On this episode, I talk with Anna Orenstein-Cardona. She's a London-based financial coach and an FEC certified financial educator. Anna is on a mission to close the gap in financial literacy. You'll hear about her fascinating journey and why she started her business, Wear Your Money Crown. I hope you enjoy our conversation.
ANNA ORENSTEIN-CARDONA was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She grew up in a multicultural home, where although money was tight, love was plentiful. From a young age she was constantly coming up with inventive ways to raise and save money.
Anna received her Bachelor of Science degree in Brain & Cognitive Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and for the past twenty-one years, she has worked on the trading floors of various large financial institutions, both on Wall Street and in the City of London. A fun fact is that in 2006, she was asked to advise Colin Firth in a trading scene for Born Equal, a television film directed by Dominic Savage for the BBC.
Aside from her day job, Anna is an NFEC certified financial educator (CFEI) and coach who is passionate about closing the gap in Financial Literacy. She recently founded Wear Your Money Crown to empower others with the knowledge and tools to make smarter financial decisions, align their financial behaviors with personal goals, and take actionable steps to rule their finances.
Anna is a Board member for the MIT Club of Great Britain and is actively involved in various charities, supporting both children and animal welfare. She currently lives in London with her two very special rescue cats and her Southern Gentleman husband.
You can check out Anna's new book on Amazon. The Tree of Hope: The Miraculous Rescue of Puerto Rico's Beloved Banyan.
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Welcome to Stories of Change and Creativity. I'm Judy Oskam, I'm a university professor and Gallup strengths coach. This podcast features purpose-driven individuals who inspire, motivate and educate on today's episode. Anna Orenstein-Cardona. She's a financial coach and an FEC certified financial educator. She's on a mission to close the gap in financial literacy. You'll hear about her fascinating journey and why she started her business, Wear Your Money Crown. I hope you enjoy our conversation. I'm excited today to talk to Anna Orenstein Cardona and Anna. Welcome. Thanks for joining us today.Anna Orenstein-Cardona:
Thank you so much for inviting me and Judy. It's a pleasure to see you and be here with you.Judy Oskam:
Well, I'm excited because I love your story. Your story has an interesting beginning, middle, and you're still building it, you know,Anna Orenstein-Cardona:
It's interesting how you expect life to be one thing and it ends up in a different, u m, whole situation and route. I never, so I'm speaking to you from London, UK. I have been living here over 20 years now, which is kind of crazy. I thought I was only here for, u m, you know, two years when I came over, but let me tell you the story. So I was born and raised in a multicultural family in Puerto Rico. My mother is from Puerto Rico and my father is f irst g eneration American. He's Jewish Russian descendant. And, u m, so it was a really great place thankfully to, u m, to grow up. And I loved it so much, but I knew that, u m, when I was a child, I, well, I knew I wanted to go to the U S to study and partly it was because I wanted to become a vet b ecause I just love animals. And so I worked really, really hard. And I got into, I ended up in the U S, going to MIT and Cambridge. And, u m, I studied w hile there I started in biology and then I realized all the super, super clever people a re i n biology that want to be doctors. So I switched to brain and cognitive sciences, which at the time was not as well known as now. It's a massive major, right? Everyone wants to know about neurology, wants to know about neuroscience, but back in the day, we were very small people knew your first name, and I loved it so much. And then I kind of switched from thinking, no , I want to be a vet to being a doctor and , um, maybe even a psychiatrist. And so part of , um, that what happens there and it goes back in a way to money is studying medicine in the U S is super, super expensive, especially when you already have student loans from undergraduate, because I was very lucky to have had some financial aid. I had two jobs during university. My parents helped as much as they could, but I still ended up with significant, you know , um, loans student loans. And so I thought to myself, you know, I need to make some money. And I know that if I go straight to medical school, that's not going to be the case on the contrary. You know, you get more in debt. And so I literally applied to one job on wall street, one job, which is so nuts to think about it. And I got it, you know, and , um, I remember taking the bus down there getting like a suit. I had nothing really ready. I had never studied finance. You know, I was very good in math and numbers, but I never even thought of that as, as a potential. But I was thinking, well, if I need to make money, I need to go to wall street. So again, originally with the thought, I'll just go there for a few years and then, you know, make enough money to, to pay for medical school. But I ended up loving it . You know, my first job was at a company called DLJ . They later on , um, basically got bought out by a Swiss company. Um, but yeah, so I started on the trading floor and I loved the , you know, it was dynamic. You would be shouting, people would be loud and it was late nineties by the way. And so it was really still kind of old school, like, right.Judy Oskam:
You were on the trading floor and it was exciting.Anna Orenstein-Cardona:
