Reassessing those few small changes in your day-to-day can make a huge difference whether your business will make it or not…Being able to consistently reassess everything will make sure you are never in that (sinking) boat.
Jenna L. Biancavilla, is a fearless entrepreneur and seasoned business trailblazer. In addition to the founder/owner, she currently serves as the CEO of Pearl Capital Management – a holistic financial services company with a passion for helping people, and as Managing Partner with 17 Capital Partners, LLC – a boutique money management firm. Phoenix Magazine has named Biancavilla one of the top 50 wealth advisors in Arizona for the past 5 years straight.
Jenna is an independent, comprehensive financial planner. Her extensive experience with thousands of different financial situations makes her an expert in complex personal wealth management strategies. Combining her roles as a Wealth Advisor with Pearl Capital Management and as a Branch Manager with Geneva Financial, LLC (a mortgage banker focused on putting humans first), Jenna is uniquely able to take a holistic approach to her clients’ overall financial wellbeing.
Biancavilla frequently is requested as the guest speaker to lecture on personal finance, financial aid, scholarships, and economics.
As the Board of Directors President of Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s young professionals auxiliary, Emerging Leaders, Jenna finds her life’s meaning and purpose through servant leadership. Jenna’s philanthropic endeavors include leaderships roles and/or involvement in: Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Scottsdale Leadership, The Junior League of Phoenix, The Financial Planning Association of Greater Phoenix, The AZ Humane Society and many other local community service and professional organizations.
While collaborating with a non-profit organization focused on scholarships and college planning, Ms. Biancavilla spent thousands of hours offering pro-bono advice to families across the country. Their work was recognized and awarded the Pro-Bono Award through Financial Planning Magazine in 2014.
Biancavilla graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from The University of Arizona with a minor in Business Administration. Jenna is a licensed loan originator, licensed investment advisor representative, licensed insurance agent, and certified college planning specialist. She holds many leadership-training certificates through organizations such as Scottsdale Leadership and Leadership Development Institute, she teaches the community’s leaders as a trainer in The Junior League’s Member Training, and consistently gains first-hand leadership skills as the acting Board of Directors President of Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s auxiliary, Emerging Leaders.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
I’ve always had the entrepreneurial bug, so it was never a question if I was going to open up my own financial planning company, but more so when. There was a moment when starting Pearl Capital Management was the right choice for my clients, who I promised to take care of all the way through their retirement. While it was the right change for my clients, it was terrifying for me. It was so reassuring to have several successful entrepreneurs explain to me that “there is never a right time to start a business, but the best time is now, don’t delay”. I make sure to repeat these words whenever I get a chance just in case someone listening is considering taking the leap.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I cannot say that any one day is ever typical in my life or line of work, rolling with the punching, adapting and learning is such an important part of running Pearl Capital Management. Of course, I have the typical account review, retirement planning or “holy cow college is expensive how can I afford to send my kids to their dream school” meetings. But each of these meetings is as personalized and diverse as the people I am meeting with, I guess you could call that part of my day “typical”, but to me, each day is drastically different. Don’t even get me started on the stock market part of my day, anyone who has followed the markets knows that the slightest change anywhere in the world can create an a-typical day to an investor.
