Brittney Castro, woman in finance

How Latina entrepreneur Brittney Castro built a career on femininity in a male-dominated industry

Brittney Castro is a Certified Financial Planner and is a leading speaker, host, and brand ambassador who has worked alongside top brands like Chase, Mint, ETrade, CNBC, Gemini, AirBnB, Zoom, Altruist, Refinery29, and more to promote financial literacy. Today she shares her journey as a woman in finance and how she leveraged her femininity to build her career in a male-dominated industry. 

Hustling, role models, and growing a business

Brittney Castro, Certified Financial Planner, speaker, host, and brand ambassador. (Photo courtesy of Brittney Castro)

At the age of 22, Brittney began her career as a financial advisor straight out of college and by 28 launched her own business, Financially Wise Inc. Over those 15 years, she worked with thousands of clients on their financial journeys. In 2020, she sold her private practice to focus full time on speaking, content creation, and brand partnerships. She now also offers coaching services to help other financial advisors do what she did and grow their businesses online through social media, get paid speaking sponsorships, and market in a modern way. 

“A lot of times people are very knowledgeable in the financial world, but they really just don’t know how to market or do video creation that educates and inspires people. So that is my sweet spot. I think that’s where I operate the best,” said Brittney during the March 25th virtual panel, Latinas & Success: What It Takes to Make It in America.

Speaking on her journey as an entrepreneur and where she is now, Brittney said she is excited to have reached where she is now, where she gets to do what she loves. 

“It wasn’t always that way, you know, we have to hustle to put in a lot of hours and time and do things we don’t necessarily love. So I’m very blessed and grateful to be here now.” 

Brittney shared the struggles she faced growing her business at a young age in a male-dominated industry. Being “real” she said candidly, “It’s not easy. I self-funded my business. I wish I would have been a little bit more creative in the beginning and maybe got some sort of loan but I didn’t.”

She had to figure out her own path forward and learned a lot from her experiences as a new entrepreneur. Now she tells people not to shy away from funding and “go get that money!” 

“You just have to kind of figure out, are you going to self fund? Are you going to get angel investors, or a small business loan? Every Avenue takes work effort, you’ll probably get denied. So you have to have that kind of persistence. Stay resilient. There’s so many creative resources, you just have to find the right one for you.”

“I don’t really think there’s a destination because I’m just working every day on making myself better.” (Photo courtesy of Brittney Castro)

Another key lesson Brittney learned throughout her career is to embrace change and always be in “flow.” For Brittney, there is no end goal marker of success. She is constantly learning, growing, and evolving. 

“People would ask me years ago, ‘What does it feel like to have made it?’ And that’s a weird question to me because, yeah, you have success, and I think it’s very good to celebrate, I’m not saying not to embrace it and celebrate it. But I don’t really think there’s a destination because I’m just working every day on making myself better.”

Part of that growth mindset comes from mentors. Early on, as Brittney was first establishing her own company, she began to build her network and learn from others who were already doing what she wanted to do. 

“I would find women-focused events to go to, and I would just look at other women business owners, and I thought, ‘Okay, they, they’re doing it, I could do it too.’ But I also read a lot of books. I think that’s the power of mentorship, it doesn’t have to be physical in person, you can learn a lot from other people’s stories. And now we have YouTube or you know, social media, where you hear people’s inspiring stories through video.”

As Brittney read and connected with other women entrepreneurs, she was inspired and pushed forward along her own path. Those mentor figures really helped solidify the belief that she too could build her own business as a woman in finance. 

Watch the full panel below

Embracing femininity in a male-dominated industry

When Brittney began her career as a young woman in finance she faced pressures to change herself and downplay her feminine side. Navigating her space in this male-dominated industry was difficult as a 22 year old fresh out of college. 

“When I was just starting I would try to look like a man more. I would wear all black, I remember I’d put my hair so tight and a bun just so people would take me seriously. And it made me sick health wise, I was just always rundown and sick because I was trying to imitate someone else, instead of just being me, a woman in finance and leveraging my feminine power and strengths,” said Brittney. 

“Now I just think it’s so beautiful to be a woman in finance, like, do it my own way, create my business my own way.” (Photo courtesy of Brittney Castro)

Eventually she learned to fully embrace her identity not just as a woman but also culturally as a Latina in the industry and leveraged her identity as her niche when she launched her first business. 

Her manager at her first firm criticized this move to market her business specifically toward women, stating that it would be “stupid” to miss out on half the population. 

