Protea Conversations: Tracy Baron Garcia

Protea Conversations: Tracy Baron Garcia

Protea Financial was founded in 2014 to provide high-quality outsourced accounting at an affordable price. Given Protea’s flexible work environment, the Company especially appealed to accountants who wanted to re-enter the workforce after taking time off to start a family. This allowed Protea to attract extremely talented individuals who were previously overlooked.  Protea strives to represent people from all backgrounds and provide an environment for them to grow and succeed in a setting that provides the flexibility and acceptance of who they are as people.

We selected the name Protea because is the national flower of South Africa and is a symbol of our connection. The Protea flower has become an ornamental flower because of this striking beauty and is included in arrangements and bouquets as a symbol of courage or daring to be better or a sign of positive transformation.

Protea Conversations in 2023 will focus on positive transformation and representation from all backgrounds. We are broadening our Conversations with the hope that these conversations will continue to create a forum to discuss the experiences, opportunities, and challenges leaders face, and how we can build a more diverse, inclusive, and successful environment for everyone.

In April 2023 we spend time with Tracy Baron Garcia, Founder of TBG Prosperity.

Tracy is on a mission to educate and provide resources to empower people to improve their financial situation. She is determined to make money and finances less taboo, less intimidating, and easier to understand, especially for those working in the hospitality, non-profit and service sectors. She founded TBG Prosperity based on the premise that everyone deserves the opportunity to live a rich and full life, now and in retirement.

Tracy has over 20 years of financial services and planning experience. In Chicago, at Northern Trust Bank, she advised wealth management clients and Fortune 500 Companies with their 401k plans and has worked in Financial Planning leadership positions at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Far Niente. She uses this experience to help individuals improve their financial outlook, resulting in reduced stress, increased focus and improved overall mental and physical well-being.

Tracy earned an MBA in Finance & Strategy from Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, has a Certificate in Personal Financial Planning from University of California, Berkeley, and an undergraduate Finance degree from the University of Illinois and has stayed loyal to Big Ten Sports – Go Illini!

TBG Prosperity Financial Wellness Topics Include: Budgeting & Savings Strategies | Retirement Preparation | Managing Debt | The Power of Investing | General Financial Education | Employee Benefits

For prosperity to happen, we need to be bold, we need to work together, and we need to talk about money more.

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Tell us a little more about your journey from wealth management assistant relationship manager to founding TBG Prosperity?

I was fortunate to start off my career at Northern Trust Bank in Chicago working with trust clients who had >$50 million and then corporate retirement plans with up to $2 billion in investment assets. I was surrounded by some incredible clients and colleagues who I am so proud to have worked with. After 14 years and a lot of growth, I was ready for a change and took a sabbatical and traveled around the world trip for 6 months – from New Zealand to Asia to the grand finale in South Africa (a favorite destination!!) – it was an incredible experience of learning to adapt, having fun and on-the-spot problem solving all at the same time!

I had been passionate about wine for a long time and traveled to wine regions regularly. After a lot of thought, I decided to go for it and came out to Napa to find a job that combined my passion for wine with my MBA in finance and was fortunate to work at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Far Niente in financial planning. I found I would counsel employees on their finances often and really felt a calling to make a difference in people’s lives, which prompted me to found TBG Prosperity where I am combining my background and experience to help people with financial planning and provide financial education employee group sessions in a safe, fun and easy to understand, environment.

Protea Financial Protea Conversations Tracy Traveling

What has been the biggest challenge you have experienced in reaching your current success (personally and professionally)?

The phrase – “This is how we’ve always done it.” Being willing to try new things, to experiment, being open to new ideas and allowing innovation is instrumental in building long-term growth and positive change!

What are your short-term goals of your career and yourself?

To redesign how we approach our personal finances. Talking about money doesn’t have to be intimidating, boring, impolite, or stuffy. There can be so much shame and taboo around money – getting people to talk about money more is a great first step in financial change, it can be fun and exciting.

I want to financially empower people and make them feel safe in learning and growing with their finances and create more peace of mind for their future. To help facilitate change through financial education and support leads to greater financial success now and in retirement – win-win-win!

I always focus on continuously growing and learning. It’s never too late, we’re never too old.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received that has helped you in your success?

A former colleague who was very successful would always say we can do our job and be nice and treat others with respect, even in the most intense of times. It’s all about building relationships and caring about others. It’s a recipe for long-term success and has worked over and over again in working with clients and colleagues.

Protea Financial Protea Conversation Keep Your Voice and Work Together

What is the piece of advice that you wished you had gotten when you were starting out?

Make sure you keep your voice, don’t be afraid to use it. In certain work cultures our voice can get lost or not be encouraged, but if you have something to say and don’t say it – everyone is missing out. If you’re not being listened to, find the right culture for you – it’s out there and when you feel like you can truly be yourself, are listened to and can affect change, that’s when the magic happens.

What advice would you give to others to help them be better leaders?

Listen. Really listen. Have empathy. Be flexible. Care, genuinely care about your people. Make it all about them, not you. If you have one “bad apple” on your team – it brings the whole team down and can wreak havoc that is very costly to your business. It is so important to do something.

If you have a rockstar, let them shine, truly shine, and invest in them accordingly – that investment will pay off incredibly over time. Taking people’s strengths and building a team around those strengths and encouraging each of them to try, even if they fail? That is true leadership, and it can be so special and move mountains in a business.

Can you share something interesting about yourself that will provide insight into who you are outside of the professional space?

They say you will regret what you don’t do in life – my motto is to just do the darn thing, do it when and while you can.

I love traveling and learning about new cultures and people and have been to 30 countries and wine regions. Trip highlights include paragliding in the Swiss Alps, seeing the band U2 in Rome, a Boca Juniors football match in Argentina and being up close to baby elephants in South Africa. I love riding my peloton bike – Robin Arzon’s 90s hip hop classes are my favorite. My husband and I love to cook and do wine pairings with friends and family and have been trying many of Ina Garten’s recipes this year – our little dog Bodega is very special to us and is also an avid food lover, too! Here’s to living life now and in retirement!

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As a thank you to our interview and Protea’s commitment to more diverse and inclusive leaders, Protea will donate to Canine Companions ( Canine Companions is leading the service dog industry so their clients and their dogs can live with greater independence. They provide service dogs to adults, children and veterans with disabilities and facility dogs to professionals working in healthcare, criminal justice and educational settings. Since our founding in 1975, our dogs and all follow-up services are provided at no cost to our clients.

Independence shouldn’t be limited to those who look or live a certain way. Disability reaches all races, classes and backgrounds, and Canine Companions will too. Clients come to Canine Companions because of our reputation, the quality of our dogs, the experience of our training staff and the desire to lead life with greater independence. We are committed to providing services to all qualified clients. 

Become part of the ever-expanding Protea network. Contact us now and let’s work together to share our passions and help each other grow!