In our chat with Daniella Rand, a San Francisco-based financial planner, we discussed what it takes for women to break into the finance industry’s boys’ club and what it means to work harder than everyone around you.

Daniella Rand

Rand would know about these things. As co-founder and managing director of The Rand Group, Daniella Rand has two decades of financial planning experience and an impressive client list. Her group’s approach to financial planning is unorthodox, guided by the principle that money is a means to an end rather than an end unto itself.

In your 20 years as a financial planner and wealth management professional, what’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome on the road to success?

Resisting the pressure to compromise our industry’s high ethical standards. In themselves, adhering to a paramount ethical code by always putting the clients interests first has always been my #1 rule, but the ramifications of that path — a grueling work schedule to ensure that the client is holistically serviced, and inconsistent support from industry peers — have been challenging.

It is disheartening when you discover that your values and ethics do not align with the individuals or organizations in which you have placed your loyalty and trust for a number of years. However, what has made me most successful as an industry leader is marching to the beat of my own drum with great determination, and never compromising on what matters most: The client, and his or her needs.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Work harder than the next person, follow your passion, and always be ethical. Do all this and no one can ever tear you down.

You appear to have a fulfilling, well-balanced life. How did you get there and what’s your advice for young professional women who’ve yet to find an optimal work-life balance?

It has taken a long time for me to get here. For seven years after founding The Rand Group, I worked 12 hours per day and barely took a day off. I still work at least 50 hours per week, even when traveling.

However, over time, I’ve come to accept that my team and clients would be waiting for me after I returned from educational travels abroad (or a personal day at home). And, when I’m on my deathbed, I don’t want to regret not hiking Machu Picchu or experiencing a new culture firsthand. Life is precious and short, so I’ve learned to pursue my non-professional passions without feeling guilty. I’m actually more productive for it, and, frankly, I’m a role model for many of my accomplished, hard-working clients who strive to have more of a work-life balance.

Bespoke financial planning

The Rand Group promises clients “bespoke financial planning.” What does that mean and why does it matter?

In short, everything we do for a client is customized to their needs. Because no two clients are exactly alike, no two financial plans are, either.

We don’t try to pass off algorithms as financial plans. Instead, when a client asks us to explore the financial planning implications of selling the family home, we’ll perform multiple scenarios with different customized variables, rather than giving the same stock answer we give everyone who asks that question. As retirement specialists, we do the same for clients concerned about the implications of taking a lump sum from their retirement plan versus annuitizing it, or about the impact of healthcare costs in the scenario that they live longer than expected.

We have the tools and resources to do all this, whereas many other financial planning practices do not. And it’s complimentary for our clients, no matter how many revisions or updates they need.

How do you incorporate the “big picture” when you develop a financial plan?

We develop and execute holistic financial plans that offer the highest probability of success with the lowest possible degree of risk. These plans can achieve any reasonable client goal, provided that the client is willing to accept our recommendations. They include retirement planning, planning for job transitions, trust and estate planning, employer stock and options plan diversification, healthcare and insurance needs, how to incorporate alternative investments, and planning for life goals such as: homebuying, large purchases or sales, and college education.

We also help strengthen clients’ budgets and eliminate unnecessary expenses and fees so that more of their money goes toward retirement. And we offer a vast range of investment solutions from “best in class” money managers and mutual funds to advanced instruments like commodities, futures and hedging strategies. You name it, we’re capable of it.