Tuesdays with Corey interview with Tana Gildea
Tana Gildea is a Principal who began her career as a financial advisor with a phone call out of the blue in 2005. At the time, she didn’t even know what a financial planner was but quickly realized that she had found her “next chapter” in life after staying at home with four young children and serving in various PTA, Girl Scout, and booster club leadership roles.
The phone call led Tana to join Compass Financial Consulting, a fee-only wealth management firm where she moved from part-time client service administrator for the small but growing firm all the way up to Principal in 2014. She served as the Chief Compliance Officer at Compass, helped with many of the administrative aspects of running the business, and worked with a variety of clients. She also became a Certified College Funding Specialist in 2011 just as her first child headed off to college. Compass merged with Homrich Berg in January 2018 at which time Tana became a Principal at HB.
Prior to joining the Compass team in 2005, Tana had earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting. She had served as a corporate audit specialist, an operational manager, and an adjunct accounting teacher at Chattahoochee Technical College. She is slated to return to the classroom as an instructor for Kennesaw State University’s new certified financial planner program in 2018.
A published author, Tana has shared a wealth of financial advice for young people and other financial novices in her award-winning book, The Graduate’s Guide to Money, and in other publications. She enjoys speaking to college students about how to start their financial lives on the right foot. Tana also writes a financial blog for Working On Your Now, an online community supporting women through the various stages of their careers, and she often speaks to women’s groups about the emotional aspects of money management. She supports various local and national organizations and has served on various community boards.
Intro: Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, it's time for Atlanta Business Radio, spotlighting the city's best businesses and the people who lead them.
Stone Payton: Welcome to this very special edition of Atlanta Business Radio. It's time for Tuesdays with Corey, brought to you by our good friends at the Long Term Care Planning Group. Now here's your host, Corey Rieck.
Corey Rieck: Thank you, Stone. We have another great guest today on our show. Tana Gildea comes to the show as an award winning author, financial advisor, and with past experience as a CPA. She has a wealth of business experiences and successes. And we all look forward to hearing about them on the show. Tana, welcome.
Tana Gildea: Thank you so much for having me.
Corey Rieck: Well, as I said before, you've had a lot of business experience, and I'd like you to introduce yourself further to the listenership, so they could get to know you better.
Tana Gildea: Sure. Well, my name's Tana Gildea. And I was born and raised in Montana. So, that's my first unusual thing.
Corey Rieck: I think that's a first for the show. Our first Montana guest.
Tana Gildea: Yay! One of us got out. Montana was a great place to grow up, great place to go to school. Really, really good CPA program there. I passed the exam. But the joke was get a really nice car and a PO box because they audited every bank. The big firms audited every bank in about five states. And if you look at that part of the map, that's a really big area. So, I wasn't that excited about staying there, had some close family and friends, moved to Atlanta with IBM. And I said, "Hey, I'll go to Atlanta and try my luck there."
Corey Rieck: So, from Montana to Atlanta.
Tana Gildea: Yeah.
Corey Rieck: We're not talking about just going to like Peachtree City to Atlanta. That's a hike.
Tana Gildea: That's a hike.
Corey Rieck: And where did you go to school in Montana?
Tana Gildea: Montana State.
Corey Rieck: Okay.
Tana Gildea: Montana State University, yep. So, graduated, got a job in September with KPMG, which was Peat Marwick Main at the time, or Mitchell at the time, and became Main, and became KPMG. I had a job starting in January of '87. And in November, the previous November, the close family friends moved. So, I came to Atlanta with a job, and found an apartment, and never looked back.
Corey Rieck: Tell us what you did at KPMG and what your experience was like there.
Tana Gildea: Yeah, I started in their audit department. So, there was a big group. They kind of hire recent graduates, big group. It was very fine. Happy hours. A lot of people my age. We did a couple of weeks of training. And then, I started doing corporate audits. So, I was with them for six and a half years. Rose to the level of a manager before I got married, had a baby, and left, and went to work for MCI. So, I was an operations management, ran their accounts payable department here in Atlanta. And I thought I would take this operations job as a means in, and then boot over to the accounting department, but I loved operations. It was really invigorating. There was a lot of things that needed to be done. The technology was way behind. I loved the group and creating the team. So, I was with them for several years until they said, "Hey, we want to make you a director and move you to Washington, DC." And I said, "Yeah, I don't think I want to-"
Corey Rieck: "Let me think about that. No."
Tana Gildea: No.
Corey Rieck: Right?
Tana Gildea: I love the director part. I don't want to move to DC. So, left, stayed home at that-
Corey Rieck: How long were you at MCI?
Tana Gildea: I was at MCI from '93 to '96, and had three kids at the time. So, decided I would stay home. I was pregnant with the fourth. So, I had four kids in five and a half years. So, I was pretty busy. I stayed home.
Corey Rieck: That's kind of an understatement.
Tana Gildea: It was definitely an interesting time. And when I made the decision to stay home, I think I didn't know myself very well.
Corey Rieck: What do you mean by that?
Tana Gildea: Well, I was envisioning sitting on the floor, playing blocks with my kids, singing songs, and being really fulfilled in that role. But that's kind of not the type of person I am. So, I quickly became a Girl Scout leader, a room mom, a PTA volunteer, created the school calendar. And I was just up to my ears volunteering.
Corey Rieck: You don't strike me as somebody that would sit do very well sitting stationary.
Tana Gildea: No, I really couldn't. And I loved my kids, and I loved three minutes of sitting on the floor playing with them, but the all day, every day, not being engaged, not achieving, and having spreadsheets, and interactions with adults, and that kind of thing just wasn't my personality. It's great for moms that love that and that do well in that. I just didn't. So, I volunteered myself to death for six years and then said, "You know what? If I'm working this hard, someone needs to pay me some money." I have done the volunteer thing, loved it, made a lot of great friends, hopefully did some good things, but was looking for kind of what was next, and financial planning just fell in my lap, honestly.
Corey Rieck: How so?
