differently than when you’re sort of on your own, even with a spouse, but when you have kids, everything changes in your perspective of what you find to be important.

Vanessa Wieliczko: Totally. And I will say like, they’ve taught me patience I’m so, you know, I’m going to kindergarten again, I’m learning about every different kind of dinosaur there is. I know more about planets than I ever thought I would. So it’s just really fun to like see them learning and like the excitement on their faces when they tackle something new, which is funny, cause there’s even an overlap there between you know, that and business, like when you’re working with a team and you’re supporting someone’s professional growth when you like finally see something click and they get it. It’s exciting too.

Ashish Nathu: Yeah. I’ll admit that before I had kids, I don’t know I had the level of awareness for empathy then after I had kids. Like the things that parents go through, people go through to, you know, sustain a career or live balanced life. This work life balance concept, I think you don’t really get that until, especially if you’re a type A high performer trying to go after it until you really have kids and learn how to create more harmony in that. I definitely struggled with that until I had kids.

Vanessa Wieliczko: Oh God, I still don’t have harmony. And then another thing that I think surprised me and challenged me and I think it’s specific to maybe the industry, but maybe not is that when you’re first starting out, you’re in a research analysts role, like you’re entire job is in the details. That’s literally what you’re paid to. Do. You need to like find that needle in the haystack that’s either good or bad. And then as you start as your role starts evolving and, and you have different responsibilities, it kind of flips on its head and you have to like start being higher level and like being able to make decisions really and quickly without all the relevant information. And so for me, that was really uncomfortable, you know, like, well, how can I make a decision? I don’t know all the facts, but 80% of them are going to get you there. So making that switch was challenging. And then what surprised me is I think, I had put myself in a tiny box of analytical type. Like you’re a finance person, you’re a math person. And for some reason I even had convinced myself that I liked numbers. I like spreadsheets and I didn’t really want to be on the people side of things. And the truth was, I didn’t necessarily want to be, I didn’t want to lose the investment side of things. My mother actually is an investment advisor, a wealth advisor. So I had experience through her of what that looked like. And I always, well, I’m so different than her. She goes into a room, she’s a total extrovert. She takes it over and just trans, like she is the event. And that’s not me. I feel like uncomfortable in those situations. Like I don’t think, I don’t think I’m an introvert. I just don’t flourish in huge environments with people I don’t know. And so somehow I had decided like, I’m not that much of a people person.

Ashish Nathu: You mean you labeled yourself, is that what you mean?

Vanessa Wieliczko: Yeah. And then as my role started changing, I realized, wait a minute, I love people and I’m super empathetic. And the relationships are actually more important to me than all the other stuff. But I like more intimate relationships. So I think that definitely was a change and something that maybe I hadn’t even realized would excite me so much.

Ashish Nathu: I love that. One of the things that, and I can talk about this with you, because I went to school with you. But one of the things that I always talk about, and I studied finance and accounting, right alongside you. And I ended up being an entrepreneur in a completely different space besides finance and accounting. And I always talked about how finance or whatever you study for that matter is just a foundation. And the world really wants to put us in these boxes of, you know, you’re a finance person. You need to be in the finance track. You need to be in the numbers and not be engaged with people, that’s your track, that’s it. And we graduated in a time where if you were not innovative or you didn’t think outside the box, like you could not get a finance job. I mean, you kind of went to a firm and just said, Hey, look, I’ll do anything. I mean, just give me an opportunity and I’ll do anything. I ended up in the furniture business. I ended up in the construction and furniture business. So I think I always talk about that in that, you know, the only person who’s going to put you in a box is you. And if you start to think about all the things you could do with the person you are and the skillsets you are, people could do anything. You can really do anything.

Vanessa Wieliczko: It’s true. And I think certainly when you first graduated, like to think that you have to do one thing versus another I also think like, so sometimes people are too constrained midcareer and I get that it’s like funny coming from me, but who spent at the same firm forever, but I’ve seen so, and I’ve seen this firsthand through clients, clients that have like completely shifted gears, you know, like they’re 40 years old and granted they’ve made pretty decent amounts of money, but they’re 40 years old and they’ve made enough money basically to retire. But you know, it’s not about retiring. It’s about like living the life you want. And so then they kind of take a step back reassess and determine, okay, what’s my next adventure.

Ashish Nathu: Let’s talk about investing in your firm and talk to us a little bit about your investment philosophy at the company.

