Shaping Financial Futures
How Tia McNamara's Personal Journey Ignited a Passion For Financial Advising and Led Her to a New Chapter With City Square Wealth Management
For Tia McNamara, the journey to becoming a financial advisor stemmed from her own family’s experience during the financial crisis in 2008.
Tia’s parents were having a difficult time financially, so they consulted with an advisor in their home state of Hawaii. The advice they received around budgeting, credit cards, mortgages, and investing opened Tia’s eyes to the wide financial literacy gap that exists for so many people.
With the insights she gained from the experience, Tia was inspired to pursue her own career in financial advising so she could help families like hers change the trajectory of their financial lives. Tia moved to Oregon to finish college and started working as an assistant to financial advisor Russ Gurley while she completed her Finance degree.
“Russ ended up being a mentor to me and took me under his wing, teaching me really important foundational topics and setting me down this path successfully,” Tia recalls. Working for him gave her the opportunity to not only learn financial advising but also everything that was necessary to run a successful office.
“It's paperwork, it's studying, it's just learning, learning, learning,” she remembers. “It was a perfect way for me to start learning about the industry, understand what I was learning in school, and also to be able to start off with a salary.”
Tia earned her licenses and worked her way into a full-time advisor role over time, without the additional pressure to meet quotas which happens sometimes in bigger offices. The foundation of knowledge she built by starting as an assistant helps her even today, she says, because she understands staff roles and how to work well with each of them.
Over the next few years, Tia transitioned offices several times due to various changes around her. Along the way, she continued to learn and grow as an advisor, while better understanding what she really wanted in a practice.
Her career came to a turning point in 2023 when she and her husband decided to move their family to Boston to be closer to her husband’s family. With the help of Vantage Impact, she explored different firms along with their supporting broker-dealers. Identifying what was important to her was easier, in part, thanks to the mentorship she had at that start of her career. She knew what she wanted her career to look like in the future. For Tia, finding a firm that allowed for flexibility and the right work-life balance was important.
“You have to realize that if you want this to be a career that's going to last for the duration of your working life—that’s a very long time to spend with an office and with your colleagues,” she says. “You want to make sure from the get-go that you have the same beliefs and same values.”
The culmination of an extensive vetting process facilitated by Vantage Impact led her to City Square Wealth Management and Ameriprise Financial, where Tia found alignment with founders Kevin Connors and Kelly Hudak—not just in resources but also in values.
“When I got in contact with the City Square team, they instantly clicked with me,” she remembers. “I could tell that Kevin and Kelly had assembled a team that truly cared about each other and loved their jobs. They were passionate about financial planning and helping their clients, and they genuinely enjoyed working with their clients. They had built strong relationships with them, and this was not just a job to them.”
Tia and the firm’s shared values include 1) doing everything with integrity; 2) inclusively helping others, evident from the fact that they don’t require account minimums; 3) maintaining a high level of expertise; and 4) building valued relationships.
Adding to the good fit, Tia was impressed with the resources available through Ameriprise as the broker-dealer.
“Finding the right broker-dealer was almost as important as finding the right team,” Tia said, noting that during the search with Vantage Impact, she had just as many questions for the broker-dealers as for the firms themselves. Tia explained that broker-dealers play such an important role in how an advisor serves their clients and the technology that is available. “Ameriprise really stood out because of the amount of support they gave to their advisors.”
The combination of the firm, the broker-dealer, and the flexible nature of her role are an ideal situation for Tia. As a working mom of two young daughters, she highlights significant benefits of financial advising, like the ability to slow down when needed or work non-traditional hours. It provides a work-life balance that many mothers seek.
Knowing this, Tia is a strong advocate for diversity in financial advising, recognizing the advantage women bring to the industry today. With the traditionally male-dominated landscape evolving, Tia believes that being a woman and having diverse experiences provide a unique edge in connecting with clients and taking an empathic approach to client service.
Now that Tia is more seasoned in her career, she enjoys mentoring others who are stepping into the industry with little experience—a position she was in at one time. She thinks back to the values that were instilled in her early in her journey and attributes them to where she is today.
“It’s fulfilling to be able to pass on that knowledge on to someone else in the industry.”
As Tia continues the newest chapter of her financial advising journey, she reflects that she knows she’s in the right career because of the profound impact the right financial advice can have on someone’s whole life. The potential to make a difference drives her forward each day.
“Teaching people these important topics changes the trajectory of their lives for the better. You help people get back on track, and you help them plan for retirement in the future and inheritance,” Tia says.
“This is the type of advice that echoes through generations. And I'm a living example of that. You know, I listened to that advice and changed where my life was headed for the better—that's something that I want to continue to provide to as many people as possible.”