Everyday People, Make the World Go Round – Meet Marianela Collado
Name: Marianela “Nela” Collado
Title: Chief Executive Officer
Company: Tobias Financial Advisors
Major City Where You Work: Plantation
City Where You Live: Weston
Please, share your personal and cultural background with our readers. Where did you grow up?
I’m from Corona (Not joking – there is a town called Corona) in Queens, New York. Born and raised there. My parents are from the Dominican Republic. Like most immigrants, they left their country looking for a world of opportunity to raise their family in an environment where life was much “easier,” as my mother would describe it. As the youngest of four kids (and the ONLY girl to boot) I grew up trying to prove that I could do whatever my older brothers could do, but better 😉. I was the nerd in the house, and school meant everything to me.
My biggest inspiration was my 5th-grade math teacher and I always thought that teaching was my calling. After being forced to go to a trade school, where my brother went to become a plumber, I ended up taking the only track that did not involve pipes, wires, or blow driers – accounting. There I met my best friend and now husband, Edgar. Today we are going on 19 years married (24 years together) and we have three boys, Christian (12), Jonathan (9), and Julian (7).
I co-own a wealth management and financial planning firm, Tobias Financial Advisors, based in Plantation. I am the CEO and a Senior Wealth Advisor.
Please share with us a current typical day or week in your everyday personal life.
I’m not sure there is anything typical in my life right now that there’s a pandemic. I can’t tell a Monday from a Saturday. I’m juggling my two full-time passions – working with clients and raising kids (now also pretending to teach them).
Under normal circumstances, my typical day starts with getting the boys up and ready for school. My husband and I tag-team it – I dress them, he gets breakfast and then I do the drop-offs. After a busy day in the office, we try to do our best to enjoy dinner together as a family. We would typically have some organized sports with the boys (soccer or baseball), but now we finish up our daily work, the boys swim in the pool pretty much every day, and then we have our nightly reading. We’re on Magic Tree House now.
Tell us why you do, what you do, for a living.
Wealth Management, which includes managing portfolios and financial planning, allows me to merge my passions for education, collaboration, and communication. I educate my clients about the significance of comprehensive financial planning. I collaborate with colleagues and business partners to devise complex solutions that ensure my clients are receiving the best possible expert advice. Finally, I remain in constant communication with a diverse group of clients, business associates, colleagues, and friends that allow me to grow as a person and as a professional.
How did you end up in your line of work? Was it accidental or were you strategic about it?
After making that decision to switch my major in college, I never looked back. I would say every move I’ve made has been strategic. I made sacrifices where I needed to, but what may have felt like one step back resulted in 10 forward. From my part-time job as a bookkeeper to my part-time college job with a CPA firm to joining Arthur Andersen to Bessemer to Tobias Financial Advisors. Each move was a stepping stone for my next big move. Today I can harness my experience and background not only to serve clients but also develop a team that can help me better serve my clients.
Tell us about the factors that shaped your career and business aspirations.
I was taught early on the importance of saving and planning. It was drilled into me. My mom would always say, “I don’t care how much you make, you need to save”. I remember seeing my parents struggle at some point. They would always come to me with questions on what to do with this issue or that. And that shaped me. I started keeping my personal books when I was 15 and buying stocks on my own (without a broker). I realized I wanted to help people solve issues whether it was taxes or overall financial planning. The more complex, the more I enjoy it.
When I work with clients, I get to see them achieve their goals and there is no better feeling. As a business owner, our company has created clear values that we embody both in our personal and professional lives. I feel the values I was brought up with shaped my career and business aspirations.
Please share with us a current typical day or week in your everyday professional life.
In a normal world, I would drive to my office in Plantation to join my most amazing and passionate team, which also includes my husband. He serves as our CFO and COO, running the business. We have the luxury of working with amazing families as we help them navigate asset allocation, tax planning, estate planning issues, and ideas, to risk management and overall planning for all their goals. I call it a financial journey. No day is ever the same. We meet with clients, now all virtually. However, it’s nice when it’s in person, and we go over their goals, concerns, any issues, and more importantly, solutions and game plans. We could be facing a tax issue one day to a financial crisis the next and creativity, pro-activeness, and passion win the game. We can’t afford to fall asleep at the wheel.
Share how you balance the work-life challenges…what have been the rewards.
The truth is I couldn’t do it without my amazing husband. It’s just the two of us here and the kids so we make it work. If I must leave the office a little earlier, I do and log back in at night to finish an email or two. I think it’s about setting expectations too; for my clients and for myself.
What advice would you have for others in the business sector trying to make it day after day?
Always strive for excellence! Never stop learning, never stop trying to create value for yourself and your clients. Complacency is one’s biggest enemy. I am most driven by the fact that we never stop thinking about what we can do better for our clients. After that, be genuine and compassionate. Clients take notice and that makes the difference.
Did your background/ethnicity create any obstacles for you? Any advantages? How so?
I get this question a lot and mostly about gender. I was usually the only woman in the room and most certainly the only Latina in the room. Honestly, I didn’t care. I was driven by the opportunity to show my managers, team members, and clients, why I deserved to be there. At the end of the day, people care about results. I was driven by the idea of being the one that could solve problems most people couldn’t. I was always me. Whether I was with my peer or my supervisor or the head of the company.
What inspires you in your work life? What turns you off?
I am inspired by a challenge. When interacting and working with people, I thrive when facing a complex problem. I enjoy researching and collaborating with my team members and other professionals to determine the best possible outcome.
My biggest turnoff is having to work with folks who don’t share my same level of enthusiasm and care for what we do.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Maybe don’t take things so seriously. I’m probably my own biggest critic so I have to remind myself that I shouldn’t aim for perfection but aim to be just a little better each day.
Do you think you have ever truly “made it” in life?
One’s definition of “made it” could be very different. To me, making it means I get to do what I love and along the way, I have the flexibility to enjoy my family and control my destiny.
If you could have dinner with any person—living or dead–who would it be? Why?
My brother, Carlos. He passed in 1995 and there’s so much he’s missed. I’ve always wanted to think that he was and has always been my guardian angel, guiding my every move.
What is your favorite quote/saying? Give us your own personal quote to commemorate at LBT.
I’ve been surrounded by events that have proven to me that the saying “everything happens for a reason” really is true. Even bad things have had a major purpose in my life. So when I always look back, I see, in hindsight, why that was supposed to be that way. So it’s helped me accept things that are beyond my control.
My personal quote is “If you’re going to do something, do it right or don’t do it at all.”