Learn who we are and why we're here
While studying toward a finance degree at the University of Delaware, I decided to work toward a career helping others with their finances. I didn't quite know what that job would look like, but I figured it must exist. I assumed it would involve helping and educating
In my senior year at Delaware, I interviewed at a few of the large household name financial services companies for roles they called "financial advisor." I assumed those would be the sort of financial planning careers I was thinking of. Unfortunately, I quickly realized those jobs were not about giving financial advice or guidance. Instead, they were just commissioned sales positions to sell the companies' products - life insurance, annuities and mutual funds. I was completely turned off by that and gave up on trying to find a financial planning job. I ended up getting a corporate job at a large insurance company
After graduating college in 2000, I spent the next 19 years working for multiple global insurance, banking and brokerage firms. I worked in functions that involved the creation, risk management, trading, portfolio management and financing of many of the insurance and investment products and strategies used throughout the financial services industry. My roles included pension risk management, investment management, securities financing and investment fund analysis and diligence
Along the way I went back to school - in 2004 I earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Rutgers Business School. I've also taught multiple semesters as an adjunct lecturer for the finance department of Rutgers Business School
In 2016, I had an experience that reignited my desire to do personal financial planning. My mother was transitioning into retirement and was trying to figure out how best to claim her Social Security benefits. After getting different answers from different people - including different answers from within the Social Security Administration itself - I dug in and helped her research the relevant laws and regulations. We ultimately got to the correct answer and she was able to make the best claiming decision for her and her circumstances
At that point, the proverbial light went off for me - helping people make decisions about their retirement finances was what I was supposed to be doing with my life. Since that point in 2016, I committed myself to getting educated on all things related to financial planning for retirement. In that journey, I obtained the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ ("CFP®") designation, the Retirement Income Certified Professional® ("RICP®") designation and the IRS Enrolled Agent ("EA") license
In 2019, I left the institutional investment and banking world to launch Tenon Financial. I also started a separate tax return preparation and filing company, Tenon Tax Preparation. And I remain committed to sharing knowledge and helping educate others
What's your view on life?I have a few:
What are you most likely doing on a Saturday night?Probably something local and low key with my wife, two daughters and some family friends. Hopefully it involves live music. I'm especially a sucker for a mandolin or a banjo
What are your hobbies?
I've been passionate about woodworking since my early-20s. I'm also an avid road cyclist and runner. Additionally, I'm the proud "prop dad" for my daughters' competition dance team
What's your most useful skill outside of financial planning? Building things. I've remodeled kitchens and bathrooms, re-wired and re-plumbed most of my house, built a deck and have designed and built numerous pieces of custom furniture. I also like to think I'm funny, though my wife often doesn't agree with me on this
What's an interesting fun fact about yourself?I dabbled in stand-up comedy and performed a few times at Caroline's Comedy Club in Times Square. I was also a contestant on HGTV's All American Handyman, Season 2 (aired Fall 2011)
After an almost two-decade career in investment banking and asset management, I feel a strong itch to make an impact on a personal level. Over the years, I realized how overwhelming financial planning can get and therefore, most people choose not to deal with it. It doesn’t help that financial institutions are creating way too many products to complicate the decision-making process
My philosophy in life is “less is more.” A minimalist by nature, I’m always looking for ways to simplify our daily tasks, including finance. I truly believe that the most valuable resource we have is time and financial planning should be focused on how we can preserve this limited resource to satisfy our deepest desires in life, whether that be career achievements or personal goals
My journey in personal finance includes a lot of trials and errors and lessons learned, as I navigate through my own life stages. After working in the fixed income division at Putnam Investments for 10 years while dabbling with stock picking in my spare time, I became disillusioned about active portfolio management. I came to realize that investments are just one aspect of personal finance. Other things, such as sufficient insurance coverage, tax strategies and estate planning, are critical in one’s financial health. To get a more comprehensive education in all areas of personal finance, I obtained the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ ("CFP®") designation. Along the way, I met many wonderful fee-only advisors that put clients’ interest as their top priority and removed as much potential conflict as possible, including changing the typical Assets Under Management ("AUM")-based compensation model to a subscription or flat-fee based model. This was such a breath of fresh air to me, compared to some of the advisors I spoke to at large broker dealers who not only sell commissioned products, but also actively pick stocks for an AUM fee, all at the same time
As I continued to explore who I’d like to serve and how I can serve better by providing real value year after year, I discovered tax planning. Andy spoke about his tax focused practice in a couple podcasts that I follow and so I reached out to him. After learning what he does for his clients, I was eager to learn more. As a first-generation immigrant, I don’t have family in the US that face the unique challenges in retirement distribution, so it didn’t occur to me to focus on this group of people. But as I discovered more, I became intrigued by the complexity in distribution strategies
After speaking and exchanging ideas with Andy a few times, I was impressed by his professional prowess and generosity in educating the general population and advisors alike. When he mentioned a possibility for me to work alongside him, I was excited. As a self-proclaimed money nerd, I really enjoy the mathematical aspect of distribution and can’t wait to help you achieve the most fulfilling retirement possible!
What's your view on life?Time is precious; spend it wisely with people and on activities you love
What are you most likely doing on a Saturday night?Eating at a restaurant with my husband and daughter. Weekend is a time I abandon cooking and cleaning, instead enjoying served meals at my favorite restaurants
What are your hobbies?
My lifelong passion is skiing. Though I discovered the sport only after I became an adult (after growing up in central China where we barely saw any snow in winter), I was instantly hooked. I love the beautiful snowy mountains, the liberating feeling gliding down and the endless challenges I can work on to take my skiing to the next level. As a family, we also love traveling and exploring new places and cultures
What's your most useful skill outside of financial planning?
Being a jack of all trades master of none. I get bored…easily. Therefore, I am always looking for new things to do or learn: hand lettering, water coloring, hip pop dancing, tennis, golf, rock climbing etc. I like being open minded to new experiences
What's an interesting fun fact about yourself?I came to the States for college by myself. Before reaching my dorm in Brooklyn NY, I had the pleasure to visit Disneyland and Universal Studios in LA. America was exactly what I thought it’d be; nice weather, beautiful landscape, clean and fun! Then when I checked into my dorm in Brooklyn, reality set in...what did I get myself into?! I cried for days over the “cheated” feeling I had settling in (not the Park Ave or Upper East Side part of) NYC