Vanessa Wieliczko: Yeah, so, I mean, I would say at its core, it’s really objective based. So it’s not about, you know, necessarily sitting down with a client and like trying to beat a benchmark. Of course we’re going to be benchmarking and seeing, you know, how we’re performing against certain things like the S&P 500 in terms of equities. But really it’s more about sitting down with a client and okay, you know, when do you want to retire? If so, like at that point, how much do you need to pull from your portfolio? How much do you have in your portfolio today? How much do we think that we can grow that portfolio until you retire, at that point you know, how much will the portfolio be growing and how much will you be pulling from it? How will we’d be investing now versus in retirement? So those are like the fundamentals of it and the core of it. And then you know, generally we’re going to be telling a client to be, you know, globally diversified. That is kind of it in a nutshell. But obviously we can get into more detail [21:47 inaudible].

Ashish Nathu: Yeah. What I guess, what are people really asking you for? Are they asking you to just like, look I have X amount of money, Vanessa, or team, you know, I need you to manage it for me and tell me what I’m going to make in 20 years. Are they asking you like, I guess, what are people coming to you with? Like, what are the questions you guys get asked the most?

Vanessa Wieliczko: So I’ll start by saying, like, we don’t just manage a client’s portfolio. It’s more like really being a member of the client’s like, team. Like you’re there to help them think through anything that could really impact their wellbeing. So for example, advisors are having conversations with clients about life insurance. They’re having conversations about estate plans, they’re talking with their CPAs in helping with planning. So my role is really just like one very small piece of a much, much bigger picture. So an advisor’s going to have a much broader discussion. And then when it comes down to the investments, yes, it is like more straightforward where it’s like, okay, here’s a $5 million portfolio. I am, you know, fairly risk averse and I don’t necessarily need to grow it that much. Then I’m going to have a more conservative recommendation or I’m fairly young, I’m continuing to contribute to my accounts and I don’t need any money from it. I view this as a 20 plus year investment, then we might go obviously much more aggressive.

Ashish Nathu: So yeah, everyone’s got their own goals. Everyone’s driving their own purpose.

Vanessa Wieliczko: Yeah. And then I think what makes us maybe a little bit different is that we probably took more of a heavy allocation and alternatives than a lot of advisory firms. So while we have traditional portfolios, that’ll play a part in a total portfolio. Like we have, you know, mutual fund models, we have individual securities and individual stock and bond portfolios, but then we pair that with alternatives like real estate or private credit or private equity or infrastructure, things that help to diversify and then like serve some need in the portfolio. Maybe it’s that you don’t believe public equities are going to return the same high, return profile that they have historically. So we add private equity, maybe it’s that you think interest rates are going to go up and that bonds aren’t going to insulate your portfolio as much as they did in the past. They’re not going to provide the same level of diversification. We start looking into private credit that has higher income levels and shorter duration, meaning it’s not as like long dated, it’s not as far out into the future that you’ll be getting your capital back.

Ashish Nathu: Prices in almost every major asset class are higher than they’ve ever been. What are you guys talking about in your boardrooms about the potential risks or catastrophes that could happen and what can people do to think through those things as you guys are?

Vanessa Wieliczko: Yeah. I get this question a lot as you might expect. And it’s not restricted to right now, you know, I was getting these questions last year and by the way, we’re now up like more than 20%. So you know, I think at the end of the day in investing, it’s super important to be oriented to the long term. Otherwise it is really hard to invest. Like if you’re truly like investing on a quarterly basis, even a one or two year basis it’s really hard to market time. Nobody’s successful at it. All the research shows that even professionals can’t do it well, if you look at analysis of just individuals who tried to do it on their own, on their own, they’re not successful in doing it. In fact they can be quite detrimental. Like if you, for example said, you know what, the market’s really high price right now. I feel like it’s time to get out. Let’s say you, you could say, yeah, I’m going to wait. Or you could say, you know what? I think it’s time to get out. That decision is actually the easy part. The hard part is when do you get it back in? And so I think, you know, the really short [26:28 inaudible] is like, don’t try to time the market. Yes, prices are high. So you’ve got high equity valuations in the public markets. You’ve got relatively low interest rates. So your bonds as well, potentially have some downside risk. However, you also have high inflation and an expectation that potentially this might not be transitory. Like this might not just be for the next couple of months. This could be here for another year or more. And that in mind, like cash is the worst place you could be. Cause you’re like, you’re losing your purchasing power. So not only are you not participating in the upside of the equity market, you’re guaranteeing a loss. So I think it’s all about trying to take that term view, accepting that you’re likely to get some corrections in the market where like the market basically like takes a moment to reset and then finds its next launching point to continue up. All the research shows that equity markets do trend up over time. And you know, I think generally the environment is such that we’re still recovering from a COVID, you know, pandemic. And I mean, it obviously depends on who you speak to. Like some people feel like we’re totally back to normal. I don’t think we are. I mean a lot of things seem to indicate we’re not, I mean, even if you look at supply chain issues, I don’t know if you started like shopping for your kids for the holidays. I already had two orders canceled on me because they can’t fill the orders. So I say that because I feel like there’s all this pent up demand and people want to get out and like go do things and kind of in some ways, like start living life. And I think that that surge will continue to create like these really volatile movements in the markets where you have like swings and valuation. But it also still has a tailwind to help with earnings.

