Women Leading The Finance Industry: Dawn Dahlby of Relevé Financial Group On The 5 Things You Should Do To Increase Your Financial Literacy
“Make money quick” and keep it isn’t a reality. — When you are a consistent and disciplined investor, especially when its emotionally hard,, you win! I laugh when prospects come to me and say they want maximum return with zero risk. That doesn’t exist. My job is always to find the maximum risk adjusted return for every client, so they can minimize volatility, minimize their emotions and maximize their wealth.
As a part of our series about “Women Leading The Finance Industry”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dawn Dahlby.
Dawn Dalby is a Certified Financial Planner who manages the wealth of high-net-worth individuals, the country’s first Behavioral Financial Advisor, and the Founder and President of Relevé Financial Group, a multi-million-dollar advisory firm. As a fiduciary with over 20 years of experience providing financial advice, Dawn has not only led her clients from moderate incomes to affluence, but she has helped them become truly “Well-thy.” Her proprietary approach helps people learn to save for tomorrow without having to sacrifice living today by merging the most effective teachings of self-help with finance to create a unique focus on “spending freedom.”
Over her years as a financial advisor, Dawn realized that even the extremely rich have anxiety about money, and that if they want true financial freedom, they need to transform their thoughts and emotions, not just their bank accounts. Dawn calls this living “Well-thy.”
To better serve them, she developed a program that helps people earn, own, and grow as they pursue the freedom of being truly Well-thy. The proprietary process helps people identify what they want out of life, and she provides proven tools so people can get the money to make it happen. Through the process, people learn to stop worrying about spending today in their efforts to save for tomorrow, and instead find financial peace and happiness.
Dawn’s engaging coaching style and results-oriented approach has led her to become a sought-after speaker at a wide range of professional seminars and corporate events and become an esteemed member of the Forbes Finance Council. Dawn is determined to share what she’s learned, empowering other women with the skills and encouragement to recognize the connection between their brains and their bank accounts.
She’s currently launching a platform called
Live Well-thy, which walks individuals who don’t have access to a financial planner of Dawn’s caliber through the process, merging technology with personalized financial advice to help a broader audience.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance field?
Early in my career I was in hotel sales, and I felt like I was struggling with career direction and money. I didn’t like that I was only able to build relationships with clients for just a short time — . I wanted to build long lasting relationships and truly transform people’s lives, something I couldn’t do in that role. All in all, I wanted more out of life but didn’t know what “more” was.
I knew that I loved helping people and I wanted to make a good living, so I spoke with a friend in the financial planning to see what his position was like. I knew nothing about money management, but knew I was a good with people and numbers, so I took the risk to start a new career at age 30. I was on a complete commission structure with no income guarantee and was placed on an $18,000 annual draw. Weekly overwhelm, and lots of tears, set in, but I told myself I was not giving up until I had at least 6 months of experience. For the first 2 months, I wasn’t bringing in any clients, which made me feel inferior to my colleagues who were. I couldn’t get that one “yes” .
One day, it all clicked. I shifted my mindset and, as a 1st year financial advisor, ended up finishing #2 in revenue in the country for American Express (now Ameriprise). I turned that $18,000 into $81,000!
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
That money freedom doesn’t buy personal security, and if one doesn’t work on their own personal development, their fears and insecurities are even more obvious with more money. The lesson here is to build both your worth and your wealth to live a WELLthy Life. ™
From my own personal experience, I thought I would feel a sense of security once I rose my income to a certain level. At the time I was making more than what I thought I needed but was still feeling “broke.” I feared my credit card statement every month. I knew I had no choice but to pay it off, however I still had this same anxiety with each new statement. I was also over-working with a faulty belief system — I was trapped into thinking that working and making money was more important than spending time with my family.
One day as I was avoiding opening my credit card statement, I paused to asked myself what is wrong with me. I have great income, I can afford to pay off my monthly bills, but didn’t understand why I felt like I didn’t have enough. It finally dawned on me — it was because I thought I wasn’t enough. I tied so much of my self-worth to physical, financial worth. I worried about everything, from money, to clients and staff liking me, to my health and future.
Once I committed to personal development and learning how to reframe my mindset and feel comfortable in my own skin, I realized that I WAS enough! When I was ENOUGH, my money and my life became enough. Funny how once I focused on building both my self-worth and net worth, BOTH ”worth’s” flourished.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
For the last 3 years, I have been building a financial planning platform designed to serve the younger generations. Before this project, I was working with clients that had already build their wealth into the seven figures but realized that the people who really needed my advice were the young generations that didn’t have much access to fiduciary, CFP® advice.
Advisors like me typically don’t want to work with the younger generations because they don’t have assets built up, which means the advisors don’t get paid. I felt this strong pull to create a platform to serve this younger generation and enable to grow their financial wealth and their personal worth. I wanted to deliver the same advice I give my multi-million-dollar clients and expose them to this valuable advice before they became a millionaire so they could grow their wealth and worth faster.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our team is trained and possesses the highest credentials in our industry, and are also certified as Behavioral Financial Advisors, which focuses on the emotional well-being of our clients and their decisions around their money. Clients repeatedly tell us we change their perception about how they think about their wealth and their money, not just what they think.
Prior to our advice, no matter the wealth level, people still had an underlying fear-based relationship with money. Advising them on both the technical and psychological advice allowed them to live more at ease, knowing that they have everything they need and want both now and in the future!
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?
I think women (and everyone else not considered “a white male”) from all industries are finally learning how to own their worth. There have been many studies on how women are great investors and instinctively understand that clients are “whole beings” who need advice on more than how their portfolios are performing. Today’s clients want an advisor who can help them meet all their life’s’ goals and make wise financial and life decisions. The daily decisions one makes around their wealth, in my opinion, is way more important than the alpha and beta of their investments. The real value between an advisor and client stems from sound decision making and looking at multiple ways to solve challenges — which is something women are great at!
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?
Women need to feel secure with their skills and strengths and truly believe they have what is needed at the top. I believe Senior positions can scare women because they have false beliefs about themselves and about what is needed to success in those roles. Once women are believe in themselves and their skills, others will too.
Companies/CEO’s first need to accept that women are equals in this industry, but that we need each other to fully succeed. Women bring different skillsets to the table; however one shouldn’t be superior the other. I’ve personally experienced working in an environment where women were still considered “less than” and manipulated to believe that they didn’t deserve to have the same worth (or wealth) as their male counterparts — and that needs to change.
Both women and men need to not only feel secure with their skills and strengths, but also need to be self-aware of what they bring to the table. This opens the door for more productive collaborating more when challenges arise. Power and greed never win. Acknowledging and bringing varying skill sets to any corporate issue always wins.
Let’s now turn to a slightly new topic. According to this report in Fortune, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic test of financial literacy. In your opinion or experience what is the cause of these unfortunate numbers? If you had the power to make a change, what 3 things would you recommend to improve these numbers?
Possessing real-life money skills typically isn’t taught in school or at home. Kids, from a young age, (around 5 or 6) need to start learning how money works and the value that it brings to our lives.
Teach how money works earlier in school. The education should happen both at school and at home. We cannot expect teachers to be the only ones to educate; it needs to be a joint responsibility.
Teach our children that money is very emotional, and this topic could be addressed by the parents. Typically, our views about money stem from childhood and the beliefs our parents exhibited on how money works needs to be addressed and new beliefs need to be formed.
Teach our children that money and life are a reflection of how we think about ourselves and how we view the opportunities that lie ahead. Everyone has the power within them to become as wealthy as they want to. We all get to choose how we follow through on the behavior that is needed to adequately align our lives to our money. This is what I define as Living WELLthy ™, which is living in fulfillment and having the money to support your biggest desires.
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 would repeat what I said above. Through 22 years of giving advice, sitting in over 10,000 client meetings, the following 5 things to know are a must:
You get to control your money; it doesn’t control you
I have had many clients (including myself) where we would start to build life experiences based on current income and expenses. Instead, we should focus on long term financial planning And built the life first and aligned the money needed second.
Investing your money from day 1 of your first job is a non-negotiable
I have encouraged my own teenage daughters to put away 10% of their income from their first high school jobs so they learn that becoming WELLthy is a combination of them working hard for their income and having that income work equally hard for them.
Reducing credit card debt is a non-negotiable. When advising on debt reducing strategies with my clients, I focus on not just the technical strategies of reducing debt or turning “bad debt” into “good debt,” but also the psychology on how/why the debt occurred so that same behavior isn’t repeated. After the counseling and advising sessions, I would physically have my clients cut up and throw away all but one of their credit cards and ask them to agree that I could become their ongoing coach to hold them accountable to staying “bad debt free.”
Investing doesn’t have to be hard. There are simple strategies to follow and it’s more about the time in the markets, not trading the markets.
I just had a client who had too many individual stocks in their brokerage account, and it was too hard to keep track of all these holdings. It was difficult for even a professional to make wise investment and tax decisions with this portfolio. I explained the risk of the portfolio and how volatile it was. Too much risk and volatility makes it more difficult to regain losses. We’ve all heard “steady eddy wins the race,” which is also true in the investment world. I’ve never met anyone that can time the market exactly right Managing the risk is the most important to long term steady growth.
“Make money quick” and keep it isn’t a reality.
When you are a consistent and disciplined investor, especially when its emotionally hard,, you win! I laugh when prospects come to me and say they want maximum return with zero risk. That doesn’t exist. My job is always to find the maximum risk adjusted return for every client, so they can minimize volatility, minimize their emotions and maximize their wealth.
None of us can 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?
The people who were always there for me to help me think though challenges and opportunities are my step-mom, husband and dad. They always held me to the highest standards and made me look internal and check myself before pointing fingers at someone else or the industry. That really helped me grow as a person and as an advisor.
It’s very difficult to be a successful business owner, wealth advisor, and a mom at the same time. If it wasn’t for the partnership of my supportive husband to help with the household tasks, I would have never been able to grow my firm to the level it is now, and to the level of where it is going. I am beyond grateful for his support and the support of my parents.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I have so many, that there isn’t enough space to write here. However, here are 2 of my favorites:
“What you get will never make you happy, but who you become will.”
“If you think the cost for success is high, wait until you get the bill for failure.”
-Tim S. Grover
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest number of people, what would that be?
I am starting the “Living WELLthy™” movement to help the younger generation create personal security and financial freedom, which money alone can never provide.
Our world needs to be healed right now; emotionally, physically, mentally, financially and spiritually. I feel like I have been called to give people hope and show them the path to fully live their truth, and have the right alignment of wealth to support their desired lifestyle. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but with the right leadership, knowledge and support, together we can transform lives and people can get back to Living WELLthy. ™
Thank you for the time you spent on this interview. We wish you only continued success.