Tana Gildea: I was on a tennis team with a lady who is now my partners with the firm, his mother. I met his wife at the tennis match, and she called me out of the blue one day and said, "My husband's looking for somebody part time for his financial planning firm." And I said, "What's a financial planning firm?" And started the conversation with him. That was over 14 years ago. He's now my partner. And so, I was with, at the time, Compass Financial Consulting. The small, I was the third person in the door. There were the two guys that started the company. And they did a full service, financial planning and investment management. So, I came in. I did everything from empty the trash, and set out client drinks, and file, and send emails, and do paperwork, and just started with all of that stuff that somebody has got to do, and loved it, and said, "I could do this for the rest of my career."
Tana Gildea: So, I went to school, College for Financial Planning, which is an online virtual school in Colorado, took their courses, took the exam to be certified financial planner, put in my time. There's an experience requirement. So, I did all that. And then, just kind of stayed with the firm, started growing, doing more and more things, taking on more responsibilities, became the chief compliance officer. That's always the thing that the youngest person on the crew gets to jump into the compliance area. And so, I did that. And after about 10 years, I said, "Hey, guys, what about being a partner? What's the plan with that?" And they kind of looked at each other like, "Oh, we just never thought about it." So, I'm like, "Well, time to start thinking about it."
Corey Rieck: "Is 30 seconds enough time for you to think about it?" is that what you said?
Tana Gildea: Yeah, exactly. So, I became a partner with that firm.
Corey Rieck: [Good for you.
Tana Gildea: And it was great. And I do tell people, sometimes, you just have to ask because it's not that they didn't want me as a partner, they just were busy doing their own thing, and nobody was thinking about it.
Corey Rieck: This just in, a closed mouth doesn't get fed.
Tana Gildea: Correct, correct. So, I was proud of myself for asking, and they were glad I did. And so, that worked out.
Corey Rieck: That's great.
Tana Gildea: And then, we were approached by Homrich Berg, who is a much larger firm, obviously, than we were at the time. And there was just a lot of cultural fits - the way that they serve clients, what they were doing in terms of the planning aspect of letting that lead the way into the investment management part of it, which very much aligned with us. And so, we started about six months worth of discussions and meeting. And yes, we should. No, we shouldn't. Yes, we should. No, we shouldn't. And finally, decided, you know what, we don't love the compliance stuff. We don't like all of the details of the back office part of it. They have this foundation that would allow us to, then, go do the part we love, which is working with clients. And so, we met people. Everybody just decided, let's do it.
Corey Rieck: You have a lot of really technical experience. And did your experience as a CPA and as an auditor with KPMG, and your experience in operations, how did that help you get into financial planning? It seems to me like it would be useful. Very useful.
Tana Gildea: Yeah, I think it was very useful. And I do think that a wide variety of experiences, there's always something to pull. And what it helped me with is as a small business owner, when there were three of us running that firm, you had to do a lot of different things. So, I had to be the marketing person. I had to be the compliance person. I had to figure out the operational aspects of how do we take paperwork, and convert it into accounts, and move money, and not make mistakes, and make sure that we're doing everything consistently.
Tana Gildea: So, all that operations training that I had to MCI, where I was taking that department, and making it more efficient, and implementing technology, and all of those types of things really helped me in that role. And especially as we went into the merger, there's a lot of things that have to happen when two companies come together. You have to put systems together, and make decisions, and all of those kind of things. So, I think all of the pieces that I did, even all the volunteering that I did, when you're constantly having to interact with people, and try to get people to do stuff that they don't necessarily want to do, that's not necessarily in their best interests to do it. All of those types of persuasion, and discussions, and dealing with different personalities, I think was all valuable.
Corey Rieck: So, you started with Compass Financial in 2005 roughly?
Tana Gildea: Yeah.
Corey Rieck: You were there roughly 10 years. And then, the Homrich Berg merger happen in 2015, thereabouts.
Tana Gildea: We actually merged with them January 1 of 2018.
Corey Rieck: Okay.
Tana Gildea: Yeah. So, we've been over there a little over a year and a half.
Corey Rieck: And you mentioned something that I wanted to come back to. Culturally, you felt like it was a good fit. And everybody that I've met from Homrich Berg has been very, very impressive. But talk to us and the listenership about the culture and why that was a fit for your organization joining.
Tana Gildea: Yeah. I think, the number one thing when you look and when I look at the people at Homrich Burg is they are so passionate about what they're doing, from the person that you first see when you walk in the door, to the person that's bringing you a drink in the room, to the people processing paperwork in the back office, everyone is all in on what they're doing. And we are a work hard play hard firm. We have happy hours. We have decorate your cubicle contests at Christmas time.
I mean, there's always something going on. We run a quarterly book club. We have the Green Committee, and the Fun Workplace Committee, and all those things where we say, "You know what? This is not a place that you show up 8:00 to 5:00. This is a group of people that we hope you're going to be with for your whole career. And we want to develop you. We want to have fun with you. We want to socialize with you. We want to celebrate when you have babies. We want to commiserate when things don't go the way you're hoping that they go." And that was very much the same type of feeling that we had at Compass even though it's much bigger.
And then, it was that dedication to a lifelong relationship with clients. I want my clients to have my cell number. I want them to call me if something that they're worried about. I tell them, "You should never be worried about money because you should call me. E-mail me or call me anytime, because that's my job is to be worried about that." And that's kind of how everybody at the firm is, is we want to lift that burden from our clients because our clients are brilliant at doing what they're brilliant at.
Corey Rieck: Generating the money.
Tana Gildea: Generating the money. And so, we have to be the ones supporting them, freeing up their time and energy, so that they can go be brilliant, give their gifts to the world, and let us take care of all of that stuff in their financial world, and make sure they get where they want to go within reason, and help make it as easy as possible because financial lives are very complex now. Very complex. And so, to be able to have that team of people that we can bring to whatever issue or problem that the client has make it easier, get things done, free them up, go be brilliant in your space.
Corey Rieck: Well, if I may, it sounds like you are doing for your clients what Homrich Berg ... I keep wanting to say Homrich & Berg - what Homrich Berg has done for you. They're foundationally taking care of the back office issues in your business. That's something where you can spend a lot of time. And if you have somebody that that's their fast ball, it would make sense for them to do that.
Tana Gildea: Correct.
Corey Rieck: And then, if it's something that you don't necessarily want to do, that's great that somebody who does want to do it, they probably are going to do it better and probably going to get things done more quickly. And you're out to go throw your fastball, which is business development, probably interacting with clients. And I think it's interesting that you turn around, and it seems like you give that same thing to your clients. "Hey, you let us do the heavy lifting. You go make the money. We'll help you. We'll make sure there's enough. We'll make sure it's structured in a way that's comfortable and consistent with what you want to do financially."
