How Raquel Hinman harnessed 20 years of experience in financial planning to start her own firm focused on equal access to advising services
Raquel Hinman prides herself on seeing the big picture.
That’s why she founded her own firm, Hinman Financial Planning. When she worked as an advisor and investment manager at corporate firms, she only saw a sliver of a client’s financial portfolio, advising people solely about the funds she was managing.
“I really wanted to advise people on their entire net worth, not just the money I was managing for them,” Hinman says. “I realized I wasn’t going to be happy being an advisor at another firm, and it was time for me to do my own thing.”
That type of big-picture thinking is also part of why she became a financial advisor in the first place.
“This is such a great career, especially if you want to have kids someday,” says Hinman, who is a mom of two boys in their twenties. “It constantly challenges you, you can make good money, and you get to help people and help solve problems. In terms of the work you get to do, it’s creative and interesting, and you can choose flexibility, working either full or part time. There are so many ways to do it these days, and you can make your career whatever you want it to be.”
At Hinman Financial Planning, she offers fee-only financial planning and investment management services. The firm is located in Erie, Colorado, a town east of Boulder and north of Denver. The fee-only model is important to Hinman, who believes that everyone should have access to reasonably priced, unbiased advice, regardless of income, net worth or account size.
She earned her CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification in 1998 and has more than 20 years of experience in financial planning, wealth coaching and investment management. Hinman has also worked at Merrill Lynch and MetLife, as well as a wealth management firm in Boulder called The Wealth Conservancy.
“My last firm was a woman-owned firm and was really great in terms of flexibility and being honored for your contributions,” says Hinman. But in 2015 she decided to go out on her own. She says she never planned to be a business owner, but when she thinks back, was inspired by her grandfather, who owned a printing company. He advised her to go into banking, and she went on to study finance at University of Colorado Boulder (CU), graduating in 1992.
Hinman decided to stay in Boulder after graduation, and that’s when she started studying to be a financial planner.
“At the time in Boulder, the only way you could work in finance was to be an advisor. It’s funny, because I kind of fell into financial planning, but once I started doing it, I realized how much I loved it,” Hinman says. “Financial planning is a way to have an impact on people and their lives. And you can really make a difference and help people with their money. It was a way to take my interest in finance — and I’ve always been good at math and that kind of thing — but then to also add this personal element. And that’s the thing I think is just amazing about financial planning.”
Hinman specializes in advising people going through transitions, whether that is retirement, divorce or inheriting a trust or estate.
“My typical client is usually aged 50 to 70, with an investment portfolio of one to 10 million, and usually they have gone through a big life change,” she says. “My niche is people who’ve got a big portfolio, and maybe they are anxious or overwhelmed and want some help figuring out what to do and what the money means to them. I do the financial life planning side, alongside portfolio management.”
When she founded Hinman Financial Planning, she joined the XY Planning Network and built the business from scratch. She started with one client with $300,000 in assets, and chose not to bring over any other clients from her previous firm. Since her boss was a mentor and supporter, she says it wouldn’t have felt ethical. So Hinman got to work, starting with that initial client, and now has grown to 50 clients, her ideal maximum.
“It was very scary and hard. One advantage I had compared to a lot of people is that I had been an advisor for a while and had a lot of experience already,” says Hinman, who lives in Erie herself and also capitalized on the town’s growth as a Boulder suburb.
She cites the camaraderie and community of XY Planning Network as an advantage, and chose to join in part because of the tech stack resources they provide.
Hinman grew her business organically, with the support of XY and outside marketing help with her website and social media. She’s a natural networker and says connection is her “superpower.” Many of her clients came through referrals from the CPAs and attorneys that she had recommended to other clients, a boomerang of sorts.
“One thing I’ve realized in talking to my business coach is that being able to really understand what people need and then connect them with resources — that’s my superpower. I don’t try to be everything for everyone,” she says. “You have the software to do a lot of the technical aspects, but for me, it’s really being able to sort out what’s important with the clients — what’s really going to get them to their goal and what’s the best thing for them financially.”
As a female founder and business owner, and an employee who once benefitted from a female boss, Hinman sees being a woman in finance as a distinct advantage. She doesn’t only work with female clients, but says that the “feminine aspect” of her firm makes a difference.
“I’m warm, I’m approachable. I don’t talk down to my clients, and I want people to be OK crying in front of me.” Hinman says.
Hinman also spends time mentoring finance students in the business school at her alma mater, CU, as well as volunteering on the boards of nonprofits focused on mental health and women’s leadership development. Representation is important, she says, and when someone starts to make more money, they should be able to find an advisor who relates to them and their life experience.
Hinman, who wants to limit her practice to about 50 clients, knows there is plenty of room for other advisors to enter the industry and run similar-sized practices, in order to help everyone that is working to raise their socioeconomic status.
“There’s so many different types of people out there,” she says. “It’s so important from a representation standpoint to have women and women of color [in the industry]. That’s a big deal.”
About Women Advisors Making an Impact
Vantage Impact knows the importance of diversity in the financial services industry, and that women are vastly underrepresented in the field. To help increase the visibility of women in financial services, we are excited to launch Women Advisors Making an Impact. In this collection of articles, we are spotlighting women financial advisors—their career paths, biggest challenges as women in the field, and ideas for helping grow female representation in the financial services industry. We hope you enjoy their stories as much as we do.
Want to help us share these important stories? If you know of a trailblazing woman advisor we should consider spotlighting, get in touch!