A financial advisor who has visited 50 countries as a frequent tourist and former Olympian launched getaway retreats for women that mix planning with travel to Bali and Colombia.
Lauryn Williams, who was the first American woman to win medals at both the Summer and Winter Games before she became a certified financial planner and launched Dallas-based Worth Winning, came up with the idea for the retreats last year. “Everybody wants to travel and I love to travel as well,” she explained in an interview.
Williams has capped her advisory practice at 26 clients, although the retreats are an offshoot of offering one-time customers a financial plan. The week-long “Welcome to Wealth” trips to Medellín this July and to Bali in Indonesia a month later consist of daily lessons covering a dozen topics and a financial plan, plus curated activities and entertainment for up to eight women in deluxe accommodations at a cost of $3,200, not including the price of a flight.
More advisors are doing their own “fun-nincial planning” with personalized events and other experiences, Williams said.
“This is a really outside-of-the-box way to be able to meet people where they are,” she said. “We need to continue to innovate the way that we serve people so that we can have the biggest impact.”
Office design, creative events, new technologies and other aspects of what’s referred to as the “client experience” have emerged as important means of drawing in new clients in recent years. The practice management arm of investment manager, custodian, technology and consulting firm SEI Investments views “cultivating community” within a customer base as a top priority for 9,000 advisors working with the firm, said Head of Practice Management Shauna Mace.
In an interview, she mentioned client appreciation events, such as one practice that hosts a gift-wrapping event for clients each year with hot chocolate and other snacks and another that gets special viewings at a local museum for its customers.
Mace found Williams’ idea “brilliant for a number of reasons,” she said. The industry often misses out on prospects among younger people who have substantial income and would benefit from a plan but haven’t yet built the level of assets of traditional clients, according to Mace.
“If they do the right things early, then they will eventually have the assets and they will enter into a more traditional wealth management engagement with an advisor,” she said. “We all know that most organic growth comes from referrals, and what better way to generate referrals than through building this community. We see a lot of advisors who leverage events.”
Williams compiles financial plans in 90-minute sessions and leads corporate wellness workshops, in addition to working with her more than two dozen ongoing advisory clients. She took the gold in the 4×100 meter relay in the London games in 2012, followed by a silver in the 2-woman bobsled in Sochi two years later. She’s also written a book about how to break into professional track and field and hosts a podcast called “Worth Listening.”
After drawing up financial plans for “tons of single female lawyers” over the past several years, Williams ran her first planning retreat in Atlanta in 2022. For the two retreats coming up this year, each participant will come home with a complete plan after spending about half their days in one-on-one coaching and sessions about topics like budgeting, student loan and credit card debt and buying a home.
She booked luxury villa rentals in Medellín’s Provenza neighborhood and in the Petanu River Valley of Bali. The attendees will devote the other half of their time to sightseeing, with activities like paragliding, wildlife tours and trips to the beach. Williams planned these trips with affluent millennial women in mind, but she anticipates expanding to planning retreats for couples and men as well in coming years.
She’s passionate about the idea that “everyone deserves access to good financial advice,” and “education is a key piece of the puzzle,” Williams said. “My business is all about filling the gap for the people who would not generally have access to a financial planner.”