So, I think that that's ... like I said before, everybody I've met from your company, I've been very impressed with. And they give off an energy. And I think part of that is somebody is doing the stuff that isn't so glamorous behind the scenes, which has to get done in any company.
Tana Gildea: Absolutely.
Corey Rieck: And to me, it's advantageous that you have so much business success, you personally, behind you that you can look at something and go, "Okay, that needs to be done. This is where this paperwork goes." And you probably know how to do it, so you can oversee somebody. But the fact that somebody else is taking care of that for you just makes you more available.
Tana Gildea: Yeah. And if you think about it, if everyone in the world was doing what they love and what they're really great at, I bet everybody would be really, really happy. You'd be really excited to jump out of bed and go to work every day. Because we have people who love taking all that paperwork, and organizing it, and making sure all the boxes are checked.
Corey Rieck: God, love them.
Tana Gildea: God, love them. I can't survive without them.
Corey Rieck: Well, and there are people that they like the details.
Tana Gildea: Absolutely.
Corey Rieck: And then, there are people that, hey, that's not their fastball. They're out, they need to do something else.
Tana Gildea: Absolutely. And we got a whole team of people that loves doing investment analysis, and research, and figuring out the best portfolios. And God love them because I don't like doing that. I want to them to tell me-
Corey Rieck: What a great advantage. That's a huge advantage for you too, right?
Tana Gildea: Oh, yes, absolutely. And that was a key driver for us in joining the firm is they have an extensive investment team, very, very knowledgeable CFAs, big spreadsheets, all that kind of stuff. And that just takes something off of us as a smaller firm to to have that, have that bench behind us.
Corey Rieck: How many folks work at Homrich Berg?
Stone Payton: We are just over a hundred.
Corey Rieck: Wow!
Tana Gildea: Yeah.
Corey Rieck: That's awesome. And it's been around since, what, 1988? '89?
Tana Gildea: '89, yeah. '89. We're celebrating our 30-year anniversary this year.
Corey Rieck: So, what's unique about Homrich Berg?
Tana Gildea: Homrich was one of the first firms that really said, "You know what, we cannot separate financial planning from investment management." The planning aspect is an integral part of figuring out an investment strategy. And now, we kind of look back on that and go, "Well, duh." But back in the day, that with stockbrokers, and Wall Street, and hot tips. And investment management was very, very different back in 1989 when Andy Berg and David Homrich came together and said, "You know what, we think there's a better way to do this." And I-
Corey Rieck: Well, clearly, they've done that.
Tana Gildea: Clearly, they've done it. They hit on something that was very important to people and just made sense. Of course, you need to know what's the money for in order to structure the right type of investment strategy, get the risk right. Nobody on TV talks about risk in investment portfolio.
Corey Rieck: What do you mean? They don't tell you the full story on TV?
Tana Gildea: No.
Corey Rieck: Really?
Tana Gildea: Shocker.
Corey Rieck: Wow!
Tana Gildea: All they care about is the return, the return, and the return.
Corey Rieck: Stone, did you know that? You don't get the full scoop on TV.
Stone Payton: Really?
Tana Gildea: Yeah. Crazy. Crazy. But there is this little thing called risk behind the scenes. And we got to get that part right when you're creating an investment strategy. And so, that's why the planning part is so important to make sure we're aligning all those pieces, make sure we're protecting. If you don't have the right insurance, it doesn't matter what your investment portfolio is doing because they can be wiped out overnight. If you don't get that right, if you don't have your state plan in place, then the wrong speeding car can really decimate your plan. So, it's all of those pieces that have to come together holistically to create the plan.
And I think when we get everything aligned, then people have a peace of mind that, "Hey, I got all my ducks in a row. Everything's working in the same direction." And we've got these different strategies. The college money that my junior in high school needs is invested very differently than my retirement savings that I'm going to need in 30 years. But we've got it earmarked. We've got things tagged for where they go and what goals. And it makes decision making easy. "Hey, I want a Ferrari." "Okay. Are we sacrificing retirement, the lake house, or your kids' college education to get that Ferrari?" Pretty easy.
Corey Rieck: Great stuff. So, it sounds like your firm really does a deep dive in getting to know the clients and getting to know them psychologically. Isn't that a big part of what you do, getting to know the clients, what their perspective is on money, what they may or may not have, aside from knowing what the money's for. Isn't that important to know kind of how somebody views money?
Tana Gildea: Absolutely. And one of the first things I take my clients through is their money story. Every interaction you had in your life with money, every message that you got from somebody that was important to you is creating this money story. It's creating an idea that money's easy to get or money's hard to get, money is easy to keep, money is hard to keep. You can't save, you can't invest, will never be rich. All of these impressions create the underlying beliefs that you have about how the world works, how you work. We're not the kind of people that start their own business, or we are the kind of people that start their own business. All these messages.
Tana Gildea: And then you bring two people together who get married, who have very different backgrounds, different money histories, different money stories, different underlying beliefs. And now, we're trying to create a shared vision with a third person in the room.
Corey Rieck: How do you do that?
Tana Gildea: Well, it's just unpacking, what are you afraid of, what are your earliest memories of money, what are your regrets about money, what's the best thing you ever did with your money? It's trying to understand those things. Where do you, as a couple, collide over money? Is there the spender/saver dynamic?
Corey Rieck: Couples collide over money?
Tana Gildea: I've heard tale that every once in a while-
Corey Rieck: I'm asking for a friend.
Tana Gildea: Every once in a while, there are differences of opinion around money and how it can be used. So, it's just trying to get to that in a safe way that says, "You know what? There's no right or wrong. There's just everybody's got a different story." And if I can understand your story, then I can help get over some fears maybe. There's a lot of women that have this bag lady fear like, "I'm going to be a bag lady." "Okay, well, let's do some things today to reduce the risk that you're going to be a bag lady or a bag man." And so, it's understanding those things, trying to take action because we know the biggest killer of fear is action. You take smart action, that gets rid of fear because you're doing the things. It doesn't mean you could never lose everything. But if we do a lot of good things now, the likelihood of that happening gets reduced.
