Robin Starr, CFP®, CRPC

Co-Founder  |  Financial Planner

Robin Starr, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional and co-founder of Athena Wealth Strategies, has more than fifteen years of experience in financial services. She graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, California, with a degree in Economics and then began several years of moving between the East and West coasts. A native of Connecticut, Robin moved East after college, living in Connecticut and then New York City, where she worked in the Private Asset Management Division of Neuberger Berman. In 2008, she moved to California and joined Lincoln Financial Advisors. In 2014, while remaining with Lincoln, she returned to the East Coast after her husband became a research associate at the Brookings Institution. Although she now works out of Washington, D.C., she is in California frequently and considers herself very much part Californian, part East Coaster.

Q. What do you like best about your role as a planner?

The skills and knowledge I learned while studying for the CFP® certification fit in perfectly with my love of analysis and problem solving. I am particularly drawn to how financial planning combines those professional skills with personal abilities to help clients talk through, determine, and achieve their own personal goals.

Q. Who do you work best with?

Creating order out of chaos has always been something I find deeply satisfying, and I’ve never been one to feel that life needs to be lived according to a formula. As a result, I feel that where I really differ from a lot of financial planners is in the way my process helps manage and prioritize the many moving pieces in clients’ lives. Change can mean different things to different people - whether it’s starting a family, moving from steady employment to freelance work, or buying a new home (sometimes in a new state!). I also do a lot of work with people going through upheaval such as divorce or health crises to help sketch out where to go from here and provide guidance during turbulent times.

I love working with people to use the structure and process of planning to help bring clarity when life seems more uncertain than ever.

Q. What does your process look like?

I start everyone off with an introductory meeting. There’s no charge or commitment for this meeting, but I find it provides a lot of value as well as an introduction to me and my work. We go through someone’s financial situation, goals, concerns, and resources on a very broad level. This serves a couple of purposes - first off, it usually allows me to catch anything truly urgent in their situation and put together an overview of the most important areas to explore whether we end up working together or not. Secondly, it gives me a sense of the overall scope and complexity of work and how much that would cost. 

I typically get started by working on a flat fee structure for the initial plan and first year of work together. That way they are paying me directly for advice, any implementation is only done after we know what’s best for the client, and there are no surprises. The initial process is all about diving into their situation, from cash flow to estate planning, and filling in details as we go. I’ve adopted a lot of technology which makes the process interactive so clients facing a lot of different priorities and decisions can see how the various options in their lives play out over time.  

Because life is full of change, the process works best when it’s done on an ongoing basis. While the initial structure is meant to get people organized and build overall clarity as quickly as possible, the ongoing process breaks things up into more manageable pieces throughout the year. I’ve found that if we see The Plan as a one-time road map, it creates tremendous pressure to account for every possibility and eventuality - something that is not only impossible but very easily leads to information overload and a plan that is too overwhelming to put into action.

Q. What is your philosophy about financial planning and investment strategy?

Know when to keep things simple and when to go deeper. I am by nature someone who likes to dig deep into the details and know everything about everything, but sometimes too much complexity can be dangerous. By making planning an iterative process that evolves over time, we can keep things more manageable and easier to act on. The reports and analysis we put together are meant to be a guide to what actions to take and what things might look like in the future, not just a wall of numbers for their own sake.

The same is true in the implementation phase. As a full-service planner, I work with clients to make sure all aspects of the advice are put into action. In a lot of cases, the most straightforward and low cost investment and insurance options are the best fit for the client. I believe very strongly in not creating complexity for complexity’s sake but also understanding when something more complicated may be needed and what those options look like.

Q. How has your business evolved over the past few years?

When I first started working as a lead advisor, in 2015, the majority of my clients were on the west coast and I lived in DC. Over time, I’ve grown my business here in DC and throughout the country but also moved from meeting clients primarily in person to using virtual meeting tools such as Zoom and WebEx.

Don’t get me wrong - I love meeting people in person and plan to continue to travel quarterly to California as well as conduct in person meetings in the DC area. I’ve found, though, that for productivity and the ability to interactively work through planning projections, virtual meeting tools really shine. They also give me the ability to work with family members across the country and to create continuity with clients as they move, travel, or retire to another region. 

Q. What do you like to do when you’re not working on behalf of your clients?

My biggest hobby is trivia - both playing and writing questions - so I spend a lot of time learning new things. Whether it’s reading up on history (my favorite trivia topic) or learning about art through the ages, I love building up my knowledge base and getting a bigger and broader sense of the world outside myself. I also love to work out and am always striving to get a little bit faster and a little bit stronger without getting myself injured.

My husband and I are over the top dog parents to Sammy and Charlie, two chihuahua-terrier mixes. While we used to travel frequently (some of our favorite places to visit were Greece, Australia, and Italy), now we mostly stay home with the dogs and visit family up and down the east coast. When staying at home, I love to watch sports (especially the Yankees and Jets) and murder mystery shows.


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Julie VanTilburg, CA Insurance License #0C21028; Maritza Rogers, CA Insurance License #0E50369; Robin Starr, CA Insurance License #0G64012; Jeffrey Better, CA Insurance License #0182274; Kaitlyn Zawada, CA Insurance License #4084200

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