When Financial Advisor launched its “Young Advisors To Watch” list nine years ago in 2015, many of the professionals we featured had come from diverse backgrounds, not just accounting firms and brokerages but even places like the theater. Some of these advisors were imagining new ways to run a business—working remotely or even while traveling—in ways that mirrored the lives their clients were living.

Fast-forward to 2024, and the world seems to have caught up with them. Work from home is seemingly here to stay (at least to some degree), and the homogenous world of finance, typically white and male in the past, is beckoning people with different attitudes and different backgrounds, creating spaces where clients and advisors can meet over long distances, forge communities and reflect each other’s choiring values. If you want to have purple hair and dogs running around the office, there’s a place for you.

Still, the RIA industry, only a few decades old, has not always accommodated the young advisors who want to join. As private equity comes into the space and consolidates firms, the valuations of those firms have skyrocketed, which makes it more difficult for younger advisors to buy in and get their piece of the pie. Many of these advisors came into the industry with a distaste for sales and wanted to do comprehensive planning and problem solving rather than sell product. But the industry, which is still smaller than the wirehouse world, is still figuring out how to develop career paths for those advisors entering the field with burning ambition and a strong idealism to match.

Young advisors getting started in the RIA world have a few futures ahead of them: They can move up in fast-growing firms as employees where they can make a mark on the culture, or they can launch their own firms, including lifestyle practices. But as the big RIAs grow, they might increasingly reflect a top-down corporate culture stamped with the DNA of the private equity firms.

As with any industry, there will always be a space for mom and pops and there will be new clientele—inheriting vast amounts of wealth—who are looking for somebody they can trust. They might look at giant financial services companies with skepticism and appreciate a professional who can do things differently. 

The financial planning business also gives the young people in its ranks the opportunity to specialize, whether it’s helping clients with Medicare problems or college saving.

As Travis Gatzemeier, one of our 2024 featured young advisors, puts it, “Young planners are bringing a whole new angle to financial planning. You’ll continue to see smaller, more niche-specific firms that provide a much better level of advice.”



Melissa Weisz, CFP, CFA, ChSNC
Wealth Advisor & Associate Partner / Corient / Morristown, N.J.

When Melissa Weisz was studying finance and women’s studies at Rutgers University, she knew she was good at math and she wanted to help people. She’s a first-generation American, and her parents had lived the American dream—her father left Hungary at age 10 in 1956 and become a successful entrepreneur while her mother came from the Philippines, started as a bank teller and went on to get an M.B.A. and design the OTC derivatives trading system at DTCC.

Most of Weisz’s fellow finance majors wanted to go to Lehman Brothers, she recalls. “I lucked out with an internship” at Wechter Financial Services, a Parsippany, N.J.-based RIA firm.

Weisz says she loved that firm, its people and the opportunity it gave her to wear many hats, from compliance to marketing to accounting to writing the quarterly newsletter. But when she was recruited by northern New Jersey-powerhouse Regent Atlantic in 2017, she accepted the offer, realizing she would become part of a larger team and more of a planning specialist.

Her two specialization areas at the firm—working with seniors and special needs individuals—came out of her personal experiences. Weisz was caregiver for her mother (who died in 2019) and one of Weisz’s two sons is autistic.

Insomnia is commonly associated with autism, and Weisz credits her desire to be with her son during long nights to her ability to study for and pass exams for both the CFP and CFA designations. She also got a Chartered Special Needs Consultant certification.

Today, she finds herself serving between 80 and 90 clients, most of them in the New York Tristate area, many retired with between $3 million and $5 million. Her work entails trying to project healthcare expenses and legacy goals so clients “can optimally live off their assets.”

It’s important that people create what Weisz calls “a circle of support” that includes their children and possibly other family members. “Adult children can become parents of their parents.”

In December 2021, Regent Atlantic was acquired by Corient. Shortly afterward, Weisz became part of the first class of associate partners of the giant $164 billion aggregator.

Now she finds herself in a position between some of the veteran partners and newly minted advisors. “I really enjoy mentoring,” she says.



