So The Story Goes...

Why Equita launched a Network for women


Katie Burke launched her firm, Method Financial Planning, in 2015, and Bridget Venus Grimes launched her firm, WealthChoice, in 2016. The two founders had completely different firms and different types of clients, but they launched their companies for the same reasons: to better serve their clients, to have the flexibility to spend time with their family, to get paid what they were worth, and to build a thriving, successful practice. And when they founded their firms, they both agreed that it was the best career decision they ever made.

But no matter how fulfilling a job is, following an uncharted path with no safety net can be scary. Launching a firm is a huge undertaking, and you need a support network to succeed. Katie and Bridget both knew each other in business, and because of their shared experience, they started collaborating and became sounding boards for each other. As they built their own businesses, they started to ask themselves more questions: “What if we built a resource platform for our own firms?” “What if we provided all of the solutions you need to run your own business, but without the huge price tag?” “What if we could make this platform available to other women who are just like us?” And that’s where Equita started.

Founded in May 2018, Equita Financial Network was born out of a need to fuel business success while empowering other women in the financial services industry. Equita became the first platform solely focused on women-led financial planning firms, designed to encourage women to make the leap into launching their own practice and provide solutions to support them every step of the way. And importantly, Equita is a way for like-minded women to not only share resources and run their business at an affordable cost, but to also share ideas on everything from best practices to help with questions regarding client issues.

Let Equita take on the task of paying vendor bills, of sourcing resources, and of making sure compliance, IT, and portfolio management are all taken care of — while you focus on serving clients, growing your business, and providing great financial planning and wealth management expertise.

Equita Financial Network founders Katie Burke and Bridget Venus Grimes stand outside on city patio

Our Founders

Katie Burke

Over the course of her career, Katie has been driven to find a better way to serve her clients. An entrepreneur at heart, Katie has over fifteen years of experience in the financial services field. She launched Method Financial Planning, a fee-only financial planning firm, in 2015 to focus on serving young families and busy professionals.

Bridget Venus Grimes

Over the course of several decades in finance and corporate America, and having personally experienced the barriers women in business face, Bridget’s passion to help women succeed in life and in their careers became a priority.


At Equita, we are proud to partner with some of the most respected thought leaders and professionals in the financial services space to provide the best-possible support to our Member Firms. Get to know our team.

Our Member Firms

Our strength is our Member Firms – their expertise in the financial planning industry, their passion and their diversity of thought. Our members come from all across the United States from all backgrounds, serving all communities. Our Member Firms may be very different in a lot of ways but they all share common values and uphold the fiduciary standard of care.

Your Firm at Equita Financial Network 2
Your Firm at Equita Financial Network 2
Your Firm at Equita Financial Network 2
Your Firm at Equita Financial Network 2

Take your first step and know you are supported.


Over the course of her career, Katie Burke has been driven to find a better way to serve her clients. An entrepreneur at heart, she has almost twenty years of experience in the financial services field. 

Burke launched Method Financial Planning, a fee-only (commission-free) financial planning firm, in 2015 to focus on the planning needs of young families and busy professionals, and to offer clients simpler, more effective solutions to achieve their financial objectives.

She has always been passionate about supporting women in the financial planning profession, encouraging them to follow the path to become a certified financial planner (CFP®) professional. 

During her time in San Diego, Burke co-founded a women’s networking group, San Diego Women in Finance, to provide women more opportunities for professional development through networking, mentoring, and collaboration. 

Burke is also a mentor through the CFP Board’s Women’s Initiative (WIN) to help guide and support prospective CFP® professionals, and ultimately encourage more women to pursue careers in financial planning.

She is also a mentor through the NAPFA Women’s Initiative to ultimately encourage more women to pursue careers in financial planning.

As a wife, mother to two young boys, and a business owner, Burke wants other women to feel empowered to build successful financial planning practices. 

With this goal in mind, in 2018 Burke co-founded with Bridget Grimes, CFP® Equita Financial Network.  

A thought leader and sought-after speaker, Burke most recently spoke at the Financial Planning Association (FPA) Annual Conference on the topic of emergency continuity planning.

Bridget Venus Grimes Equita Financial Network


When women are at a crossroads and challenged to make tough decisions, they need a community of support. Bridget Grimes became a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), fiduciary advisor, educator, and speaker to make a difference in this regard.  

Over the course of several decades in finance and corporate America, and having personally experienced the barriers women in business face, she found her passion to help women succeed in life and in their careers.

