Why You Might Need A Registered Life Planner

In this episode, Maggie chats with Dana Mascalo about how Dana uses her training as a registered life planner to help her clients tune into their big vision and goals when planning for their financial future. Dana brings the personal into the financial and helps her clients become more mindful and aware of their finances. If you aren’t sure if financial planning is for you, check out this episode to learn about life planning.

The discussion in this episode is for informational purposes only. Dana Mascalo is an investment advisor representative with TrinityPoint Wealth, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Information herein is not intended to serve as a substitute for personalized investment advice or as a recommendation or solicitation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Data presented herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. The speaker cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information, and certain information may have been condensed or summarized from its original source. TrinityPoint Wealth, nor its investment adviser representatives may give tax or legal advice.

Related Links:

Dana R. Mascalo CFP®, RLP®, AAMS®, C(k)P® is a Managing Partner with TrinityPoint Wealth, an independent SEC Registered Investment Advisory firm in Milford, CT and Charlotte, NC. Dana advises high net worth clients with complex needs and is sought after by individuals, families, business owners and executives all over CT and the United States. Acting as their personal CFO, Dana looks at a client’s entire financial life with a visionary lens, advising on investment portfolios, retirement planning, life transitions, exit planning for business owners, customized advanced cash-flow planning and multigenerational wealth transfer strategies. You can also find Dana as a fiduciary financial advisor on Wealthramp, a female-founded referral service that takes the stress out of finding the right advisor.

To learn more about Maggie and her coaching and speaking services, visit www.maggiegermano.com.

The theme music is called Escaping Light by Aaron Sprinkle. The podcast artwork design is by Maggie’s dear husband, Dan Rader.


Maggie Germano 0:05
Hi, and thanks for listening to the money circle podcast. I’m your host, Maggie Germano, and I’m a feminist and a financial writer, speaker, educator and coach for women. I’m passionate about making personal finance less scary and more approachable so that women can improve their relationship with money and take control of their finances. Every other week, I will interview an amazing, inspiring woman to talk about the issues that impact our money, our health, our independence, and more. We will touch on the societal and structural issues that we need to work together to change and the actions that we each have the power to take in our own lives. If you’d like to learn more about me and the work that I do, visit my website at Maggiegermano.com or follow me on Instagram @MaggieGermano. Thanks again for listening and I hope you enjoy.

Hey there and thanks for listening. I’m your host Maggie Germano. And this week, I’m chatting with Dana Mascalo, who is the managing partner with Trinity point wealth. In this episode, we talk about how Dana uses her training as a registered life planner to help her clients tune into their big vision and goals when planning for their financial future. Dana brings the personal into the financial and helps her clients become more mindful and aware of their finances. If you aren’t so sure if financial planning is for you check out this episode to learn more about life planning. I hope you enjoy.

Okay, welcome Dana. Thanks so much for being here today. Thank you for having me. So before we kind of dive into the meat of the interview, why don’t you take a minute and tell us about who you are and what you do?

Dana Mascalo 1:50
Sure, sure. My name is Dana Mascalo. And I provide holistic financial planning and investment advice. Our firm is called Trinity point wealth. And we are an SEC registered investment advisory firm. That means that we’re set up as fiduciaries for our clients. So being a fiduciary means that we have to put our clients best interests ahead of our own. And together with five other partners, and we have an amazing team. Trinity point is the trusted advisor for over 1.1 billion in client assets. And our main office is in Milford, Connecticut. And we also have a an office in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Maggie Germano 2:37
Oh, that’s great. Spread out a little bit there. And so how did you get into this line of work?

Dana Mascalo 2:45
Good question. I guess I was lucky to inherit my father’s gift with math and numbers and my mother’s gifts of empathy, and compassion. math, and science concepts always came to me in school and I naturally gravitated towards those subject areas. I ended up choosing to major in finance at Northeastern, and up in Boston. And when I was out there, I sort of always planned to go into an advisory role and finance insurance investments. But through the northeastern Koch Co Op program, it’s like you do six months in school, and then six months work. I wanted those opportunities was in real estate and specifically investment property rentals. And actually loved it. I ended up staying there for five years. There was this gentleman, though, that had a brownstone next to our real estate office. And we would see him quite frequently like popping in friendly neighbor. And he was a retired advisor from ag Edwards, and ag Edwards. If you’re not familiar with it, that’s no longer in existence, but it usually used to be a highly regarded Midwestern brokerage firm, wonderful clients centric culture. And, and to this day, I just still remember him telling me I should work for that firm, you know, and I was probably 20 years old. And sure enough, when it came time for me to make a move, I left Boston, I did my research, and sought out an ag Edwards office. I actually moved in Connecticut, move back to Connecticut and started as an advisor and that was 16. Yeah, 16 years ago.

Maggie Germano 4:45
That’s great. I love how people I just love learning how people kind of find their way into the work they do. It sounds like you always kind of knew you would be doing something math and finance related. But it’s just interesting. thing to hear kind of like how that path ends up turning out.

Dana Mascalo 5:04
I don’t know, also, if I rode horses growing up, and my mother would always tell me to some of the some of the people in the equestrian area are very wealthy. And I think she always told me that some of some of their parents worked in finances. So maybe when I was like, seven, eight or nine, I was just like, Oh, I better do that if I want to be able to ride horses.

Maggie Germano 5:31
That smart early on thinking ahead. Great. So you are a registered life planner. And I’m sure a lot of people have not heard of that before. So can you tell us what it actually means to be a registered life planner?

Dana Mascalo 5:49
Sure, it’s, so a registered life planner, it’s. So as a financial advisor, the registered letter planner program, it’s something that was designed for financial advisors, and accountants. And about four years ago, I wanted to take things a little bit further, I was doing, you know, comprehensive wealth management. But I wanted to explore the more human side of financial planning. And I ended up stumbling upon this designation. It was from George Kinder. So for those of you that may not know, George, he is a very inspiring innovator in the financial industry, and the father of the life planning movement. And essentially, it’s the kind of financial advice that goes deeper. And it adds like a visionary overlay to the traditional financial planning approaches. Life planning, can help you reorganize your relationship to money, so that your financial resources are dedicated to supporting your life of greatest value, meaning, and purpose. And it’s really like in in that style, this more holistic life planning approach. That’s where I’ve seen lives and perspectives that come alive, and experience, you know, fulfilling changes if necessary.

Maggie Germano 7:37
that’s great. And as a financial coach, myself, I feel very strongly about the personal aspect of money. And I know that there’s just so much more that goes into the conversation and the thought process than just numbers. And yeah, so the more people that I hear, like you who are doing that financial advising and getting really, you know, deep into the actual numbers, and investing and Future Planning, the more people that are also thinking about the human aspect and thinking about goals and all that I think the better off we all are.

Dana Mascalo 8:10
Yeah, yes, it’s, it’s so important. It makes it makes a difference. You know, I like to say that, it makes the advice more impactful when you can go there.

Maggie Germano 8:26
Yeah, I’m sure your clients feel a lot more seen when they’re working with you. I hope so. So, can you explain a little bit what the process actually is, as you know, as you’re working with the client with that registered life planner kind of acts aspect?

