Interviewed By: Ty Fischer | Photography By: Steve Ragland | MUA: Erica Bessinger
A publication full of Los Angeles’ top influencers and entrepreneurs wouldn’t be complete without talking about money. Money fuels business and our economy. In an issue full of money, there was no better individual to consult about money than the person who works behind the scenes to advise, manage, and plan the financial success of these industry leaders.
Rising through the ranks of sports entertainment at Fox Sports, Renee Cohen found herself without much in the way of financial advice. “I didn’t make a lot of money at the beginning of my career, and at those vital times in my life it would have been nice to have someone (besides family) in my financial corner.”
Following her successful career at Fox, Cohen set her sights on becoming that trusted person for women, helping them make smart financial choices and to overcome the intimidating stigma of money. Never one to rest on success, Cohen quickly took her client-base national, helping women and men all over the country navigate today’s financial markets whilst planning for the future.
We sat down with this genuine and trusted expert to discuss the financial services industry, the balance between inspiring and advising, and how she supports her close-knit family of clients.
Q: What service do you provide each client?
RC: As a Financial Advisor, I like to consider myself someone’s personal CFO. On an informal basis, just consider me your money coach or money therapist (laughs).
I do comprehensive financial planning, making sure that throughout one’s life journey we have the right mix of wealth building and risk management strategies relative to where you are in life and what your goals are. I am not only the architect of your financial plan, but I am the implementation partner from start to finish. I work closely with you to understand your goals and based on your risk tolerance, I select the right assets and construct your portfolio.
Acting as a partner and trusted advisor, a message I always tell my clients is that it is important to have the right people around you and have that right team of professionals. Sometimes, my role is being that partner or cheerleader to help you achieve your dreams. What I tell each client though is that just because I am your cheerleader doesn’t mean I am going to be your ‘YES’ person; I will also challenge you and hold you accountable because I have the professional knowledge to help push you out of your comfort zone and help you see outside of your own perspective.
Q: The qualities that you possess allow you to work with many different clients; who are these people and what are their needs?
RC: My client base today has broadened and I work with all types. My clientele is typically well-established in their career, at least 10-12 years into it, and have amassed some amount of assets and are looking for guidance that is relative to today’s financial markets; not only to effectively save money but to make sure that they are being efficient with their money and have the right mix of assets.
I am often asked my criteria (or qualifications) for my clients. At the foundation, I want to work with great people – people who are thoughtful, community-focused Although my clientele is diverse, empowering women will always be a focus of mine. I partner with women’s organizations in the LA area to do educational workshops to help women demystify the world of money and feel confident about their financial knowledge. Working with women is close to me because I can relate to women’s issues, having faced many of these issues personally and I have seen a lot of successful women in my personal circle feel intimidated about money. One of my motivating factors in this business is to make a difference.
Another market I have really tapped into is the entrepreneurial market and women-owned businesses. I think with such a rise in women-owned businesses, it’s really an underserved market. I really love working with these small businesses. I feel like women don’t always get the funding they need or don’t know how to ask for it, and I can help educate them and help with their business planning while taking away some of that intimidation factor.
I specialize in partnering with executives and rising stars in the sports and entertainment industries because I know those industries so well. I also work well with lawyers ranging from big firms to in-house. Personally I enjoy staying fit and healthy so would love to work with more people in the fitness and health industries.
Q: You mentioned you have clients all over the country. What are the major cities you service?
RC: New York and New Jersey (all of the Tri-State Area), Chicago, Seattle, Florida and Los Angeles. I tried to build my clientele and utilize the natural network I have in those cities. I like to travel, so the more reasons I have to travel for personal and work-related business, the better. I am licensed in most states, so I can pretty much service clients anywhere.
From a relationship standpoint, most of my clientele is in Los Angeles because you can build that rapport best in person. But I do have clients all over the country and my goal is to continue to build my clientele across the nation so I have more reasons to get out and travel to those cities on a regular basis!
Q: To build such a quality, sustained book of business is a testament to not only your skill, but your ability to have people trust you and deliver upon that trust. How do you do it?
RC: A lot of advisors out there really want to talk about the fun and sexy side and ‘woo’ people with the high rates and returns while speculating on what is going to happen. What I do differently is really look at it from a holistic perspective. I am a high-level thinker and strategic person, I connect with busy professionals who want to be in the owner’s box of their financial life and not quarterbacking their financial strategy.
My philosophy revolves around making sure we have the right mix of assets to achieve short and long term goals; in today’s world we always want to feel the instant gratification so it is important to balance your planning between short and long term goals. My philosophy is also centered around being tax intelligent with your planning. In today’s markets, we need to be smart how we diversify our assets because we must prepare ourselves for the external factors later on in life that we can’t control, such as living well into our 90s, market downturns, inflation, and everyone’s favorite – taxes. If you hate paying taxes while you are working, you will hate paying taxes more when you are in your retirement life. Another big area is thinking about the protection piece and not making the word ‘insurance’ have a negative connotation. Insurances in our life are there to protect us and allows the wealth we are building or have built to hold it’s true value. What I’m able to do is talk about it in the way where I can break down that barrier and get my clients to understand it.
My work is focused on helping clients achieve financial independence, which means getting them to retirement and through retirement. That ‘through’ piece is the differentiating factor; I find that a lot of advisors focus their conversations around wealth building strategies to get someone to retirement but doesn’t talk about the tax implications of those assets in retirement. It’s not only about achieving that ‘ah-ha’ moment of financial independence, but when you get to that moment we also want to make sure you are getting through that peak. You reach that pinnacle of financial independence but you want to make sure the wealth that you have accumulated lasts you for the rest of your life. I think that in today’s market and society, especially with the way we consume information, people need to ask those financial questions and have them answered by a trusted person in their life.
I also love to connect people; connect my clients with other clients if they can help drive their goals forward; to me, my clientele is like one little family. I am a very real, authentic person so I really love to have organic conversations with clients. I am very open with my financial journey – where I was, where I am today, and where I want to go. I started my career in sports, so it wasn’t like I walked out of college and got this job making $500,000 – I didn’t make a lot of money at the beginning of my career but the greatest gift my dad taught me was to understand the value of money.
Now being in the position to help, I like partnering with driven, thoughtful young professionals to strategically build their assets as well as executives to ensure they are being tax-efficient with their planning and strategies.
Q: What is the greatest advice you can give?
RC: From a broad financial perspective, have a plan from the beginning. Time is your best and most important asset, so be financially literate or find someone you connect with that will be in your corner. I believe everyone deserves to have financial guidance. Living in Los Angeles or other higher-cost living cities – where most of my clients reside – it is important to have the guidance from a trusted partner.
On a personal level, do not be fearful of change and evolving, really know yourself and know your skill set. I was not fearful of moving away from a career in sports entertainment even though my identity was deeply involved. You should be evolving as a person and that means regularly evaluating your path. I realized as I evolved into my 30s I was no longer fulfilled by the path I was on and needed to feel I was making an impact in a different way. Do what you believe in, align with your values and enjoy this beautiful journey.
To get in touch with Renee Cohen or to learn more about the services she provides, contact (310) 402-3100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.