By Julia K. Pham, CFP®, AIF®, CDFA®, Wealth Advisor at Halbert Hargrove

Halbert Hargrove recently held a virtual presentation for women, focused on creating positive change, including shifting one’s mindset, financial strategy, and even whom you ask for help. The speakers were Danielle Papandrea, Director at Blackrock; Coryanne Hicks, journalist and author specializing in women and Millennial investors; Ginger Zumaeta, investor strategist and author; and Samantha Garcia and Brian Spinelli, Wealth Advisors at Halbert Hargrove. Shift was moderated by Halbert Hargrove’s Angela Renee.

Women are gaining more representation in leadership roles, outpacing our male counterparts in earned degrees, and starting businesses at 2x the rate of men. We have come a long way, but what 2020 has taught us is that the institutions and systems in place are all delicate and vulnerable. Working women have always been faced with what sociologists have coined as the “second shift,” which refers to the unpaid childcare and household duties they face after a day’s work outside of the home. Without the support systems of schools and childcare in place, women are frequently left juggling multiple overwhelming demands – leading many to leave the workforce.

In light of the chaos created by the pandemic, we thought it was timely to discuss strategies that women can take and apply to their lives now. The point is to start shifting our lives to create a better foundation, suited to deal with all of life’s commitments and curveballs.

Shift Your Mindset – and gain control over reaching your real-life goals

With 25 years in the financial industry – many spent developing training programs for advisors – Danielle Papandrea is no stranger to strategies and tactics that can be used to reflect on “stuck” money mindsets. Her talk centered around how we can map out future goals to create an increased level of confidence in our financial futures.

One of the steps involved in this goal-setting process is making the story of wealth your own. She asked participants to jot down two to three words that helped define what wealth meant to them. Freedom, security, and flexibility were some of the responses. Meanings, however, are unique and personal to each person’s experience and life. Other questions she encouraged us to ask ourselves included:

  • How do we live into our wealth and well-being? Where do we spend our money?
  • What are our money fears?
  • What are our money stories and what roles do we play? Are we a victim or an ally? Who are the characters in our stories?
  • How do we protect ourselves from others’ stories?
  • How do we integrate our stories and bring clarity around our lives and goals?

Danielle stressed the importance of knowing the answers to these questions for ourselves – but also remembering that once we define our stories, we don’t have to live in them and that we can change them. Having a deep knowledge of what we value in life and staying present when we budget and do our routine financial reviews are things she recommends we regularly practice. Defining your wants versus needs, and establishing your short-term (1-2 years), medium-term (3-10 years), and long-term (10+ years) goals will also help you attain your financial goals.

Shift Your Strategy – from a savings to an investing outlook to make your money work for you

The traditional way of looking at life planning requires a major shift. This is the case we make at Halbert Hargrove, and what Samantha Garcia and Brian Spinelli elaborated on during their conversation. Our lives aren’t linear; what we need is a disciplined investing process that is able to deal with life’s twists and turns.

The traditional life path used to be school, work, and retire. This is oftentimes not the path taken in today’s world – especially for women who may also need to factor in time taken off work to bear and care for children, or to care for a parent with declining health. The solution: LifePhase Investing®– a transparent process that refines your financial plan based on not just looking at your age and risk, but what “phase” you are in in your life. Halbert Hargrove’s three phases:

  • Build and Grow. These are your primary earning years, with the longevity of work in front of you. Planning issues of importance during this time focus on your earning potential and making sure you protect your earnings.
  • Transition.  This is the bridge between your earning years and when you retire and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Continued focus on saving and planning is extremely important during this phase because you want to make sure you are set up properly for the next phase.
  • Distribute and Deploy. This phase of life is when you start taking distributions from your retirement accounts and other resources. Solidifying your plans for your legacy is a dominant concern, and strategically investing and optimizing withdrawals are key.

A plan is structured based upon your personal goals and LifePhase. As you transition from phase to phase, your plan and investment strategy adjust with you. The process is monitored and recalibrated as your life undergoes change – or you deliberately choose detours.

Shift Whom You Ask for Help – leave behind cookie-cutter strategies that don’t support your real-life situation and goals

The last discussion led by Ginger Zumaeta and Coryanne Hicks focused on the sometimes complicated and nuanced task of asking for help. As women, we wear so many different hats and take on so many responsibilities. Reaching out for help when we need it is critical – especially when professional advice is warranted.

Both speakers discussed the importance of working with a financial advisor who acts as a fiduciary. A fiduciary is ethically and legally required to act in their clients’ best interests. This is an important distinction to make. Not all financial advisors are held to that standard, and some must only uphold what is referred to as a suitability standard – they are only required to make recommendations that are suitable given the client’s situation, age, goals, and other factors.

Ginger and Coryanne also discussed the importance of familiarizing yourself with the different educational and professional licenses and certifications an advisor can attain, and which ones you can really benefit from. There are over 200 different certifications, ranging from a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, to a Certified Exit Planning Advisor. While it’s nice to see a lot of letters behind someone’s name on a business card, it’s better to know what those letters mean and if they can be relevant to your life.

While there are additional questions you should be asking a prospective advisor – such as whether they work as part of a team, or what they bring to the table that nobody else does – it goes without saying that it’s important to find someone you trust, get along with, and have chemistry and can communicate comfortably with. This person will be helping you talk through some very important decisions.

Bringing it all together

Ultimately, intentions are powerful. They’re a huge part of shifting your mindset and your strategy to reach your goals. But intentions alone are not enough. Actions are required to make a change, so chart out your goals, take small steps, make them consistent, and make those dreams come true.

How do you balance having the life you want to enjoy today with what you’re going to need in the future? Are you doing what it takes to enter your dream retirement? TAKE OUR QUIZ to find out.


Halbert Hargrove Global Advisors, LLC (“HH”) is an SEC registered investment adviser located in Long Beach, California. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Additional information about HH, including our registration status, fees, and services can be found at This blog is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as personalized investment advice. It should not be construed as a solicitation to offer personal securities transactions or provide personalized investment advice. The information provided does not constitute any legal, tax or accounting advice. We recommend that you seek the advice of a qualified attorney and accountant. All opinions or views reflect the judgment of the author as of the publication date and are subject to change without notice.