Women in Finance: “Know your value” with Melissa Attanasio and Tyler Gallagher

Tyler Gallagher
Sep 9 · 10 min read

Know your value. I feel like young adults don’t know how to negotiate their worth, especially fresh out of college. Ask questions. What advancement will this position have in 5 years?

I had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa Attanasio , CEO and Founder of Abundant Wealth Strategies. Melissa has been in the financial industry since 1992. She established the RIA (Registered Investment Advisory) firm Abundant Wealth Strategies to demonstrate her commitment to providing the highest level of education, advice and planning for her clientele as they move through various life passages. In her commitment to their clientele, she earned the prestigious CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification and designation. While this encompasses many areas of financial planning and it often takes 2 years to obtain. It is utilized daily in her practice as she orchestrates and assists Abundant’s clientele in planning for current needs and generations to come. She currently serves as an investment consultant to various individuals and their businesses. Additionally, historically serving as nonprofit Treasurer and Investment Committee Chair. Melissa started her career in Tucson, Arizona after obtaining a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona. As a parent herself, she understands the rising need to assist in the financial mentorship to generations to come — a true gift. She enjoys an active lifestyle participating in half marathons, indoor cycling, travel, and walks on the beach, all to maintain a life that is balanced and abundant.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Banking/Finance field?

It was totally by accident. I was supporting myself at the time, still fairly new out of college, and I was actually selling cellular phones. I went to make a call to one of the individuals that was a client and he said to me, “look, you’d be really great at this”. Then he introduced me to a new manager that had come to town and he said, “you would not be limited by the hours that you could work or your pay scale, so it’s pretty much up to you. As hard as you’re willing to work is the success that you could have.” That just really resonated with me because I’d always had a strong work ethic and I really truly did not want any limitations on my ability.”

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far?

“It goes back to 27 years ago, I remember leaving that manager’s office and going home and saying to the man I was dating, “I don’t even know what the word ‘securities’ means.” They had that term in the name of the business. I said this is going to be such a journey. I just remember him saying, “you’re going to figure it out”, and I believed in myself enough to start on that path. I tell that to clients all the time from an educational standpoint. You don’t have to know everything, but if you have the desire to learn, you can become educated and become empowered.”

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

“Last week in Santa Monica, I attended a program for women that is called Communications Circles. Individuals, particularly women, gather in a group to sit in a circle while we were asked various questions and explored what our early beliefs and values were around money. What was the first thought we had about money? Was it something along the lines of, money doesn’t grow on trees? It opened a level of vulnerability with the individuals. It’s a very sacred space. How those beliefs were formed by our families at early ages, and how that now dictates our spending or even investing at this point in life. I believe that’s going to be something, as we continue to dig in deeper, that really resonates with women. They want to be more open, connected and embrace as to why there is a fear around money management and a lack of education around it. It’s going to be a great tool going forward, to speak to women and advance the conversation deeper. “Why do I have these beliefs, so I can then alter it and not be defined by them going forward.”

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

“Our boutique firm is really designed for women. We educate and empower women every single day in our practice. Over 80% of our client base is serving women. In addition to being a Certified Financial Planner™, I am a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® professional, and a Master Analyst in Financial Forensics®. While utilizing these designations, I work with individuals that are primarily women going through a transition in life. That allows our firm to really explore spending policies, and what that would look like from a financial situation post-transition or divorce. I believe that we empower women through the process because we’re taking the time to educate them. We might spend a year together before closure. But during that time, we have several opportunities for different meetings to educate them on what they do have in their family as far as assets and what decisions they need to make. Whether they should keep the house or not. I think there’s a lot that goes along with this journey, again; it’s empowering them to make decisions shaped on the education they receive. I don’t believe they can move through the settlement process without being educated. Probably the most rewarding for me is on the other side, once they’ve passed through that experience and they now have their settlement, I feel that they’re so much more educated and more responsible with funds and the assets. Many of them go on to start endowments or foundations and they make an impact in their world. I believe it’s impacting for their young adults, their spending policy and their financial knowledge. They’re taking on another dimension of themselves by becoming the teacher and educating their young adults, which I find very interesting in working with women of transition.”

Wall Street and Finance used to be an “all white boys club”. This has changed a lot recently. In your opinion, what caused this change?

“The first thing that comes to mind is Maria Bartiromo. I say that because she was the first woman that I believe impacted not only us as advisors, but also the men that we were working for, the other male advisors in the office, and clientele. She also interviewed corporate executives and leaders. We were able daily to see the first woman on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Having her come into our offices through our TVs, or our client’s living room, was empowering to see her in a leadership role. As a woman advisor, for me personally, I looked up to her in a sense that she fought that fight every day, and I knew if she could do it, I could do it. She exemplified courage and continued to do so. The men that watched her could see a woman in finance be beautiful, intelligent, funny, and a force to be reckoned with. She knew great questions to ask, and she truly held her own. I believe she had a large impact on the industry.”

