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Conversations with the Inspiring Cristina Behrens, CFP®, RLP®and Stephanie Bucko, CFA®, CPA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cristina Behrens, CFP®, RLP®, and Stephanie Bucko, CFA®, CPA.

Cristina is a Certified Financial Planner® and Registered Life Planner®. Formerly, I led sales and consulting efforts as a Regional Director for Russell Investments, one of the world’s largest institutional investment consultants. In this role I worked for the Advisor and Intermediary Services division in both Southern California and Hawaiian markets, meaning that I consulted for and worked with over 10,000 financial advisors. After years of experience in the industry, I grew dissatisfied with the wide disparities in knowledge, empathy, and skill within the advisor population. When I turned 30, I put together a plan to transition away from working with financial advisors to working with individuals – the job I came to view as my life’s purpose.

Stephanie is a Certified Public Accountant® and Chartered Financial Analyst®. She audited hedge funds in New York City with PricewaterhouseCoopers during the 2008 financial crisis. Following this challenging work, Stephanie joined Man Group, the world’s largest publicly traded hedge fund as a risk manager for six years, handling $15 billion in hedge funds. After years of serving banks, pensions, and endowments, Stephanie became interested in bringing institutional quality services to a broader population. In 2016, she left New York City to pursue a career in individual money management where she managed $200 million in assets across equities, bonds, and alternative investments. Stephanie recognized that investment management was only a small piece of the service that individuals truly need in a financial advisor. She decided that clients needed more from their advisors in order to succeed.

Through their individual realizations, we partnered together to bring Mana’s vision to life. Mana is a native Hawaiian word that means “power not associated with wealth.” Exactly as we do for our clients, we designed own life plan and co-founded Mana Financial Life Design August of 2019.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The financial services industry is notoriously male-dominated. Only 16% of CFA® Charterholders in the United States are women. 23% of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioners are women. When we first explored starting our own company, there were a number of hurdles: we were young, we were female, we didn’t have an existing client base and we didn’t want to sell products like most advisors have to in the first years of business. Our advice to young women out there is to get your vision as crystal clear as possible. Create a business plan and crunch the numbers to understand how much time (and hard work) it’s going to take to be successful in years 1 to 10. Most importantly, don’t let other people tell you what you can’t do. Believe in yourself.

What should we know about Mana Financial Life Design? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Mana’s vision is to destigmatize wealth by practicing compassionate finance. We know that trust and collaboration help people achieve big things. We believe everyone deserves great financial advice.

We know that finances can be complex and intimate, so we built a client experience to support both of these characteristics: We assume that every client has the potential to change and improve their attitudes and beliefs around money. Our focus is on people first, not their income or assets. We integrate approaches from psychology, sociology, and behavioral economics to address lifestyle and well-being through better financial planning. Our strategies are based in empiricism and logistics and are then balanced and implemented through our philosophy of care and humanism.

We are proud that our accountability partnership differentiates us from any other advisors out there. Just like a personal trainer helps clients achieve physical fitness, we are accountability partners in becoming financially fit. We work one-on-one with clients on a regular basis. Clients can expect monthly virtual meetings. We use the latest tools and technology to keep clients on track and monitor their progress. Clients can customize their experience and adjust aspects of their planning based on milestones and scheduled reviews. With our process, clients can withstand anything.

For good reason, society often focuses more on the problems rather than the opportunities that exist, because the problems need to be solved. However, we’d probably also benefit from looking for and recognizing the opportunities that women are better positioned to capitalize on. Have you discovered such opportunities?
It’s a commonly cited statistic now that women stand to inherit $20 trillion in wealth over the next thirty years. Although that statistic isn’t terribly interesting in itself, what’s more interesting is what women will decide to do with this opportunity. We believe there is so much opportunity for progress and change in this world with more women at the helm in business, government, and in non-profits.


  • Financial Freedom Client Engagement starts at $1,500 upfront and $150 a month
  • Financial Legacy Client Engagement starts at $3,000 upfront and 1% in assets under management for assets under $1 million
  • Corporate Training and Speaking Engagements available upon request

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Phone: 3107954949
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @manafld

Image Credit:
Stephanie Todaro Photography

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