Dana Mascalo 8:44
Yes, yes. And and I will also say that the progression life planners and for listeners, there are the, the process is called evoke. And it stands for exploration, vision, obstacles, knowledge, and execution. And the first be an invoke the exploration piece. This is where George kinder’s famous three questions come in. So, for those listeners that may have heard about these questions on other podcasts or in different reading materials. The those three questions are pretty cool that they help us begin at the beginning. One of the objectives in life planning is to help fire up and inspire our clients to live a most meaningful life. And those questions help us build that fire. So the three questions which I can go over them now and then, you know, I’ll tell you where you can also find them online. To the first question is to imagine that you’re financially secure, that you have enough money to take care of your needs now and in the future. And the question is, how would you live your life? would you change anything? And you want to let yourself go and don’t hold back on your dreams and describe a life that’s complete, and and ritually yours, and I have clients, you know, either type it out or write it out, or, you know, but that’s question one. And I skipped over an important part, I’ll also tell clients that, you know, when you when you start answering these questions to be, you want to do it, if you’re a morning person in the morning, or you want to kind of set set the stage and, you know, get grounded you before, before jumping in. But really take the time to answer that, you know, describing a life that’s complete, and ritually yours, having having enough money, both now in the future. The second question is, this time you visit your doctor, and they tell you that you have only five to 10 years left to live. And the good news is, is that you will ever feel sick. And the bad news is that you will have no notice of the moment of your death. It’s just sometimes between the five and 10 years. So the question is, what will you do in the time you have remaining to live? With each change your life? And how will you do it? So that’s question two. And question three, is, this time your doctor shocks you, with the news that you have only one day, left to left? And you want to take a moment to notice, you know, what kind of feelings arise? And you kind of confront your real mortality? and ask yourself, what did you miss? What did you not get to do? And who did you not get to be? And that question, three’s you know, pretty powerful, I think. And it’s different for everybody. You know, I’ve had a lot of feedback on the questions of, Oh, this, this was a tough question, or, you know, this was easy, or, and sometimes it can be quite emotional to think about these questions, or have you run into that too many when you’re coaching. But it does get everything flowing, thinking about these things? And the three questions.

Maggie Germano 13:08
Yeah, those are like, really deep questions, even the first one that’s a little less morbid, it’s still a very deep question that I think a lot of people just like, don’t consider. And I know with my own work, and some of the questions I posed to them, my clients in the beginning, there will be so many people who are like, Oh, my God, I’ve never even asked myself that, or I’ve never really thought about it that way. And do you have people who? Because these are such deep questions, and slightly morbid? Do you have clients who have a hard time actually answering them and kind of get stuck when it comes to actually thinking?

Dana Mascalo 13:49
Oh, yes, yes. Yes. And there’s there are some clients where, you know, they just tell me, this is not not for them. And there are some registered life planners that this is all they do the evoke process, you know, exactly how it is taught. And the next part, the next part of the process is a visionary visioning process, where, where that’s some real magic that can happen in there, where we talk about the answers, you know, together. And what we’re trying to do is really craft and build this fire from this information that we are starting to discover. There’s usually a moment in division or division in process that it all becomes clear and there’s this inspiration and awareness and this willingness to act. You know, and it’s not that I’ve have told them to do anything. They’ve, this is coming from within, and it’s a burning this very real desire to make things happen, like we have to make this happen. And, you know, they’re there, they have now seen this future time in their life where certain conditions exist or you know, that reality out in their, in their future can actually be quite close and attainable. And, you know, of course, then we go through the Oh, which is the obstacles, knowledge execution. And that’s where some of the more traditional financial planning concepts come into that. So, what I tried to do is, I offer clients, like both approaches, so traditional financial planning approach, if they want to do the full evil process, they can, and you know, from from start to finish, but even for clients who say, like you were describing that just have a hard time with it, or don’t want to do it, don’t want to engage. I don’t force them to do this. I’m not working with you unless you do the questions, right. And, you know, and sometimes I’ll know right from the beginning, that it’s just might not be a good fit. But there still is in the traditional financial planning approach, that that’s my flavor, you know, that I’ll always have a hint of that kind of visionary. And I’ll try to weave it in where I can to get to what’s important. And to help them as much as I can. Even if a process like this is not optimal,

Maggie Germano 16:49
right, that makes sense. And obviously, if a client is not really comfortable, or on board with the approach, it’s probably not useful to try to make them do it anyway, because it’s not, they’re not going to get the outcomes they’re looking for with that. So it’s good that you kind of give that option.

