Christina Lawrence of Barnum Financial Group: 5 Things To Look For When Hiring a Financial Planner or Financial Adviser

Everyone should have access to a financial advisor. A good advisor is there to help you navigate your finances for life and help you plan for milestone events like buying a car, your first house, starting a family or business. It is a roadmap for life and not a transactional event.

As part of our series about what one should look for when hiring a financial planner or adviser, I had the pleasure of interviewing, I had the pleasure to interview Christina Lawrence, Wealth Management Advisor at Barnum Financial Group.

Christina started her career in 2000 and has partnered with leading advisors, including her mother, Joan Constantikes, who was a financial advisor for over 30 years. Together, they built a multigenerational practice that provided sound financial guidance for hundreds of clients and their families.

When possible, Christina encourages all family members to participate in important decisions, including defining a purpose and mission for their family wealth, philanthropic grant-making, and coordinating each member’s role in the management of the family’s assets. Empowering her clients to grow their wealth and business interests, Christina and her resources at Barnum Financial Group offer financial planning that focuses on income, estate planning, and gifting strategies that both protect and provide for generations to come.

Christina offers financial literacy programs focusing on financial empowerment for women as well as “Next Gen” and beginner investors. Her popular “Roadmap to Financial Wellness” series educates her clients and their families on how to build a solid financial foundation. A strong advocate of ESG investment concepts (environmental, social, and governance), her process benefits from an open architecture platform that is company-agnostic and promotes sustainable giving across generations.

A graduate of The American University in Washington, D.C., with a B.A. in Spanish Studies and Psychology, she also earned her MBA at Thunderbird School of Global Management. After graduation, Christina lived in Madrid, Spain, where she co-owned and operated a translation and publishing company catering to Fortune 500 clients. She also spent several years in Silicon Valley at tech start-ups, learning important entrepreneurial values.

Christina is on the Planning Committee of “A Leg To Stand On” (ALTSO), a non-profit organization providing free orthopedic care to over 18,500 children with limb disabilities in the developing world. In October 2020, she celebrated her 15th year as a volunteer photographer for ALTSO’s annual event, “Hedge Fund Rocktoberfest.” She also serves on the Advisory Board of the Institute of Family Governance.

Christina and her husband, Piers Lawrence, a professional jazz guitarist, live in the East Village in New York City with their Burmese cat, Koko May.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit more. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Always an entrepreneur at heart, I was offered a position at a dynamic tech start-up in Silicon Valley in the late 90s and jumped at the chance to move across the country. However, funding soon dried up and times got very tough and I experienced the first major “dot bomb” in 1999 when I was downsized from 3 start-ups in 2–½ years. My mom, who had been an advisor at that point for a dozen years on the East Coast suggested I pursue becoming my “Own Boss” and focus on working with people that I care about to help them with their financial planning. I was lucky to have been surrounded by strong mentors and partners who taught me how to be resilient so I could pivot into a new career where I could stay connected to the start-up community in a meaningful way.

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

This is a very interesting time. The pandemic, besides being a health crisis, has also turned out to be a financial crisis, with market volatility and Americans losing their jobs. This has driven many of us to review and redesign our financial roadmap. Even before the crisis, I have been working with my clients on helping them create financial plans, but it has become even more of a priority since March 2020. As part of multigenerational planning, my colleague and I launched a “Roadmap To Financial Wellness” Series for teenagers and junior investors to help them develop a financial framework and good financial habits early in their life.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything differently? Is there a takeaway or lesson that others can learn from?

A catalyst for me was when my mother passed away in 2017 since she was my business partner for 18 years. It prompted me to reflect on my practice and clients. I decided to switch firms as I wanted to provide my clients with a more holistic approach to financial planning beyond solely accumulating assets. I’m a firm believer that as much as my clients need to save, they also need to be defensive in order to protect their assets and achieve their goals.

What three pieces of advice would you give to your colleagues in the finance field to thrive and avoid burnout? Can you give a story or example?

Don’t ignore your hobbies. 2) Volunteer for a cause that you are passionate about. 3) Always be mindful to establish personal and professional time and “own it” especially in this current environment. Personally, I have been volunteering as an event photographer for 15 years for a non-profit called A Leg To Stand On that provides prosthesis for children in developing countries. They celebrate with a big rock concert called “Rocktoberfest” every October in New York City and raise money and awareness for this one-of-a-kind mission. Rocktoberfest enables me to apply my personal passion of photography for a meaningful cause.

Ok. Thank you for all of that. Let’s now move to the core focus of our interview. As an “finance insider”, you know much more about the finance industry than most consumers. If your loved one wanted to hire a financial advisor (not you :-)), what are your top 5 tips to find out about before committing?

1. Make sure they respect your intentions and know that they act as your Fiduciary.

2. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

3. Find someone who doesn’t see you as a number or dollar amount; yet is an essential advisor with whom you can work for many years.

4. Interview for the right fit. Not all advisors are alike. Research and consider several potential advisors to see who you have the best working relationship with.

5. Know the “why” — Why did they become a financial advisor? Find someone passionate and purposeful who wants to help you and your family long-term.

I think most people think that financial advisors are for very wealthy people. This is likely not actually true. Can you explain who would most benefit from hiring a financial advisor and why? Can you give an example?

Everyone should have access to a financial advisor. A good advisor is there to help you navigate your finances for life and help you plan for milestone events like buying a car, your first house, starting a family or business. It is a roadmap for life and not a transactional event.

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?

I’m grateful to my family. My father was a trust and estates attorney and my mother was a financial advisor for 31 years. My maternal grandparents wrote books for women and finances in the 1970’s. Helping others navigate their lives is in my DNA.

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

Equality and opportunity for financial independence is important to all of us. Our team feels that no matter when you start, and no matter what you start with; with proper planning, setting goals and ongoing follow through, you can achieve your lifetime financial goals. Everyone should have access to financial education and Financial Planning 101.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can find me on LinkedIN and my website.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

Christina Lawrence of Barnum Financial Group: 5 Things To Look For When Hiring a Financial Planner… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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