Brittney, however, knew there was a market for financial services catered toward women. 

“Every woman I talked to doesn’t relate to the financial industry, and I’m in the financial industry, and I don’t relate to any of these things and how they talk about money. So I literally built my first you know, company, Financially Wise Women with the focus of helping women and it was like, almost girly, in a way the color palette. I would dress more like feminine. I was just more me basically.” 

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After fully embracing her femininity and focusing on helping women in finance, Brittney’s confidence grew and the success started to come and finally she felt like she didn’t have to be anybody other than herself. 

“Now I just think it’s so beautiful to be a woman in finance, like, do it my own way, create my business my own way.” 

Brittney finds that staying true to herself and not worrying about competition has worked best for her in her career thus far and she encourages other women entrepreneurs and professionals to stay true to themselves and not worry about what others are doing. 

“I just put my filters on and put my head down and work, I don’t really pay attention to what a lot of the people are doing in the financial world. That always works well for me, you know, because then I’m happier. And it attracts the right things into my circle.”

Brittney Castro financial planning

Brittney Castro creates a financial planning firm geared toward women

After years of working in the male-dominated industry of financial planning, Brittney Castro saw an opportunity to use her skills and create a company that caters toward female clients. Castro is a Certified Financial Planner and founder of Financially Wise Women, a Los Angeles-based financial planning firm aimed toward teaching money managing skills to women and couples in fun, easy, and simple ways.

Brittney Castro financial planning

Brittney Castro, founder Financially Wise Women (Courtesy FleishmanHillard)

Discussing finances can often be intimidating and extremely personal so it is important that clients find the right person they trust to work in a comfortable environment.

Brittney explains, “I wanted to work with clients the same way I talk about money with my girlfriends–in a smart, personal, feminine way that’s compassionate, fun, and non-judgmental.” Castro has become an expert in her field and has been featured on various media outlets such as CNN, CNBC, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Glamour, and Elle to name a few.  

Her success though has come after many years of hard work and dedication to her field.

Castro began her career working at a firm called Ameriprise Financial shortly after finishing college in 2006. From there she went on to work for an independent financial planning firm in West Los Angeles.

It was during this time that Brittney began to build her brand as the financial planner for women. Finally in 2012, Brittney took the plunge and created her company, Financially Wise Women. She craved the creative freedom that she could not find within the confines of the corporate structure.

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Financial planning for women and beyond

Brittney Castro financial planning

Brittney Castro, CFP at one of her television interviews (Courtesy Brittney Castro (Courtesy FleishmanHillard)

Creating her own company allowed her to focus on her female clients and build an environment that was more personal and inviting unlike the ridged corporate environments of the mainstream financial planning world. 

Brittney describes the process of building her financial planning company as “an exciting journey” that has also come with great success and as well as “a lot of obstacles and challenges.” These challenges have not deterred her but instead have helped her grow stronger and wiser.

“Each time I was hit with a challenge, I persevered,” she said.  This perseverance and resilience has followed her throughout her entire career and has been one of her keys to success. Castro credits many of these resilient traits to her “Latina ‘spice,'” as she says. She celebrates her Latina roots saying, “My drive, resilience and hard work are all traits I find in common in Latinas and I am very proud of who I’ve become and the things I’ve achieved in life and business.”

Financial Education Ambassador

Brittney Castro financial planning

Brittney Castro at #WEALLGROW Summit (Courtesy FleishmanHillard)

When asked about a favorite moment in her career thus far, Brittney described her experience as the Chase Financial Education Ambassador. In this role, Castro has been able to help educate people, and specifically Hispanics, about the importance of credit and financial literacy.

This job has been an immensely rewarding experience for Brittney. “Growing up I always wanted my own business and to help people in life,” says Castro. After much hard work and determination, Castro has realized those aspirations.

Her advice to other Latinas aiming to achieve success in their professions is hard work and “just keep going.” Success is created through “a lot of hard work, dedication, and passion” she explains. “I have never seen an ‘overnight’ success because of the many years of behind-the-scenes work that goes into an ‘overnight’ success.”

She also advises to pick a career that excites you and that you are passionate about. “Enjoy it all!” she says. “Laugh and celebrate all the wins and challenges along the way as that is truly what life is all about.”

When she is not busy in the office, Brittney can be found working out, enjoying a coffee or smoothie, playing with her dog Arya at the local park, “and, of course, dancing.”