Uziel Gomez, CFP, AFC
Founder / Primeros Financial / Los Angeles

“I am my parents’ retirement plan.” Uziel Gomez declares this monumental fact of his life matter-of-factly. But the big responsibility he shoulders as the crucial financial support for those around him is the force that drives his life and career. It also fuels his efforts to use financial planning to empower young minorities and help them eventually close the wealth gap.

Gomez joined Ballast Point Financial Planning, an independent, fee-only practice in Burlingame, Calif., right out of California State University, Northridge in 2021. He left in 2023. At 26, Gomez, a native Angeleno and child of Mexican immigrants, is the first in his immediate family of six to graduate college.

He’s passionate about boosting the number of Hispanics and other minorities in the wealth management space, noting only 4.5% of CFPs are Black and Hispanic. Since April 2021, he’s been volunteering part time as an intern coordinator at BLatinX helping aspiring Black and Latinx financial planners build out the next generation of advisors of color.

 While helping his family is imperative (and in this he’s taking the well-worn path of endless first-generation Americans), he’s also eager to leave a footprint in the RIA space. Fueled by the nobody’s-gonna-break-my-stride attitude of a Gen Zer on a mission, he plans to open his own fee-only practice in May called Primeros Financial and serve primarily first-generation minority Americans like himself in the first 10 years of their careers. Gomez is getting financial support from Equalis Financial, a Los Angeles firm that specializes in serving the LGBTQ+ community.

“It’s much harder for an advisor like me to branch out on my own since I don’t come from a wealthy background,” says Gomez. “We also don’t have a vast network of high-income individuals we can tap into for business development. We need to start from scratch and build our brands.” 

Gomez’s 60-year-old father, who has worked in construction since the age of 12, and his mother couldn’t give him startup capital. But they did impart money management skills and the value of sharing one’s good fortune with others.

“I definitely feel a load on my shoulders, but it’s been my biggest motivation,” Gomez says. “I’m proud to be my father’s retirement plan. I’m proud to be my mother’s retirement plan.”



Erica James, CPA, CFP             
Wealth Advisor / Signify Wealth / Washington, D.C. area

Before she came on board at Signify Wealth, Erica James asked her future boss: “Do I have to start watching football?”

Signify has a roster of pro football and basketball players, a clientele with unique problems since many of them are making big money at young ages. These clients might be retiring not once but two or three times from different careers, and it’s critical that somebody guide them through the big money period.

That’s not always easy when a family member who has helped with that career now feels entitled to some of the money and might not understand how the wealth is going to change or diminish or transform over the years. “You literally can’t afford to give away all your money to mom and dad,” she tells them.

James had a circuitous route to financial advice after starting her career as an accountant at PwC in 2006. Though she’d always had an aptitude for numbers, she says the auditing world left little room for creativity or people interaction. “With audit, there’s a notion that you’re the bad guy. Like you come in and you’re always checking people’s work and you’re kind of like a guest at the client’s site. They never really want you there.” You’re always “ticking and tying” and double checking work.

She eventually moved toward her CFP license. Once she got it, she took a pause and traveled, going to Colombia to teach English for a year before diving into the industry, first at one big RIA serving clients with millions of dollars and finally at Signify.

She says that her new boss is Stephen Rhodes, whom she had reached out to in years before because she didn’t know a lot of other Black CFPs. Years after they first talked, he persuaded her to join his firm in early 2023.  While the firm is in St. Louis, she works in the D.C. area. Before she joined, she traveled again, this time to Spain, South Africa and Thailand. “I’m all about those natural breaks,” she says.

She says dealing with athletes and anybody who doesn’t have a financial background requires both understanding and “cultural competence.” It’s easy to treat clients as if they’re dumb, something she says her clients sometimes took away from other advisors they’d worked with before.



Cody Garrett, CFP
Founder & Educator / Measure Twice Financial / Houston

Cody Garrett is not your ordinary financial planner. He works by himself with no support staff, a feat he is able to accomplish because he does not manage his clients’ money and therefore has few compliance worries. He also gives much of his advice away for free.

But that is not what makes him unusual. What makes him stand out in a crowd of advisors is that he wants to change the public perception of financial planning all by himself.

