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Journal of Financial Planning - July 2018: 10 Questions with Rianka R. Dorsainvil, CFP®

WHO: Rianka R. Dorsainvil, CFP®

WHAT: Founder and president of Your Greatest Contribution; creator and host of the 2050 TrailBlazers podcast; 2016 FPA NexGen president; 2014 FPA Diversity Scholarship recipient

WHAT'S ON HER MIND: “We do what we do because we have this innate push to empower, educate, and inform—that’s the next generation of financial planners.”


  1. Finish this sentence: The power of financial planning is ...

… empowering others with the knowledge that will help them achieve their goals and spread knowledge to their family and friends, which will ultimately increase the cycle of wealth-building.

  1. Earlier this year you launched 2050 TrailBlazers, a podcast aimed to address the lack of diversity in the planning profession. What’s the one thing all planners can do today to have a measurable impact?

We, as individuals, are so powerful, and we don’t know the impact that we make in other people’s lives, whether it’s a client or a colleague. Just learning about one another is so important.

We spend more time with our colleagues during the week than we do with our actual family, so the most important thing financial planners can do—or all people within the financial service industry—is to not only learn about their client’s culture but what if we started to learn about each other?

Sharing stories amongst each other, amongst colleagues, and asking questions of your fellow financial planners will increase awareness and familiarity with people of diverse backgrounds.

So, take a curiosity approach to your colleague who doesn’t look like you, or who may have come from a different socioeconomic background, or may have a different sexual orientation. And let’s give each other grace as we try to figure this out. I think, ultimately, it will not only make us great people but great colleagues and great financial planners.

  1. Your work on diversity and inclusion is certainly influencing others. Who influences you?

It’s the people I meet; it’s the next generation of financial planners. I get inspiration from listening to other people’s stories, and I look within myself to see what it is that I can do within my sphere of influence, with the platforms that I have, with whatever voice that I may have. How can I continue to help others? And so by listening to other people’s stories, it influences me.

Lazetta [Rainey Braxton], for example. Just seeing her or just listening to her story about her experience in the profession gave me the inspiration to keep going.

Or Phuong [Luong]. We met when we were both the [FPA] Diversity Scholarship recipients in 2014. Since then, we challenge each other to push each other outside of our comfort zone. Phuong has specifically influenced me by recognizing the power of the words we use to describe ourselves and others.

And Angela [Moore]. She inspired me to be my authentic self and be unapologetically me. [Dorsainvil interviews Rainey Braxton, Luong, Moore, and others in her 2050 TrailBlazers podcast, of which FPA is a sponsor, at riankadorsainvil.com/
2050-trailblazers.]

  1. What is the No. 1 lesson you learned working for other people that you’ve applied to your own business?

The No. 1 lesson I learned came from just sitting in client meetings and emphasizing the importance of learning body language and how to ask sensitive questions and challenging questions. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of allowing your paraplanner, your young associate, your entry-level planner, whatever the title may be, to sit in on client meetings. As a young planner, we don’t know how much we learn just by being present.

Now I’m the lead planner, and I have to be that person. Although my firm is virtual, I’m able to see my clients because we do everything via video conferencing. There’s always a silent party, and I know how to direct the conversation to make sure they’re heard.

There are some uncomfortable conversations where I can see some twitching of the body, or the biting of the lip, or not giving me eye contact, but I learned the different cues and body language to know how to redirect those questions and to ask them in a way that’s better received by the client.

  1. Your Greatest Contribution is a virtual comprehensive fee-only financial planning firm dedicated to serving the busy young professional. How does your fee model fit both your needs as the business owner and the needs of young professionals?

The professionals I work with are in their early 30s and early 40s. They may not have a large nest egg, but they are growing in their careers, and they are hitting different life stages where they know they need professional guidance and support, and they have great cash flow.

Because they may not have a large nest egg, the AUM model wouldn’t be best for these clients. Charging a retainer fits better with their budget and their lifestyle, and it also ensures that I can be on call when they need me, because the clientele I’m working with are getting married, they’re buying their first or second home, they’re having children, they’re getting promoted to different C suite-level positions. Offering a retainer also allows them to work with a Certified Financial Planner and a fiduciary.

As a business owner, what’s important to me is making sure I can pay my bills and pay myself. So, from a cash flow scenario on my end, I know on a quarterly basis I’m getting paid by my clients. And by getting paid on a quarterly basis, I can do cash flow projections. I know how much I can pay myself; I know if I need to hire someone how much I can pay them. And, as I’m learning and growing with my clients, I understand how much time [different planning scenarios] take from an efficiency standpoint. If another client situation comes up where I’ve dealt with this before, and I know this takes a little bit more time, the minimum fee is going to be a little bit higher.

© 2018. Rianka R. Dorsainvil.

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