Let’s start changing your relationship with money from complicated to confident.

The ultimate act of financial empowerment is to be excited about, not afraid of, taking charge of your money, growing it and using it to better your life in meaningful ways.

Let’s start changing your relationship with money from complicated to confident.

The ultimate act of financial empowerment is to be excited about, not afraid of, taking charge of your money, growing it and using it to better your life in meaningful ways.

Frequently Asked Questions

Valerie is uniquely equipped to serve First gen wealth builders, both personally and professionally. She has been in financial services for 15 years and working directly with individuals and families for the last 10 years. Her career has been primarily at the largest wealth management firms, including AllianceBernstein, TIAA and Merrill Lynch. She served individuals and families between $5-10 million of net worth developing strategies to maintain and grow their legacy for future generations. She’s also experienced guiding clients who are setting the foundational steps of their financial life, providing customized education along the way.

Valerie did not grow up with wealth or access. She understands first hand the mindset shift needed to build wealth with confidence. Valerie is a member of the XY Planning Network, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) and the Fee-Only Network.

Want to see her full resume? Please check out LinkedIn.

Hiring an advisor is a BIG decision and the convolution of the financial services industry does not make things easy.

Here are other important areas to consider:

  • Valerie holds the Certified Financial Planner designation, is a fiduciary 100% of the time and genuinely cares about the people she serves.
  • You choose your advisor (Valerie). Many larger virtual shops don’t allow you to choose who you partner with. You’re going to share a lot of personal information. It’s important to work with someone you like, who understands you and who has the experience to guide you, both personally and professionally.
  • There’s no pawning off to a junior advisor after you sign up.
  • FirstGen Wealth is designed to serve 50 clients at full capacity. This is intentional to provide the best service and be there for you when you need us.
  • FirstGen Wealth provides, full life planning with guided implementation along the way. We cover A LOT of topics, at your speed.
  • While we offer investment management, we don’t require you move your accounts to FirstGen Wealth.
  • We conduct insurance analysis but do not sell insurance. Why? We never want you to question our recommendations and if they are in your best interest.
  • Given the small size of the practice, we are nimble and use the latest technology. Have a suggestion to make the experience better? Let’s hear it!
  • Our service is financial planning. Many large firms use “planning-lite” as an add-on to get to the goal of selling you a product or moving your investments to their firm.

Yes, I do.

Part of the confusion with financial services is there are a lot of designations and the barrier to entry to call yourself an advisor is unfortunately quite low.

The CFP is the gold standard in the profession and shows a commitment to the technical side of financial planning.

Yes. Fiduciary means I am obligated to do what is best for a client and I am personally liable if I do not. It’s important to get this in writing from the planners being interviewed. For example, there are dually registered brokerage firms. When they speak with you about your retirement accounts, they are obliged to provide fiduciary advice. When they speak to you about your non-retirement accounts, they follow the suitability standard, which is lower care. Sound confusing? It is.

We recommend getting in writing from the advisor “I am a fiduciary 100% of the time, regardless of which accounts I am providing advice on.”

If they cannot put that plainly in an email, move on.

FirstGen Wealth is designed to serve 50 clients at full capacity.

This allows us to have deep, long-term relationships where you are the focus and get the time you need, when you need it.

I’ve been at firms serving over 200 clients and it’s been a terrible experience, both for the employees and clients. There is higher turnover on the advisor side due to burnout and clients don’t get the time, attention, or quality of advice. It is a short-changed experience for you, the client, and I do not recommend it.

Yes, we work out of the home office in Chicago and meet with clients virtually all across the country. Ever in Chicago?

I will give you ALL the recommendations and would love to meet up!

You can cancel at any time.  That being said, we are seeking to bring on clients who want a long-term relationship. We also know life changes and needs change. We will always do our best to provide you with amazing service. If there is anytime we are not meeting the mark for you, we hope to foster an open relationship where you feel comfortable telling us.

We charge an annual flat fee for financial planning and investment management. If you want FirstGen Wealth to manage your investments, we use a third-party custodian, Altruist. Whether you are building your first Roth IRA or have $5 million in retirement, you pay one flat fee.

