This post is brought to you on behalf of the CFP Board Center for Financial Planning in support of the “I am a CFP® Pro” campaign. The content does not necessarily reflect the views of CFP Board or the Center for Financial Planning.
Scrolling through Brittney Castro's Instagram feed you'll find pictures of her pup, yoga classes, and coffee dates with friends. You'll probably feel like she's the friend you already have. Born and raised in California, Castro has always been a multi-passionate millennial. She’s always loved dance and theater, and she’s always been a go-getter who seized leadership opportunities thrown her way. Growing up, she saw herself as a teacher or restaurant owner – certainly not a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional.
So, What the Heck Happened?
When it came time to attend college, her entrepreneurial spirit pulled her toward a major in business economics. Castro says, “Math was always easy, but the economy part –understanding theory or philosophy – was challenging.” Even so, she couldn't help but gravitate toward and fall in love with it. While in school, Castro was offered a financial advisor position. Having no idea what a financial advisor was, she consulted her career counselor. The counselor told her to take the job offer because, “You won't know unless you try it.” With that, Castro accepted the job.
Redefining The Future
Like most of us in college, Castro felt lost. Even after taking the job, she had no idea where her career path would lead. But, she advises, “Don't get so caught up in finding a purpose. Just take the job, learn the skills, learn what you like and don't like, then take the next leap. You never know where that job will lead you next, and even if you've been in a career for 10 or 15 years, you could still make a major change. A job isn't a lifetime sentence. Be open, learn as much as you can, realize that life is always moving,” says Castro.
Investing In That Future
No matter the job, the one consistent piece will always be your finances. Finding a purpose at a young age is challenging and rare. Instead, focus on learning. Invest your time and money into skills and knowledge that will continue to reward you and pay off, like becoming a CFP. By becoming a CFP, you not only have more opportunities in your career, but you are also investing in your personal future since you will have a deeper understanding of financial planning that you can use to help others or yourself.
Castro had been working as a financial advisor for a couple of years when she decided to take the CFP® Exam. She knew that it would give her the credibility she desired as a young woman in finance, and eventually the flexibility that her position at the time didn't afford her. The financial advisor position she had in college had her clocking 60-hour work weeks. She wasn't afraid of the hours. Instead, she worked even harder and began preparing for the CFP® Exam.
At this point, you might be wondering how she found the motivation. Castro relates it back to something her career counselor said while she debated taking the job in the first place: “You're going to have to work hard. That's how life is.”
She says putting in the time while studying for the CFP® Exam was invaluable for her. She learned work ethic, integrity, and ambition – important factors in becoming successful in any industry. The process, Castro notes, was intense. While you can become a one CFP® professional without ever studying business or finance in college, Castro decided to go back to school for financial planning. She looked at the long hours as a practice in discipline.
Women in the Financial Industry
Women only comprise 23% of CFP® professionals, and people of color are even less represented. Speaking from personal experience, working with a CFP® professional is intimate. You want to build trust with the person who is handling your money. Finances are a topic that many of us struggle with. Most of us received confusing money messages while growing up that led to a host of insecurities or fears, then we’re faced with trends and terms that we don't understand. No wonder so many Americans avoid their finances.
Furthermore, women don't typically feel heard in the financial industry. Again, speaking from personal experience, it’s easy to feel dumb or talked down to. Castro notes her clients have felt like this as well when they've come to her. Personally, I believe that CFP® pros who can bring a mix of their own personal experience and knowledge into each meeting with a client – allowing them to work through those money insecurities – will be the ones to thrive. The relationship is built on trust and education, meaning there is a huge opportunity for women and minorities to build a niche business and connect with others. That’s a sentiment Castro seconds: “You don't have to specialize in working with women, but it’s a huge opportunity to stand out.”
Building Her Empire
Now, four years later, Castro has a thriving business mixing financial planning with media and education. She proudly educates other women on the ins and outs of financial planning. While times are certainly changing, and women are rising more in their careers, many are still afraid when it comes to finances. Castro is helping women let go of the fear and take charge of their lives. By learning how to better manage their own money, her clients can live a life that they love. More than that though, as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional she is able to live the life that she loves.
Today, Castro prides herself on finding balance in her schedule. The mornings are reserved for personal things like meditation, working out, and taking care of herself. By 10:00 am each day, she is typically meeting with clients, working on collaborations, and anything else that comes up. She tries to reserve Thursdays as a content creation day for various partnerships she has. The evenings are a balance between personal time and work time that sometimes includes attending workshops or marketing events.
Castro notes she is very strict with her schedule and aims to work during business hours only. She recognizes that in order to be successful you need a life outside of work. “The more I've done that, the more my business has become successful. You have to learn to think differently, give yourself the freedom to do it.” She views her schedule as a “more feminine” way to work, since she can nurture both herself and her business.
Why Other Women Should Consider Becoming CFP® Pros
Castro stresses that more women should consider becoming CFP® pros. “It gives you a lot of what women are looking for in their careers. Helping people, making good money, and flexibility.” She recommends that women starting out in the industry find a female CFP® professional to mentor and guide them. “It doesn't mean you are going to have the exact same career trajectory as a mentor, but there's a great thing about supporting one another so you don't feel alone. Learn from their mistakes and ask for help often.”
To learn more about Brittney Castro visit here.
To learn more about becoming a CFP® pro or to read others’ stories visit here.