Yeah, it was exciting. And I loved it and I love that. You know, what's brilliant. There is that if you're good, you move up super quick. Whereas for instance, and other parts of finance, like investment banking, that's very structured and you need to be there certain amount of years before you become a VP, then you become a director. And so on the trading floor, there's a lot more flexibility. And again, I had no idea because by the way, my friends who worked in finance all thought it was a horror that I worked on the trading floor because it was viewed as like, not as , um, prestigious sit and everything. And now I had the last laugh because I had, you know, you work market hours when the markets are closed, including weekends, I'm free.Judy Oskam:
And all my, you know, investment banking buddies, they were like till 3:00 AM in the office and had no weekends. So I had the last laugh. That's good. That's good. Well, Anna, what does that say about, because , you know, I, I deal with a lot of students and a lot of young people who, who think about careers and they go to school for one thing. What does it say about being open to the possibilities and open to the paths that you go on? Because I think that's what you did. You were open to change and that growth mindset. Can you talk about that a little bit? Because when you, when you went to Wall Street, you just went on a wing and a prayer, right?Anna Orenstein-Cardona:
Pretty much, pretty much, you know, to this day, by the way, Judy, I'm still friends with my first boss and I'm still friends with the people that hired me. And , um, this is the thing, what I found interesting. I'll, I'll never, I have this mental image of the, so, you know, my first interview with them, I was the, I stepped into this room where all these people are being interviewed for this role. I was the only woman. They were all quite a lot older. You know, I was 21 at the time I was a senior in university. They were reading like the Wall Street Journal. And they were all like, very much that like a movie scene, right. They already walk in thinking, oh, and then when I sat in the room and I was being interviewed and they started ask me about what I did. And so part of what I had studied , um, in the brain and cognitive sciences, I also did because MIT and Harvard have a co-program . I haven't thought about this in years, by the way. But I did some research in the Harvard medical, I'm sorry, Harvard school of public health. I stayed at the Harvard medical kind of students dorms in the summer because I had a scholarship with them, but it was really cool. So I was doing research on Alzheimer's and on something called the APOE gene. And so that's what I was asked about in my interview on Wall Street, they just, at the end of the day, it's not rocket science. You know, you learn it's a, it's a steep learning curve for me. It was extremely steep because again, I was the only one coming in from a different background, but they just wanted to know that you had a brain to think differently and out of the box and be flexible and deal with pressure. That's huge. Especially in the trading floor you can't really lose your cool, right. Even though sometimes it happens, you have to kind of be steady under pressure even when you're even being shout at and things. You know, people, when people lose money, you know, they're, they're , let's say tJudy Oskam:
They're not happy.Anna Orenstein-Cardona:
They're not happy. They're not themselves. They express themselves in very, you know, certain ways . And so you have to learn to deal with that. And so it's so funny because years back I asked them, why did you guys hire me? And they're like, because you're the only one in there who was real, who just went in there and like , I'm here, I'm a hard worker. And I came in with like, sorry, but 'no bullshit'. You know, it was like, here I am. For your students. my advice would be a couple of things. One is also about when you, when you choose a topic to study and major, it's very important, especially for women. And if, you know , you want to be financially free and you have to really think, okay, does this major have good potential for job opportunities? Does this offer me opportunity for growth? Um, not only , financially, but also am I passionate about this? Well , this open the road and possibility to others because by the way, a lot of big investment banks loved recruiting from MIT because they knew people were thinking in a very different way, you know? And so a lot of engineering majors, a lot of computer science, a lot of , you know, majors that you wouldn't normally think would go to Wall Street and up working on Wall Street. And it's about being that flexible mindset of saying,Judy Oskam:
And understanding how to think, how to think your way out to , and problem solving. And, and I always, I always my guests about their, their , uh, their strengths. And you , you have taken the Gallup Strengths Finder, Clifton StrengthsFinder, and your top , uh , strength, Ana is strategic.Anna Orenstein-Cardona:
Yeah. How interesting I loved learning that from you.Judy Oskam:
Well, I think what it shows you is that you, you see multiple paths to a solution and you're a problem solver and picking a path is easy for you because you've already analyzed it. You also have learner and achiever and arranger and responsibility and your top five. So I think that's interesting how it's fun now to see how your trajectory worked in your career and , and you're still moving forward. So from the trading floor, you then had a chance to go to London. Talk about that decision.Anna Orenstein-Cardona:
Yeah. So that's right. That was the big decision. You know, I was , at that age I was 23 because it was, I was a year and a half working on Wall Street. And then the company was being bought by Credit Suisse at the time. Um, and so they said to me, literally, Anna , you know, for your level, there's not a lot of jobs in the New York office because remember, you know, when you're having a merger, it's, it's, you know, pretty much all those jobs are taken, but they said, we're looking for someone to speak Spanish. Because that's my mother tongue and we want them in London and I'm like, well, heck yeah, let's go. Although I'll be honest, Judy. And , I, I was very scared in a way, because I was alone. I literally had no friends in the UK very far away from my family. Um, but I always thought, you know, the thing is you can always go back. What you can do is open another door potentially right.Judy Oskam:
And you don't want to have regret. Right . Right.Anna Orenstein-Cardona:
Yeah. Correct. So, you know, that honestly was the biggest blessing because first of all, you know, I fell in love with London. I love European culture. Um, what is interesting just to tell you a big difference between working on Wall Street and let's say working on it, by the way in the UK it's called The City. It's, it's exactly the same as saying Wall Street it's. Oh yeah you work in The City. And you know, the way of thinking of Europeans is quite different in , in some aspects. So for instance, how in the U S y ou know, how I studied something totally different. And I ended up working in finance, in ce r tain Eu ropean countries that just does not happen. And I, it saddens me because again, it takes away from that openness of saying, you know what, smart people are good at multiple things, right.Judy Oskam:
They're smart, no matter what.Anna Orenstein-Cardona:
it doesn't define, 'oh, you have to study finance in order to get into finance', but in many European countries, that's like that UK a little less. So they're , they're a bit more flexible, a bit more Anglicised, let's say in that aspect, but I was, that took me by surprise, by the way. But on the other hand, I love that they take their holidays. I love that even though they work really hard that, you know, at the core end of day, family is very important .....tradition. And so that was a really good fit for me, I think , um , and a blessing. Cause that's probably also why I stayed, you know, in, in, on the trading floors for 21 years, basically with the majority in London, it has, let's say a little bit more balanced, but it's still very difficult. And I worked for some really large , um, investment banks here. And , um, even though always on the trading floor , um, so what happened is I always felt a little bit like there was something missing in my life, you know, with, with I loved , um, the travel, you know, even though at the end, it gets really hectic when you're traveling every week for work. I loved that, you know, it was dynamic and fun. No day is the same on the trading floor. I love that, but I felt my creativity is stifled here a little bit. And so what happened is I , um, went to Faber Academy, which is the , um, it's an academy set up by Faber Publishing, which is one of the biggest UK publishers to study creative writing. And part of what happened there is I started to write children's books on the side and what was really interesting. And I loved it. The people I met, I was like, oh, these are my people I've been looking for you. Um, you know, and so what's so interesting that what happened is basically it, I have this idea that I'm still working on for a children's book, talking about money, teaching money to kids, because I see how, you know, the world is changing, but with money being in a way so digitalized , um, for children to really sense the value of money, it's quite tricky. And we have to set them up for success in the future by understanding it from a young age. So what happened is I discovered that there was something called the NFEC, which is the National Finacial Educators Council, and that there was a whole line of business to become a financial coach and a financial educator. I'm like, oh my God , that fits me perfectly. So still, you know, keeping the day job, I, I studied nights and weekends to certify myself as a financial educator, and I absolutely fell in love with that. And then the next kind of evolvement in my career is ....2020 came . And obviously we all know how that has panned out for a lot of us. And , um, I saw a lot of financial pain in this world. I saw not only in the UK, I saw it in the U S I saw it in Europe I saw it in Asia. And I really was shocked when I started to really research and look into this about the levels of financial literacy and the gap that there is, especially , amongst certain cultures and certain ethnicities. It really brews a storm of problems that happened with the pandemic hit. Do you know that less than 10% of households in the US have emergency funds. People, literally food banks, the lines were huge. Like this was a massive blow. And I started to also see around not only the pandemic, but even a couple of years before a lot of female friends going through divorce and the financial pain that they went through. And I just started to think, I , I want to do something more about this. So I had certified myself, but I still kind of didn't know. I still thought it would be more t o, to focus on t he children's b ooks side of things a nd my future career. And I thought, no, I can actually go out there and teach and empower others. And so I founded my company it's called Wear Your Money Crown in the fall of 2020. And it's been going really well. I'm really excited.Judy Oskam:
I love the fact that you are looking around and seeing, where can I help? Where can I give back? Because that's how I see your company. And that's how I see your spirit and your nature of how you're working with clients , uh, college students , um, all, all real ages .Anna Orenstein-Cardona:
You know, it's interesting when you're starting a business and you have to really look into , you know, naming the business in alignment with what you want it to , uh , you know , symbolize. And I'll tell you that it's, today's so hard because almost every single domain is taken almost every single name is trademark . And so I always, I mean, I love Beyonce and I love, you know , how she's the queen. I also thought about me living in the UK with our wonderful queen Elizabeth, and I was thinking, you know, the crown symbolizes empowerment. It symbolizes that you rule that you have leadership and , um, it's royalty, right? And I just thought all of us can achieve that. So Wear Your Money Crown is about wearing that crown, that empowers you to deal with your finances in a way that allows you to reach your higher self.Judy Oskam:
Well, and , and aren't you using some of your neuroscience background with the mindset, because to me, money, there's so much mindset there and I'm, I'm there too with you in that. How do I spend, how do I save? How are you integrating some of your mindset expertise with that as well?Anna Orenstein-Cardona:
Yeah, so , um, that's a great question. Thank you. Because it does go back to my background, doesn't it. So for me to go through my certification, by the way, there were a lot of sections on money mindset and , financial behaviors that we had, even neuro-linguistic programming. We went through different modules that we had to study, and it took me back to university and that I loved , everything about the mind. And I believe so much that for wellbeing , for us to be our higher self, we need mental health, physical health. We also really much need spiritual health and financial health to be kind of self-actualization to be at the top of, you know, our better selves. And so, you know, for me, I'm very, very holistic when I work with individuals, I first start with the money mindset, because again, it's easy to learn how to invest. It's easy to learn certain certain, you know, to, for , you know, let's say reduce debt. However, if you don't fix the financial behaviors that took an individual to get into that amount of debt or to not invest their money to not, you know, that money avoidance, that they just don't want to deal . If I don't clear that with an individual, I'm not setting them up for long-term success. And that is my goal again, for Wear Your Money Crow , when you asked me, what's the goal of the company it's to close the gap in financial literacy, to help people remove their money mind blocks, to be able to align financial behaviors with personal goals and to basically achieve financial freedom.Judy Oskam:
And financial freedom. What comes with financial freedom?Anna Orenstein-Cardona:
You know, for, I think everyone defines it . I suppose how they wish... For me. I always say this. It means having the choice to say no, that's it, no - to bad relationships, no - to a bad job, no -to bad circumstances. And it's to be able to have choices that allow you for instance, to do a job that is in a lignment with who you are. To not be stuck, living paycheck to paycheck. To not, you know, when you have children to be able to send them to the universities that you want them to go to. It's about helping others. I think one of the best things of having money is, is helping others is b ei ng charitable, is transforming other people's lives. And you know, for me, one of the goals I have with Wear Your Money Crown right now, I work with individuals, but one of my goals is to work with schools as well, to help educate with financial literacy students. Because the younger we can get these life skills because of financial savviness is a life skill. Financial knowledge, the younger, we can get them, the more they can build their financial freedom and choices in life.Judy Oskam:
So saying no to the stuff we don't want and saying yes to opportunity.Anna Orenstein-Cardona:
A hundred percent. Yes.Judy Oskam:
That's great. Well, what, what easy tips do you have? A couple of tips for our listeners that could help them with the mind block of money?Anna Orenstein-Cardona:
Okay. So I think with a mind block, first thing is to understand what you're , I know this is a big word, but transgenerational money beliefs are, let me break that down. It's understanding what did your parents say about money? What did --in your childhood? So again, it's taking a step back, it's thinking about what did society tell me about money? What does my culture tell me about money and it's really rethinking what were those beliefs either verbally or visually that you saw? Because one of the biggest things I find with my clients is simply that money was a taboo subject in their households. It was just like naughty to talk about money, which blows my mind. Right? But also, you know, in my household, my parents were extremely , um, you know, they were actually also professors, very, very intelligent , um, just brilliant minds, but terrible with handling money. And so at a young age, I was the little saver and the little one, you know, thinking, oh, what can I sell that school and raise some money to buy some candy? It's always the strategic one.Judy Oskam:
There we go , go and achiever. You want to go from good to great easily.Anna Orenstein-Cardona:
Yeah. Going back to strength so tying that in, and, but, you know, so going back to thinking, what were those beliefs from my childhood and to see if there's any relationship with the current. So for instance, if money was taboo in your household, what happens? Individuals tend to be money avoidant, meaning they'll just put all their money in the savings account and not touch it. That's one aspect. There's money of avoidance of people sadly getting into extreme debt and not handling that debt and that they have to go bankrupt. That's another way of money avoidance. Another example. You know, and sometimes with young girls, this happens like the whole fairytale , 'oh, I don't need to worry about that because one day I'm going to get married and he'll take care of me.' By the way, this could happen maybe in the reverse, but sadly, because of societal considerations during, you know, and the whole fairytale thing, that is something that I have seen myself, people with that mindset. So saying, ah , you know what, my husband will save me in the future. And we cannot depend on other people because not only of divorce rates being where they are, but also people get sick just because they have a high paying job doesn't mean that that will continue for the rest of their life. You know, there's a lot of things. So , money mindset is to see where did I come from? Where am I now? And how can I fix it? So the future doesn't have the same tendencies, right? AvoidanceJudy Oskam:
Is there Anna, is there , um , a healthy , uh, view of money or a healthy mindset of money? It , is there something you could tell us what is a healthy way to think about money?Anna Orenstein-Cardona:
Sure. So, okay. I really think of it in two main ways. One is I feel money is literally just a tool. It is a tool that we use to buy food. It is a tool to put a roof over our heads. It's a tool to pay for services and goods right. Now, what happens is you use money as a tool to put it and spend it towards something that you value. So there is an alignment of your values and your spending. And so for me, money is a tool that allows you to live your values. Okay. And if you have good values, you're going to be using that money for good. If you have bad values, you're going to be using it for bad. I also think of money, like many things, as energy. If you are being money avoidant, let's say like hiding that money away, hiding that energy away. You're not allowing it to flow. And when money can flow, the more you have, the more you'll get, the more you'll get, the more you are able to give back and you will get more in return that energy. And so I really think that that is an important mindset. And part of the reason I say that, especially starting my business and working with women on their money mindset and , and seeing how people many times mispriced their services because they don't value. They don't think that other people will value them so much and they don't value their value themselves. And so it's about thinking about it at energy, you're using your talents to help other people, then that money you get paid back is that energetic exchange and you deserve to get paid your worth. And that it's really important. And I think a good money mindset is I'll give you a very simple example, instead of saying, I cannot afford this. Is framing it to , how can I afford this? And then setting that goal and setting the action steps to achieve it.Judy Oskam:
That's great. Well, let me just repeat that because I actually wrote this down money is a tool and energy to live your values.Anna Orenstein-Cardona:
Yeah, absolutely.Judy Oskam:
That's great.Anna Orenstein-Cardona:
Thank you. I, you know, this is the thing, a lot of times money, and again, those limiting transgenerational beliefs, things like saying simple things. People don't mean to say , well, We can't afford that, oh, Money doesn't grow on trees . What do you think, we're rich? Having that constantly, constantly in your mind is very difficult because remember, 90% of our thoughts are stuck on a subconscious level, right? And those are thoughts that really reverberate and hurt us in the future. If we have that limiting belief, but if we transform it into thinking, how can I afford this? How can I do this? What good can I bring with money? You know, that really... Repeating those thoughts are basically going to help align your actions with positive thoughts. And that is what's going to lead you to abundance. I do believe a lot in , um, you know, the mindset of you put out, basically you attract what you put out into the world, right? I think that's with people, that's with certain situations and that's with money. And if you can transform from those limiting beliefs to abundant beliefs, that will help you again to change your thoughts, your beliefs, your actions, and that's, what's g oing t o lead you to win.Judy Oskam:
I love that and if someone wants to connect with you, we're going to put your information in the show notes, but what's the first step in contacting you check out Wear Your Money Crown.comAnna Orenstein-Cardona:
Yeah, that's a great first step on there. You know, you can read more about me, more about the services I offer. I also have a blog where I write a weekly blog based on different , um, financial and money topics. Um, and again, in a holistic fashion, I also put in values and mindsets and everything into that. Um, and then people can book a discovery call if they want with me on my services page. There's a very easy button to do that and I can see how I can be of service.Judy Oskam:
Um , well, Anna, you've been such a help for me over the last year, and it's been great to connect. I've learned so much from you.Anna Orenstein-Cardona:
Oh, that's brilliant. Well, thank you so much. It's been a pleasure to know you for the last year, too . Um, you know, thank you for all the work you do as well in helping people to find their strengths so that they can live their better lives as well.Judy Oskam:
Well, we're hoping, and Anna , thank you for joining us today on Stories of Change and Creativity. It's been great to get to know your story, and I know our listeners will be checking you out and we will be in connection again soon.. Thank you so much, Anna ,Anna Orenstein-Cardona:
Thank you ... bye byeJudy Oskam:
Check out our show notes for more information about this episode, you can find this podcast on any of your favorite streaming platforms. And remember if you have a story to tell or know someone who does reach out to me at judyoskam.com. Thanks for listening.