Marguerita M. Cheng, CFP®, has built a reputation in the profession by embracing her story and what makes her different. As a result, she has seen much success in the financial planning profession.
Marguerita, who goes by Rita, is the chief executive officer at Blue Ocean Global Wealth. She has served as an AARP Financial Freedom Campaign spokesperson and has contributed to Investopedia and Kiplinger. She also holds designations other than the CFP® certification, including: Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, Retirement Income Certified Professional®, and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. As a Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) Ambassador, Rita helps educate the public, policymakers and media about elevating the profession. And of course, she has also served on the FPA’s National Board of Directors from 2013 to 2015 and was president of the Financial Planning Association of the National Capital Area
What’s more, Rita was named the third most influential financial adviser in the Investopedia Top 100 in 2017, a Woman to Watch by InvestmentNews, and a Top 100 Minority Business Enterprise (MBE®) by the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council (CRMSDC).
There’s not a whole lot this woman hasn’t done, and I was humbled to get to chat with her on a recent episode of You’re a Financial Planner…Now What?
The Making of Marguerita
One of the most fascinating things about Rita is the story of how she got where she is today. She studied East Asian language and literature as well as finance in college. She wasn’t aware of the discipline of personal finance and how to apply corporate finance principles to individuals and families. Thanks to her dad, she learned a lot about the “tactical” parts of personal finance, but her biggest sign that she could help people with their personal finances was after her second child.
“I feel like I have this street credibility,” Rita said. “I lived life a little.”
After buying a home, paying down debt and building a family, she was drawn to this work.
She wants NexGen planners to really embrace not only their story but also what got them where they are today—especially when that story doesn’t read like everyone else’s.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Profession
Rita is multicultural: a quarter Irish, a quarter Eastern European, and half Chinese—with a Latin name. She’s “used to not fitting in,” but she didn’t see any role models in the profession when she started. To top it off, she was a woman with two babies. All of that is part of her, and it’s part of why she’s a planner. It’s also what connected her clients to her; she’s embraced her story and she tells it.
Part of the reason why she does so is because it attracted her ideal clients. But also, by sharing her story, she could encourage the next generation of planners who maybe didn’t have the same background as others in the profession. It was a matter of sharing her story and being present that could make all the difference for someone else. In that vein, Rita also shared her thoughts on joining associations like FPA and how to get the most out of them—personally and professionally.
It’s Not Enough to Just Join FPA
When you join associations like FPA, you need to get involved in whatever interests you. Maybe that means attending FPA NexGen chapter meetings, or maybe it means taking a leadership role in your chapter. She also talks about the different ways you can play into your strengths, whether you love talking to people or want to focus more on academia or research.
But whatever you do, she asks that you don’t just join an association and never use it.
“Find that thing that you really think that you can make a difference [in] and just go for it,” Rita said.
Of course, she understands that new planners might feel like they don’t have anything to contribute (“I’m too new, I don’t know what I’m doing!”) To that, she says that you don’t have to be in charge of something, but your voice, your input and your experience matter. You are going to make your association and your local community more vibrant. You’re going to help it thrive, so don’t just lurk in the corners. Get involved!
You should also focus on making people feel welcome when you do engage with FPA, especially FPA NexGen local chapters.
When Rita went to her first FPA chapter meeting, she didn’t see anybody like her. Now, when she attends an FPA meeting and sees somebody new, she makes sure that person will have at least three names and three friends.
“If I cannot be at the next meeting, they have three people they know. And so, they will not come back to a lonely, empty room,” Rita said.
What a great idea, right?
“I leave every meeting feeling smarter,” Rita said of FPA meetings. “To me, it’s great to go to a meeting because I get to see my friends. They’re my friends. This is our community.”
Giving Back Within Your Firm
Rita has an incredible philanthropic nature. Not only does she run marathons—like the New York City Marathon—to raise money for charity, but she finds ways to give back within her firm. She encourages other NexGen planners to find ways they can give back in their own community that’s maybe in line with their practice. For example, if your firm specializes in serving women, why not support homeless women by creating a donation drive for basic hygiene items and clothing?
Giving back is also a great way for NexGen planners get involved in their new firm or to create something new. In the beginning, it can feel like you’re not contributing enough, but giving back is always a great way to show that you’re invested—not only in the firm but also in the community it serves.
Multiple Mentors and What to Expect as a Mentee
Rita says mentorship relationships are powerful, and all are different. She recommends you, as the mentee, remain realistic about what you want. You need to make sure you are prepared and that you have a clear “ask” of your potential mentor. She said many new planners reach out to ask her to review their resume or to connect them with people in her network—which isn’t the way to go about it. She recommends knowing what you need help with and asking for it clearly. Don’t expect your mentors to hand everything to you on a silver platter; rather, know they are there to create a safe space to support you and let you ask your questions. She noted that you can have multiple mentors—and they can be peers, too. Find the people you feel comfortable with but who will challenge and respect you.
Rita is the true meaning of being authentic and true to yourself. She has built a business and reputation in the professional community based on what makes her unique, and she embraces that quality to the fullest. She’s a true ambassador to the NexGen community, and she’s trailblazing in the non-profit space by dedicating her life to giving back to the community in which she lives.