Welcome to RIA Collective. Taking the Fear and Mystery out of Going Independent.
Sept. 28, 2022

Time is Precious Be Intentional About How You Spend it with Rachael Burns

Time is Precious Be Intentional About How You Spend it with Rachael Burns

In this episode of RIA Collective, Rachael Burns shares the life-changing events that led her to leave a successful team at Ameriprise to start her RIA, True Worth Financial Planning.

When we're young, we may not understand how precious our time is. For Rachael, family health issues made her take inventory of life and understand that starting her RIA created the flexibility she needed.

Charlie and Rachael talk about her experience at Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, and Ameriprise before starting True Worth FP. They chat about life-changing events and how independence served Rachael, her family, and her clients in so many meaningful ways.

About Rachel
Rachael Burns is a Certified Financial Planner and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst based in Folsom, California. She is the founder of True Worth Financial Planning, which helps newly single women achieve financial independence after divorce or the death of a spouse. Through her own personal experience navigating trauma and finances, she found her calling -- to support and empower other women during the most challenging transitions of their lives.

https://trueworthfp.com/


Transcript


00:09
Charlie Van Derven
Thank you for tuning in to another episode of RIAA Collective. I'm your host, Charlie Van Derven. I'm joined by a special guest who's going to have some really great insight for those listeners out there who are in that wirehouse position, really looking to make that step to independence. Our guest today has been through it and actually has a lot of experience going through it, so we get to pick a good experience brain. Today I'm joined by Rachel Burns of TrueWorth Financial Planning in Auburn Fulsome, California. Place ben. Rachel, thank you for taking time out of your day and joining me today and imparting some of your experience on our listeners. 


00:49
Rachael Burns
Oh, sure. Thanks so much for having me, Charlie. I appreciate it. 


00:51
Charlie Van Derven
Yeah, it's great to be here. So, Rachel, I will tell you the one thing that drew me to you or the first thing that drew me to you was as I was looking at potential ras to interview for our show, your brand. We're going to talk about that. I know you already filled me in that a lot of it's you, but it's really a well done professional brand and such a narrow niche as you come through years of that wirehouse captive environment. You got to do things one way and the right color blue and all this other stuff. Right. Tell me about building that brand, Rachel, what your vision was and then what assistance you had in putting the website together, the photos and a lot of PR exposure. Talk a little bit to that. 


01:37
Rachael Burns
Yeah. Like you said at the big wire houses, the brand is not you, the brand is the firm. You have to use the right shade of blue and you have to get the logo downloaded from the right spot and you have all these rules about how you can use it. There's really little creativity when it comes to branding and marketing in general, too. I had never thought about how being a social advisors could be a creative job until I went out on my own. I hadn't put a ton of thought into what my brand would look like. I knew who I wanted to serve and I knew how I wanted to serve them. Once I worked with a web designer. A brand strategist. They helped me kind of translate my vision for what I wanted to do and how I wanted to help people into like. 


02:33
Rachael Burns
What do I want that to actually look like. How do I want to make people feel when they see my website. How do I want to make people think when they see my social media posts? My designer was able to turn that into a visual representation of my brand, which that was something I had zero experience with. Once she showed me what my brand could look like and once we kind of build that together, I was like, oh, my gosh, this is so fun, and it's a creative outlet, but it's an expression of my passion about my work. That's like something so different than anything I have done before in the warehouses. 


03:17
Charlie Van Derven
Yeah. And it's an amazing reflection. I mean, honestly, it stands out. I've been doing websites for 20 plus years, so in one capacity or another, it's not something we focus on right now. That's where I got started, in fact, doing Morgan Stanley websites once upon a time. 


03:32
Rachael Burns
Yeah. 


03:35
Charlie Van Derven
We've all looked at tens of thousands of websites. Right. A friend of mine at FMG Suite, I'd worked there for a little while, a friend of mine, maybe a year ago said, hey, Charlie, here's 30 links. We'll give you an Amazon card if you give me your feedback on these 30 websites. Out of those 30 websites, two or three of them have been personalized. Now, if you don't know FMG has a template website because it feeds content rights, but you still have a lot of personalization within that template. I think that high personalization, that vision of what you represent both personally and professionally, it's such an important piece of credibility to you, growing what is really a brand new business for yourself. Yeah, you did an awesome job with that. So, anyway, thank you. Pat yourself on the back. I would do it if were loud in person. 


04:29
Charlie Van Derven
Rather, you're working with newly single women. I love the way you say that. Right, the representative. Newly single women, how did you settle into that particular niche? Does that start years ago, or is that something that you design when you started your RA? 


04:49
Rachael Burns
Yeah, so when I was with The Wirehouses, they don't necessarily encourage niches so much. That's not really a thing. There are some people who loosely kind of specialize in a certain area, like special needs planning or divorce or something. What I found is a lot of people who said that they were specializing in newly single women were after the money in motion. Because, as when people get divorced or when someone passes away, there's a lot of times a chunk of money that's up for grabs, so to speak. A lot social advisors that I've heard say, oh, I specialize in divorce days, or whatever, they don't really specialize in divorce days. It's like a marketing thing. They know that's a good type of client, but their processes, the way that they serve the client, is not super customized to that type of client. Because when you work for a big company, you can't really customize how you serve the client that much. 


05:59
Rachael Burns
The firm makes a lot of decisions for you. There's this uniform experience, which is intentional, but what happens is it's not super customized to the client. I knew that I had always enjoyed working with women who had gone through some transition, and they were managing their finances on their own, maybe for the first time. Maybe it's just been a long time, but it didn't occur to me to specialize just in that until I started thinking about launching my own firm. And Koban happened. We're all home working from home, and I'm like, killing time walking my kids around in the stroller listening to podcasts, and I came across the XYPN podcast, and they were talking about how you can launch an RAA. And I was like, what's? An RAA? What does that even mean? I was like, this is so crazy. These people were able to launch a firm for not a gazillion dollars without having a full time compliance expert, and they're working with people that they enjoy working with, and they're doing it in a way that they dreamed up themselves that they think is the best way of doing it. 


07:22
Rachael Burns
I was like, that is the craziest thing I've ever heard. But I thought it was so awesome. I was like, I have to do this. I clearly have to do this because this sounds so amazing. I did a lot of research, and I knew that I wanted to work with women in transition because that had always been my favorite type of client to work with in the past. I thought, oh, my gosh, if I could just work with my favorite type of client, that would be amazing. So I decided to specialize in that. By specializing in that, I don't mean, oh, I just market to women AI transcription. It's like, no, I have my CDFA. I've done a lot of training on the very unique financial aspects of divorce and what that looks like in the long run, the decisions that are made during a divorce, how that can impact someone in the long run. 


08:15
Rachael Burns
Similar with widows, there's a lot of changes and decisions that are made, and I have experience in the nitty gritty stuff when it comes to women AI transcription. I felt like my interest and my specialty was very genuine because I really care about that niche, and I understand it, and I feel like I'm uniquely able to serve them. Starting my own RAA gave me the freedom to do all that. It had honestly never occurred to me that any of that was possible until COVID. I hate giving COVID credit for anything good, but that's how it happened. 


09:00
Charlie Van Derven
Yeah, that's awesome. I want to explore that right? Because you and I got to know each other over a couple of phone calls and some email exchange. You've got a cool story, right? I mean, because you spent time at three large firms before reaching this point in your career. I've long held the belief that, as you just expressed, I think you probably were more eloquent at it. It's hard to be a fiduciary right when you're internal to one of those big firms that has quotas and biases and whatever. The independence allows you then to frankly better serve your clients. When you started at Morgan Stanley and I know you kind of climb the ranks there like independence wasn't anything you were looking at. That was kind of you listen to the XY planning and bam a light bulb went off. Let's talk through that kind of evolution from where you got started at Morgan Stanley and I'll let you fill in the details but it's your story not mine. 


10:00
Rachael Burns
Yeah. I joined the training, the FA training program in Morgan's family fairly soon after I graduated college. That's really young. This was early 2008 right before the world came crashing down. I didn't feel super confident because of my age, because of my short experience, because of how chaotic the world was. I wasn't trying to do anything independent. I was a rule follower. I was happy to be an employee. I'm like, tell me how you want it done. Tell me what to do, I'm going to do it. I'm not someone who's like, no I need to do it my own way. I was like, no I'm here to learn. That was really great because that is a really wonderful place to learn the training programs at big firms like that. That's a really great way to get into the business and to learn what you need to know. 


10:57
Rachael Burns
I was perfectly happy living in that box so to speak because I wasn't even ready to look beyond that. I've been there for a while and it's weird my path has not been super linear. I was in the FA training program and then once that was kind of coming to an end I was like, what this is a little intense to be in my early to mid twenty s and trying to be a brand new adviser. It was just like this is not maybe the right time to be trying to do this. I loved the industry and I loved what I was doing and I thought I'm going to try something different. I went to work for the training department at Morgan Stanley that trained advisors on the technology. 


11:50
Charlie Van Derven
Okay? 


11:50
Rachael Burns
It was a regional role where I traveled around and I trained financial advisors on how to use financial planning software, how to use their quoting software, all this stuff. That was first of all the most fun job ever. It felt like summer camp. It was like summer camp with an expense account. It was like unbelievably fun. What was really great about that is I got to work really closely social advisors all over the place, all over the US. I got to learn about their business. I got to learn about how they do things and it gave me this insight into other ways of doing things, and I thought, this information is going to come in handy someday. Put that in my pocket. Eventually life on the road got old, and so I wanted to come back to my branch so that I wanted to go to grad school. 


12:48
Rachael Burns
I came back to the branch and did a temporary stint as a sales assistant, like an extra fancy sales assistant. I did some financial planning stuff, too, but that allowed me to be home and to have normal hours so that I could go get my MBA. I really expected to stay with Morgan Stanley after I got my MBA and maybe join a team again, because I was on a team when I first started, and I got recruited by accident by this team at Meryl. It was funny because when they expressed some interest in me, I was like, Meryl? What? No. No way. 


13:31
Charlie Van Derven
Right? Because we have different shade of blue. 


13:34
Rachael Burns
I know. There used to be this annual baseball game. It was like the local Morgan Stanley offices versus the local Maryland shopping. 


13:42
Charlie Van Derven
Hilarious. 


13:43
Rachael Burns
So very competitive spirit in South Carolina. 


13:47
Charlie Van Derven
So funny. 


13:48
Rachael Burns
I fell in love with this team, and after getting to know so many social advisors and so many other ways of doing things, when I saw this team, I really recognized that this is something really special and I needed to be a part of it. And so I joined them. I went from Morgan Stanley to Merrill, I was not taking a book with me, which made that transition infinitely easier. Logged in at the new place the next day, so that was no big deal. After we had been at Merrill for a couple of years, like you mentioned, with the sales quotas and all that stuff, Meryls owned by B of A. B of A has some ideas about what we should be doing, too, which was not necessarily in our clients best interest at all times. We started looking for a new home and landed on Ameriprise because of their focus on financial planning. 


14:50
Rachael Burns
I really like Ameriprise a lot. They have a different culture than the Wall Street firms, I would say, because they're, like, based in Minneapolis and Minnesota. 


15:01
Charlie Van Derven
Company did their websites once upon a time. Yeah, they were still American Express Financial at that point. So that dates it a little bit. 


15:11
Rachael Burns
Yes, exactly. We landed on them, decided that was going to be the right fit for us and for our clients. That transition was brutal, going from one wirehouse to another wirehouse, and I would imagine going from a wirehouse to NRA is similar, but it was so hard because it's not just the repapering of all of the accounts. And we had a big book. This was not an insignificant amount of clients that were shifting over. There were some issues with just repapering the accounts, which is no one's fault. It's just complicated and messy. You've got the advisors at the old firm calling your clients and saying, oh, no, rachel went off into God knows where. You should stay here. And it was crazy. It was like the morning that we left, our clients were being called like an hour or two later. It was so organized how they reached out to our clients to try to keep them there, and it was really hard. 


16:23
Rachael Burns
It was probably one of the most stressful experiences of my life. 


16:27
Charlie Van Derven
Sure. 


16:28
Rachael Burns
But we had a lot of support. We had a lot of support from management and from the branch and from our team was a good size team. We had three support staff and I think four advisors, one of which retired pretty quickly after we got there. But it was a big undertaking. I was like, I'm glad we're really happy with the merit price because I don't ever want to do that again. I was like, I'm not moving a book again for the rest of my career. That was a one shot deal. I expected that we would just stay with Ameriprise forever. I was perfectly happy with Ameriprise. I loved the tools that they gave us. I loved the firm. I probably would have stayed there the rest of my career if it weren't for not just COVID, because whatever COVID is COVID. There were some other things that happened in my personal life that made me kind of reassess what I wanted out of my career. 


17:29
Rachael Burns
I don't think I even shared any of this with you before, but this is new. I like it. Shortly after we did the transition, we finally settled in. Life was kind of getting back to normal at an Enterprise. I found out I was pregnant, and not just with one baby, but with two babies. I was like, oh, my God, I guess we're going all in on this baby thing. 


17:55
Charlie Van Derven
Life is changing. 


17:56
Rachael Burns
Yeah. Right after that, almost right after that, a couple of days after I found out I was pregnant, I found out my husband had a brain tumor, which was like, okay, that's a lot of news at once. Weren't super worried because he had a benign brain tumor when he was a kid, so we just assume the same thing. It was not it was very aggressive brain cancer. He was being treated while I was pregnant. No, I don't know what to expect a week from now, a month from now. I was like, I don't know if he's going to be around when the babies are born. It was, oh, my God, he did treatment. Babies are born. I had crazy health problems of my own, but that got resolved after a few months or whatever, but having twins is no easy feat. 


18:58
Charlie Van Derven
I see. 


19:03
Rachael Burns
After his treatment, like the radiation, the chemo, it worked really well. He really defied the odds. The statistics for that type of cancer are absolutely horrible in terms of life expectancy. It's been four years and it's been over four years. He's doing really well. 


19:28
Charlie Van Derven
What a crazy thank you for sharing that, really, because that's a lot of hard time. 


19:33
Rachael Burns
Yeah, and so it was. As you can imagine, after going through all that stuff and having two new babies while we're going through all this, it made me reflective on what do I want out of my life? It just made like, time just seemed more precious. I was like, I want to be more intentional about how I spend my time and how I work. It just made me more reflective. Were still kind of reeling from that when covet happened. After going through all this and then all of a sudden COVID happened, and then we have some more time at home and I have more time to think. Of course, you throw in the XYPN podcast and it's like a match. That's kind of what led me to do something different because I was like, look, I need to really enjoy my work. I need to be really passionate about my work. 


20:36
Rachael Burns
I had enjoyed my work, but I wasn't obsessed with my work. And I had some different priorities. I had some changes in my priorities. I needed the ultimate flexibility. I needed to feel selfreliant because I felt like I was relying on my team, which was a life saving thing, genuinely. I was in the hospital for a long time. My husband was in the hospital, my team at work. I didn't have to worry about my clients. My team was taking care of everything. They were coming to visit me in the hospital and bringing me The Wall Street Journal. Like, I couldn't have asked for a more supportive group of people. I was like, I need to feel like I am selfreliant because I didn't like the idea of kind of dumping my issues on my team even though they were so supportive. That's what got my little brain going. 


21:34
Rachael Burns
I was like, well, what if I worked for myself? Yeah, it's scary because I don't have the support of a team, but I could ramp up. I could ramp down as needed. I could change on a dime. I could do whatever I wanted. I would have the ultimate control. That seemed really appealing at that point. I was like, well, what if I just focus on this one group of people? What if I just focus on financial planning? I'm not trying to grow to this, like, hundred million dollar AUM. Like, I'm not trying to do anything crazy. I'm just trying to build this lifestyle practice. I was like, this is what's best for me and my family. I made the move, which was so scary doing that, because I made that move when were in lockdown. 


22:30
Charlie Van Derven
Did you bring any assets with you or did you leave all that with the team? 


22:34
Rachael Burns
I left a huge majority with the team. I took a handful of my very favorite clients that I couldn't live without because I was planning on doing something so different that I was like, I'm not going to try to bring my clients and like, hey, I'm going to be doing this totally different way now. I was like, no, I'm only going to bring people where it's truly a really good fit. Again, I have my little pet that I can't be without. It was not a transition like it was before. It was like a handful of people that I brought with me. 


23:11
Charlie Van Derven
You have the support of the firm and the team. 


23:14
Rachael Burns
Absolutely. And that made that possible. Because if I had another experience where I had the other firm terrorizing me on my way out, it would have been very different. Management and my team and everyone was so understanding and supportive. I still go over and hang out of the office and have lunch with them and stuff. Like, they're just the most wonderful people. So that transition was shockingly easy. I mean, obviously, starting a business of any kind, I don't care if it's like a taco truck, it's hard to start anything. It was not as hard as I thought it was going to be. 


23:57
Charlie Van Derven
I want to key on that for a second because you said something that I found hilarious when we chatted a week ago or whatever. You said, I haven't had to fix a printer yet. Let me put some context around that statement real quick here, because one of the things that a big firm will do is kind of scare you and do well, what about ensure you get a higher payout, but all these resources? What was your impression of the RIAA space when you were wearing that meryl blue? You haven't had to fix a printer yet. Maybe you can get that statement. 


24:31
Rachael Burns
So, first of all, I barely understood what an RAA was, but what I understood of it was like, it was for these rogue advisors who were out there, and they had to secure their own office space, and they had to pay the utilities, and they had to do payroll for the staff, and they had to fix the printer when it broke. I was like, they're so focused on the printer. Oh, do you want to fix your own printer? And I was like, that sounds horrible. I don't know how to fix a printer. It did paint this picture of like, oh, that just sounds so scary and weird. And what's funny is. Yeah. You do have to make some decisions upfront. Like, you do have to decide where you're going to are, you going to have your office space, and you do have to decide what technology you're going to use. 


25:19
Rachael Burns
You have some decisions, but those decisions don't come up too much. Like, that's not that big of a deal. Of all the things that I've printed since I've started my own firm, my printer has not broken once. 


25:35
Charlie Van Derven
Very good. 


25:36
Rachael Burns
If it did, I could probably handle it. I could probably figure out how to get it fixed. 


25:42
Charlie Van Derven
Yeah. Or buy a new one, whatever. I don't think they're meant to be fixed anymore. I think you just go get a new price. 


25:49
Rachael Burns
I think so. They're like, disposable. It was just so much easier than this idea that I had and what an RA entailed. It was so much better. 


26:01
Charlie Van Derven
There's so much more support for it now, right? 


26:03
Rachael Burns
Totally. 


26:04
Charlie Van Derven
We've seen since you got started in Wealth Management 2008 with Morgan Stanley anyway, there's been such an evolution. Technology is moving faster in a free market space than at the big wire houses now. Anyway, there's so much support for that transition. 


26:21
Rachael Burns
Yeah. 


26:22
Charlie Van Derven
I want to learn about the RAA. Right. I love that you're really focused on who you work with. I love that you've got a systematic approach to helping specifically those people. I love that you don't use the word divorce, but newly single. I think that's wonderful. Saying the same thing, saying a little differently. Are there special mission and value behind the RAA? Does that extend to any support in the community? What are you involved in? What's what's true or stand for you? 


26:57
Rachael Burns
My mission is to support women during the most difficult transitions of their lives, and I feel like I can't make their problems go away, but I can help with the stress that's caused by the financial uncertainty. I can help with that. I can take a piece of that off their plate. If I can do that, I'm like, that's great, because that's my superpower. I've gone through having gone through an extremely difficult life transition, I know that your emotional bandwidth is maxed out. You can't make decisions. You can't even remember what you had for breakfast earlier that day. If you're going through some traumatic event, like, you need all the help you can get. When I went through my stuff, I was like, well, at least I don't have to worry about, where are our insurance policies? Where our state planning documents? What does that even mean? 


28:08
Rachael Burns
What happens if he's unable to work? Like, we had disability insurance, we had life insurance, we had estate planning. I understood how all of that worked. I understood what to expect. That experience was still terrifying, but it was less terrifying than it could have been if I didn't have that kind of background, and so that's something that I can help people with in a meaningful way. So that's where the mission came from. 


28:35
Charlie Van Derven
That's awesome. You mentioned earlier that you've got a lifestyle practice. I think you should probably buckle your seatbelt because I think you're going to have a lot of opportunity to turn that into something larger if you want to. Right. Just the way you portray yourself, the PR that you've gotten, really, I think you've got an option, if you want to blow it up . You've been through some great experience, Rachel, in dealing with that at the time that I wasn't aware that life was crazy for you and your family. Are you open to we don't have a ton of listeners just yet. I think we're getting there. Really, honestly. Downloads are climbing daily, so we're excited about that. Are you okay being a resource to the folks that are listening? If they've got questions about gosh, I do have to fix the printer. Who did you call? 