Productivity for me comes from the organization all of the day’s to-dos. It’s pretty old school, but I always have a legal pad next to my computer that I write various different items on, trades or wires get top priority over marketing or emails. Keeping a running list of everything that needs to be accomplished for the day, and also all of my big-ideas go on this list. I roll-over anything that is unaccomplished to the next day, that is my little way of staying productive.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The first step is always writing down the idea and talking through pros and cons with someone I trust. Choosing not to implement a bad business plan is just as important and bringing a good one to life. After considering the road to profitability, best and worst case scenarios, I find the most efficient and effective process and hit the ground running. For me, working in the business comes easy, I naturally enjoy completing tasks. I always need to remind myself to step outside of the process and reassessing if this is a still good idea and if we are going about it in the most efficient way.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Humans! There have been a lot of people testing out ‘robo-advisors’ and it hasn’t really caught on, or paid off. I believe that people like to talk to a human, explain their unique situation, and get customized advise, today’s robots just can’t do that. What’s even more exciting is that people are moving away from the big banks and towards boutique, local financial planners, such as myself.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am driven to finish the task at hand. If I don’t have enough time to respond to emails because I am about to walk into a meeting, I don’t read them, instead, I complete a smaller task. It is a waste of time to read the same email twice, so I make sure that I have enough time to immediately finish each task before starting it.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Kindness is not a weakness. When I first started working in finance, I was told that women needed to be tough to make it in this male-dominated industry. So I slicked my hair back into a bun, put on a pants suit and checked my smiles and jokes at the door. Looking back, that advise was not helpful. The advice I would give my younger self is to be authentic, or as people say today “you do you”. Today, my clients love that they know me as an authentic person, we can have real, deep conversations, and I couldn’t do that when I was trying to be some robot.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I view the world as inherently good, I’m an optimist.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Reassess, constantly. Failing to adapt can kill a business. I am constantly reassessing what we are doing why we are doing it, the efficiency of the processes in place. This can be annoying at times because no one wants to re-create the wheel every year, but those few small changes in your day-to-day can make a huge difference whether your business will make it or not. I see a lot of people stuck on an idea that was great 10 years ago, but near obsolete today. Being able to consistently reassess everything will make sure you are never in that (sinking) boat.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Most of the marketing advice I’ve been given is to find a niche, you know, that thing that sets you apart from the competition. However, I never really wanted to turn away people that needed help. So I’ve tried something different, I’ve surrounded myself with amazing people with varying areas of expertise. When I had a client insist that she wanted to use me to buy a hotel (even though she was acutely aware I had no experience in this area) I was able to team up with a colleague who specializes in this area, and take care of the client’s needs (and learn a few things along the way). Its instances like this one that has given me a reputation as a financial guru that can take care of anything for anyone, not because I know everything, but because I am surrounded by brilliant people, who share the same values of helping people.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Giving trust to a company before it is earned. Before I opened Pearl Capital Management, I was recruited to open/manage/run and partly own the financial services division of a large Georgia-based company. This seemed to be a great opportunity, after 8 months of planning and many flights to Georgia, we signed all of the contracts and employment agreements, leased out office space in downtown Phoenix, and filed the necessary paperwork with the state and financial agencies. However, before we really even got started, the company had a “change in direction”. This was a lesson learned the hard way, that you can never really trust a big company to do the right thing for individuals. I’ve since aligned myself with people and companies that are incentivized to always do the right thing by others. Not only are my client’s interests always put first, but our people-first model has also helped my business thrive.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think the next generation expects customization. It’s no secret that my business is modeled around a tailored approach to meet each individual client’s needs, and that’s because I truly believe people want to be treated like individuals. I don’t think the old-school one-size-fits-all approach will have lasting power.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I am currently fostering abandoned, homeless puppies through the AZ Humane Society. When they first arrived at my home, I went down to the pet store and purchased all sorts of treats, toys, blankets and high-quality food (things they don’t get in the shelter). For me, it is tremendously rewarding to buy something for someone else, or in this case for helpless animals.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
My client and I use an online financial website called emoney. Their encryption security level is military grade, and for me, having the best possible security is very important. This website allows my client to link all of their financial information together, from checking accounts to 401(k)s to car loans and mortgages, all from different banks but in one easy to view place. Being able to log in and see your total net-worth is empowering to many people, they want to pay down credit cards, increase savings and watch that net-worth number increase.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Due to my profession, I’ve usually recommended self-help or finance 101 books to people in the past. However, this summer, I read Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, I loved the worldly perspective it gives the reader. If you like fun-facts, this book is packed with interesting information you might not know. While there are plenty of the author’s opinions present throughout, the overall big-picture perspective can be grounding. Perhaps after finishing this book a reader may feel less compelled to purchase high price tag labels, or maybe they will spend less time stressing over small issues. I hope that to be the case because we all know stress is bad for health, and health issues can be expensive. My ultimate goal for everyone I encounter is a healthy, happy and prosperous life.
What is your favorite quote?
“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi
I know this is a cliché favorite quote, but I believe they are great words to live by. People commonly ask me why I choose to do difficult things or take on more tasks than necessary, and I always respond with “it’s the right thing, and someone has to do it, and here I am”. I have a trailblazer mentality, I commonly think “if other people see me doing this, perhaps they too will do the right thing”.
- Choosing not to implement a bad business plan is just as important and bringing a good one to life.
Reassess, constantly. Failing to adapt can kill a business.
- The next generation expects customization.
- People are moving away from the big banks and towards boutique, local financial planners.
- It is tremendously rewarding to buy something for someone else, try it.
- “Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi