Venturing Ahead: UCI Alumna Anh Tran Talks Entrepreneurship and Startup Success

 

The UCI Women in Leadership series is dedicated to amplifying the stories and voices that have historically been missing from the leadership and entrepreneurship conversation. In this latest installment, we highlight Anh Tran—financial advisor, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™, Estate Planning Attorney, founder and Managing Partner of SageMint Wealth, and Partner at Modern Wealth Law.

When she graduated from UC Irvine in 2002, starting a company was never Anh Tran’s plan. However, after spending her adolescence watching her parents work to launch their own businesses, it seemed that an eye for business and an enterprising spirit was in her blood.

“My parents are both entrepreneurs, and I grew up seeing them start businesses and succeed in them,” she explains. “It was very hard work, and they experienced many failures, but they always continued to pick themselves back up and start again. Seeing that, I grew up knowing what it was like to be an entrepreneur.”

Anh carried this understanding with her when she enrolled at UCI as an undergraduate. At UCI, Anh explored a variety of areas of study, eager to find the right fit for her:

“I started off as a bio major and ended up as an international studies major with a minor in management. I was really searching for a type of business entrepreneur/accounting-type major, but that wasn’t really available at that time. However, there were a lot of students that I connected with that had a similar mindset, and I was involved with groups that shared my interest in business. Those types of relationships and connections really helped me explore what else was out there, and I think that’s what I really found useful about my time at UCI.”

Even with her interest in entrepreneurship and experience with watching her parents succeed in business, Anh wasn’t quite ready to set off on her own. After law school and a brief stint practicing law, Anh began working at Goldman Sachs in the Private Wealth Management Division. While she gained an incredible amount of experience, Anh admits that as a first-generation Vietnamese woman, she faced some difficult times at the firm:

“When I started off at Goldman, there were five other women that I worked with, and the rest were men. Being young, there were plenty of times where clients asked to work with a man. The first time that happened to me, I was very upset. Eventually, I realized it wasn’t me, it was them—it was them not being open-minded. Being a minority was also something that I struggled with. In fact, I went back and forth on whether I should change my name. It’s a Vietnamese name, but I’ve always gone by ‘Anh,’ so I ended up just leaving it. Now, I embrace it. I am a minority, and it’s a good thing.”

With a growing sense of confidence in herself, Anh was poised to branch off on her own. However, it was not until the country was in the throes of a major recession that Anh decided to make her move and launch her own business.

“In 2008, the big banks were all in trouble,” she remembers. “I wanted to be able to look across the universe of investments and be comfortable with what I was offering my clients. This was the biggest reason that I decided to leave and start my own business in 2010.”

Now, with over a decade as an independent business owner, Anh is one of the brightest stars in her industry. As founder and Managing Partner of SageMint Wealth and Partner at Modern Wealth Law, she has even earned consecutive spots on Forbes’ list of “Top Women Wealth Advisors.” After making a name for herself and finding her own success, Anh has turned her attention towards inspiring the next wave of entrepreneurs.

For students thinking of launching their own businesses, Anh stresses the importance of staying focused on your end goal. “The hardest part about being an entrepreneur is starting off,” she explains. “People can tell you about it, and you can plan for it all you want, but being in it is a whole other story. You’ll make mistakes and have things that don’t work, but the biggest thing is to learn from these experiences, stay positive, and not lose sight of your goals.”

Anh is also adamant about the importance of networking. “Look for groups where you can learn how to run a business and how to build relationships within your circle of influences,” she advises. “Everything we do is all about relationships. So, for any entrepreneur, building those relationships is very important.”

As she reflects on her entrepreneurial journey, Anh attributes much of her success to having mentors she could rely on. From professors to colleagues to her parents, she has looked to many different people for guidance and advice. Now, Anh hopes to serve as a mentor to others:

“If any student at UCI is interested in the financial services sector, I encourage you to reach out through LinkedIn. If you have questions, I’m always happy to talk! I’d love to share whatever wisdom that I have, and hopefully, I’ll learn from you as well. So add me on LinkedIn, send me a message, and we can set up a time to chat.”

You can connect with Anh on LinkedIn here. For more information on Anh or the UCI Women in Leadership series, please contact Matt Princetta, Director of Development, Student Success at mprincet@uci.edu.

Anh Tran is a registered representative with and securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC.