Career-Changing Immigrant Financial Advisor Finds His Way in the Industry

Anora Gaudiano’s journey to becoming a financial advisor is different from that of most people in the industry. She spent nearly 20 years as a journalist before changing gears and embarking on a career in financial planning. Today, her work as an advisor makes her one of the 2022 rising stars in financial planning.

Gaudiano grew up in a working class family in Uzbekistan when it was still part of the Soviet Union. If she was encouraged to pursue higher education, it was only to become a teacher, as her family believed that it was “more important to learn how to be a good housewife than to be ambitious”. By the time Gaudiano was a student, she “understood how unfair and unequal these social norms were” and wanted to lead an independent life beyond being “the shadow of a husband”.

Without telling his parents, Gaudiano applied for scholarships to study abroad and received one from the American Councils for International Education. She only told her parents that she would go abroad once her passport was stamped with an American visa and she had a plane ticket to the United States. After arriving in New York in 1997 at the age of 19, Gaudiano studied journalism as an undergraduate at Pace and wrote for a variety of publications outside of college before being hired by the Financial Times. as an equity journalist and online editor. The post sparked what Gaudiano called a “series of happy events” that led to her becoming a financial reporter.

She “fell in love with the world of finance” writing and editing for the FT, but also found herself facing “many, many days” where she said she felt “really overwhelmed and thought I I really needed to get more education.” She received a Knight-Bagehot Fellowship at Columbia University to study business and economics, earning her master’s degree in business journalism in 2012.

“I loved every moment of being a student again, learning more about finance and economics,” Gaudiano said.

Anora Gaudiano is an advisor in the New York office of Wealthspire.

Wealthspire / illustration by Meen Choi of Arizent

Gaudiano then worked as a markets reporter at MarketWatch, a Dow Jones publication, where she often spoke with financial advisers as sources for her stories. In the process, she found herself drawn to the advisory role, particularly the client side of the job, and decided to change careers in 2016, enrolling in early 2017 to prepare for the change.

“I was pretty confident that I had a lot of transferable skills,” Gaudiano said. “As a journalist, I spent a third of my time reading, a third writing, a third talking to people, so I felt that all of those skills were really good skills to have as a financial adviser. ”

She was hired as an associate advisor at New York-based firm Wealthspire Advisors in 2018. Zachary Gering, advisor and managing director of Wealthspire, helped her hire. He said Gaudiano was one of the company’s first career-change hires and his passion for entering the industry showed during his interview process.

“She was passionate, she had experience in a relevant industry, and she knew where she wanted to go,” Gering said. “I remember it was just awesome to hear the things she’s worked on, but also to have the perspective of knowing what she wants from the industry and what she’s willing to do to come to this.”

Gaudiano’s journalism background was of particular appeal to the company at the time, as Gering and the recruiting team believed Gaudiano could help Wealthspire create authoritative content for its website. Now her favorite part of being a consultant is working with clients.

“I love talking to customers,” Gaudiano said. “Whether it’s on the phone, whether it’s a scheduled meeting or whether it’s my email, interacting directly with customers is my favorite part of the job because that’s where you’ll know if you’re doing it well or not, because your customers are happy or not, and they’ll let you know if they’re happy.”

Gering pointed to Gaudiano’s compassion when working with clients as one of her strengths as an advisor.

“In our business, people trust us with intimate details of their lives and try to help them get where they want to go, and Anora takes that responsibility very seriously,” Gering said.

Gaudiano sees her work as one that requires an ongoing dedication to learning so that she is “essentially a student forever”. She compared her role to that of a “financial doctor” and said she wanted to leave her clients “feeling better than they did before talking to me”.

“As a financial advisor, you become very in tune with your clients,” Gaudiano said. “Their worries are your worries, or their worries become your worries. Every financial decision is a life decision and every life decision is a financial decision. So they come to us with their most personal issues, whether positive or negatives or goals or problems. That’s where we come in and help them make sense of it.

Gaudiano also cares about working with female investors, saying that while “women tend to lack confidence” when investing, often “all they need” is “a little nudge and a reassuring conversation”.

“There’s a very distinct difference between how women handle their money and how men handle their money,” Gaudiano said. “And we live in a somewhat unequal society where we still have a pay gap and a wealth gap between men and women, and that gap is increased if you go into women of color and women with disabilities, women older women and the LGBTQ community…and I think I know how to talk to women and how to make sure they’re on the right track.

Although his family limited his career choices to paths considered respectable in Uzbekistan, Gaudiano still cites his mother as the source of his personal financial education after growing up in a family of “very modest means”.

“Everything I learned about money management came from my own mother,” Gaudiano said. “She’s like a role model on how to personally manage my personal finances. Although you could say I grew up very far from privileged, I still feel like I was blessed with that kind of training right from the start. … I wish I could pass that on to my own kids like my parents passed it on to me.

Gaudiano has now worked at Wealthspire for over four years and during that time obtained her CFP in 2019 and was promoted to adviser in October 2021. However, Gering believes her career as an adviser still has a long way to go.

“We have high expectations for her now that she’s starting to do things more as an advisor, more on her own,” Gering said. “And in the next five years, I think his star will shine even brighter.”

Geraldine L. Melton