Ashish Nathu: As a wealth advisor, Do people ask you well, I shouldn’t say if people ask you questions, I guess I want to know your perspective about how you see blockchain or crypto or all of this alternative stuff affecting traditional wealth management and investing. And are you seeing that as a disruptor? Are you seeing that as a distraction? How are you in incorporating that into the conversation? Want your perspective.

Vanessa Wieliczko: It definitely comes up. We don’t really have any expertise in the area, so it’s not somewhere that we as a firm have allocated. I think, you know, most people would will say like, look, it is highly speculative, right? Like you don’t, you don’t know which crypto is actually going to be out on top. You know, some might be a winner today and a loser tomorrow. And Bitcoin is one of those things. It’s like a highly tested issue. Like people are either super for it or super against it. It seems like. I would say I’m like definitely more moderate. I think for the service that we are providing to clients, it just doesn’t really fit. However, you know, I would give a client like some guidance, Hey, if you want to go buy Bitcoin, you can go on Coinbase, set yourself up with a wallet, and like, this is how you buy it. And I can say like personally, you know, my husband actually purchased Bitcoin and a few other cryptos, I think in like 2013 and personally again, not like professionally, just personally, we just decided, okay, we’re going to buy this and just let it sit like, and as you might expect, I have like a really detailed budget….

Ashish Nathu: Life plan

Vanessa Wieliczko: Yeah. Statement of net worth and stuff. And for those assets, I have it as a line item on my statement of net worth with the amount that we purchased and a value of zero. So that like, I don’t know, 10 years from now, it’s just, you know…

Ashish Nathu: You’re not even thinking about it.

Vanessa Wieliczko: Yeah. Yeah.

Ashish Nathu: That’s great. I love that. I also, I think that people need to think about investing and I had another financial advisor on the podcast a couple of weeks ago, and we were talking about the same thing and I think people think about investing to try to catch a wave, get out at the top, time the market. I think we do that in a lot of different aspects of the way we spend our money and our relationship with money and our attachment to greed or making money quickly, or what have you. And I think history shows time and time again, that you just need to focus on the long term. Which is, I think really directly related to what we were talking about earlier, which is, you know, being patient at even a job and like seeing long term results and seeing term returns at a job that you cannot get those returns in two to three years, you need to spend time at those place and invest in those places to be able to get the return that you’re really looking for.

Vanessa Wieliczko: Well, and I think that’s more true in investment markets than like anywhere. I mean if you, even with stocks, that would be our philosophy. Like we’re not going to buy a stock because we think that it’s going to have a good quarter. We’re going to buy a stock because we think it has a really great upside for the next like five years. So I guess two different schools of thinking and two different ways of investing.

Ashish Nathu: What are your thoughts about the Kathy woods of the world who are really trying to create more transparency, more openness in the entire investment ecosystem and is that cat out of the bag and, you know, talk to me a little bit about that.

Vanessa Wieliczko: Yeah, I mean, I think that it sounds bad, but I think it is a double-edged sword. Like you want more transparency and you want kind of an equalizer. But a lot of times I think that there’s regulation that happens in the industry that it like is well intentioned, but poorly executed. So there have been like, for example, I mean, in alternatives in order to invest in a lot of alternatives, like real estate or private credit or private equity, there are suitability standards. You have to be for example, an accredited investor, you have to have a million dollars net worth. And if you don’t have that, then you know, there might be income requirements. So I think the intent there is look, these are asset classes that don’t have as much transparency. They’re not regulated by the, I mean, in some cases they’re not regulated as much, and we’re trying to protect the average investor so that either I don’t know either, they can afford to hire an advisor and somebody looking into the details, the catch is like, it also excludes people that maybe really would benefit from those asset classes.

Ashish Nathu: Let’s talk about women in leadership. And as you have scaled into your role and climb the ladder and, you know, achieved career a successful career, you are an ambitious woman. You’re strong, you’re intelligent. What are some of the obstacles that you faced to get where you are and what advice do you have for other ambitious driven women who wanted follow a similar path?

