Though the world of finance continues to be dominated by men, today’s guest argues that the strengths required for success in the field of financial advisory are competencies normally associated with women, specifically empathy and communication. Rita Cheng is the CEO of Blue Ocean Global Wealth, an investment advisory firm that delivers comprehensive financial planning and wealth management solutions to families, entrepreneurs, and executives. As a trusted partner and educational resource, Blue Ocean provides corporations and institutions with portfolio construction, investment due diligence, and risk management consulting.
While studying Asian Language & Literature as well as Finance at the University of Maryland, College Park, Cheng was awarded the prestigious Monbukagakusho Scholarship which allowed her to study abroad at Keio University in Tokyo and eventually land a position with Towa Securities, where she leveraged her language and accounting skills to become both Analyst and Editor, translating Towa’s newsletter from Japanese to English for overseas investors in the US and Europe.
Cheng returned to the US to further her education and start a family, and she soon discovered the discipline of personal finance. She spent 14 years as a Financial Advisor for Ameriprise Financial Services before transitioning to her role at Blue Ocean. She is a CFP professional, a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, a Retirement Income Certified Professional, and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. Cheng is committed to educating the public about the benefits of ethical financial planning through her roles as a Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Ambassador and Women’s Initiative Advocate. Today she shares the secrets to getting your financial life in order, her take on why women have a different approach to investing, and the need for women in the growing financial industry.
Key Interview Takeaways
“So many people spend their health to gain wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health.” This A. J. Reb Materi quote is Cheng’s matra, and in her role as a financial planner she seeks to have a positive impact on individuals, families and society. She is committed to helping each client achieve a reasonable amount of wealth and enabling them to enjoy that wealth in good health, with their community of friends, family and loved ones.
Don’t be intimidated or overwhelmed by the prospect of getting your financial life in order. Begin by determining your net worth, cashflow, and credit score, as well as exploring your priorities.
The financial planner’s office must be a judgement-free zone. Cheng sends new clients a questionnaire to facilitate an initial dialogue, but she makes it clear that there will be no shaming and doesn’t charge for the first hour. Her goal is to make the first experience a positive one, even if the client decides not to work with her.
While women and men both want to build wealth and reach their financial goals, women employ a different approach. Women tend to be more relational and risk-aware, thinking several steps ahead, thus the conversation a financial planner initiates with a female client should explore the impact each decision has on other aspects of her financial life.
The financial industry is an excellent fit for women. Cheng initially thought of the business world as cold and cut-throat, but she learned that psychology and the ability to communicate with clients were the most important skills in financial advisory. “The need for empathy and the ability to connect with one another is never going away.”
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