According to Alice Tang, reaching your goals begins with a “can do” attitude, a message the financial advisor shares with every public speaking engagement.
And just as she realizes big achievements from her diminutive frame, her public speaking messages begin with the acknowledgement of the power of starting small.
Adapting to the circumstances
When she and her husband moved to the West Coast of the United States nearly 25 years ago, Tang’s ability to stay was directly linked to her husband’s employment.
“I didn’t have my green card,” she said. “I had to face the four walls of my home, feeling sorry for myself because I thought I was depending on my spouse even though he loves me.”
So, she started focusing on what she could accomplish.
She immersed herself in running the household and preparing for the future. She compared the rewards programs connected to credit cards. She investigated the interest rates on various loans. She researched how to save money, spend more wisely, and get the best benefits from each purchase.
“I realized this is what I could do,” Tang said. “I was planning for the future. Save it and let it grow.”
The power of connections
Then, there was a turning point. Through an offhand conversation, she learned the dollars invested into a 401K plan can save on taxes. The couple’s accountant has never shared the idea.
“I confronted the CPA, ‘Why didn’t you tell us?’” she said, saying the firm should have been proactive in helping her and her family prepare for their financial future. “They weren’t helping us. We were a new couple, we were immigrants, and the wife was not working yet. Maybe we were too small, but they should have known.”
She took her business to another accounting firm, after doing her typical research.
“Then, I thought, what else can I do?”
As it turns out, quite a bit.
Education and learning
She completed a degree in international management, leaning into her multilingual talents. However, she didn’t want to take a job if it would mean further time apart from her husband. He was already away from home several months each year for work.
“That didn’t make sense, for the marriage,” she said. “Marriage was my priority.”
Combining her previous successes, she interviewed with a financial advisory firm. She accepted a position without realizing the pay was commission only.
Her first year, she earned $2,000 in commissions. It jumped to $8,000 the next year and continued to climb.
“Success is a journey,” Tang said, who is now a partner with the same firm. “For me, it is a never-ending story, because I never thought about quitting.”
Quite the opposite, in fact.
Looking to the future
She kept a laser-like focus on building her skills and earning her clients’ trust, business, and respect. Tang applied a handful of lessons learned from her parents as her client list began to grow. Her mother was a saver, guiding the families spending and purchases with an eye toward the future and a nose for the best value. Her father made his own path in the printing industry.
Following their lead, Tang looks for more intangible goals when entering into a relationship with a client. She tends to initially dismiss goals such as a $5 million nest egg by the age of 60. Instead, she looks at how those dollars will be spent.
“What do you want to do with your money is the question behind my questions,” she said. “These are emotional decisions. Wealth management is more than just money. To me, the most important thing is to know why you need the money. You should know why.”
To get to the underlying emotions, Tang asks three questions when interviewing a potential client to determine the best way to engage with both the person and their goals.
- What is your first memory of money?
- Share a time when money created a significant amount of joy and why.
- Share a time when money caused a significant amount of pain and why.
“With each of these conversations, everyone will have some sort of lightbulb moment,” Tang said. “That gets to the reasons why they want to have a certain amount of wealth.”
With the foundation of why, Tang helps her client build an investment strategy designed to reach the financial goals while acknowledging the emotional reactions.
An unexpected opportunity
As her client list continued to balloon, so did her network of personal and professional connections. The first time she spoke in public came about almost before she realized what was happening. She said yes to a friend’s request to talk about her approach to wealth management before she even knew what she would talk about or how she would organize her message.
“There is a saying,” Tang said. “When the student is ready, the teacher shows up.”
Another friend with Dale Carnegie training coached her through the preparation work, offering presentation ideas and organizational suggestions along the way. She remembers the first talk being a little rocky, but she kept at it, excited by the prospect of helping people find their personal successes.
Her initial public speaking appearances were the first little nibbles of the entrepreneurial bug, born from a desire to help others reach their wealth goals. Since her first event, she has spoken to technology groups, manufacturers, construction companies, and more, focusing on her message on women and wealth.
“I’m not saying money only,” Tang said, saying she takes a whole person approach to her clients and her public speaking events. “It can be wealth any way you define it. A wealth of relationships. A wealth of health. A wealth of community.”
Building her future
She is branching out from public speaking even more, with soon-to-be-launched Women’s Million Dollar Conversations, an interview series with women who have reached a million dollar goal, whether it is a business deal, an annual salary, or an entrepreneurial idea.
“I think an entrepreneur is someone who has an idea they are so passionate about that they are willing to take risks to be in charge of their own destiny,” Tang said. “I’m in charge of my who, what, why, and how.”
She takes her definition a step further, saying her approach to the idea of entrepreneurialism leaves something behind for the next generation and beyond.
“The thought I have is ‘beyond this lifetime,’” Tang said. “Creating something, a product or service, that goes beyond your lifetime.’ I also feel that women should own their own future, their own sky. That’s why I advocate for women to be in charge of their money. That is my goal as an entrepreneur.”