Vanessa Wieliczko: So I think for me, I never ever felt, well, actually that’s not true. I did not feel to the extent the an awareness of my gender. Until more recently. So earlier in my career, like wasn’t really a big deal. Although of course, you know, I would go to like forecast dinners and I’d be sitting next to someone that was my peer, and everyone would assume that I was like that guy’s wife.

Ashish Nathu: Cause finance is mainly dominated male world. Is that true?

Vanessa Wieliczko: Hundred percent. I mean to give you some statistics, cause I’m a nerd like that. In like the CFA charter holder pool of professionals typically you’re talking about like 15 to 20% female and that’s a huge you know, improvement from like 20 years ago in the CFP or financial planner crowd, that’s 30%. So you can see like it does differ within different pockets of the industry. I would assume it’s the same within like other fields, you know, like in investment banking is probably even lower. Especially given the quality of life issues, I think in investment banking, same thing with like auditors. I would assume that it might be even more significant. But for me, one of the ways to like level set and get to kind of a better place was to pursue designations so that I didn’t have to go around like proving that I knew what I was talking about. Like just give my business card and say like…

Ashish Nathu: Let the designation or the certificate or let that speak for itself.

Vanessa Wieliczko: And I would say that like for anyone, male or female, I think that’s a good approach because when you’re young, like you look young, I mean, who wants a 25 year old advisor? Nobody. So no matter how smart you are, like just spend those years learning as much as you can and getting those designations out of the way so that you can focus on other things later on. But again, I didn’t feel it quite as much as I think when you get further into your career and then you’ve continued to like grow and move into higher positions and then you look around and you’re like, oh wow, this is like really different, you know, like it’s when maybe you were starting out and it was like maybe a little bit more equal in terms of the statistics, it becomes less so, or for example, in the CFA community in leadership, you start noticing it more and more and more.

Ashish Nathu: Meaning that there’s less women. So that’s why you mean, but it showed up for you more recently.

Vanessa Wieliczko: Yeah. In my way of trying to overcome it has been, first of all, trying to understand why. It’s funny, I had a client who wanted to talk to me about that. Called me up and said, tell me why you think it is. And I was like, oh, I guess I never really thought about that. Maybe I should have some opinions there. And then he continued to like explain it to me. Which was interesting. So I started like reading more, trying to understand it a little bit more. And I also started getting more interested in some of the like work assessments that are out there, like a Caliper or Myers Briggs or Clifton strengths. You can start seeing Not necessarily based on gender, although obviously like there tend to be things that are more true than not based on stereotypes, you know, everybody’s different. So like you may not fit that stereotype. But I think it’s interesting to understand yourself and why you are the way you are, why you make decisions, the way that you do and same thing with your team. But I can say like one other way, I’ve experienced it through this whole pandemic. We are always on zoom. And our leadership team is actually 50, 50, 50% men, 50% women. So like, I think we’re doing pretty well. But what I’ve noticed is without any like bad intent the conversation tends to like get taken over by the men in the room. And I think it is because women have been trained more than men to like view interrupting as rude. So like we feel uncomfortable inserting ourself to like, make our point. So my way of coping with that, I use the chat feature all the time and I’m sure it drives some people crazy, but it’s like the thought came to my head, into my mind. I wanted to make the point and I don’t want to interrupt you. So like, when you’re done talking, can we please revisit my point?

Ashish Nathu: Interesting. And that dynamic is different than if we’re also face to face because you can sense the room. Do you see that as a difference?

Vanessa Wieliczko: I actually think it helps. Because if you are in person, like, what are you going to do? Like write it down on a piece of paper and slide it across the table. You know, I think for me anyway, like I might just not have made my point, you know, I would’ve been like, look, I just can’t get my words in. Or every time I start talking, you interrupt me. So I have tried to learn certain ways to like politely say, you know, actually let me just finish my point because I actually think this is important and then like pausing and talking. But yeah, Trying to find ways to like continue to share are your views as much as anyone else and not appear aggressive or loud, I think is something that women have to deal with that men don’t.

Ashish Nathu: I love that. What are you most afraid of?

Vanessa Wieliczko: What am I most afraid of? I don’t know. Dying.

Ashish Nathu: What else?

Vanessa Wieliczko: It’s like kind of morbid, but in the past couple, I mean the past couple of years have just been like so strange. Like if anyone told you that this would be the state of affairs in, you know, 2020, 2021, you would’ve been like, you’re crazy. That’s out of a movie. So sadly I lost an uncle to COVID right at the beginning of this whole thing in April of last year. So like, for me, that’s been much more real. My family has been like far more conservative than I think most others have been. And so I just like, I can’t wait for, I personally can’t wait for my kids to be vaccinated. I can’t wait to like, get out there and travel. I just want to spend time with family. I want to I want like while the days might have like little issues, I want like my overall sense of my career and the people that I’m with on a daily basis to be positive. And I want that for the people on my team as well. Like I never want anyone to just feel like week after week dread of coming to work. So for me, I guess it’s all about relationships. So you said fear, and then I said all the things I want.

Ashish Nathu: Well, the next question I was going to ask you was, what does it mean for you to be rich? Because you are in the wealth business, you’re in the money management business, but I want to know from your perspective for you, what does it mean to be rich? And you kind of answered some of that.

Vanessa Wieliczko: I think it starts with health and relationships. And personally I have realized that for me, feeling impactful is important. So feeling like I’ve somehow made a difference, whether it’s in like shaping the future of a firm and what it will become for clients and for future employees that I’ve left it in a better state, you know, like it’s better than it was when I got it. And then you know, that’s part of what excites me about like kids too. Like you’re part of this like molding of a human being that’s going to go out into the world and like become this great thing and helping them to like, learn how to deal with their emotions and like you know, be excited to learn and all that.

Ashish Nathu: As your kids grow up. And I’m really aware of this question and I think about it all the time. So let me ask you, is that as your kids grow up, what is, one or two things that you want them to really remember about how you were a parent or how you want them to show up?

Vanessa Wieliczko: I hope that they, I guess they, I mean, I hope that they, well, this isn’t about their feelings about me, but the two things I said, like, I hope that they learn to like, be aware of their feelings and communicate more effectively. So like not to be like really angry and just take it out on people, but to like sit back and say like, I’m feeling angry. I don’t know why I’m feeling angry, but I wanted you to know. I think a lot of adults are just completely unaware of their feelings and it actually really hinders their relationship. I think it hinders their careers. I’ve read a book earlier this year, which I actually would love to read again, maybe in December, as like getting ready for the new year. It’s called mindset by Carol Dweck. Super interesting. And it dives into like fixed mindset versus growth mindset, which, you know, obviously there are tons of books out there, but I thought this one was really well done. So I would love in that vein of thinking to like create kids with a growth mindset that feel like they can do anything. And like, doesn’t really matter where they are today. It’s just like about having that openness to what could be. So I’d love to build that when I think about my mom actually, and what I didn’t realize was so special was my mom was like divorced. So she was, you know, my dad was around, but he wasn’t living with us. So it’s like, in some ways being like a single parent, you know, like you’re on 24 hours a day when you have, when you’re with your child. So she was alone with me. She was working full-time and somehow managed to make every holiday, like over the top. So that is one thing I always try to focus on with my kids and do as best as I can to like make Halloween like gangbuster is like super special, same thing with like Thanksgiving and Christmas and any other thing that comes into our family, which is easier said than done, because I am the worst cook. Like really the worst cook we had pumpkin pie for Halloween. And somehow I missed the first step of the recipe did not include 20 minutes of the cooking. So it came out like pumpkin soup and we tasted it and I was like, oh, it tastes like it doesn’t have sugar. And then my husband’s like, well, did you add the sugar? I was like, oh no, I forgot. So I called my mom, actually, my mom was like, oh, well, it’s fine. It’s not fully baked. Go check the sugar in, stir it up, put it in the oven for 20 minutes and take it out. We did it tasted great. We rebranded it as ghost poop and our kids loved it.

Ashish Nathu: Love it, ghost poop. I love it. Well, look, I really appreciate you sharing your story and sharing all this advice, Vanessa, how can people get in touch with you?

Vanessa Wieliczko: You can find me on LinkedIn. So it’s Vanessa Wieliczko. I will be spelling my name for the rest of my life. And yeah, really excited to connect with anyone who has advice to share or just wants to chat or would like advice.

Ashish Nathu: Well, listen, thanks so much. And I encourage the listeners to go back. I look forward to talking to you again soon. Maybe we can do this again and we’ll see you on the next episode.

Vanessa Wieliczko: Sounds like fun.

Thank you for listening to the Rich Equation podcast with Ashish Nathu. Do you want more ideas on how to live rich? Go to www.richequationpodcast.com for show notes and resources. Then take one minute to leave Ashish, a five-star review on apple podcasts, and we’ll see you on the next episode

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