The following interview with Lauryn Williams of Worth Winning was conducted over email and edited for flow and clarity.
Lauryn Williams is a CFP, an entrepreneur, and a podcast host. She is just coming off the heels of hosting her very first financial retreat, The Worth Winning Retreat, which was a success. As a former athlete who made decent money during her early 20’s, she realized that she needed help managing her money. Her not so pleasant experience with financial advisors is what inspired her to do the work she’s doing now–helping her clients build better relationships with money.
Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN): Hi Lauryn! I’m excited to talk with you about the work you’re doing in the financial services space. But before we dive deep, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Lauryn Williams, CFP, Founder of Worth Winning: I was born in Pittsburgh and raised between Pittsburgh and Detroit. My parents split when I was three. For college, I attended the University of Miami, then I found my way to Texas. After a short stint in Houston (8 months), I found my way to Dallas and have been here since 2013.
Asha Atkins of Wealth Noir (WN): That’s a lot of change. As an army brat, I can totally relate. You’ve been working as a CFP and entrepreneur for quite some time. What drove you to do this work and how did you make the decision to go into business for yourself and create Worth Winning?
Lauryn Williams, CFP, Founder of Worth Winning: At age 20, I found myself earning more than anyone in my family had on an annual basis. I knew the value of enlisting the help of an expert, however, I did not know there were different types of financial professionals. I ended up in the hands of someone who sold me a million dollar whole life insurance policy and focused on the investing side of things because that is how they got paid.
When you have a lot of moving parts in your finances, literacy and a comprehensive view are incredibly important. I chose to become a CFP who is fee only and fiduciary because I realize what a difference it makes to be fully invested in taking care of the best interest of the person seeking financial advice. After finding a second advisor and not being properly served by them, I felt like I needed to better educate myself.
A Google search is what led me to the CFP course work, then a few chance meetings led me to look up the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) for advisors who are fee only and fiduciary. I found a job at a firm local to where I was living at the time and got an internship. The service they were providing was night and day compared to what I had received from the two gentlemen I engaged in the past. However, this firm would only accept clients that had at least one million dollars of investable assets. It was frustrating to realize that my six figure salary as a 20-something year old and being willing to pay for quality advice still did not lower the barrier of entry enough. As I started to learn more about the industry, I realized most firms were similar. I also realized there were plenty of people with good earnings that needed access to good advice and this is what led me to start Worth Winning.
WN: I want to make sure our audience understands the breadth of knowledge and experience you have. Can you share the kinds of services or products Worth Winning offers clients? Is there a particular niche or audience you focus on?
Lauryn Williams, CFP, Founder of Worth Winning: I am a CFP. This comes with a requirement of education, a certain amount of experience, committing to a code of ethics and taking an extremely difficult exam. (Think of your lawyer friend that buried themselves in a basement while studying for the bar exam; the CFP exam is similar). As I developed my business, I wanted to make sure financial planning advice was available to those of all income levels. I have multiple service offerings depending on where someone is in life. I’ve listed my menu of services:
I have a self-paced, on demand course for those just starting out and not earning a lot. This will allow you to learn basic information from a credible source and you get the ability to speak to a CFP® to have an added layer of customized professional advice.
12 Week Group Coaching
This is live, weekly coaching that takes place over a period of 12 weeks. We cover multiple financial topics one-by-one. This is really great for those that value community and want to learn how to fish. We use a pay with integrity model so that various income levels can participate.
One Time Plan
One time plans offer individuals a comprehensive look at their finances on a short term basis so that they can go off and execute on their own. This is great for singles who do not have complex financial situations but want to get clarity and will take action when given advice that considers their full financial picture.
Ongoing Financial Planning
Ongoing Financial Planning is the most traditional of the services I offer. This is for someone who wants a long-term ongoing relationship with a CFP® so that as life continues to change, there is someone who knows you and your family and is able to help you pivot and calibrate your plan. One of the common misnomers is that there is a black and white answer to financial planning questions, when, truly, advice is customized to each individual and the plan will need to be recalibrated as life happens.
This offering is great for the traveling enthusiast who appreciates learning while having an experience. This lends itself to learning in a group setting, understanding that you are not alone and getting out of the everyday rat race and focusing on your finances. Whether you choose a staycation or domestic or international trip, you get to return home better educated about the full scope of the various aspects of financial planning that you need to understand to win with money.
I work with young professionals. Also known as Gen-Y. I do not prefer the term millennials, but that is what others would call us. I like to work with those who are on the journey to building wealth and willing to put in the work.
WN: Thank you for that breakdown. I know our community will find it helpful. It’s also nice to see the variety in the services you offer. When I think of financial planning, I immediately become intimidated. Money is a complicated topic, or at least the relationship many of us have with money can be. How do you alleviate that intimidation factor for your clients? What about your approach to the money conversation sets you apart from other financial advisors and planners?
Lauryn Williams, CFP, Founder of Worth Winning: For me, it’s about making financial planning more relatable. I don’t have a corporate background so it is easy to talk to my clients in a way they can understand. Breaking down the basics of what you need to know and helping people be able to speak intelligently about finances is key. I want my clients to feel empowered and take the information and help empower others. Additionally, I would say what sets me apart is that I don’t charge based on assets. I’ve lowered the barriers by having different service offerings.
WN: I love that you’re filling a huge gap by not charging by assets. You’re giving people an affordable option to financial literacy and planning, which leads me to my next question. Although Black women are still the minority in the financial consultant space, there are many Black women and other women of color who are really showing up in this industry and are providing literacy support and more. When did you see that shift happen and why do you think it’s becoming more prevalent?
Lauryn Williams, CFP, Founder of Worth Winning: I believe when you see a gap, you fill it, and now more than ever, Black women can feel the gap that exists as it pertains to resources available for them to level up with their finances. With the natural instinct for nurturing others, women are stepping into this space because they don’t see an employer option that fills this gap and they have a desire to be profitable entrepreneurs and show the next generation if you can’t see it, you create it.
WN: That last part! Something else I appreciate about your approach to financial literacy and support is that you are transparent about your own challenges with money. Why do you think it’s important to be that open?
Lauryn Williams, CFP, Founder of Worth Winning: I’m a financial planner who has a financial planner because money is emotional. For me, it’s about humanizing yourself. So often people assume we have it all together because of the work we do but the reality is we’re ALL learning. There are lawyers who break the law (think speeding ticket here) and doctors that are not in good health despite all their knowledge. We’re all doing the best we can.
WN: That’s a great perspective and one that needs to be more ubiquitous. So, you have this great podcast, Worth Listening, that covers so many different topics around money. What’s your favorite episode and why?
Lauryn Williams, CFP, Founder of Worth Winning: I love the podcast because each episode brings something unique as no two financial stories are the same. Recently, I did a “Know Better, Do Better” series with another Certified Financial Planner®. I really enjoyed this because we busted several myths that commonly get people of color off track as it pertains to winning with money. We were frustrated by constantly having Black clients come to us with get rich quick schemes and financial distractions but not taking advantage of basic financial principles that would allow them to be in a better position. Some information is hard to receive directly without feeling attacked. The podcast is a way to share the information with anyone interested in listening and creates an environment that allows them to be more objective as they think through their financial journey.
WN: That makes a lot of sense. It goes back to being able to share this information in a way that is intellectually and emotionally digestible. How do you ensure that you stay up to date with the latest on what’s going on in the industry so that you are well informed to assist your clients?
Lauryn Williams, CFP, Founder of Worth Winning: As CFP® s, we have a certain amount of learning we have to do. I’m currently in a small business program with Goldman Sachs. The program is teaching me how to help my clients become better at running their businesses from a marketing standpoint, intellectual property, etc. I’m also taking a financial transition class. Many people are in a transitional stage in their lives, especially because of the pandemic. People are transitioning from apartments to houses, marriage to divorce, death, etc. They need assistance making financial decisions in the midst of transition.
Lastly, I’m taking a financial coaching course, which is different from financial planning or advisory. Financial coaching helps the client bring out what is important to them so they feel comfortable taking action on their own.
I’m also in different group chats with a strong support system of people who can assist in helping me with my clients. My support system is crucial in this line of work because you can often find yourself working in silos.
WN: I want to shift gears and talk about your Worth Winning Retreat. Can you share with the community what it’s about and if you’re planning something for 2022?
Lauryn Williams, CFP, Founder of Worth Winning: Starting to host retreats is a passion project I am so glad to see come to fruition. It really speaks to who I am and what I believe in. Traveling the world, seeing new places, having new experiences and challenging myself to think outside the box–this is exactly what happens when you get a bunch of different people from different backgrounds together. Community is created, different perspectives are shared and change can happen because they realize they are not alone and they can learn from each other. As a CFP®, I bring my knowledge and expertise to the table, but I am not speaking from a pedestal. This is a relaxed environment where the exchange of information is valuable and education can happen. This is great for those who feel like they deserve a trip and want to invest in an experience that will positively impact the trajectory of their life and finances.
WN: That sounds incredible and I’m excited for what’s next for the Worth Winning retreats. Before we close, I ask a lot of my interviewees this question. With all the work that you’re doing, how do you decompress? What are your self-care rituals?
Lauryn Williams, CFP, Founder of Worth Winning: I love to travel. I am an avid solo traveler. I do not need to be in a big group in order to enjoy myself. I have been to 48 countries – trying to make it to 50 sooner rather than later. I am also trying to check the box of visiting every state in America. When I am in Dallas, I enjoy going to the dog park with my Great Dane, Yasu. I also love a good book. I am an avid reader. As a business owner, I will often listen to audio books in order to maximize my time, but I truly prefer reading a physical book.
WN: Thank you so much, Lauryn, for your time, your transparency, and, most of all, your passion for education in the financial space. If you aren’t already following Lauryn on social media, then check her out here and visit her site.
Currently, I work in media and advertising for an ad tech company and am a freelance copywriter and creator/host of the Truthis podcast. I love film, television, and am a Toni Morrison stan. My ultimate goal is to tell honest stories of marginalized people.
Link to post on Wealth Noir