Corey Rieck: It seems to me that at Homrich Berg, you guys do a lot of training, and you do a deep dive, and you really get to know folks before you do anything.
Tana Gildea: Absolutely.
Corey Rieck: And that, to me, seems so important because as the advisor, it seems to me that you have to know, "Okay, well, here's how this client is gonna think about this when we bring this up. Here's how this client's gonna view volatility. Here's how this client is gonna view the political climate and what's going on now." And I think that that really, really helps you be in a position to really help the client.
Tana Gildea: Well, and it is-
Corey Rieck: Because a lot of times, they don't know what they need, right, when they come to you?
Tana Gildea: Absolutely. And you hear all the time, "Well, my body's getting 20% from his advisor. My portfolio should be doing that. I should have this," all of these things that we get these messages all the time. And it's like, "Wait, let's just focus on where you are, what you have, what you want, what's going to make you feel safe, and secure, and moving on your path to financial security." And let's not take any more risk in the market than we need to take in order to help you achieve the things you want to achieve. And be realistic. I've had people say, "Well, I know I want to get 20 percent of my money." Well, you're going to have-
Corey Rieck: Or nobody else wants that.
Tana Gildea: But you take a risk tolerance that says that you can't stand to lose 10 percent. Well, if you want high reward, you have to take high risk. And I'm not saying we need to take high risk or we want to take high risk, but we've got to match up. What are you willing to lose on the downside in pursuit of the upside? So, we've got to marry that emotional risk tolerance with what does the math say. You need to be saving, and you need to be earning on your portfolio to help you get to your goals. And it's trying to bring those things together in a rational conversation, so that you understand, if you're not willing to take high risk and the math says you don't have to take high risk, then the return is going to be a little lower, we're gonna be very diversified, we're going to kind of be slow and steady to win the race instead of trying to bolt out of the gate and get these big returns. People that call and say, "Hey, what kind of return can you get me if I let you invest a million dollars?" I'm like, "None, because I'm not built to do that. I'm not built to try to-"
Corey Rieck: Probably not the right client for you anyway.
Tana Gildea: No, it's not the right client. I work well with people who want to develop a plan, who want to create a strategy from getting from here to there, and want to be prudent about the way that we do that. And every action is based on aligning with what you're trying to achieve. And things change, absolutely, hundred percent. What you wanted last year or five years ago is different than what you want this year, which will be different in five years. I think that's the other value of having an advisor that you work closely with, is that I love when my clients pick up the phone and say, "Hey, what do you think about X?" And we can talk about it, and I can ask them questions. Where's this coming from? What's changed from last time we talked? What's going on? And we can process through these things.
Tana Gildea: And if it's like, "Yeah, you're ready to start a business? Awesome. Let's get things aligned to support you in that dream. If that's the new direction we're going, then let's get the ducks lined up to move in that direction." And I love that. I mean, it happens all the time. People's plans change. Opportunities present themselves. And that's the other value is if I don't know the answer, I have 20 plus other partners who have decades of experience working with various kinds of situations.
Corey Rieck: Well, the right client isn't going to care that you don't know all the answers. They're gonna want you to find it. And then, you just say, like what the rest of us do, "Hey, I think I have a firm handle on the idea. I want to clarify a couple of things, and I'll get back to you by this time, and advise, and get clear on that." So, from knowing you, there's a high energy, you clearly love what you do, you clearly got a lot of success behind you. How important are relationships to you?
Tana Gildea: Relationships are the most critical thing in the world. Relationships, personal relationships with family, but the relationships of the people at the firm are especially important. I mean, that's part of why we merged is we felt like everyone we met was like-minded, they were high energy, they were enthusiastic and passionate about what they were doing, and we can build off that energy together, we can solve problems together. They're rational people that want to get better every single day. And so, having that support, having those people in my world is critical. And I know that any single person at that firm, if I called and said, "Hey, I'm in a bind, I have a problem. I need some help," everyone would drop everything to try to fix it, to try to jump in, to try to help, whatever that was.
Corey Rieck: I think that that's unique.
Tana Gildea: It's a great thing to have. It's a great thing to have. We have a really great team. And again, that's part of that cultural fit that we just felt that from the get go. And every step of the way when we were going through the merger, it was like, "Oh, we don't know how to do this. We don't know how to do this." People were just responsive. They're so excited to help, and to make things easier, and make things better. But it's really a great environment. It's fun to be around. And I would be lost without having the relationships I have with other people in the firm.
Corey Rieck: So, are you out ... what sorts of clients are ideal clients for you?
Tana Gildea: I work with a lot of single women, either widowed or divorced. And so, that's a great fit because I understand-
Corey Rieck: Why do you think that?
Tana Gildea: I think because when I was single, I lived on my own for about four years before I met my husband, and I never thought I would get married. I just envision myself being single. My mom had instilled in me, you need to be able to take care of yourself, you need to have your own career, you need to do things for yourself. And so, I just sort of pictured that. And so, I had this mental vision of myself on that path. So, I think it's easy for me to relate to somebody who is. The other thing is my dad was killed in an accident right before I turned 13.
Corey Rieck: I'm sorry to hear that.
Tana Gildea: Thank you. And so, I saw my mom be a single parent for about seven years before she married my stepdad. And so, being in that environment where she was very adamant about us being able to stand on our own two feet. And it was myself, and my two younger sisters, and my mom for a very long time. And so, I think I just relate to that picture of what that's like for somebody.
Corey Rieck: What is the ideal client for you?
Tana Gildea: I work now with a lot of small business owners. And having been a part of a small business, I understand the challenges in that. I understand how we've got to get the taxes right. We've got to get the retirement plans right. We got to serve the employees. And so, I love working with folks who have small businesses because I think I can take a lot of the way to the personal financial side off and free up the business side to focus on some of the business things, as well as provide some resources on running the business as well. So, that's a good fit.
Tana Gildea: I'm now working with several doctors. So, I understand you know a little bit about them in that environment and the benefits that get offered at that level, that student loan debt that a lot of those folks are carrying as they're starting their practices, that kind of thing. So, those are great people for me.
Corey Rieck: What do you think? When I think about your company, Homrich Berg, and I think about you and knowing you, it seems that there's a high energy, there's culture, but it seems to me that you're very effective at creating at what we refer to in our company as an air of consultative engagement, where you have to make people comfortable, so they'll talk to you.
