Changing the Face of Finance

By Marianela Collado, CPA/PFS, CFP®, Andersen Alumnus NY Office Private Client Services

Since my time at Andersen, my career path has been defined by my passion for helping others. With that focus in mind, I’ve ascended to my current role as co-owner and CEO of Tobias Financial Advisors, a growing, fee-only wealth management firm in Plantation, Fla. I’m always looking for opportunities to make real and lasting impacts in the lives of our clients and the professionals at our firm. I love encouraging them to take hold of their financial worlds, professional and personal.

While I was at Andersen, I learned the importance of quality teamwork. That lesson has stayed with me ever since. We were able to uncover powerful results for clients when we worked together to find tax and other technical solutions to address their financial concerns.

When I took the leadership reins at Tobias Financial Advisors in 2017, collaboration was one of the first areas I focused on. Collaborative teams are always in the clients’ best interest; as advisors, we come together to share best practices and client insights, so we can develop truly creative and customized solutions for them. We reach out to clients’ other professional contacts, such as attorneys and CPAs, to learn more about how we can serve their specific situations. It’s about working together to best serve our clients. I like to remind everyone — we are all on the same side, the side of upholding a fiduciary interest for our clients.

I still remember many of the Andersen colleagues who inspired me to see potential in myself and look past any industry stereotypes or assumptions. From those days, I learned my work is a reflection of me and everything that leaves my desk. Whether it’s for a client or not, it should always be my best, putting our firm’s best foot forward. As I mentor other women in our field, I remind them it’s not about proving themselves as women, but just proving themselves to be worthy of the work and the seat they are sitting in.

One of our priorities at Tobias Financial Advisors is empowering women and future generations to take leadership roles in finance. This may be as lead advisors or in the C-Suite. As a firm, we are investing in the future of women to grow the base number of female leaders and change the statistics regarding women in our industry over the years.

In 2018, I joined Women Leading Broward to invest in my own leadership skills and further the development of female leadership within our own firm. As women leaders, we sometimes hold ourselves back. But we do need to the take time to explore and vocalize strengths. This is where we add value. Only then can we use those strengths to become better leaders.

One thing I’ve learned about myself since leaving Andersen is my ability to recognize what other people are good at and delegate roles to them that harness their strengths. Looking back, even when I didn’t see it, I’ve been using that skill throughout my career, encouraging others to take hold of what they are best at. As the CEO at Tobias Financial Advisors, I use that skill to build a team that is fully focused on what they prefer doing and on doing their best at it. I’ve taken on the role of an orchestra conductor and I love to see the harmony it creates.

As a leader who is investing in my own strengths, I can cultivate a happier, more effective company culture. This gives us the opportunity to attract and retain amazing talent and provide a place where they can grow in their roles. The clients feel it too and are even more confident sharing their lives with us.

Looking back on those years at Andersen, I see so many characteristics in myself that led to my growth there and impacted my development as a leader in this industry. The confidence and client-focus I gained laid a strong foundation. In 2017, I was recognized by the American Institute of CPAs as one of 16 CPAs age 40 and under with the Personal Financial Planning Standing Ovation award.

I’m so grateful for the experiences and connections I made at Andersen that prepared me for where I am today.