While he was—and is—doing all of that, he went from making $40,000 a year to making more than $250,000 a year in three short years and he works an average of 10 hours a week.

Sound impossible? Garrett says it works for him and he wants to teach other advisors how to do the same.

Garrett, who is now 35, started out as a professional musician, a music director and keyboard player focused on gospel music. His interest in financial planning grew as he realized he had to figure out how to manage his own money. At the same time, he wanted a different lifestyle than what musicians usually live.

“In February 2021, I decided to launch an advice-only financial planning firm because I discovered a need for do-it-yourself investors to receive comprehensive financial planning without giving up control of their investment accounts,” Garrett says. “My clients do not need hand-holding. They know how to use the ‘clicker’ to make their own investments. They need guidance so they can take control of their finances.”

Garrett has three firms based in Pearland, Texas: Measure Twice Financial, an advice-only RIA; Measure Twice Money, an educational platform for consumers; and Measure Twice Planners, an educational platform for advisors, which is sold on a subscription basis and now has 1,300 members.

When individual clients hire Measure Twice Financial, they engage Garrett for a three-month-long comprehensive planning process for a flat fee of $7,650 per household. Clients can then update that plan through sessions billed at $450 per hour. Garrett serves 25 clients a year and has no plans to grow beyond that.

“Other educational material is given away to consumers for free through videos and emails,” Garrett says. “People pay me for the guidance I can provide and I teach them how to manage their money on their own.”



Travis Gatzemeier, CFP
Founder / Kinetix Financial Planning / Flower Mound, Texas (Dallas-Fort Worth)

In May 2019, when Travis Gatzemeier launched Kinetix Financial Planning, a fee-only RIA, he had a vision to “build something targeted toward younger professionals like myself,” he says. He was just 33 at the time (he’s now 38), and had eight years of experience in financial services. “The industry was built on working with retirees, the target client at my previous firm,” he explained.

He saw an opportunity to fill a niche, an unmet need to service clients who “may not have the minimum assets to work with traditional advisors,” he says. “I wanted to create a place where they could get the advice they deserve, whether or not they have a large investment portfolio.”

In the years since, though, his firm has evolved to specialize in entrepreneurs and other business owners who are compensated with equity. He calls this, “an area where very few financial advisory firms have in-depth knowledge.”

But he also simply enjoys working with small-business people. “As a business owner myself, I’m walking the same path as those I’m working with.” After every client meeting, he says, clients have a knack for getting right to work on whatever action steps are discussed. “Business owners have a tendency to be driven and get things done.”

More than that, he contends that business owners have many interests and opportunities that employees might not—such as setting up a retirement plan, building wealth outside the business, making sure they have proper insurance and looking at tax strategies so Uncle Sam takes a smaller bite of their profits.

That last item he calls “the most fun part.” He clearly adores what he does.

Kinetix prides itself on “dynamic” financial planning. With young and midcareer entrepreneurs and business owners, he says, something changes every single year and sometimes more rapidly than that.

Clients choose between two different payment options at his firm: an annual retainer, paid monthly, and a more traditional percentage of assets under management. There are never commissions on transactions or extra fees for product sales.

Gatzemeier chuckles that he’s not naturally mathematically inclined. “I didn’t care much for traditional math classes and numbers [in school], which surprises most people,” he says. “But as soon as I had a class on investments and how you can make money with money, that piqued my interest.”



Ginnie Baker, MS, CFP
Partner / Beaird Harris / Dallas

Ginnie Baker was a junior and business major at Texas Tech University. She knew she wanted to do something business-related upon graduation, but she was unsure of what that would be. A college friend recommended she take the introductory course in financial planning while she was in business school, and after that she pursued a master’s degree in financial planning at the university.

“Had someone not recommended this course to me, I don’t know that I would have found financial planning,” Baker says. “It’s really that missing piece I was looking for,” she adds, noting that she was drawn to the profession because it “pertains to everybody and every aspect of life,” and she is interested in helping people to organize it all.

After working at two other firms, in one role as an associate planner in Virginia, and another role in Texas, she joined Beaird Harris Wealth as a financial planner in 2015. She’s been a partner since 2020.

