FA Magazine May 2023 | Page 44


Thao Truong

Client Manager / Morton Wealth / Calabasas , Calif .

Thao Truong faced a crossroads in high school . Her family had come from Vietnam ( where she was born ) and she had been educated in England and the United States . But at some point , the family couldn ’ t stay in the U . S . on their visa , and Truong had to decide whether to return to Vietnam to complete her education or stay in the U . S . to finish her education without family financial support .

“ I decided to stay and become a finance major , hoping to learn how I could make money quickly and become a millionaire by age 18 — of course , that wasn ’ t going to work out ,” she says . “ However , from that I was exposed to financial management , and I fell in love . I wanted to extend that knowledge to everyone .”
Her early career in wealth management took her from San Francisco to San Diego to Los Angeles , where she eventually landed at Morton Wealth . But she hasn ’ t forgotten her experience as a young immigrant , making her own way .
“ I came here empty-handed ,” she says . “ I had to earn money , and learn how to manage it from 16 years old . It shaped my beliefs around money , so now I sometimes don ’ t give myself permission to enjoy the fruits of my success — which has given me insight into how clients feel and how they behave around money . I can relate to their feelings .”
At Morton , Truong has participated in the launch of “ Herself ,” a community-oriented women ’ s financial literacy and empowerment initiative spearheaded by the firm . She ’ s also taken the helm of “ ModEarn ,” the firm ’ s next-generation initiative targeting younger clients who wouldn ’ t normally meet Morton ’ s asset minimums .
“ The typical client that is in their 60s with a house , kids and grandkids is very different from a 30-year-old with no house , maybe three or four young children , who is trying to break into management or become a partner in their law firm . They are all trying to do the right thing , get educated and situated so they can build up their finances , and we want to support them now — which means our service has to be lower-cost , but high touch .”

Chelsea Ransom-Cooper

Managing Partner , Financial Planning Director / Zenith Wealth Partners / Jersey City , N . J .

Chelsea Ransom-Cooper was a math person growing up in a creative household in northern New Jersey . Her mother was a technical fashion designer ( who even made Ransom-Cooper ’ s prom dress ) but her income was at the mercy of fickle fashion demand and fashion house sales quotas , which led to a certain amount of money anxiety .

In college , Ransom-Cooper flirted with marketing but then leaned into her accounting and finance talents . Ernst & Young came knocking with internships in the New York , New Zealand and Australia , and she later got a job there in business consulting .
She was introduced to the idea of personal finance in college . But a career path wasn ’ t clear ; she thought her passion for the subject might have to be satisfied in blogging . But if she couldn ’ t find the path at first , the path kept finding her : Friends and family members turned to her for help with things like college loans .
She credits advisor Douglas Boneparth ( a former Young Advisor to Watch ), for showing her a way forward . She started the
CFP program in 2016 and did paraplanning work for a fee-only firm while still working at E & Y as a business consultant .
Eventually she went to Baker Avenue Wealth Management . In her four years there , she got a taste of working with clients with $ 2 million in assets . But the asset minimums kept rising . She wanted to serve people building wealth .
In October 2020 , she partnered with Jason Ray at Zenith Wealth Partners , a Philadelphia-based firm that focuses on clients in their early 30s to mid-50s on their wealth accumulation journey , the majority of whom are women or people of color . “ They ’ re also first-generation wealth builders , so they need that education , but they also want to work with people who look like them and empathize with them .” The team has grown to eight serving 180 households and a little over $ 30 million in AUM .
She says diversity is still badly needed in financial services because people want to work with women and people of color . “ They would do so well because … the five to seven of us who are crushing it cannot service [ everyone ] looking for this type of support .”