Of course, despite the progress, we still have a lot more work to do to achieve parity. According to this report in CNBC, less than 17 percent of senior positions in investment banks are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and /or c) society to support this movement going forward?

“I always used to laugh about this but, A) I think that women in the industry need to hire a wife. And what I mean by that is, for me personally, I would go to work in the morning and I had already done a full day’s worth of work at home; dropping kids off to school, packing lunches, and managing emails and calls before I ever arrived at the office. Most male advisors have wives at home running their personal lives and we as women need that assistance as well. B) Flexible hours for advisors and staff; This is something that I have incorporated in our offices to lead by example. We have an unlimited vacation policy and when summer comes, we rotate every other Friday off so team members at various times have a 3-day weekend. During the year, the team works longer hours Monday through Thursday, so that they can have an abbreviated Friday. I want to make sure that my team is getting the rest and being rejuvenated because of the giving we do throughout the week. I am simply trying to avoid burnout. Know when you need to stop and breathe. C) As women advisors, we will need to have courage to ask for help and support from our families and community if we are going to be supported and have more women rise up in the finance industry.

You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive things one should do to become more financially literate, what would you say? Can you please give a story or example for each.

“I think my first tip would just be spending less than you make and keeping within your means. Not overspending and not to living beyond your actual needs.

Contributing to a 401(K) at your first job and receiving the company match.

Know your value. I feel like young adults don’t know how to negotiate their worth, especially fresh out of college. Ask questions. What advancement will this position have in 5 years?

Continuing education. If you’re going to invest and further your education after college, will your future salary cover the cost of the education and potential interest charges assuming a student loan is obtained.

Life balance. What matters to you in your down time. What feeds your soul.”

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

“For me as I thought about this, truly it was myself. I had a desire to grow and have a strong work ethic. I hired a mentor early on. I think that it goes back to our self-worth, and knowing that even early on, you are the one being empowered and choosing who mentors you in life. There are those people out there, but you must want to pursue it. I believe our strongest mentor is our self. Looking back, I’m giving myself credit for that, it’s not something I would have said at that age; I would’ve said who my mentor was. Now I believe coming full circle 27 years later… I really had that hunger and the desire to truly impact the lives of the women that I was working for and with. My mentor was that vessel that showed up in my life and I really wanted to have that happen. I think that’s a good reminder for all of us, we don’t have to wait for somebody to come into our life, it’s about our intentions and what we decide we want. This comes from within and I believe this needs to be aligned as we move forward to drive it.”

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“At this point in my life, it’s “live your best life”. I’m looking at how I want my next 5 years to look. With children graduating from high school and college next year, I have more to focus on the growth of my practice. How is it going to evolve for my next chapter? I wish to be that example so that I can turn to my clients and ask the same question. I am looking to empower them, live these life moments and design what they want their life to be. What is your best life? What new experiences do you want to incorporate? Maybe spiritual in nature, meditation, outdoor activities, or anything that feeds your soul that we haven’t had time for. Or things that we maybe haven’t had time for at different stages of our lives because we’ve been giving to so many others. Now it’s a great time to redefine ourselves. ‘What is our best life today? Am I living that? What do I need to tweak so I can? Ask yourself ‘what do I need to do today?’. Going inside ourselves and being still to ask what that need is on a daily basis so that we can be living our best life.”

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

“To me, this is loving yourself. Instead of looking externally for this become a whole person and fill yourself up! It’s worth the work. I believe stepping into loving ourselves and deciding you don’t need external forces to make you feel good about yourself or be empowered on a daily basis. Start by focusing on what makes you happy, how do you want to feel every single day? What are those core feelings? What do you need to say no to, so you can say yes to that which fills your heart. What is it that I want my life to look like? Then create it. The greatest gift is self-love. No longer will you sacrifice or settle; you will hold true to what really is of value to your soul.”

Thank you for these great insights!

About The Author:

Tyler Gallagher is the CEO and Founder of Regal Assets, a “Bitcoin IRA” company. Regal Assets is an international alternative assets firm with offices in the United States, Canada, London and Dubai focused on helping private and institutional wealth procure alternative assets for their investment portfolios. Regal Assets is an Inc. 500 company and has been featured in many publications such as Forbes, Bloomberg, Market Watch and Reuters. With offices in multiple countries, Regal Assets is uniquely positioned as an international leader in the alternative assets industry and was awarded the first ever crypto-commodities license by the DMCC in late 2017. Regal Assets is currently the only firm in the world that holds a license to legally buy and sell cryptos within the Middle East and works closely with the DMCC to help evolve and grow the understanding and application of blockchain technology. In addition to his role with Regal Assets, Tyler is a regular contributor to Forbes, Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global and Authority Magazine. Tyler has also been featured in many news publications and has been a guest expert on “The News with Ed Shultz”. Tyler is a proud member of the Forbes Finance Council a private invite only-group of hand-selected industry leaders.

Tyler Gallagher

Written by

CEO and Founder of Regal Assets

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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