Tana Gildea: Right.
Corey Rieck: And it seems like you're very effective at doing that.
Tana Gildea: Well, thank you.
Corey Rieck: And that would be very advantageous in your business to get to know about people's experiences with money and why they feel one way or the other. And there really is a lot of psychology about this, isn't there?
Tana Gildea: Well, there is. And I think some of it is because I didn't start out as a financial planner, and I did make a lot of mistakes with my own money-
Corey Rieck: Yeah, no one else has done that.
Tana Gildea: ... hopefully, I convey this sense that there's no judgment. I've overspent. I've carried a big credit card. I've had too much debt. I've had too little savings. So, I get it. I get how things happen. And I never want to convey that there's some sort of judgment or somebody is looking down their nose that somebody.
Corey Rieck: Well, that's the worst thing. I concur a hundred percent. I mean, we are who we are.
Tana Gildea: Yeah. And it's just circumstances bring you here. There's been a lot of things that I planned for certain things to happen and they didn't happen. And that's like, "Oh, now, look at the mess I'm in." And so, it is very much about let's just meet wherever you are. Let's look at the positive things we got going on, let's try to reduce some of the negative things, and let's just take some baby steps to move forward wherever you're at, and get out of this.
And so, I've had clients that came. I had a young client, a daughter of a client who's now kind of become a client of her own. And she sends me this email like, "I'm so embarrassed on my credit card debt." And I called her, and I'm like, "You never have to be worried about confessing something to me. I understand." Like, let's just, "Hey, this is where we are. Let's take some steps to fix it, and move on with our day, and learn some lessons from it."
And one of the things I've been reading, and it seems to be this theme on a lot of things, I listen to a lot of podcasts, I read a lot of different books is this idea of turning things from shame into curiosity. Let's get curious. Why did that happen? What was going on when this occurred? And let's just be curious about it instead of being judgmental. Like there's no sense beating yourself over the head about it. Let's just get curious about what happened, so that we can take steps to not have that happen in the future.
And so, I try to bring that to conversations and let people know openly I make mistakes all the time. I mean, I'm a very emotional spender. Dropping kids off at college, man, I went in that college bookstore and out I come with a couple hundred bucks worth of T-shirts, and mugs, and pencils. And that's an emotional response. I'm leaving you my kid, I got to take something back home.
Corey Rieck: Interesting.
Tana Gildea: It's not a rational one, but I am emotional around money, and I could go on and on about my own money story. I've done extensive personal work around my own money story, and history, and why I'm emotional with money. But I do tend to get caught up in the moment.
Corey Rieck: Does that give you greater credibility with your client you think to be able to speak so openly about things that maybe you could have done differently?
Tana Gildea: I hope so. I mean, I'm just who I am. And I'm overcoming being ashamed of mistakes that I've made in the past. And just like, "Hey, this is what happened. That was who I was at that time. I'm just trying to be better every day and help other people learn from that." I mean, that would be the greatest benefit to me personally if I can share one mistake I made with somebody and save them, then it would all been worth it.
Corey Rieck: Yeah. Yeah, it's I think it's very useful to be able to take anyone's history and be able to say, "Hey, here's what I did. Here's what maybe I could have done differently in hindsight." And I think that seems like it would be very useful for clients of yours for them to hear about your experience and for you to say, "Hey, here's some adjustments I could have made. Here are some things that I could do differently. Here are some things I struggle with now." That, to me, sounds real.
Tana Gildea: Well, I'm just a real person that makes mistakes, and tries to get better, and not do it again in the future.
Corey Rieck: So, you have a husband and four kids?
Tana Gildea: Yes.
Corey Rieck: How old are your kids?
Tana Gildea: My daughter is 26. And then, I have sons who are 24, 22, and 21.
Corey Rieck: Older.
Tana Gildea: Yes.
Corey Rieck: So, what do they do?
Tana Gildea: My daughter is a paralegal for a law firm in New York City. She lives in Brooklyn. My oldest son graduated from the Art Institute. He is a sound engineer, and he's currently trying to launch his career with recording studios. So, he works for three different recording studios here in Atlanta, working with artists to make music, and he writes his own music, and does all that. So, that's a very interesting path. That's not in my wheelhouse in terms of advising. The middle son actually just graduate from UGA, and he works for Homrich Berg. He is-
Corey Rieck: Cool.
Tana Gildea: He came in as an intern right as we were merging. They met him at a job fair, and he liked them. And so, he works in our main Buckhead office. I'm primarily out at our Cobb office. So, I didn't have anything to do with him getting hired there.
Corey Rieck: What does he do?
Tana Gildea: He's in a financial planning group. So, he's an associate when he came in. He's working on his CFP, doing the coursework, and looking to take that exam pretty soon. So, he is on his path. And then, the youngest son is in Statesboro at Georgia Southern. He is an electrical engineer. He's a junior. So, very, very different kids. As soon as I figured out what worked with one of them, I could scratch it off the list because I wasn't going to work with them.
Corey Rieck: Well, how did you have all the success that you had professionally and yet have any kind of balance? Because it seems like you had more than a few things going on at home with four kids.
Tana Gildea: Well, I have a fantastic husband.
Corey Rieck: And what does he do?
Tana Gildea: He is a fundraiser. He works with Our Fund. And they do e-mail fundraising for sports teams because if you don't know this, the high schools give you a field, and a coach, and the booster club pays for everything else for their sports teams. So, the money has to come from somewhere. And so, this is one option for fundraising. He was a president of the Lassiter Touchdown Club and got very involved with the guy that was running the Our Fund fundraisers and started doing beta testing for them, and being a reference, and yada, yada, yada. And pretty soon, he's a rep.
Corey Rieck: So, he's a resource to help athletic teams get money for their program.
Tana Gildea: Yep, yep. Instead of selling cookie dough or wrapping paper, you just email grandma and say, "We're trying to raise money for our football team," and grandmas pretty much gonna write a check if she can.
Corey Rieck: So, do they do other fundraising efforts for things other than athletic teams?
Tana Gildea: He's mostly athletic teams. Every once in a while, you'll get some charity-based teams, but for the most part it's like marching bands, and sports teams, cheerleading, that kind of thing. Yeah.
