ChantelChantel Bonneau, CFP is a 2010 graduate from the University of California – Los Angeles. Upon graduation from UCLA, she launched her career as a College Unit Director and Financial Representative (FR) with Northwestern Mutual – Los Angeles. She is the company’s top College Unit Director, and a top financial rep for Northwestern Mutual’s Western region.

What initially drew you to this profession?

Financial planning is a unique hybrid of everything I was looking for in a career – the opportunity to work with people to achieve their goals while satisfying my interest in analytics and offering a strong financial upside.

What areas of financial planning/advising/coaching do you focus on, and why?

Every situation is unique so my main focus is on tailoring strategies that meet a client’s specific needs. That said, what is most exciting to me is working with clients who have a broad vision that includes a wide range of present and future priorities.  There is no greater sense of accomplishment than working hand in glove with a client towards making their dreams a reality.

Why do you think there are so few women in this profession and what needs to happen for this to change?

Financial planning, like a number of other careers, has traditionally been male-dominated. While I’m sure everyone has their own ideas on why this is, I’d rather focus on how the field is evolving. I am very involved in college recruiting for NM and know personally that once women are made aware of all the benefits and opportunities that being a financial advisor can offer, the interest and excitement is overwhelming.  I am confident that if, we as an industry, continue to educate women on the flexibility, growth potential and other advantages of this career, the numbers will shift pretty dramatically, especially considering that by 2020, more than half of the workforce is expected to be women.

In your experience, what prevents women from seeking financial planning advice?

The reasons vary but some of the more common ones we’ve come across include not having the experience of hearing financial issues discussed in the home during their formative years; letting their partners take the lead on financial decision-making; and sometimes simply the lack of time. For a woman juggling a number of priorities, making time to meet with an advisor can be easy to push off.

How can financial planning lead to greater well-being overall?

I view financial planning as the cornerstone for peace of mind. It’s like having a navigation system towards your goals. The plan sets you towards your desired destination and can adjust to unexpected bumps and turns along the way to keep you on course. Also, having a financial strategy in place lets you focus on all the other important things that financial flexibility makes possible.

Do you have any favorite finance apps?

I really like Larky and Earmark because combine saving and budgeting with shopping! I contribute to themintgrad.org, which is an online site that focuses specifically on the intersection of finances and lifestyle for 18-24 year olds.  In addition to really good information on topics that matter to Millennials, themintgrad.org also has a bunch of easy to use tools for debt, budgeting, etc.

How to you create balance between your profession and life outside of work?

I schedule…everything! I can get so much more done when I know what my priorities are. If something does not get on my schedule it will not get done, so when I need to be at a   doctor’s appointment or a Friend’s birthday dinner, it goes on the calendar. Working out is a must for me, so just like anything else I calendar it in so that I know I can get it done. After all, I am a planner by trade!

What’s your favorite frugal treat?

A few of my friends and I decided that for birthdays and holidays, we would go to dinner in lieu of gifts. That way we get to spend time together and enjoy a meal. It saves shopping time and the pressure to do it all. It has become a fun tradition and nobody misses the gifts!

Chantel also blogs for TheMintGrad, which is an online financial resource launched by Northwestern Mutual designed to empower millennials on their journey to financial and professional independence. You can find TheMintGrad on Twitter at @nm_mintgrad