Three years after graduating with a degree in finance and serving as a fixed income analyst for the Titan Capital Management (TCM) student-managed investment fund, Veronica Torres ’16 is now director of operations for Tustin-based registered investment advisor Warren Street Wealth Advisors LLC.
The alumna is also making an impact on the financial readiness of young women, at Cal State Fullerton and beyond, through Vee Makes Cents, an Instagram-based money education blog aimed at millennial and Generation Z female audiences.
Pursuing a Career in Financial Planning in Orange County
Since joining Warren Street Advisors, the firm in which TCM director Marcia Clark serves as senior research analyst, Torres has expanded her responsibilities, including handling the firm’s billing, payroll, human resources, business processes and customer relationship management. The role has been both rewarding and challenging.
“One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is taking on a lot of responsibility while still very young in my career,” says Torres. “There are some things that you just can’t learn in a textbook or a training manual; they take experience and practice to master. There have been times when I’ve come across struggles that a little more experience would have helped, but the great thing is that they all become learning lessons for me to get better in my role each and every day.”
As a small business with four wealth advisors and a small team of operations staff, Warren Street interested Torres while she was completing her undergraduate degree at Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo College because she knew that the smaller size would enable her to learn more and be more versatile.
“That turned out to be exactly what happened – because it’s a small business, you have to be willing to wear many hats and do things that might not traditionally match your role,” she says. “For some, that might be unattractive, but to me, I always saw it as an opportunity to learn as much as I could without being boxed in to one particular role at a much larger company. By being open-minded and willing to take on everything that came my way, I was promoted from client service associate to director of operations less than two years after starting at Warren Street and graduating from CSUF.”
“SET A GOAL AND CREATE MINI GOALS TO REACH IT. IF YOU JUST SAY YOU’RE GOING TO ‘SAVE MONEY’ BUT DON’T HAVE A PLAN ON HOW TO DO THAT, IT GETS REALLY EASY TO NOT ACT ON IT. IF YOU SAY, ‘I HAVE A GOAL OF SAVING $5,000 THIS YEAR’ AND YOU KNOW YOU’LL NEED TO SAVE $416.67 A MONTH TO ACHIEVE THAT, THEN YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO WORK TOWARDS TO ACCOMPLISH THAT SAVINGS GOAL.”
– Veronica Torres
Vee Makes Cents: Impacting Financial Education
Torres launched her personal digital initiative, Vee Makes Cents, in early 2018, in recognition of the male domination of the financial industry, and many of her female peers had a need for greater financial knowledge and terminology.
“As young women, when you find financial professionals, they most likely aren’t people you can relate to or feel comfortable enough to ask questions and learn from,” says Torres. “I noticed that a lot of my friends followed beauty, fitness or cooking bloggers, but not many followed anyone who talked to them about personal finance.”
Starting her blog as a way to give her target audience a place to learn about money in an easy-to-understand way, Torres initially developed a presence on most major social media outlets. But Instagram would become the platform on which Torres’ brainchild has grown the most. Today, she has 334 posts, 11,600 followers and 360 following her page.
“It’s where my audience is, and it’s really quick and easy to put content on it,” says Torres. “For now, Vee Makes Cents is my passion project and I truly enjoy every connection I’ve made with my audience. In the future, I would love to have a more consistent flow of content and turn it into a more official educational platform for young women.”
Vee Makes Cents makes use of a strongly branded style, with planned content that is curated to the audience, along with a sense of humor. It’s a format that the Instagram blogger hopes others can use to promote their business on the platform.
“Post often and consistently. Post content that is relevant to YOUR audience and keep posting the things your audience loves. And be authentic and genuine. People know when you’re being fake or when you’re more interested in getting something out of them than helping them,” she says. “Putting your audience before your own interests and always giving them your authentic self really helps separate you from all the other accounts. As cheesy as it sounds, there is only one you and that’s something people can’t take away or duplicate.”
The TCM Impact
While pursuing her undergraduate degree at Mihaylo College, Torres was working at Bank of America, where she initially thought she would climb the corporate ladder after graduation.
“I loved banking and thought I’d be there for life and a lot of that was because I had never even considered the rest of the financial industry, which is huge and has endless opportunities,” she says.
Finance lecturer and TCM director Clark broadened Torres’ horizons by sparking a lasting interest in the investment world and recruiting her for the TCM program, which gives a limited number of high-achieving finance students the opportunity to manage a real-world stock or bond portfolio provided by the CSUF Philanthropic Foundation. Earnings benefit of student-focused services such as the Mihaylo College Tutoring Center.
“TCM itself is such a great program that gives students experience that they would never gain in a traditional class setting or out of a book,” Torres says. “I learned how to work with a team for a whole year, how to be very clear and concise when presenting to our board, and on top of that, we had responsibility over real money, which took our experience to a different level.”
Clark suggested wealth management as a career path to Torres and introduced the young professional to Warren Street. Today, Clark is still Torres’ mentor and colleague.
“The finance industry is very male dominated, and I believe one of the biggest reasons it stays that way is because there aren’t many women who younger females can look up to and learn from,” says Torres. “If I had never met Professor Clark, there is a big chance I would have never even thought about moving from banking, where I was comfortable, to the investment and wealth management world.”
For More Information
Warren Street Wealth Advisors provides comprehensive financial planning, investment management and retirement planning to the Orange County community. For more information, visit the firm online.
The Mihaylo College Titan Capital Management program, which equips high-achieving finance students to manage real-world stock and bond investment portfolios, offers an applied introduction to the field.