Dana Mascalo 17:05
The other part two is that I had an established practice prior to starting to do the life planning work. And so the majority of my clients are, have not gone through this kind of a thing before. Of course, they want to, you know, I can help them with it. But, yeah, so so I still the traditional financial advising with some sprinkles, you know?

Maggie Germano 17:35
Yeah, I love that. So yeah, since you have had the experience of, of traditional financial planning, but also this life planning aspect. Can you talk a little bit about how the two approaches differ, like the main high points of how they differ and then some of the outcomes that you see that kind of differ between the two approaches? If there is a difference there?

Dana Mascalo 18:01
Okay. Well, I guess starting at the, you know, basic difference, as far as traditional financial planning versus a financial life plan, the traditional approach has, has a lot more to do with the actual financial planning and investment management expertise and strategy. So, I’ve been practicing as a CFP, professional since 2012. And CFP stands for certified financial planner for anyone listening hasn’t been familiar with that term, it’s, it’s considered a designation like standard of excellence for financial planning. There’s six focus areas. And the testing that’s required to become a CFP, will its extensive, and it covers these six areas, financial planning, investments, retirement tax, insurance, and estate planning. And so, most traditional financial planners are going to offer an integrated advice in in these areas. From my experience, though, over the years, I’ve, I’ve found that it really takes something more to the for the advice to be effective and impactful for the client, as you were saying before, so and everyone is different. He said there there needs to be a recognition that of that person’s uniqueness, you know, from the advice from the advisors perspective, and a dedication and, and a passion from the advisors perspective to get it right, you know, to develop that a true sense of connectedness with the client. And that part may take some extra time but I feel it’s so it’s so worth it. For the advice to be impactful, you know, we also recognize that there’s this integration of money and emotion for individuals. We want to listen and learn and understand so that we can figure out how to best inspire and advise clients. So there’s the one side of your advisors, technical ability, the financial, you know, financial understanding that that very, like traditional financial planning. But then the other side of it lives more on the life planning side with advisors, inspirational ability, and how to provide advice in such a way for each client, so that it brings them awareness and peace of mind, and action, so that their dreams can come a reality. And we can actually help make things happen for the client. So I, I guess, for the outcomes. The clients who I feel that have either gone through more of the exercises, or, or I’ve been able to get to that heightened sense of awareness, and that that special place, it may be things like, couple decides to move, and relocate to like a totally different area, you know, and take the leap. And then once they get there, like, I wish I did it sooner, you know, and thank you so much for helping helping us through this, because you can just see the joy that that if they were really meant to do that to to make that move. And for other clients, it could be more subtle, you know, it could be just a recognition that, you know, they have all of the money that they’re going to need, they’re never going to run on money. But they’re lonely. And maybe there were some obstacles, again, in the evil process, that there may be some belief systems that were holding them back from either spending the money. You know, I had someone who, who didn’t want to travel because they had some physical limitations, and they didn’t know how to get to the airport. And it sounds very simple. But this, this is a person who had, you know, plenty of money, and where you’re at, we ended up arranging for a car service. And, again, it’s, it sounds simple, but this really helped help this person, see their friends again, and get out there again. And it didn’t really matter how much how much money, it was something bigger for them. So I see meaningful change in both types, to be honest, but the bigger ones have had some type of an integration or overlay of a visionary component to it.

Maggie Germano 23:20
Yeah, I mean, and that makes so much sense to me. And just like how you’ve been describing the process and the types of things that you talk through with your clients. And just like the way that I think about money, like it has to be tied to the things that you care about, it has to me tied to those bigger goals and the values that you hold. And so it makes so much sense to me that the more tighten the financial planning is with that bigger vision, the more likely you are to actually feel comfortable and like you’re going to take action and like you’re making the right decisions.

Dana Mascalo 23:56
Yes, yes. And it it’s pretty amazing that it comes into play at different stages of people’s lives. So younger people may not know what, you know, maybe it’s a career, maybe it’s relocation, maybe it’s the relationships that they have. And then for older people, they’re really that question three mate might hit them, and they may figure out that there’s not that much time left and there are some things that they really want to do. And it kind of reminds it’s like a knock at the door, you know, and it could be quite as particularly for for older people. Women, a lot of a lot of women too. To now that I think about it can tend to get more emotional about it once this recognition occurs, because life just goes so fast. And we need to pause for a moment and just kind of check in. And I think this process helps people do that.

Maggie Germano 25:21
Yeah, it definitely sounds like that to me, and a lot of what you’re saying, also sounds like mindfulness. And so do you use mindfulness in your work with clients? And if you do, how does that typically work for you?

Dana Mascalo 25:37
Absolutely, yes. Over the years, and had started doing yoga, maybe about 10 or 12 years ago. And that made me more aware of mindfulness in general. But over the years, especially after studying with George kender, who is also very experienced with with mindfulness and teaches and writes about it. But for the RLP, they integrate that with the training. And I’ve tried to incorporate mindfulness into both my everyday routines, and client process and interaction. Like before and after client meetings, before this podcast, you know, I’ll try to sit quietly and do some inner listening, I find that it helps to clear my mind become more presently aware, become more objective for each client, because we don’t want to bring, you know, a lot of our own tendencies, you know, to the table, you want to be an objective advisor for your client. And then for you more directly with clients, I weave it into the conversations and interactions, whether it’s the way questions are asked, certainly listening, pausing body language, I mean, it’s all in there. And one, one example that’s just very direct is even just the way I mean things. Like, if we do an expense analysis for their retirement, I have the paper, it’s named expense awareness exercise. Because it just if you can add a tune in to all these different things and how it has an impact on whether it’s your retirement or financial well being or, you know, this heightened awareness, I think, is, is important and helpful. So yes, yes, absolutely. Yes.

Maggie Germano 27:54
That’s great. I love that and, and how can folks who are listening, start bringing some more mindfulness and awareness into their own relationship with money and life in general, because I know that like, life can be very busy, things just kind of happen every day, it feels like things just kind of are out of our hands a lot of the time. And I definitely hear that when it comes to spending like you’ve turned around, and you’ve spent your paycheck basically. And so I personally think mindfulness and awareness is super important when it comes to that. But how can folks actually start taking steps to bring in that mindfulness to their own life and finances?

Dana Mascalo 28:38
Well, I think it’s listening to things like money circle. And, and any other you know, outlet that has a mention of that. It For Me, personally, I, I had to actually learn about mindfulness and read about it, and what is it and meditation, I had to try different styles out. In the beginning, when I was learning about meditation, I really had a hard time with it. It was very difficult to just sit there and I, you know, I felt like I wasn’t doing it right. But over the years, you know, I learned more and more and you practice and once you start practicing, and sometimes there’s guided meditation that can help get get people started. So just I think trying different things in that regard until you feel comfortable with with one way or a couple different ways, and then just practicing and when life starts to go too fast, I, I, I needed to nap myself, you know, so I’ll, I’ll return to some of those, you know, there’s, there’s probably half a dozen books that were life changers for me. And so I might read a couple pages of those. And I have a mindfulness from a yoga yoga teacher, that’s a, you know, a page a day. And that’s super helpful, because it just sort of stops you and reminds you that, hey, this is something that brings me peace of mind, and it helps me feel grounded and centered. And so, so little, I don’t think without those support, you know, tools that I would be able to have it. Come back, you know, I noticed that I’m kind of scattered. I’m like, Okay, I gotta, you know, pick this up. And then sure enough, it comes right back.

Maggie Germano 31:07
Yeah, no, I’m with you. I’m like, when I first started learning about like meditation in college, I was like, Oh, I just am too anxious for this, I’m just not good at it, I can’t do it. And then years later, when I like, actually was doing a little bit more yoga and actually learning about meditation and what it is, and how you, it’s not just that you don’t think about anything, and that there’s no such thing as just being good at it, it’s more of something you have to kind of keep at and, and I’m with you on the guided meditation, I think that that helps a lot it where you just that you have something to kind of focus on and kind of like pushes you through it. And I know, there’s a lot of resources out there too, with like affirmations related to money and worth and those sorts of things. So I’ll find some of those and share in the show notes too. So folks have a place to start. That’s nice. Yeah, I can I’ll email you the book afterwards. That Yeah, that would be great. I’d love to share. Um, so is there anything else you’d like listeners to know, both about the way that you approach financial planning or steps that they can start taking now maybe they’re ready for a financial planner? Maybe they’re not, but steps they can take to bring more of that vision piece into their money conversations?

Dana Mascalo 32:25
Yeah. I think listeners should know, you know, first and foremost that, that there are, I’ve been learning that there are more and more and more women out there that are trying to develop a healthier relationship with our money, and that you’re not alone. There are many others out there rooting for you. I mean, there’s this like, special energy that’s just here, right now. And I think when women come together, you know, it just, it just kind of heightens that special energy. So this is, is is a good time, you know, to think about it. And if you’re ever feeling sluggish or down, I would try and take some time for inner listening, and to do some of the things that we just talked about with mindfulness in that regard, and finding these networks to kind of fill your bucket and rejuvenate your energy. And then just recognizing that your participation in those kinds of outlets are likely helping someone else that’s just like you, you know, to rejuvenate them. And as far as if it’s taking steps to find an advisor if it’s specific to the Evoque process and finding a life planner, for the three questions. If you want to work with an advisor on that, you can find a network of life planners at George kinders website, it’s called Life planning for you calm and what’s neat about that website is you can actually do the exercises in like a self service capacity, you know, so it’s uh, you don’t have to pay anything. It’s, it’s, it’s there. I think you just have to register and you can go through that process and answer those questions right through the website. And then if you wanted a more personalized dialogue, you know, you can engage with the life planner. And then on the on the other side if you’re just looking for you know, a network of trusted financial advisors. You can find wealth ramp is is a trusted network of financial advisors. From Pam Krueger, who was also interviewed, here on money circle. And so I’m on that network as well. And you know, I, it’s a great time, I would say, you know, think about what would be ideal, you know, in your life. And there was an inspirational speaker Bob Dunwoody, who I used to listen to years ago, and he studied highly successful people. And he had like a CD, he had like a visionary CD when we had CDs. And I used to listen to his CDs, and he always used to say, Be open to the possibility. So that’s that had stayed with me. And I would encourage all the listeners to think about that, you know, try to allow for an alignment of your energies behind your goals be be be aware of what’s most meaningful to you what is ideal and be open to that possibility becoming a reality, because this is your journey. And if you need some help, whether it’s a coach, or a life planner, or financial advisor, or both, you know, there are nice people out there who are qualified and would want to help.

Maggie Germano 36:30
Yeah, I agree. And I am a big fan of getting help when you feel like you need some guidance. So and I found my own financial planner through wealth ramp, too. And I love that what Pam is doing through that, I think it’s a really great resource. So how can folks get in touch with you directly and learn more about your business and what you do?

Dana Mascalo 36:50
Sure, you can find this at Trinitypointwealth.com. You can also find me on LinkedIn, under Dana Mascalo. And we also have our company page on LinkedIn as well. We have a company page on Facebook. And for a lot of the old fashioned folks who prefer to just pick up the phone, you can reach us at 203-693-8525.

Maggie Germano 37:18
Wonderful, and I’ll share all of that in the show notes. So folks have easy access to you. Well, thank you so much for coming on taking the time. I really love what you’re doing. I think it’s a great way to really expand how we talk about financial planning and the kind of support that people are getting when they’re working with a financial planner. So it was really wonderful to learn more about you and more about your work and I know listeners will enjoy it as well.

Dana Mascalo 37:45
Thank you so much, Maggie and again, thank you for all the work that you are doing.

Maggie Germano 37:49
Of course