For specific fees, please see the pricing section. We’re not affiliated with a larger brokerage firm, bank, or insurance company, so there are no product sales, no commissions, and no kickbacks for anything recommended.

Insurance companies and large brokerage firms sell you products. If you go to an insurance company, they will find you a “solution” in the form of an insurance product because that is how they are paid. Know this going into a relationship. In my experience, I have met an astounding number of people who were sold whole life insurance policies that were unnecessary and expensive.

I say this as someone who has been there and was once sold one myself!

This is likely the first time you’re hiring a planner. Finding a planner who fits your needs, has the experience, credentials, is someone you actually like AND is a reasonable fee is HARD TO FIND. We get it.

Our fees are most appropriate for individuals with at least $160,000 in compensation and couples with at least $250,000 in compensation.

We charge a reasonable fee for the quality and breadth of service. Do some other planners charge more for equal or less service? Absolutely.

FirstGen Wealth exists to help close the wealth divide and provide access to advice traditionally only reserved for the rich. While we are mission driven, this is a not a scalable service and we must also be compensated fairly for our time and expertise.

Nope. There are no asset minimums, meaning if you don’t have investment accounts, we’ll develop a plan to build your wealth. If you have existing accounts and prefer to implement the investment plan on your own, we do not require you to move your investments to us. If you choose to have FirstGen Wealth manage your investments, we use a third-party custodian, Altruist. Investment management is included in the annual flat planning fee.

A robo adviser can be a great tool but it covers investment management and nothing else. As you do your research, you’ll see the robo advisor firms are adding in the ability to call in and speak with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PROFESSIONAL. That is because, at the end of the day, we just want to talk to a real person to get specific help for our personal goals. Calling in to speak to a different person each time to explain your situation repeatedly sounds exhausting, and, IMO, is not real planning.

With a roboadvisor, you answer a couple of questions and it spits out a portfolio. It is not customized to your situation and it cannot build a portfolio around your existing holdings, such as your work retirement plan.

We are an inclusive practice and if you enjoy our vibe, we welcome you. Professionally, our experience level has been primarily working with individuals and families with an average net worth between $5-$10 million dollars. We have the technical expertise to serve your needs combined with speaking to you like a real person.

Jargon is not welcome here.

We believe everyone can benefit from financial planning. It is a coordination of the services below, often with one area, affecting the other. In general, anything that touches money or affects your finances, we’ll review with you. Here is a list of topics covered (some may not apply to your life):

  • Help you to define your goals, vision and ideal life
  • Help you prioritize competing financial priorities
  • Saving and spending strategies
  • Equity compensation (ISOs, NSOs, RSUs, ESPP)
  • Real estate planning
  • Tax planning and partnering with your CPA
  • Retirement planning
  • Education planning
  • Tax-efficient charitable giving plan
  • Planning to financially support a parent
  • Insurance review (life, health, auto, home, disability)
  • Student loan/debt management
  • Investment review and management
  • Estate planning
  • Employee benefits optimization
While we offer investment management, if you are looking to time the market and are overly focused on investment returns, we will not be a good fit working together.

Our relationships are a collaborative process. We can help guide you but cannot do 100% of the work for you. If you are not ready to be committed and show up, we are not a good fit.

We also have a “no asshole” policy. Life is too short to work with jerks.

Yes, FirstGen Wealth is a solo practice. As a financial planner, risk management is always top of mind. If I get hit by a bus, there is a legal Business Continuity Plan in place which is reviewed and updated annually as needed. Happy to review this with you.

You have access to your documents and investments at all times and do not need me to access them. If FirstGen Wealth is managing your investments, this is with a third party provider, Altruist. While we can manage your assets, we never have custody of your assets.

Keeping your data safe and secure is a top priority. We do not send sensitive information in emails and encourage clients not to as well. We use an online, web-based portal to transmit and receive sensitive information and documents.

Our services are based almost entirely on web-based software applications. We use multi-factor authentication and select app-based over SMS-based where available. Our hardware is protected with strong passwords.

You can read more about the security policies of our providers linked below: