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Orange County Five Star award winner


Letitia Berbaum’s Early Affinity for Investing and Finance Inspired a Successful Career as a Passionate Wealth ManagerBy Diane Bucka, California Business Journal

As a young girl, Letitia Berbaum accompanied her mother, an entrepreneur with a creative business approach and a conservative financial bent, on her weekly banking errands.  Neither of them knew at the time that this childhood experience would spark such an enduring curiosity and fascination around investments. While most kids were busy with sports, music, or other more traditional hobbies, these early visits to the bank captivated her attention.  There began a long-standing attraction to the magic of finance, how money can grow and help people reach their objectives if managed correctly.

Many of us spend our whole lives trying to find our true calling. Letitia was hooked in and laser focused even as a young girl. She developed relationships with bankers, watched funds and ultimately got permission from her parents to dive into the market herself at the tender age of 10.  Subscribing to the Warren Buffett theory of following brands that resonate (and clearly influenced by her home base in Seattle), her early investments in Starbucks, Costco and Microsoft soon tripled.

These foundational building blocks of knowledge continued once Letitia obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from CSU Fullerton with a focus on Finance and launched her career as a Financial Advisor with Wells Fargo and later LPL Financial.  There she learned the “nuts and bolts” of investments, money management tools, compliance, insurance, and the overarching business of addressing clients’ needs and objectives.

Often referred to as the “voice of reason,” she exudes a quiet confidence stemming from these years of careful observation and study. “At Wells Fargo and LPL, I gained a thorough understanding of well-established regulations and protocols,” she says. “And I also truly valued the lessons learned from so many incredible mentors.”

This deep competency ultimately led her to her new position as a Wealth Advisor with Optivest Wealth Management, whose holistic and integrated approach includes advanced planning for tax efficiency, wealth transfer, wealth protection and philanthropy.

Working in concert with this team of experts, Letitia leverages her multi-faceted skillset with a focus on wealth management, wealth transfer strategies, and strategic planning for business owners who desire an exit plan.  She especially values Optivest’s wide expertise and collaborative approach to meeting clients’ diverse needs.

Navigating the Powerful Yet Underserved Female Investor Base

As a female financial advisor, Letitia offers a unique perspective to an ever-growing segment:  women with significant assets.  According to a 2016 study by the Boston Consulting Group, women now control $39.6 trillion globally, up from 25% held in the previous five years.  Growth of 7% a year is anticipated, with an expectation that by 2020 women will control $72.1 trillion, particularly in light of educational trends with higher numbers of women in college.  Women’s wealth is accelerating more rapidly than overall global rates, as they acquire assets through inheritance, divorce, and running their own successful businesses.

Even as more women are attaining wealth, there are proportionally fewer female financial advisors in what is largely a man’s world.  In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that less than one in three advisors are female, despite the fact that the majority of women state a preference for working with female financial advisors.

On this point, Letitia states, “All clients value an advisor who listens carefully and truly understands their needs. As a professional woman and a mom myself, I offer a relatable perspective and can help others with careful planning that addresses their priorities, be they enhancing financial independence, facilitating wealth transfers to heirs, or other concerns.”

Letitia’s strong belief in giving back and getting personally involved in the community is evident in her community engagement efforts.  She is an active member of the Orange County Emerging Leader United Council, the Orange County United Way Women’s Leadership Council, the Financial Planning Association and The Elite OC.  Accordingly, it’s no surprise that her achievements have been widely lauded; she’s the recipient of multiple awards, including NAWRB “The Visionary Leading Lady (2017)”, 5 Star Wealth Manager for Orange County (2017, and nominated again for 2018), and a Certificate of Recognition from Janet Nguyen, Senator from California’s 34th State Legislative District.

Letitia came by her success as a wealth manager organically and honestly.  A lifetime of steady dedication to honing her trade derived from genuine passion and affinity led her to exactly where she always wanted to be: able to educate and empower others with essential insight to make informed decisions and attain their goals.


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*Winners appearing on this page do not pay a fee to be considered or to win the Five Star Award. Professionals with a digital profile have paid a promotional fee.
The Five Star Wealth Manager award, administered by Crescendo Business Services, LLC (dba Five Star Professional), is based on 10 objective criteria. Eligibility criteria – required: 1. Credentialed as a registered investment adviser or a registered investment adviser representative; 2. Actively licensed as a registered investment adviser or as a principal of a registered investment adviser firm for a minimum of 5 years; 3. Favorable regulatory and complaint history review (As defined by Five Star Professional, the wealth manager has not; A. Been subject to a regulatory action that resulted in a license being suspended or revoked, or payment of a fine; B. Had more than a total of three settled or pending complaints filed against them and/or a total of five settled, pending, dismissed or denied complaints with any regulatory authority or Five Star Professional’s consumer complaint process. Unfavorable feedback may have been discovered through a check of complaints registered with a regulatory authority or complaints registered through Five Star Professional’s consumer complaint process; feedback may not be representative of any one client’s experience; C. Individually contributed to a financial settlement of a customer complaint; D. Filed for personal bankruptcy within the past 11 years; E. Been terminated from a financial services firm within the past 11 years; F. Been convicted of a felony); 4. Fulfilled their firm review based on internal standards; 5. Accepting new clients. Evaluation criteria – considered: 6. One-year client retention rate; 7. Five-year client retention rate; 8. Non-institutional discretionary and/or non-discretionary client assets administered; 9. Number of client households served; 10. Education and professional designations. Wealth managers do not pay a fee to be considered or placed on the final list of Five Star Wealth Managers. Award does not evaluate quality of services provided to clients. Once awarded, wealth managers may purchase additional profile ad space or promotional products. The Five Star award is not indicative of the wealth manager’s future performance. Wealth managers may or may not use discretion in their practice and therefore may not manage their client’s assets. The inclusion of a wealth manager on the Five Star Wealth Manager list should not be construed as an endorsement of the wealth manager by Five Star Professional or this publication. Working with a Five Star Wealth Manager or any wealth manager is no guarantee as to future investment success, nor is there any guarantee that the selected wealth managers will be awarded this accomplishment by Five Star Professional in the future. For more information on the Five Star award and the research/selection methodology, go to 2,320 Orange County area wealth managers were considered for the award; 152 (7 percent of candidates) were named 2020 Five Star Wealth Managers. 2019: 2,469 considered, 187 winners; 2018: 2,423 considered, 144 winners; 2017: 1,790 considered, 280 winners; 2016: 1,383 considered, 312 winners; 2015: 2010 considered, 351 winners; 2014: 3,489 considered, 302 winners; 2013: 2,293 considered, 415 winners; 2012: 1,760 considered, 255 winners.