Cathy Curtis, CFP®, specializes in financial planning for independent women. She’s also the author and creator of The Happiness Spreadsheet, a budgeting system that helps you build a budget around your values. In our newest episode of YAFPNW, Hannah and Cathy dive into the history of The Happiness Spreadsheet, finding your niche, and how online marketing helped Cathy grow her brand.

The Happiness Spreadsheet

Cathy was one of the first planners out there to adapt online marketing techniques for their firm. That’s what The Happiness Spreadsheet is: a marketing idea that Cathy created to bring in her ideal clients. Women who, Cathy found, hated the word “budgeting.”

“It's got all these negative connotations, so I thought, why not turn it into something positive?” said Cathy. And that's where the idea of the happiness spreadsheet came around... it's about creating a budget around your values, so that you spend money on things that are really important to you.”

What’s even cooler is how Cathy built live workshops around her creative idea for budgeting. Through partnerships with artists, Cathy led exercises that allowed clients to build a vision for their budget, as well as learn the basics of creating and sticking to a budget.

The Happiness Spreadsheet has been around for awhile, and Cathy’s ready to revitalize it. Online webinars, working with artists in different ways, bringing workshops online: Cathy is ready for a fresh take on The Happiness Spreadsheet.

The power of a strong online presence

When she founded her firm, Cathy wanted to be known as an advisor who worked with women. The Happiness Spreadsheet attracted those ideal clients to her firm, helped her build a client base and expanded her brand visibility. 

That wasn’t the only thing that helped her find clients and build her brand, though. Cathy was an “early adopter” of social media back in 2008-09, when advisors first started using it to their benefit. After joining Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and growing her network, eventually she was offered speaking engagements, a seat on the CNBC financial advisory council, interviews and quotes in different journals, and more.

That’s why it’s so important that advisors be present and engaged online. A strong online presence can help you find clients, but it’ll also expand your network and introduce you to great business opportunities.

“More and more people are hiring professionals, just by doing a Google search and finding websites and reading up on somebody,” Cathy said. “So I think having a really strong online presence is more important than ever.”

Marketing to your niche

Cathy also paid close attention to how she marketed to women on her website. She talked about financial issues unique to women: the gender pay gap, acting as the caretakers in families, having a lower risk tolerance for investing, and so on. Hitting these pain points, along with being a good listener, helped Cathy’s client relationships flourish.

She didn’t discover this niche right away, however, and that’s one piece of advice she’d give new planners. While it’s okay to not know exactly what you want to do when you enter the profession, having an idea helps. The earlier you target your firm to a small group, whether it’s based on gender, affinity, occupation, or another aspect, the easier it’ll be to grow your practice.

“People think that they're not going to build their practice fast if they narrow down who they work with, that it's just not going to work out,” said Cathy. “I think the exact opposite is what happens. You make it easier for your target client to find you and want to work with you.”

What You’ll Learn:

  • How Cathy thought of The Happiness Spreadsheet
  • Budgeting through creative exercises
  • How The Happiness Spreadsheet impacted Cathy’s firm
  • The power of having a strong online presence
  • Developing a women-focused brand
  • Working with specific clients
  • How to be a better listener
  • Discovering your niche
  • Cathy’s favorite part of the profession
  • Advice for new planners

In this episode of YAFPNW, Hannah and Cathy discuss:

Interested in following Cathy? Follow her on YouTube, LinkedIn and on Twitter at @cathycurtis!