29:27
Charlie Van Derven
Whatever that might be. If they've got questions about anything about that transition, because of course that's who we're trying to help. Are you open to having a quick conversation? 


29:36
Rachael Burns
Yes. I am so happy to talk to social advisors about any of this, whether it's compliance advice, printer advice, marketing. Like, I have learned so much in the couple of years that I've had my RA. I have learned more than in a gazillion years of college that I did. I have learned so much about these areas that are so fascinating with the digital marketing and the compliance and stuff, and I get so excited to talk about it with anyone who will listen to me. Anyone can call me, reach out to me, and I'm super happy to share what I know. I'm super happy to try to get you on board with going rogue because it's the best thing ever. 


30:29
Charlie Van Derven
I am too. When were talking, I was with my buddy Judd, and literally he was flipping burgers, but he could hear us talking. Right. I've been trying to have him make that jump. I don't want to say any names because I don't want to incriminate. I'm a huge advocate of it. Also, I think it's the only way to truly serve a client's best interest. Thank you for being that resource. What's a good way to contact you if something if anybody needs to reach out? 


31:00
Rachael Burns
I would go to my website, which is trueworthfp.com, and there's buttons all over the place, but when you first go there's a button at the top, right? It's book a strategy session. That's intended for people who are interested in hiring me as well. Even if you're another adviser or even if you're just like, I just want to chat, just go on there and book a strategy session, and I'm happy to chat. So I would say. That the website is the best place to get a hold of me because you can put something right on my calendar. 


31:31
Charlie Van Derven
Cool. I'll tell you what, I have conversations about compliance daily. You said something earlier that resonated when you were in the training position at Morgan Stanley and having the opportunity to interface with all these advisers who all brought different experience to the conversation. I feel like I went through something similar so young in my career. Before Morgan Stanley had acquired Smith Barney. We were doing Smith Barney's websites. My setting is not that different from then. I was living in a conversion van, pulling the little trailer, my two dogs, and I was going town town setting up Smith Barney websites up and down the West Coast, which was a wonderful experience. I was in my 20s, maybe early 30s, something like that, but I felt the same. I got to speak with so many advisers during that time today, throughout my career that are all having different experiences, different compliance, different targeting with their messaging, and everybody's having a different experience. 


32:31
Charlie Van Derven
I feel like I've been made a stronger professional just being exposed to all that. Really. 


32:39
Rachael Burns
Yeah. The perspective that you get from that type of role is something that you can't learn that stuff otherwise. 


32:48
Charlie Van Derven
Yeah. I credit a lot of that stuff for where my career is going. Rachel, I think you're awesome. Again, I was attracted to your brand right away, so I'll give you huge kudos on that. Thank you for sharing some of your personal stuff with us today, too. I know that's tough and private, perhaps, but I appreciate you opening up about that. Really, what is such a significant part of that decision to start the RIAA? 


33:14
Rachael Burns
Yeah. 


33:15
Charlie Van Derven
So cool. Listen to our listeners. If you're tuning in, if you like what you're listening to, please give us a little, like, subscribe. We are always looking for cool people like Rachel to interview. I think it's important that we share a ton of stories so that people know there's lots of options within this industry. If there's someone that you feel like is in a leadership position at an RIAA that might have some experience and wisdom to impart on our listeners, I want to know them. So, easy way to find me. First off, there's only one Charlie vendor easy to find on LinkedIn. Or go to the website RIA Collective.com and you can get in touch with us there. So Rachel Burns, once again. Thank you. To all of our listeners, this is Charlie Van Durbin. We're signing up you. 

Rachael Burns Profile Photo

Rachael Burns

Founder, Certified Financial Planner Practitioner

Rachael Burns is a Certified Financial Planner and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst based in Folsom, California. She is the founder of True Worth Financial Planning, which helps newly single women achieve financial independence after divorce or the death of a spouse. Through her own personal experience navigating trauma and finances, she found her calling -- to support and empower other women during the most challenging transitions of their lives.