Baker is part of a team of seven advisors managing $1.6 billion in assets. Her clients are primarily young professionals in the healthcare industry, many of whom have a lot of debt, but who are also starting out with a high income.

A millennial advisor, Baker says, “I feel that I have a good group around me that have been a champion and a cheerleader for me. And what I have found is this profession is really good at lifting up and encouraging young professionals.”

But Baker says it’s not always smooth sailing for the younger generation entering the business, in part because of the stigmas they must bear. “It’s challenging to prove yourself, to show that you know what you’re talking about and to show your worth.”

Her advice to those entering the business: “Learn as much as you can from a few different people,” and “shadow people to see how things are done in the real world.” Also, she says, ask questions.

She also has chaired the mentorship program for the alumni association board at her alma mater. The industry needs “more established advisors to take young people under their wings” and provide them with growth opportunities, she says.



Corey Beal, CFP
CEO & Director of Joy / Empowering Finance / Portland, Ore.

Corey Beal had planned to study international law in college, but when she was finished, she found herself needing to pay down college debt. She said she had $13 in her checking account in her first month of marriage to her former husband. Her former stepfather, a Morningstar analyst, said she ought to check out the CFP program. 

Through her husband, who was in the military, she became familiar with other people living paycheck to paycheck. They were non-college spouses and “who were totally dependent on their spouses’ military income.”

While taking a course for women in finance, she heard a divorced audience member tell an awful story about having no Social Security record after her former husband had claimed the entire earnings record of their work together for his business. This was something that couldn’t be reversed.

Beal realized how the lack of financial literacy was hobbling people. The CFP designation looked like a way to “nerd out” but also help people, she says. She began coursework in 2008. After she wended her way through the RIA world, she later felt less satisfaction in a world that was largely homogenous—white, male and affluent—helping people who already had millions of dollars. “They already had their shit together.”

Being told at her old firm she had to change her hair from purple back to brown was one of the deal-breakers. She had spent some time working in technology company offices and she felt more at home where dogs ran around, people had tattoos and you could hear the musical sounds of the “f” word occasionally used.

She left finance for a while to travel the world, trying to figure out what to do, and thought of joining the tech industry and its more laidback culture, but the advisory world beckoned her back and she decided to give her planning another try—and this time she said she wanted to do it her own way.

She wanted a firm where she could work remotely from home and serve a clientele, people with real world financial advice, not just investing advice—and help those underserved: the young and less affluent, the LBGTQ+ community (which she is a part of), people of color and “socially progressive tree huggers.” She formed Empowering Finance in 2020 and now charges a flat fee for everybody no matter what their level of wealth. (Correction: The first version of this story identified Beal's former father-in-law as a Morningstar analyst.)



Justin Green, CFP, MSPFP
Founder & Financial Planner / Assist Financial Planning / Greater Boston Area

Justin Green brings his love of health, wellness and finance together into his financial planning practice and combines comprehensive financial planning with financial coaching to stand out among his peers.

“I think what separates me from other advisors is that I don’t stop at giving the technical advice because I believe coaching clients on how to execute the advice we give them is a key aspect of the implementation phase,” he says. “This is often the human side of financial planning that we hear talked about in the industry.”

He works with young owners of online health and fitness coaching businesses as well as business owners of business and life coaching companies.

“Because I work with online business owners, I spend a lot of time helping them optimize their business cash flow so they can leverage that to build wealth on their personal side and achieve that financial freedom goal that they’re chasing,” he says.

Green meets his clients online, since only two live in his home state of Massachusetts. Conducting online meetings allows him the flexibility to maintain his lifestyle, which includes going to the gym and raising his 1-year-old daughter with his wife.

He does all his recruiting online through Instagram, where he posts videos giving financial tips and excerpts from his weekly podcast “Dollars and Dumbbells.” There he speaks with business owners in the online health and fitness coaching space. While the conversations are mostly about business management, Green does include some financial advice.

His path toward financial planning was untraditional as he debated between financial planning or becoming a personal trainer. He earned his bachelor’s in sports management at the State University of New York Cortland (a feat that took him only three years).

