A rising star in the financial world, and published author, Sophia Bera quit her job at a NY start-up to launch her own firm, Gen Y Planning. Now, she runs a 6-figure online business focusing on financial planning for young professionals.
(interview by Tanya Hayles)
Did you always like numbers and math, or was it something you grew to have a passion for?
I loved saving money as a kid and was always great in math in elementary school, but I got kicked out of math class in high school for asking too many questions and talking back to the teacher so I thought I was bad at math. I didn’t take math in college because I was so traumatized by my high school experience. Then I went on to become a CFP and fell in love with compound interest.
What is the one myth or stereotype about the personal finance industry you’d like to debunk?
That it’s boring and that it’s a only for old, white men. Personal finance affects everyone. Everyone needs to learn basic financial skills and when they do we feel more in control of our lives. All life events cost money and it’s important to learn how to plan to pay for these things so we don’t go into debt in order to afford our lives.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
I love the conversations I get to have with clients across the country. I am fascinated by the incredible lives, careers, and adventures that my clients share with me and I get to be on their team to help them use their money to match their values to live amazing lives.
What is missing in the media narrative surrounding millenials and money?
Our lives are changing very quickly and many of us don’t know what our lives will look like a few years from now, which is why I think it’s funny when the media makes these weird claims about millennials never being able to retire. I think that retirement will look very different for my generation but I’ve also noticed that millennials are starting to save for retirement sooner than previous generations. I think we’ll have several careers over our lifetimes and that the focus is on doing more meaningful work rather than working for 40 years at one company and quitting completely and then spending retirement golfing.
What are some of the best trends for millenials and finance?
I think robo advisors have helped to streamline investing for millennials and this trend will likely continue. I work with Betterment for Advisors to help manage my clients assets. I think you’ll see more CFPs working with Robo advisors to better serve their clients.
If there was one area of finance a millennial should look into for building wealth where would you guide them to?
Your retirement accounts are one of the best ways to start investing. Start by signing up for your 401(k) and making sure you’re getting your full company match from your employer. If you’re not, you’re leaving free money on the table. This will also help you reduce your taxes, which will save you even more money. Then you get to invest this money over decades which is another way that this money can grow. Also, consider starting a Roth IRA while you’re young and in a low tax bracket. This money grows tax free for the future! Stop getting distracted by trends like cryptocurrency. Also, a house is not an investment. Real estate has averaged about 3.5% over the last hundred years which is just barely keeping up with inflation.
Do you believe barriers, such as family and investment opportunities, exist for women in managing their finances.
Yes. As well as barriers for people of color. This industry has catered to old, white, men for far too long and we need more diversity among CFPs in order to create a new culture of inclusion and to attract more diversity to this profession.
Do you truly have to have money to make money?
No. You have to live below your means and spend less than you earn.
(originally printed in Bleu Magazine Issue #60)