Financial Life Design

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One Year In: Reflections from One Year as Mana Financial Life Design


It’s officially been one year since Mana Financial Life Design opened its doors. Like most new businesses, this year was filled with the achievement of big milestones along with many moments where we had to change course. This week we spent some time reflecting on all that’s happened and we would like to share some of these key moments/achievements with our readers. Before we do so, we want to give a shout out to the people we work with for their constant support. Getting Mana off the ground has been a monumental effort and our community of planners, clients, and advisor support has made it entirely possible!. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

We laughed, we cried, and we slayed debt. We celebrated IPOs and we prioritized funding the goals in our clients’ lives that bring them the greatest joy. As our year progressed, we also took note of the value we’ve added to our clients’ lives. Some of our favorite highlights include developing novel savings and investment strategies, creating tax strategies to efficiently cash out stock compensation, planning for  childrens’ education, and guiding first-time home ownership. It’s been a year since we both left our corporate Wall Street jobs and, as we developed our stride, we’ve been excited to see our value resonating with two subsets of clients: female professionals who work in tech and finance. 

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We’ve been able to scale our business and client load each month, and today we are proud to advise thirty-three client households across the U.S. (We love our virtual office!)

We’ve heard from a lot of our clients and about their desire to live abroad - four of our clients are currently living that dream (shoutout to the Netherlands, Sweden, Singapore and Bali!). 

It is important to us to keep our mission of changing the way financial planning and advice is delivered to the American public at the forefront of our business approach. Staying true to our mission allows us so many opportunities:

We Gave Back

We presented at The 2019 Fulfillment Fund Career Day Expo and participated in pro-bono financial planning at both the Los Angeles Public Library and Habitat for Humanity. In sum, we gave three full work days, or about twenty hours of service to our local community!

We Enjoyed Media Attention

As our business gained traction, we began to share our story with the world. We were catapulted into the social media spotlight with a feature on Rip & Tan from our friends at Jenni Kayne. Our membership in the XY Planning Network helped us gain exposure to reporters with pressing questions. From CNN Business, RIA Biz and Investment News to The Wealth Advisor. After the XYPN Conference in St Louis last fall we were even featured on an Australian podcast: The Advice Movement Podcast: Episode 23! Last fall Cristina won the Diversity and Inclusion scholarship to attend the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors conference, where she was asked to present on a panel with her mentor, George Kinder, on Financial Life Planning. Her interview in Financial Planning Magazine was featured shortly thereafter. Finally, we loved sharing our story with Voyage LA in April of this year.

We Built an Institutional Quality Investment Program

One of our primary goals in launching Mana was to be able to deliver the right investment strategy to individuals no matter what stage in life they are in. By leveraging our network in asset management and hedge funds, we constructed a clear, bespoke process that enables us to incorporate our clients’ life goals into our investment model. We focused portfolios on global diversification, cost effectiveness and tax minimization, and steered discussions with clients towards education on the capital markets, asset classes and behavioral economics.  

We Brought Client Dreams to Reality

For many people, it’s easy to get caught up in the multitude of distractions that keep us from working towards our goals. A core philosophy at Mana is to keep people focused on what is most important. To achieve this, we’ve delivered Mana LifeVisions to nearly all of our clients. LifeVisions are a tangible manifestation of incorporating Life Planning into Financial Planning - which is what we call Financial Life Design. By painting a picture of a moment two years in the future, we help our clients see and connect with the idea of living a life that brings them happiness. Most of our clients are more driven by freedom: of choice and of their time, than the number of digits in their bank account. 

We Launched an Online Money School

Financial planning and investment advice is cost-prohibitive for many, which is why we launched Mana Money School in May. Working with a financial advisor is extremely helpful, but we know that it’s not an option at every life stage and income level. We wanted to find a way to serve young adults who are just starting to face the challenges of adult life and finance. Mana Money School is a compilation of life stories from other young professionals, important money lessons, traditional worksheets and tests, as well as downloadable tools for goal-setting and financial planning.  

We Stayed True to our Plan

At Mana, we are proud to advise on our clients lives - not just their portfolios. We are targeting underserved client populations, using new financial models, and constantly thinking outside of the box to serve the people we work with instead of following the path of an industry long in need of a change. Our guiding principles are to provide a safe space without judgment, advise with compassion, and create a living breathing plan that grows and evolves with our clients’ lives. It’s not always easy to break the mold in the world of finance, but we’re committed to our philosophies and we’re excited to grow and share them with more people.

One year ago, Mana was a lofty vision with great potential and a vast space of unknowns. In a world where financial sensationalism penetrates our screens and minds, we wondered whether our approach would yield our desired results. Today, we’re happy to be thriving and growing our business, leading a philosophical movement that brings true meaning to money. 

We’re changing the face of financial advice and we can’t wait to see what happens next. 

It has been one heck of a year, and it has been our absolute honor to work with so many amazing people.


Cristina Livadary and Stephanie Bucko are fee-only financial planners based in Los Angeles, California and are the CEO and COO of Mana Financial Life Design. Mana Financial Life Design provides comprehensive financial planning and investment management services to help clients organize, grow and protect their wealth throughout life’s journey. Mana specializes in advising professionals in the tech industry, as well as women who work in institutional investing, through financial planning and investment management. As fee-only fiduciary and independent financial advisors, Cristina and Stephanie never receive commission of any kind. They are legally bound by their certifications to provide unbiased and trustworthy financial advice.