Hi there! I'm Anna Ono, founder and CEO
My relationship with money started with fear of losing it all. I immigrated to the U.S. at 16 and experienced financial trauma a few years later when my family lost everything during the Asian Financial Crisis. I had to pay for my tuition with my credit card and it took me a couple years to get out of debt after college.
I remember thinking that I would work hard in a safe and stable job so that I wouldn't lose everything in an instant. No one talked to me about personal finance. I didn't understand the magic of compounding interest. I thought if I worked really hard and continued to increase my paycheck, I would end up wealthy (and happy).
A big wake up moment for me in life was 12 years ago, when I was diagnosed with cancer. My daughter, Emma, was only 9 months old and I had lost my mom to cancer 3 months earlier (she was only 56). I realized that life was short, and no one was guaranteed tomorrow. I told myself that I wouldn't live my life with regrets.
Finanli is dedicated to 22-year-old Anna that entered the real world full of fear, uncertainty, and lack of practical personal finance knowledge (even as an accounting major!).
My dream for Finanli is to help women take action towards happier and healthier financial lives, regardless of their current net worth or their income. I have more than 17 years of financial services experience at Ernst & Young and First Hawaiian Bank. I am a CPA and a Certified Financial Education Instructor.
I was the first in my family to graduate college and remember telling my parents when I was ten that I would retire before I was 50. I saw what my parents’ friends could and could not do (both physically and financially) in retirement. I knew then that I wanted to have options when I got older. Back then I didn’t realize that I was interested in what now is called the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) Movement.
I am one of those people that love learning. After a social studies class in high school where I participated in an investing contest, where we had $10,000 in fake money to buy stocks and tracked those stocks for a month, I was hooked. At 16, I asked my mother to open an account at Charles Schwab and I started to trade on her behalf.
For nearly 25 years, I had a rewarding career as an auditor and management consultant in the financial services industry primarily focused on banking. My last position was Head of Internal Audit at Charles Schwab Corporation, where I was able to come full circle in my investing journey.
When I was 46, I hit my FIRE number and I left the corporate world to live the life I dreamt of as a kid. I did all the things I thought I would - golf, travel and bought a house in Hawaii.
As Anna and I began to talk more about our own financial philosophies and history, we figured out that we each had financial trauma in our early life that drive our personal finance and investing approach even today.
My lightbulb moment was when I remembered my father operated a large restaurant in San Francisco with partners when I was a kid. One day he came home to tell our family that he would have to file for bankruptcy because one of the partners ran off with money and they would default on the loan for the restaurant. I distinctly remember yelling “NO – where will we live and what will our friends think?”. What I didn’t know at the time was that the bankruptcy would only be a Chapter 11 which is a re-organization of the business and did not directly impact our home.
However, even for that short-time, I knew that I did not ever want to put myself in that position and I believe now that incident was what prompted me to declare that I would retire early. I promised myself I would make a lot of money and not ever be vulnerable when it comes to money.
At first, I was happy to only be an advisor and potential investor to Finanli. However, Anna asked me to come out of retirement and join as the Chief Operating Officer. I joined because I saw what the economy after the pandemic is doing to people and I have always been a champion of women empowerment. I am a CPA and a Certified Financial Education Instructor.