During his tenure, he lost his mother to cancer, which motivated him to learn about finance and planning on his own. After college, he found himself working at a sports apparel store next to Kansas State University. Through the school’s online program, he earned his master’s in financial planning and his certification.



Valerie Rivera, CFP
Founder / FirstGen Wealth / Chicago

If doubling your income is an affirmation of an advisor’s success, Valerie Rivera has hit the payload. She’s projected to earn $250,000 just two years after launching her own firm, aptly named FirstGen Wealth. Money, however, was not Rivera’s primary driver. “I was never seeking to go off on my own, but after being at multiple firms I felt like I was contributing to the wealth divide,” says Rivera, 38, a first-generation Latina American wealth builder from the southside of Chicago.

She started her own firm in June 2020 to work with her ideal client, “people who are like me and my friends, the first to build wealth in their family.” FirstGen Wealth had a wait list after six months and now serves 50 clients.

Rivera’s ingenious fee model allows her to work profitably with households earning between $150,000 and $300,000 annually. Clients pay an up-front $1,500 fee and an annual fee, paid monthly or quarterly (singles pay $400 a month, couples $525). Investment management, done by a third-party custodian, is free up to $750,000 in assets, then costs 0.25%. Rivera also offers a four-month foundational boot camp ($4,000), and a group coaching program ($1,500) for those who earn less than $100,000 and want to jump-start their financial plans.

Today, she proudly works with an “extremely diverse clientele, including Indian, Chinese, Black, white and Latino clients.” She’s usually the first advisor her clients have had (if you don’t count the wealthy ones who followed her from former firms, even though she wasn’t first-generation wealth). “There are so many people to help and they’re so turned off by the industry’s focus on going upmarket. That isn’t what I aspire to. I want to make the biggest impact possible,” she says.

Rivera also hosts an “Ask Me Everything” virtual session once a month to encourage diversity and help advisors brainstorm about how to fast-track their own careers. “I’m doing very well. But it’s not because I’m great, it’s because there are so few Latina advisors with CFPs. We’re just over 1% of the industry. The biggest challenge I see is getting people to stay in the industry, because it’s not very welcoming,” Rivera says.



Danqin Fang, CFP, CFA, RLP
Austin, Texas

Danqin Fang’s journey from being a frustrated corporate accountant in Nanjing, China, to landing her dream job as a lead financial advisor in Austin, Texas, took 6,538 miles and 14 years. More important, it took the kind of planning and focus—called “intentionality” these days—that most young advisors want, but few have.

But how else could she have positioned herself to teach a Dragonfly Fest workshop in Lockhart, Texas, entitled “Yoga Your Soul to Your Money,” that includes guided meditation on money and open sharing of the participants’ financial experiences, money stories and heart’s desires?

“I’m a bit idealistic. I want to do things in a very ideal way before I yield to the reality that I have to compromise,” says Fang, now 36. “One thing I have learned on my journey is I prefer to compromise as little as possible. Instead, I’m willing to work hard to find creative solutions.”

Fang’s process for success begins with setting a goal and working backward to fill in the stepping stones needed to take her where she wants to go. Case in point: The day she walked onto the Texas Tech campus to earn her master’s degree in financial planning, Fang looked ahead to her eventual job hunt.

“I thought about what I needed on my resume, what I wanted it to look like. The different elements that had to be there,” she says. And so she started knocking them off the list, from internships to networking to being the teaching assistant to carefully chosen professors. She did the same to get from recent graduate to lead advisor at Austin Asset by the time she was 34.

For her clients, that intentionality is equally important. It’s not enough, she says, to crunch expenses and assets to determine whether a client can retire when planned. True client service requires talking deeply about goals and aspirations, and then working backward to get there.

“There’s so much more under the surface. I’ve seen clients where their behavior doesn’t line up with their goals,” says Fang, a Registered Life Planner with the Kinder Institute. She recently left Austin Asset in order to put holistic planning front and center. “In these situations, the mind-to-mind talk doesn’t work anymore. That’s why I’m such a big fan of a life-planning approach to my client work.”