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Expressive Wealth CEO Vanessa Martinez, CCO Lauren Genuardi RIA News
Expressive Wealth CEO Vanessa Martinez (left) and CCO Lauren Genuardi

Three Female Advisors Launch Chicago RIA Focused on Inclusivity and Communication

Expressive Wealth, a new RIA with $200 million in assets, is led by three female partners and has a licensed clinical psychologist on staff.

In recognition of International Women’s Day, a trio of female partners in Chicago unveiled a new RIA on Friday focused on serving women, families and next-generation investors. 

Launched with $200 million in managed assets, Expressive Wealth was created by CEO Vanessa Martinez, CCO Lauren Genuardi, and Darlene Duncan, a partner and wealth advisor. The three partners were previously with Hightower, Telemus Capital and WealthTrust Asset Management, respectively.

The eight-person staff, which includes three men, also comprises a director of portfolio strategy, a paraplanner and two client services associates. Dr. Patricia Villarreal, a licensed clinical psychologist, will serve as chief clinical officer.

"The chief clinical officer will work internally to support the advisors and externally when we hold family meetings for our clients,” Martinez said. “These will be true family meetings where we’re going to talk about wealth beyond the dollars, and there are times where it gets a little loud or a little angry or sad or really exciting. Families truly need someone who’s been in the field and can help and act as a liaison. We all communicate differently, which means we also listen differently.  

“Hence the name Expressive Wealth,” she said.  

Services can also be provided in three languages—English, Spanish and Polish. 

“Just like with the women piece, if you can see yourself or if Spanish or Polish happens to be your primary language, you're likely to feel more comfortable speaking in that language and understand better in that language,” Martinez noted. “Offering that option makes us more accessible.” 

Martinez retired from her role as a partner and managing director with The Lerner Group at Hightower in 2022 after nearly a decade to focus on building an educational network and consultancy for women investors called Em-Powered, along with Villarreal. They are dropping consulting activities and transitioning to a nonprofit structure that will enable them to continue speaking and providing educational resources through Em-Powered while focusing on the fledgling RIA.  

Genuardi left her position as financial life advisor with Telemus after more than six years to join Martinez. Prior to that, she spent time with Barrington Strategic Wealth, Dearborn Partners and Mesirow Investment Management. Duncan departed her role as a senior vice president with WealthTrust Asset Management.  

"We were inspired to provide an offering that encourages inclusion and open communication through the entire wealth-building process,” Genuardi said in a statement. “Vanessa has assembled a tremendous and diverse team with similar core values who will offer clients a unique and disciplined approach to equity and fixed-income investing designed to meet both their needs and long-term goals.” 

Martinez said she has known every person on her team for “many, many years,” and that she intends to put the same time, care and effort into recruitment.  

“I want to get to know you because when you don’t know you’re being interviewed is when you’re truly being yourself,” she explained. “I look for kindness and trustworthiness because I can teach anyone anything but character. That, you come with. 

“The loyalty and community are great. And I know it would hurt them if I bring in someone who doesn’t connect with that, so I’m definitely leaning toward being slow to hire and quick to fire. There are at least four people who want to join the team right now, but I need to build up a little more trust first.    

“The end goal isn't to be this huge empire of $20 billion, because maybe it gets lost at that point,” she added. “A few billion? I'm okay with that.”  

Martinez hopes to reach $500 million in assets by the end of this year. 

“Then, I think 2025 will be a little bit of digesting the growth as well as building those relationships,” she said.  

Except in certain cases where the next generation hasn’t yet built up the level of assets of their parents or grandparents, clients will need to have at least $300,000 in investable assets to be placed in individual holdings and remain properly diversified within the models Expressive is building, according to Martinez. 

The RIA has chosen Charles Schwab for custodial services, Morningstar Office as its primary technology provider and eMoney for financial planning.

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