About Tanya Nichols founder of Align Financial

Tanya Nichols, CFP®, Founder and President

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My mission in everything I do is always to bring my best self to the people, families and organizations I serve; I never want to lose sight of what my clients have come to expect of me and my practice.

I am, and will always remain, fiercely independent in my advocacy for my clients and my profession. My objective first and foremost is to make a positive difference, and I see each day as a new opportunity to enhance the lives of those I serve. This intrinsic feel for what’s important in business and life in general helps to fuel my drive for the work I do both here at Align Financial, and beyond.

I am intensely curious; forever learning and striving to challenge myself. I’m able to ruthlessly prioritize goals in an effort to make sure I’m doing the most meaningful work. I am innately driven towards growth and problem solving, with an ability to embrace the grind with tenacity and grit. I view my role as requiring not just financial aptitude, but also a constant desire for personal and professional improvement.

I’ve been working in finance since starting my career with a position at Piper Jaffray when I was just 18 years old. I moved from the Minneapolis area to Duluth for college at the University of Minnesota, and worked hard through college, always having two jobs to pay my own way. I was proud to graduate from UMD with a Finance degree and a focus on psychology. I’ve always loved the intersection of finance and the psychology of money, and it’s a privilege to put that into practice every day.

As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, my aim early on was to be on the leading edge of the profession. Being younger than most of my peers at the time, I approached everything with fresh and eager eyes. I quickly found the sales focus of the industry misaligned with what my clients really wanted – and needed. As I recalibrated my approach to one that wasn’t about sales, but about truly helping people – that’s when I really thrived.

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Finding my own alignment

After more than 15 years in finance, working first for US Bancorp Piper Jaffray, and then Wells Fargo Advisors, in 2014 my clients and I moved to Raymond James, where we joined a well established group of independent advisors at Ascential Wealth Advisors.

Moving from large and often impersonal financial institutions, here we found ourselves in the best of both worlds, with the security of being a part of an established firm with over 55 years experience taking care of other people’s money, but also the freedom from some of the compensation conflicts advisors and their clients so often face in larger firms.

I spent the next few years getting settled at Ascential Wealth; exploring independence and what that meant for me and my clients. After many years with big institutional firms like WF and US Bank, advancing their agendas, or pushing back when I didn’t agree, my time at AWA continued to teach me a lot about how independent advisors can serve clients by putting their clients’ needs first.

I learned about the decisions business owners make like staffing, branding, leasing space, and accounting. My time there was critical to preparing me for the next step, and the moment had arrived for me to write my next chapter. So I bravely turned the page: Align Financial was born.

I still work hard to stay connected to the best and the brightest in our field. You’ll often find me collaborating and sharing ideas with colleagues across the country in my role as former Chair of CFP Board’s Council on Examinations in Washington DC. I am also a member of the Board of the Arrowhead Estate Planning Council, a local organization where accountants, attorneys and financial planners all come together to share our expertise.

I am a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, recognized as a standard of excellence for competent and ethical personal financial planning. I serve as a fiduciary, which means you can feel reassured that I have made a personal commitment to the people I serve, to put their interests first, always. CFP®s have to meet the strictest of ethical requirements, as well as meaningful ongoing continuing education requirements.

I am always innovating, and am passionate about supporting other organizations that help people transform their lives.

I love to learn and to contribute, and had the privilege to serve as the Chair of the CFP Board’s Council on Examinations in Washington D.C. The Council, a group of seven specially selected CFP® professionals from around the country, provides the CFP Board with recommendations regarding the development and administration of the CFP® Certification Exam. My 10 years volunteering with CFP Board put me on the front lines of the profession, allowing me to create a culture of innovation in everything I do, and bring the industry’s latest thinking to my clients’ personal financial situations.

I currently sit on the board of the Miller-Dwan Foundation whose cutting edge program, AmberWing, supports children and young adults battling mental illness and substance use disorder, and am a former Board Chair at the Duluth Bethel, a rehabilitation center dedicated to helping people rebuild their lives.

I have a wonderful family with two active teenagers, and two stepdaughters who are busy navigating adulthood. When I’m not at the office, you’ll find me at the arena watching Grace and Lane play hockey. When I have time to myself, I love reading, or running and thinking in the woods on the Superior Hiking Trail.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™and CFP® in the U.S.
About Tanya Nichols founder of Align Financial
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