Corey Rieck: How long has he been at that?
Tana Gildea: Gosh, he was a consultant with his own company for a number of years, and he kind of crossed over, I would say, six or seven years ago to where he was doing Our Fund full time. So, we recently moved, and we've got this little shed in our backyard that we converted into his office.
Corey Rieck: It's not a she shed?
Tana Gildea: It's not a she shed. It is Our Fund world headquarters. So, he gets to walk out the back door and work from the shed where he looks out and sees the family of deer that live behind her house and all that kind of stuff. But was a great, great husband, still is a great husband, and a great father.
Corey Rieck: Thank you for clarifying that. For all of those husbands out there, it's a-.
Tana Gildea: Yes, yes, still is.
Corey Rieck: You got to throw that current status moniker in there.
Tana Gildea: But he was an all-in dad. I mean, it was never why he wasn't equally helping with the kids and with whatever needed to be done and-
Corey Rieck: That's good.
Tana Gildea: ... cooking dinner, and cleaning up, and throwing in laundry. And we kind of attacked it from both sides and sort of corral the kids. But I pretty much had a saying when the kids were little, and that was, "Get up, start moving," because you just had it, just had a go. You just gotta go do stuff.
Corey Rieck: Yeah. No other mom says that, I don't think.
Tana Gildea: So, I've always had a lot of energy. I always have a lot of things that I want to get done and to do. And I'm pretty organized. And so, I just jump in.
Corey Rieck: Well, I think if you have the experience as a CPA, the experience as an operations, it lends itself to being deliberate, and systematic, and methodical. And it lends itself to organization, which in our line of business is really, really helpful.
Tana Gildea: Oh, absolutely. I had checklists. I had the homework supply closet at the house. I had my laundry system. I had bins in the car, so that if we were eating on the run, we had-.
Corey Rieck: What's in the bins?
Tana Gildea: Well, you had your homework bin. So, you have-
Corey Rieck: No. I mean, I don't care about that. I care about what's in it? What's in the eating bin?
Tana Gildea: The eating bin-.
Corey Rieck: The food bin.
Tana Gildea: The food. Well, you had to have granola bars, and napkins, and wipes, salt and pepper, paper plates.
Corey Rieck: This is in your car?
Tana Gildea: It was when the kids were young, and they-
Corey Rieck: Okay. You don't have anything for you in there now?
Tana Gildea: No.
Corey Rieck: It's a long drive back to Cobb County.
Tana Gildea: No, no, no. I'm good. I can make it all the way without eating the snack. But the kids, my kids played football, baseball, basketball. My daughter was a competitive cheerleader. So, my youngest son never took a nap in a crib. He was always in a car seat, a playpen. We were always at a ball field somewhere. We had change of clothes, and coats, and blankets. And my car was like the rolling house when the kids were little. And my husband would be like, "Oh, my gosh. There's so much stuff in here." And I'm like, "Listen, I need every single one of these things because I get home for like 15 minutes in the afternoons once the kids are a go." And it was fun, and it was interesting, and it was exhausting. And we just kind of made it happen.
Corey Rieck: Yeah, it sounds like that. It sounds like you have a great relationship at home. And I'll bet that makes you even more effective out there doing what you do on a daily basis.
Tana Gildea: Oh, yeah, yeah. If my husband was not the bedrock of the family, just so dependable, so able to count on him, and just always willing to support me in whatever crazy idea I have. He's had to construct homecoming float. He has run fall festivals. He just never knew what requests are coming down the pike. And he just always put a smile on his face and jumped in.
Corey Rieck: Well, that's great. Do the two of you have ... it sounds like your kids were athletes. Do the two of you have an athletic background, you and your husband?
Tana Gildea: I really didn't growing up. We were more winter sports. We have a cabin in Montana. And so, we snowmobiled, and cross-country skid, and downhill skid. And I did those kind of things.
Corey Rieck: What a great place for that.
Tana Gildea: Yeah, yeah. So, that was very much what you would expect kind of in the Montana scenario. My husband played baseball and basketball. He actually played basketball at a small college. He went to Bentley College in Boston. So, he played during college. He's very tall, very athletic guy. So, we-.
Corey Rieck: So, what he's doing now sort of comes naturally-
Tana Gildea: Yeah.
Corey Rieck: ... because of his experience, it seems.
Tana Gildea: Yeah, absolutely. And his time with the touchdown club, running that organization, he was the president for a number of years. So, he gets it. He gets that those teams, there's a lot of pressure to come up with some funds. And so, it works naturally for him to help out with that.
Corey Rieck: It's very expensive to play sports now. I know, I realize that I graduated from high school - dating myself here, Stone - in 1983. And I can remember parents being mad that we needed to each write a check for $75 or $100 to play and just for equipment. And I didn't think much of it because I just figured, "Okay. Well, that is going to pay for the uniforms to be washed, and so on, and the wear and tear." But I know that the numbers must be much larger now than that.
Tana Gildea: Yes, huge. Really huge.
Stone Payton: So, I'm a cheer mom as well. I guarantee you that number is higher. That one, I know.
Tana Gildea: Oh, yeah. That is a real high number. Real high number.
Corey Rieck: Well, what gives you the greatest satisfaction in what you do?
Tana Gildea: I had a client the other day, he said, "The best call I ever made was the day I called you." And-
Corey Rieck: What a compliment.
Tana Gildea: It is. It was a huge compliment. She was going through a lot of things. And we had a number of calls, where she was worried or concerned. And I was able to kind of say, "Hey, let's just take a breath, see what we got, see where we are, see what we need to do, put a plan in place." I'm all about you can get out of anything if you just kind of put a methodical plan in place and start taking some steps in the right direction. And so, the fact the trust that she has in me, and then all my clients have in me, and when I can deliver, and ease that fear and eliminate the worry, that's what gives me the greatest satisfaction. It's not delivering or showing some investment report with some return number on it. That's one small piece of the puzzle. It's helping them get over that fear.
Corey Rieck: It seems to me that your history with the details, the back office, compliance, your history as a CPA, your experience as a CFP, and knowing sort of the operational things, that's a component of why you're so successful. But obviously, you make people comfortable. And I remember the first time I met you, I felt immediately comfortable. And that's a gift. And I think if you were going to get people to talk about something that gives a lot of us fear, you have to have that ability to make people feel comfortable, so they'll talk to you. And we call it at our company creating an air of consultative engagement. It's the same thing.
