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Passion to Help

Cathy Curtis became a financial planner to help women and their families achieve financial success.

Roger Wohlner, 10/11/2016

Oakland, Calif.-based financial planner Cathy Curtis is well-known in the industry as a financial planner who focuses on female clients. But it wasn’t always that way. When she started her planning business 15 years ago, she, like many other advisors, went after any client who needed her help. But after taking a series of marketing and branding workshops, she soon realized the importance of finding a niche for her practice.

“It was difficult to compete in a traditional way with other financial advisors, and I found the staid and corporate look of most financial advisor websites uninspiring,” she says. “I also discovered that women make great clients. They are committed to the financial planning process from the start, it’s easier to gain their trust, and they tend to have less ego-involvement when it comes to investing than men do.”

Once she made the decision to focus on female clients, her practice took off. She found that marketing and prospecting came easier to her.

“Women control the household budget and generally are the ones that take a longer-term view of the family’s finances,” she says.

Today, she runs a practice that currently serves 60 ongoing clients for which she provides both investment management and financial planning services on an AUM basis. She also manages a robust financial planning-only group of clients who are on retainer. Eighty-five percent of her clients are women who are either single or who are clients with their partner or spouse.

A Career Move to Financial Planning
Curtis grew up in San Francisco and attended the University of California, Berkeley, majoring in political science with an emphasis in environmental policy. “My goal was to head to law school but in the end, I decided to go right to work upon graduation. I wanted to be able to earn enough to support myself,” she says.

Curtis began a 20-year career in the food packaged-goods industry with companies such as General Mills, Borden, Potlatch, and large food brokers. She began in customer service and then moved into sales and marketing, fields that Curtis credits to giving her the skills to successfully market herself as a financial planner later on.

Curtis had been an investor since her teen years, and she had a love of business since childhood. As she began to think about making a career change, financial planning seemed like a natural transition.

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