If you aren’t the disrupter, you will be the disrupted. That’s where the financial planning industry is headed, according to one of its more prominent young disrupters, Rianka Dorsainvil, 30.
The certified financial planner and founder of fee-only virtual firm Your Greatest Contribution elaborates on that prediction in an interview with ThinkAdvisor.
Dorsainvil, the former president of the Financial Planning Association’s NexGen community, is atypical in assorted ways. For a start, while most advisors are male, middle-aged and Caucasian, she is female, a millennial and biracial (African-American and Chilean). Plus, the business model she employs is 180 degrees from traditional.
The planner is already making inroads with her successful two-year-old solo practice featuring client meetings via video conferencing. She focuses on young professionals, who are charged a retainer payable on a quarterly basis.
In the interview, Dorsainvil argues that the disrupted will be traditional financial services firms that fail to leverage technology, critical to advancing the advice profession.
Based just outside Washington, D.C., in Lanham, Maryland, she has about 25 clients located throughout the country — the beauty of a virtual practice, Dorsainvil stresses.
Before opening her shop in 2015, the CFP worked as a planner for six years at Maryland RIAs, including The Family Firm. She went right into financial planning following graduation from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture and applied economics.
As a popular industry speaker, Dorsainvil underlines the importance of recruiting and retaining next-gen financial planners.
ThinkAdvisor recently interviewed the forthright FA, on the phone from Lanham. Why did she choose the unlikely firm name, Your Greatest Contribution? It’s not such a stretch: Because her customary key question to clients has been: “What do you want your greatest contribution to be?” Here are highlights from our conversation:
How is the financial planning industry changing?
We’re entering a new dimension of final planning: You can be the disruptor, or you will be the disrupted. Advisors who are doing well and will do well in the future are those who are leveraging the technology that’s advanced our profession. They don’t see it as a threat. “Intelligent technology platforms” [that is, robo-advisors] have mastered a way to efficiently provide investments and rebalance portfolios. But [all that] has been commoditized. So what other service are you providing clients?
Who will be the disrupted?
Traditional firms aren’t leveraging technology. They’re not looking at their succession plan and hiring the next generation. So they’re the ones who will be the disrupted. The disruptors are figuring out what we can be doing better and allowing the next generation of advisors to have a seat at the table and provide their input.
What are you, personally, bringing to the table?
I’m not afraid to take the road less traveled. I’m not getting stuck doing things the traditional way. For example I don’t charge on AUM. I’ve gone the opposite way: I charge a retainer because I know that the young professionals in their early 30s and early 40s I work with may not necessarily have a large nest egg — but they have a great cash flow. They’re undergoing big changes with their careers or personal lives. So they need help. We have real conversations.
How do you measure the success of your business?
By the impact I’m making from being an example. There are more advisors over the age of 70 than under 30, though that may be changing as more professionals take the CFP exam. But there are only 23% women CFPs — the same number for the past 12 or 13 years. And when we talk about people of color, that number is even lower [in the single digits]. So I have a platform to show others that you can be a woman, and you can be a person of color, and you can have success in this profession.
What would young planners like to see changed?
I find it very odd that some firms don’t allow their entry-level or associate planners to sit in client meetings. We’re graduating from the CFP Board-registered program and have a lot of technical skills but no worldly experience or the sales skills advisors of 20 years ago had, who went on to learn the technical skills. Sitting in client meetings will allow young planners to have a seat at the table.
Did the firms you worked at before opening your own practice let you attend client meetings?
Yes, even when I was interning. And I learned so much like, how to ask sensitive, challenging questions, how to read body language, how to make the person that doesn’t feel heard take control of the conversation.
How are you affecting your clients’ lives?
I’m able to impact them today, and that’s going to have a ripple effect for the rest of their lives. They’re able to work with a certified financial planner who’s a fiduciary and not selling anything. So they don’t have to worry whether or not I’m making the best decision or recommendation for them. And, what they’re learning from our conversations, they share with others. It permeates through their family and social spheres.