Tana Gildea: Yeah. I think it's just I'm a really curious person. I'm curious about what you're worried about, why you're worried about that, how did that come to be, what's the backstory of that. Maybe I'm just nosy.
Corey Rieck: I wouldn't say. I think you have to ask a lot of questions. It's kind of like in our business, everybody thinks they're healthy. And then, you start asking questions. And, "Well, I had a stroke a year ago. Is that a big deal," or "I've had a heart attack last week. That's not a big deal, is it?" I mean, you've got to trust but verify, especially our businesses, so you can get in the best position to help people.
Tana Gildea: Yeah. But I think when ... I rarely have ever met somebody that I didn't like. There's the occasional person that you just don't click with, but there's always some way to connect with people. There's some element of commonality, and a background, and a sports team, and something. And I think my dad was extraordinary at connecting with a wide variety people, My mom used to call him a chameleon. He was an architect. And she said, "He could go talk to a board of directors and fit right in. And you would never know that he wasn't at that level."
Corey Rieck: That's a gift too.
Tana Gildea: And he could walk out to the job site and fit in with the guy that was digging the ditch, and you'd never know that he wasn't at his level. And so, I think I watched my dad. Even though I didn't have him for a long period of time, he was a really involved dad. And we spent a lot of time as a family, and we spent a lot of time with a lot of other people. And I got to see him interact. And the way he could relate to you, again, whether you're the chairman of the board or the guy digging the ditch, he found a way to relate to where you were. And I think I got that from him.
Corey Rieck: Yeah, it's great stuff. How has the financial planning business evolved in the time that you've been involved in it?
Tana Gildea: Well, it's seen so many changes. When I got involved, again, that first phone call, I didn't even know what a financial planning firm was. It's like, "Oh, it sounds pretty good. It sounds like something we ought have around." But nobody except the ultra wealthy really had those kind of advisors helping them do the right things. You either just stumbled into it, got lucky, knew somebody, knew somebody who knew something. And so, that shift to this is a commonplace thing, and most people need to have these types of advisors that can look holistically at what you've got going on, and give you some objective advice about a direction that you should go that's going to work for your situation-
Corey Rieck: Yeah, game plan.
Tana Gildea: Yeah, you got to have a game plan. And it's just our lives have gotten so much more complex. I mean, you look at just the employee benefit arena. You look at - again, we talked about this earlier - long-term care. You can't be an agent who does 20 kinds of insurance. It's just too complex.
Corey Rieck: Yeah, I couldn't. So, it doesn't make me right, the next person not right. It just means that I have an area of focus I'm comfortable in and as you do. And I just think that that's having sharp shooters and having a SMEs, which is an acronym for subject matter experts, is really useful.
Tana Gildea: Yeah, it is, it is.
Corey Rieck: And knowing, and trusting them, and the whole like no trust thing.
Tana Gildea: Right.
Corey Rieck: So, you wrote a book. I want to talk about that. The Graduates' Guide to Money. Who did you write that for? And what was the reason you wrote the book? And tell us about that.
Tana Gildea: Yeah, I published that in August of 2014. I have-
Corey Rieck: That could have been useful in 1983 for me.
Tana Gildea: Yes.
Corey Rieck: Thank you.
Tana Gildea: Well, again, I wish I'd had it in 1986 when I graduated from college. But I realized in seeing my kids getting into that teenage, going-off-to-college years, that they get zero financial literacy in school. Zero.
Corey Rieck: Why is that?
Tana Gildea: I don't know. We need to lobby somebody somewhere to say that this is gotta be a curriculum. I heard a vote to drop geometry and pick up financial literacy.
Corey Rieck: It's got my vote.
Tana Gildea: So, people who love geometry don't write to me. That was a joke. But we do need to get some financial literacy. And the issue is, if you Google budgeting or investing, you will get 10 million hits. And that is not helpful because, where do you start? How do you know who to trust? We all know now the Internet is a great thing, but it's full of a lot of garbage as well. So, I've always liked writing. I, at one point, wanted to be a writer, and I sat down with the pen and paper, and I wrote-
Corey Rieck: Well, you are. Now, you are.
Tana Gildea: Well, I didn't have anything to say when I was 22. There were no words.
Corey Rieck: None of us did.
Tana Gildea: So, I find it was like, "You know what, this is in my head. It's something I'm passionate about. I really want to write a book for somebody who doesn't know anything." And so, it was geared for those people, kind of kids coming out of college that are just getting started. What are these tax things that are being taken on my paycheck? And what about insurance? Then, what's deductibles? And who needs a will? And all those kind of things. And then, the big thing is I will throw myself under the bus as a naive 20-something-year old that invested my 401(k) in guaranteed interest in 1987.
Corey Rieck: At least, you were doing it.
Tana Gildea: So, yes, I put some money in there, but I did not invest it because I was afraid, and I didn't know anything about investing. And so, I wanted to give people the investing chapter was the hardest one for me to write because I wanted to make it accessible enough for people that you can get started. You don't have to know everything to get started investing. And, of course, it is a very different investment world today than it was in 1986, or seven, or eight when we didn't really have access to all that information. But now, we have this overload of information.
Tana Gildea: And so, I was trying to kind of whittle it down to say, how do you think about investing? How do you get started? What are some things that you can do to make sure that you invest? Because the reality is we have to invest to stay ahead of inflation. That's just the reality of the world. You don't need 20 percent a year, but you got to stay in front of inflation, or you're just losing purchasing power. And so, I wanted to try to explain that. I wanted something that I could hand to my kids and say, "I can't pour what I know or what I've experienced into your head, but I can write it on this piece of paper. And if you choose not to read it, then that's on you." I've tried. And my son, who's now at Homrich Berg did confess to me the other day that he said, "Mom, I hadn't read the book until recently, but I started thumbing through it, and it's really not that bad." That is high praise from your kid.
Stone Payton: Yeah, it's funny. Having been there myself, it's funny how much smarter your parents get as you get older.