In 2016, she founded WealthChoice, a fee-only (commission-free) financial planning firm focused on helping women executives and their families live life on their terms. Launching WealthChoice was the culmination of years of working with career women and helping them overcome challenges to financial security.

Grimes  also launched the WealthChoice Community, an organization that hosts guest speakers throughout the year who cover critical career, business, and quality of life topics. The WealthChoice Community also provides the valuable benefit of assembling like-minded women for networking purposes, to provide support for one another, and have meaningful conversations.

Building on that sense of community, in 2018 Grimes co-founded with Katie Burke, CFP(r) Equita Financial Network, a powerful community for women-led financial planning firms, offering a proven platform that includes all the necessary resources to run a comprehensive financial planning firm including professional, outsourced investment management services. 

Grimes strives to be a connector and collaborator and prides herself on being a valuable resource to her clients, WealthChoice Community, and advisors in the Equita Financial Network. She is available to speak on topics ranging from the key challenges and derailers of women professionals to emergency continuity planning.

As a wife and a mother, Grimes enjoys spending time with her family on their boat in the San Diego Bay, cooking with amazing California produce, and entertaining.

Colleen Jordan Hallinan Qii Consulting

Colleen Jordan Hallinan, CFP®
Head Coach of the Advisory
Women’s Exchange (AWE)

With a rich background of expertise and experience in the financial services industry, Colleen is passionate about helping advisors and their teams achieve next-level growth and success.

After spending nearly 30 years as a financial advisor, Colleen retired in 2015 as a partner at a leading Bay Area-based RIA with $4 billion in assets under management (AUM). Under Colleen’s leadership, the firm’s local advisory team grew from one associate serving $80 million in AUM to a superstar group of Gen Y advisors serving nearly $1.4 billion in AUM upon her retirement. The team earned awards and recognition for quality in wealth management, education, customer service, and growth — and they continue to be praised and recognized by the industry today.

Colleen attributes the success and growth of that team to a system of mindsets and practices she developed, which inspired the founding of Qii Consulting. As Qii Consulting’s Chief Transformation Officer, Colleen builds and develops advisory teams using an approach that is focused around the leverage one experiences when prioritizing “quadrant ii” activity.

As a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach and a Kolbe™ Certified Consultant, Colleen is dedicated to helping firms grow, thrive and succeed by building diverse and inclusive teams — starting with discovering and applying their teams’ individual and collective gifts and introducing 10x growth strategies.

Outside of the office, Colleen serves on the board of the Financial Planning Association of Greater Phoenix. She resides in the mountain-biking mecca of Sedona, Arizona, with her husband, Paul, and their three cats.

Gretchen Halpin of Beyond AUM

Gretchen Halpin
Growth & Marketing Strategist

Over the course of her 25-year-career, Gretchen has founded and grown more than five businesses, in addition to serving as a thought leader in the financial services industry. Gretchen’s career path and journey to success have been guided by one true passion: to help people create the life they want, even when that means challenging the status quo. It’s a passion that she brings to all aspects of her personal and professional life, and one that is at the heart of her businesses.

Gretchen made her foray into the financial services industry more than a decade ago, when she founded The Halpin Group. There, she provided management consulting solutions to highly regulated companies, such as banks, financial advisors, and healthcare institutions.

Due to the reputation she built at The Halpin Group, Gretchen was brought onboard as the Chief Strategy Officer and in-house marketing team leader for a prominent, Midwest-based wealth management firm. Under her leadership, the team implemented a marketing and growth strategy that helped accelerate the firm from $1B in assets under management (AUM) to more than $5B in AUM. The firm was named one of Inc.’s 5,000 Fastest-Growing Companies in the U.S. for 3 years in a row.

Throughout her experience as an executive leader in the field, Gretchen saw a major need to bring other financial services firms into the digital age and help them better serve their clients’ evolving needs while communicating their value in a compliant way. This prompted her to co-found Beyond AUM, an agency that provides marketing, growth, technology, and management consulting solutions to financial services firms. Offering both creative and compliant solutions in a highly regulated field, Beyond AUM empowers financial services firms to achieve world-class outcomes for their brand and professionals and drive success in the business far beyond AUM. Gretchen’s expertise has been featured in Forbes and Financial Advisor Magazine, and she has spoken at numerous industry events, including the eMoney Advisor Summit, NAPFA’s spring conference, and Financial Advisor Magazine’s Invest in Women conference. She was named a ThinkAdvisor Luminary in 2021.

