69. Guiding Women in Tech to Success with Danika Waddell, CFP®, RLP®, CSLP®, President & Founder of Xena Financial Planning

Joining us today In The Suite is Danika B Waddell, CFP®, RLP®, CSLP®. Danika is the President and Founder of Xena Financial Planning, a fee-only financial planning firm working with women who are in the tech industry and receive equity compensation, typically in the early to mid-career stages.

Danika grew up in Western New York but has called Seattle home for 20 years. The mother of two daughters, two cats, and a dog, she’s happiest when planning her next getaway. In 2022, the family will be traveling to Antigua, Guatemala, and Scotland. When they’re not traveling abroad or hiking in the mountains near their home, they like to throw a frisbee and ski.

From an early age, Danika sat with her dad and balanced the family checkbook. She loved seeing where the money went and appreciated that he trusted her enough to pull back the curtain. As she entered adulthood, she decided to pursue a career in finance. In 2012, at long last, she found her passion: putting together technical skills with client relationships and interpersonal dynamics. Danika earned her Bachelor of Arts in Math from Oberlin College and is currently working on her Master of Science in Advanced Financial Planning from Golden Gate University.

In 2020, Danika Waddell felt called to make a bold move.

She founded Xena Financial Planning, a fiduciary financial planning firm in Seattle, Washington, focused on helping them to take control of their financial lives. Specifically, Danika works with women and their partners in the early to middle stages of their careers to help them navigate whatever life delivers. And she does it through communication, conversations, and collaboration. 

Xena Financial Planning welcomes clients of all backgrounds and aims to make financial planning more accessible to groups of people who the financial planning profession has typically underserved. Xena Financial Planning is also a strong advocate of the LGBTQ community and works with clients of any gender identity or sexual orientation. Within the industry, they are constantly seeking ways to amplify the voices of women and people of color.

Danika likes to walk prospects through the industry, explaining that technology has changed the way businesses are run.  The average person should feel overwhelmed in this industry, but Danika wants them to feel confident and welcome. She believes building a community is key to success.

“The beauties of the community are there is support, and reaching out to people. In life, people are genuinely wanting to help others and are constantly leaning into expertise,” says Danika. 

It’s always good that new clients drive financial growth in business— but what about asking the important questions? Do we have a connection? Would we work well together? While Danika was in the process of opening Xena FP,she noticed that traditional firms tend to focus on retirement and investments— and this was her wake-up call to change the narrative, shift the rules, if we may be so bold. 

Here are three key takeaways that will surely leave you inspired to make your bold moves:

  1. Confidence is the key:  Danika suggests that regardless of how often you’ve heard the same advice, it’s always nice to get a fresh perspective. Knowing that you have at least a few people in your corner and an encouraging voice can help you feel more confident about stepping up to the plate and speaking out about your passions.
  2. Apply your knowledge:  What better way to apply the concepts that you’re great at to an industry that is welcoming? By doing this, you can recognize that taking the logical and creative sides of the brain can be the “biggest lightbulb moment for us to choose a new path,” says Danika.
  3. Have conversations about financial planning: Yes, even at the dinner table. There is no right or wrong answer regarding how money works and how you want to build your portfolio. Danika has these conversations with her children. The secret? They discuss the topic like it’s no big deal. Whether it’s negotiating job offers, estate planning, and even savings— this can be something that you can become comfortable talking about with your close-knit community of people.

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