The best gift you can give those you love is your own financial security.

Rianka%20Dorsainvil Rianka%20Dorsainvil

Rianka Dorsainvil

Founder, Your Greatest Contribution

To be honored as a Rising Star, a preeminent emerging leader in the financial advice business, an adviser must meet three criteria. Rianka Dorsainvil, this year's inaugural recipient of the award, aces them all.

Demonstrate leadership? Ms. Dorsainvil is the former president and 2017 chair of the 2,500-member FPA NexGen community. She is also the founder of Your Greatest Contribution, a virtual fee-only financial planning firm in Lanham, Md., outside Washington.

Ongoing contributions to the financial advice profession? She is active in the NexGen National Capital Area study group and the Association of African-American Financial Advisors, and volunteers each year with the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, which helps prepare tax returns for those with low incomes.

Passion? Just ask her about Wanza Farr.

"She was my grandmother. She raised me in Norfolk, Va., and is behind everything I do," said the 30-year-old certified financial planner. She credits her late grandmother for inspiring what Ms. Dorsainvil considers a kind of calling: helping people especially those with modest incomes better deal with the personal finance aspects of daily life.

"My grandmother, who worked hard and struggled to make ends meet, was always there for family and friends. But because she was unfamiliar with personal finance and hadn't saved, she was forced to continue working as she got older and couldn't afford to retire," she explained.

That troubled Ms. Dorsainvil, who says her grandmother's experience taught her that "the best gift you can give those you love is your own financial security."

Learning how to help make such security possible was pure serendipity. Ms. Dorsainvil said she stumbled into financial planning when she took a basic course as an undergraduate at Virginia Tech, and discovered she loved it.

"I was blown away. Once I learned about interest rates and credit scores, I couldn't stop talking to my friends about how much they were paying on their credit cards and how they better start figuring out how to pay back their student loans," she said.

An internship at FJY Financial in Bethesda, Md., led to a full-time job after graduation in December 2009. She was there almost five years, and then moved to Financial Services Advisory (FSA) in Rockville, Md., where she stayed for more than a year.

Ms. Dorsainvil has nothing but good things to say about the two firms. But feeling "a need to stand up and speak my own truth," in mid-2015 she began to consider starting her own planning firm. Given her nature and training, she approached the decision methodically.

"I sat down with my husband, and we decided that since we already had an emergency fund, we could afford to take the risk if we lived on one income," she said. "As soon as we did that, it seemed the universe conspired to make it happen."

Two weeks later, a promotion her husband was anticipating came through early, easing money concerns. Also during that time, InvestmentNews named Ms. Dorsainvil one of its "40 Under 40," which she believes gave her added credibility. She left FSA at the end of October 2015 and started her firm in December.

Although she started without any clients, the seeds she had planted since her college days began to take root once she was on her own.

"I was always active on social media and had my own blog, and lots of younger people would ask me questions. I couldn't take them on as clients at the firms where I worked because, like me, they were just starting out and had no investible assets. But once I had my own firm, I could help them," she said, noting that she uses a monthly subscription revenue model, like that of other young-adviser members of the XY Planning Network.

"Rianka's extremely committed to her clients, and wants to make a difference in their lives as well as the lives of young people generally," said Jocelyn D. Wright, an assistant professor at The American College of Financial Services, who met Ms. Dorsainvil at a conference two years ago and is now in the Seven Sisters study group with her and other female African-American CFPs. "When I was running a Career Day in Philadelphia, she didn't hesitate to come up and speak to students. She exemplifies everything a financial adviser should be."

Lazetta Rainey Braxton, founder of Financial Fountains and another member of the Seven Sisters group, observes that Ms. Dorsainvil is "wise beyond her years," combining drive and confidence. But she also has a deep sense of humility and a desire for everyone she comes into contact with to be successful.

"I see her accomplishing anything she sets out to do," Ms. Braxton said.

Surely a sign of a rising star.

Evan Cooper is a contributing editor to InvestmentNews.

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