Equita Financial Resource Mario Nardone of East Bay Financial

Mario Nardone, CFA
Chief Investment Strategist

Mario began his investment career in 1999 with Vanguard mutual funds in Valley Forge, PA, where he consulted institutions and financial advisors on investment policy, portfolio construction, and Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs). He also held roles as a research analyst, a municipal bond fund specialist, among others during his tenure.  In 2003 he earned the Chartered Financial Analyst designation, and he continues to mentor aspiring Charter candidates and young investment professionals. 

Mario relocated to Charleston in 2010 to serve as Chief Investment Officer for a financial planning firm before establishing East Bay, the collaborative partner firm of (insert firm name), in 2014. As a Partner at East Bay, Mario serves a select group of Registered Investment Advisor firms as their outsourced Chief Investment Strategist.  Responsibilities of this role include continuous oversight of advisor clients’ investments, bespoke strategies for unique situations, client communications, and more. 

Mario is Past President of CFA Society South Carolina and Former Chairman of the College of Charleston Finance Department Advisory Board. His approach to investments and the industry has been featured in Investment News, NAPFA Advisor Magazine, South Carolina Public Radio, and other publications and media outlets.  

Mario enjoys early morning basketball games, the Charleston beaches and restaurant scene, and spending summers in coastal Maine.  He is an avid world traveler and SCUBA diver, but also enjoys the simpler joys of life with his wife Piper, their daughter Pepper, and son Santino.

Learn more and connect with Mario on LinkedIn

Eric Stein of East Bay Financial

Eric Stein, CFA
Chief Investment Strategist

Prior to joining East Bay, Eric worked for a variety of firms, both large and small.  This includes 7+ years with Goldman Sachs Asset Management where he held roles in areas such as performance measurement, client service, risk analysis, and portfolio construction.  During his tenure there, Eric had the opportunity to cover many different types of asset classes, vehicles, and client types.  Eric also worked at RSM U.S. Wealth Management for 10+ years, serving as the Chief Investment Officer while providing strategic leadership and solutions for their national investment platform.

As a Partner at East Bay, Eric serves a select group of financial advisory firms as their outsourced Chief Investment Strategist.  Responsibilities of this role include continuous oversight of advisor clients’ investments, bespoke strategies for unique situations, client communications, and more.  

Eric is a proud graduate of Indiana University where he earned a B.S. in Finance.  Eric also earned the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 2001 and continues to stay involved in the local CFA society.  Eric has been quoted several times in the Wall Street Journal and has written extensively on topics covering asset allocation, manager due diligence, financial markets, and economic events.

Eric enjoys traveling with his wife, Laura, and their two sons, Scott and Jack.  In his spare time, Eric is an avid cyclist and includes finishing a Half-Ironman as one of his greatest athletic accomplishments.  

Learn more and connect with Eric on LinkedIn.

Brett Wheeler, Advisor Logistics

Brett Wheeler, CFP®
Chief Investment Strategist

With over a decade of experience in the financial services industry in both personal wealth and portfolio management, Brett brings a relatable experience and perspective with Equita Financial partner Advisor Logistics.

After earning a BBA from the University of Texas at San Antonio, Brett began his career working with individuals and families as a representative with an independent broker/dealer. In 2012, he started his own Registered Investment Advisor firm, leaving the commissioned-based business behind. Brett quickly gained a solid reputation as a portfolio manager for other investment advisors, leading his RIA to rebrand and rebuild in early 2015 to a firm that provides an infrastructure where advisors can come into and thrive. Starting as a solo shop with just two million dollars in AUM in 2012, the firm grew to five full-time advisors with one hundred thirty million dollars in AUM by the end of 2017.

Based on his experience, Brett knows what it takes to start and successfully run a new, independent RIA practice, and he understands the goals and challenges RIAs face in relating to and assisting advisors with the goal of creating a successful experience for the client.

Over the years Brett has recognized a service void in the independent RIA industry of advisory firms like the one he began. Such firms need professional, white glove portfolio management and oversight services, but many do not have the means or ability to hire the staff necessary for such services. This recognition helped lead to the development of Advisor Logistics.

An Austin, Texas native, Brett has lived in San Antonio for almost fourteen years, where he currently resides with his wife and two young children. Brett is active in his church, enjoys golfing and playing chess, and is an avid saltwater angler.

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In the normal course of business, we may collect the following types of information:

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