Tana Gildea: Yes, yes. But this book, also, I run across a lot of women, and it's not necessarily always women, but women who have delegated the money stuff to a spouse. And now, all of a sudden, it's in your lap for whatever reason. And it's hard to get started learning something. So, maybe you're not graduating from college. Maybe you're graduating from dependence to independence, from not knowing to knowing, and this book might work for you if you're in that spot, and you just want to secretly get a little more knowledge.
Corey Rieck: And what's the name of the book again?
Tana Gildea: The Graduates Guide to Money.
Corey Rieck: And you won some awards on that, haven't you?
Tana Gildea: I did. I actually won quite a few awards. So, somebody besides my mother liked the book.
Corey Rieck: Well, obviously, a few more people than your mom like the book. But tell us about some of the awards you won.
Tana Gildea: Well, I was a USA best Book finalist and-
Corey Rieck: Cool.
Tana Gildea: And I was a 2014 Shelf Unbound Notable Indie Award Winner. And the rest of them are on my website, so you can get a sneak peek if you go to graduatesguidetomoney.com.
Corey Rieck: Well, Tana, you've been invited on the Tuesdays with Corey's Show because you've been asked by another guest to attend, by somebody that's been on the show. You've had great success. And of all the things that differentiate you, what do you think is the top one?
Tana Gildea: I think, for me, it's just all about the client and what can I do to make things easier. I have gifts that I'm trying to bring to the world. My clients have gifts that they're trying to bring to the world. And if I can lift some burdens off them to make their financial lives easier, then they can go be better at what they're supposed to be doing. And I think because I'm so passionate about doing that and helping clients for the long haul, really understanding them, helping to ease those worries, ease the burden of managing, growing, and protecting their wealth to free them to go be spectacular.
Corey Rieck: It seems to me that you have a lot of great traits. You're caring, you have high energy, you're doing what you're supposed to be doing, you have great experience, great expertise. But it also seems like you have very much a servant's mentality toward the relationships that you have. Like you're interested to know how you can help them. That's kind of what you've given off to me in the time that I've known you.
Tana Gildea: Well, I appreciate that. I mean, I think that we're all here to do the best we can and help one another. And I've gotten a lot of help and support in my life from a lot of different directions. And it does make me feel very good, and useful, and purposeful if I can provide that help and support to some somebody else.
Corey Rieck: Yeah. You've had tremendous experience. Do you still get back to Montana to ski and snowmobile?
Tana Gildea: I don't go back there a lot in the winter anymore.
Corey Rieck: Wonder why that is?
Tana Gildea: It's really cold there.
Corey Rieck: Probably for the same reason I don't go back to Minneapolis.
Tana Gildea: But we do try to get back. Usually, once the summer, we get back. And my mom went through cancer a few years ago, was able to go and work from Montana for three or four weeks for her.
Corey Rieck: I bet, she really appreciated that.
Tana Gildea: Appreciate and, hey, you're a pest. You're making me do all these things I don't want to do. Now, but we had a really ... it was a great time. I'm very fortunate that my firm was really supportive of that. And the technology, obviously, supports, kind of being able to work anywhere. So, some things like that, I've had the opportunity to do. I love being back in Montana. I love being up at our cabin. It's a beautiful place.
Corey Rieck: Well, Tana, you've had a wealth of success and experience. And what advice would you give your younger self if you could do it?
Tana Gildea: Be bold. Be bold. Don't hold back. And for heaven's sake, quit worrying about what other people think. And I would write those on a poster for the Tana of tomorrow, and next week, and next month because we all need to own who we are and embrace that, be the best you that you can be, and go out, and do what you're meant to do. And we cannot do that if we're worried about the critics. And I just have been reading Dare to Lead by Brené Brown. And one of the quotes that she starts the book with is the Teddy Roosevelt quote about the man in the arena, And the credit goes to the man in the arena who's sweaty, and blood on his face, and all of those things that if you fail, at least, you dared greatly, and that's what we got to do.
Corey Rieck: So, your place will never be with those timid souls that know neither victory or defeat. Actually, that's my favorite quote.
Tana Gildea: That is a great line out of that. And I should have that whole quote memorized because it's so powerful. It's so amazing. And getting good quality feedback is important. And if you're a person that gives someone else that good feedback, that's awesome. That's different from sitting above and ridiculing what the person in the ring is doing.
Corey Rieck: There's no room for that.
Tana Gildea: There is no room for that.
Corey Rieck: And if you could do it better, you should be in the ring doing it.
Tana Gildea: Exactly, exactly. But we’ve all got to go out there, and dare greatly, and not worry about getting bruised up. And the other thing I would tell my younger self is to fail more. If we can change how we view failure from this - and again, this is borrowing from Brené Brown - this shame-filled event that we're not good enough and get curious about it that says, "Hey, let me break that apart, and see what happened, see what went wrong and what could I have done differently. Let me learn something about this." But encouraging failure, almost rewarding, because that means you're trying. I mean, people that say if you don't fall, if you didn't fall today, you weren't pushing yourself. And that's how we need to view more of failures in business, or school, or going down the wrong path, or whatever. It's just part of learning.
Corey Rieck: If there was a young lady that wanted to follow in your footsteps, what would you tell her?
Tana Gildea: Go for it. We need you. We need you badly. Young men too. The financial planning profession started in the mid -70s. And the people that started that are getting older. And there are not-
Corey Rieck: Thank you. Thank you for that.
Tana Gildea: Hey, I'm right there too. I'm right there too. I'm mid-50's. I'm not going to be here forever.
Corey Rieck: I am.
Tana Gildea: Good. Excellent. Keep on going. But the profession needs you. The world is recognizing that this is important stuff. And if you have a passion for helping others, and a gift for the numbers, and "Hey, this stuff really makes sense for me. It's not hard for me. I get it," then jump in. There's a lot of online schools. There's in-person schools. I actually teach. Kennesaw State has a CFP program. I'm one of the instructors there for a couple of their classes. So, go get the education, try it out, take the CFP, jump in. We need you.
Corey Rieck: Well, Tana, you've had a lot of great business experience and success. And if the listenership wanted to get a hold of you, how would they do that?
Tana Gildea: Well, you can find me on the Homrich Berg website, which is homrichberg.com. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can reach me through my website, graduatesguidetomoney.com
Corey Rieck: Well, Tana, you've been a great guest. Thank you for being such a great guest. And continued success. Thank you for being on Tuesdays with Corey.
Tana Gildea: Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.