Today’s topic is Hispanic Financial Planning, here on the EverydayCPA channel, where we help small business owners and families better manage their businesses and their families. This program will help you learn and adopt strategies and tactics on business and family accounting and budgeting, credit management and improvement, and ways to build and grow savings to help you compete, win, and succeed – and hopefully live a happier healthier life.

Kelly Coughlin: One of the great things about being in the tax and accounting business is, believe it or not, you get to meet some fascinating, interesting people. One of these people is our guest today, a woman who is as wonderful on the inside as she is on the outside. She’s a terrific person I’ve known for years.

She helps the Hispanic community with financial literacy, and I wanted to get her on and have a conversation about what she’s doing and how she’s doing it. I think you’re going to enjoy it. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Azucena.

Azucena: Hi Kelly. Thank you so much for the wonderful introduction. It’s such a wonderful experience to be here with you; any opportunity that I get to be around you and pick your brain, to learn, I love it. So thank you.

Kelly: Thank you. I feel the same way about you. I’ve been at a couple of conferences where you speak and you’re just delightful. Your clients love you and you just bring great energy and commitment to your business. I can really feel the passion that you have for what you’re doing.  Why don’t you tell our listeners what you do in the area of financial literacy, especially related to the Hispanic community?

Some Hispanic Families Struggle with Financial Planning

Azucena: Absolutely.  Financial literacy is not something that we get taught in schools, unfortunately. I’m really focused on our immigrant families, our Hispanic families especially, because we have a bit more of a challenge when it comes to financial concepts and understanding how to build wealth, understanding the right steps that can take us to a comfortable life, a good life.

When you were introducing today’s program, I was listening to you. The way you treat your clients and how you work with small businesses, these were the reasons we connected with you. This is why my husband and I, our financial organization, work with you as your clients because we absolutely understand that feeling of helping families understand in order to get to a better place. Unfortunately, as a society, we don’t get taught to understand financial concepts. So for me, it’s been such a great journey.

I’m a journalist. I’m a reporter. I’ve been a news anchor for Spanish TV stations for over 20 years. But for seven years, my husband and I have also been building our own financial services agency, reaching out to families just like ours that work very hard to better their lives but don’t have the right financial tools or the understanding.  So we feel very privileged to have somebody like EverydayCPA on our side, helping us to understand business, understand taxes, understand accounting – the same things we do for our families when it comes to their personal finances. Helping them understand how to handle and reduce debt, how to manage their money, how to prepare for their kids’ college, and how to prepare for retirement.

Having Tough Conversations about Hispanic Finances

Azucena: These are things that normally don’t get taught in our schools. These are the sometimes uncomfortable conversations we don’t have in our homes. I used to think that it was just Hispanics, but the longer I’m in this business, the more I understand that talking about money is a widely held taboo. That’s why we do what we do; we love to reach out to families that may not have had any experience with their finances and actually help them to understand so they can take the steps needed to build wealth.

From Journalist to Financial Advisor

Kelly: You mentioned you were a TV journalist when you reached out to me years ago over the internet. Before we actually met in person, I looked you up and I said, oh my gosh, she’s a  bona fide TV celebrity out of California!

Azucena: Right, in Los Angeles. I was very lucky to have a 20-year career with NBC and Telemundo out of Los Angeles. I also worked internationally with different stations, whether it be in Miami or Puerto Rico. I covered a lot of the main events around the world, various catastrophes, the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, presidential debates, presidential races, everything that a journalist does on the reporting side of it, and also the anchor desk.

Kelly: A wide portfolio of topics and experiences, but you weren’t particularly focusing on business reporting. So how and why did you make the transition from all that excitement to the, some might say, dull world of financial services?

Azucena: I get that a lot!  “You went from traveling the world and doing all these fun and exciting things, and moved on to boring financial concepts!” But as a journalist, as a reporter, I came to realize that I wanted to be a bridge that takes people to a better understanding, especially if that understanding has the power to improve their lives. And that carried through into the financial services world.

My husband and I had our businesses that we were trying to run aside from being in entertainment and communications. He was always on the side of sports, directing different sports programs, and I always did the news. When we started doing our businesses we lost a lot of money, we made a lot of mistakes because, even though we had a lot of drive and desire, we didn’t have much business or personal financial knowledge. We had a financial advisor that was mostly managing our financial vehicles; they never really taught us what we needed to know about managing money, understanding taxes, understanding rates of return, understanding ‘how is my money working for me?’

Hispanic Retirement Savings: A Rude Awakening

When my parents and my husband’s parents reached retirement age, it really hit us.  They didn’t have the knowledge to build wealth, to prepare for retirement. We could have helped them, but we didn’t have the knowledge either. So now they are retired, and their incomes consist mostly of Social Security, with help from my husband and me.

This hit us like a ton of bricks. I said, wait a minute – how can somebody like me, who surrounds herself in information, who is always digging and finding things out, be so unprepared? How can we make so many financial mistakes?

About seven years ago we said, we’ve got to do something about it. We were very fortunate to walk into a platform like World Financial Group and begin to understand how money works. From then on, we had the opportunity to build our own business within the financial industry. I saw that we could make a difference in so many lives! I always say if I can help a family enjoy more options than my parents did when they retired, then I will have done my job.

I always wanted to impact people’s lives. Today, not only do we impact our own lives by having our own business, building our own financial independence; we also help other families reach their financial goals. This has been really life-changing for me!

Kelly: I’ve seen you give a couple of talks before and it occurred to me that there’s a nexus between your previous life in journalism and your current life. In journalism, you had to take a big, complex story and distill it down to a minute or two. Finding the essence of a story is probably a discipline that serves you well in the complex world of financial services, savings, and wealth management.

Azucena: Absolutely. Taking away the mystery, making finances understandable for regular people is a natural extension of my journalism career.

Hispanic Financial Services: A Family Affair

Azucena: Before we go, I want to make sure to give a shout-out to my husband Jorge. He’s the reason why I fell in love with the financial services industry. He’s the one that started it all, the one with the sense to say, you know, we’re making mistakes. We have to make these changes. And once we’ve taken care of our own finances and gotten ourselves in order, then we can help so many more people.

Jorge is my right hand and, since he’s a lefty, I’m his left hand. We complement each other – he’s very smart, the brains of the outfit. But I have that ability to connect with people. I am not the smartest person the room and I don’t want to be, but I can outdo anybody when it comes to passion and making connections. I make sincere connections with people I truly want to help.

I have seen too many people in the Hispanic community that worked hard and retired poor because they don’t know how to manage their money and make it work for them. So we share our financial experiences, our mistakes, and how we turned it around. We have been where they are, and we can help. Understand that, if you dedicate time and you look for the right people to guide you, then you can reach any financial goal that you choose.

Key Traits of a Good Financial Advisor – Hispanic or Otherwise

Kelly: I was at one of your conferences and somebody asked me ‘what are the key traits of a good financial advisor?’ I said technical competence and strong ethics, but there’s a third trait that’s vital: being someone who is enjoyable to work with. I can’t emphasize that enough, and Azucena is definitely a joy to work with. And I am confident that my audience agrees. Thanks for being with us today!

Azucena: Thank you, Kelly. And thank you for putting together programs like this, as well as all the other tools you offer to the business community because they’re needed. You said it – honesty and competence are very important, but to be able to work with someone is, too. It isn’t easy or enjoyable to talk about finances, or accounting, or taxes, or the IRS. So it really makes a difference when you like and trust your financial advisor.

Kelly:  Well, you certainly fit that bill, Azucena. Smart, capable, honest, and likable. Thanks again.

If you’re in our audience, perhaps a member of the Hispanic community, and you need help understanding your finances and planning for a more secure financial future, I absolutely recommend that you contact Azucena. Look for Azucena Gomez on LinkedIn or at her website, www.impoderandofamilias.org.

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Thank you for watching the EverydayCPA channel. Visit us again as we help small business owners and families better manage their businesses and their families. We aim to help you learn and adopt strategies and tactics on business and family accounting, budgeting, credit management and improvement, and ways to build and grow savings. We want to help you compete, win, and succeed – and hopefully live a happier, healthier life!