So The Story Goes...

Why Equita launched a Network for women

Our Story

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 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.

Bridget Venus Grimes

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.  

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.

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.

Jim Cullen
Chief Compliance Officer

Jim Cullen started his compliance career at Raymond James & Associates in their Asset Management Services division where he worked as a Compliance Advisor to their SMA Wrap Programs and earned his Series 7, 24, and 66 licenses.   More recently, he served as the Senior Compliance Manager for Roosevelt Investments, a $5Billion Registered Investment Adviser whose activities include serving as Adviser to multiple mutual funds, Sub-Adviser on wire house Wrap and UMA Programs, institutional research publication, and quantitative, fundamental, and hedged investment strategies. Jim has served as an expert panelist and has been featured in IA Weekly.  Jim earned a BA in Political Science, with a minor in Economics, from the University of South Florida and an MBA from the University of Phoenix.

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.

Chad Ramberg has over 12 years of experience in management, including GM/Director and Controller positions.

Chad spent the first decades of his career in leadership positions on the claims side of insurance services. When that season of his career was wrapping up, he decided to use his financial acumen to become a Registered Investment Advisor. He worked as an advisor just long enough to gain a healthy respect for the day-to-day challenges you face everyday. Shifting gears a bit, Chad found he could add more value to the financial services community by being an insurance advisor to advisors. Now Chad is blessed with getting to talk with advisors across the country, meeting their needs so they can focus on what they do best.

When Chad is not working, you may find him experiencing the great outdoors. With his family he may be camping, hiking or riding through the mountains.

Click here to connect with Chad on LinkedIn.

Marie Swift is President and CEO of Impact Communications, a full-service marketing communications firm serving a select group of independent financial advisors and allied institutions. Impact Communications works solely within the financial services industry. The firm has two service lines – one for highly successful independent advisors and one for the institutions that support independent advisors.

Marie is known for bringing good ideas to financial advisors through her speeches, workshops, boot camps, webinars, podcasts, videos, and written works. A thought leader for thought leaders, she is known for bringing some of the industry’s best and brightest voices together for dialog and debate.

Her Best Practices in the Financial Services Industry blog, which can be found at, provides insights and advice for financial advisors and the institutions that serve them.  Her Swift Chat video interview series took shape in 2020 and became a podcast in 2021. In 2020, she became the host of NAPFA’s Mindset Mastery podcast series. She has served as mastermind and emcee for NAPFA’s Playbook practice management virtual training series since 2019.

Over the past twenty years, Marie’s articles and expert comments have been published by,, Barron’s, Wall Street Journal, Executive Roundtable Journal, NAPFA Advisor magazine,,, Financial Planning magazine, Financial Advisor magazine, On Wall Street magazine, Research magazine,, RIA Intel, Advisor Perspectives and  She is currently serving as the Managing Editor for and is a frequent contributor to the Executive Roundtable Journal.

In 2021, Marie was named to the ThinkAdvisor Luminaries, Class of 2021. In addition, the work that Marie and her firm did in partnership with Allianz and their Advisory Solutions division — the Conversations That Matter project — was recognized by’s “Wealthies” judges in the 2021 competition. The Conversations That Matter project also won two additional awards in 2021: an Award of Excellence in the AIVA Communicator Awards and a Grand Award in the APEX 2021 Publication Excellence competition.

Marie is always tinkering with marketing formulas and bringing fresh innovative ideas to the financial services industry:

In 2018, she created and brought to life a first-of-its-kind experiential training course designed to catapult advisors to a new level of celebrity status and clout. The first-ever Advisor Thought Leader Summit held November 9 and 10, 2018 at the University of Chicago Gleacher Center was a great success. The second Advisor Thought Leader Summit, which took place August 12 and 13, 2019 at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, received rave reviews. Due to coronavirus concerns, the Advisor Thought Leader Summit was canceled in 2020 and 2021, but plans are underway for 2022. Details at

For the past several years, Marie and her team have partnered with Morningstar to produce the Social/Digital Hub, an experiential learning center for those who attend Morningstar’s annual US investment conference. Earlier innovations included Twitter Live with FPA Thought Leaders; Social Media Boot Camps for FPA and NAPFA; PR Mastermind programs developed for Securities America, Cetera, and Loring Ward; interactive coaching stations at TD Ameritrade conferences; and experiential video and/or podcast stations at Morningstar, ACP, T3 and Loring Ward conferences.

PR, social media, digital presence, selling skills, and all forms of marketing and professional communications are her key areas of expertise:

She has spoken at major industry conferences such as IAA, FPA and NAPFA events, and other conferences hosted by allied institutions such as the AICPA PFS Retreat, Alliance of Comprehensive Planners (ACP), Barron’s Top Women Advisors, Dimensional Fund Advisors, Fidelity IWS, TD Ameritrade Institutional, Schwab Advisor Services, Pershing Advisor Services, Transamerica Financial Services, Cetera Financial Network, Securities America, Investacorp, Garrett Planning Network, Kinder Institute, Morningstar, T3, Insider’s Forum, Sourcemedia’s Women Advisors Summit, Investment News’ Women Advisor Days  and more.

Prior to establishing her own marketing communications firm in 1993, Marie served as Director of Corporate Communications for Worldwide Investment Network in Irvine, California, where she helped FNIC’s then #1 Top Producer attain and maintain that title for five consecutive years. She managed a staff of twenty that supported two-dozen successful registered representatives, estate planners and wealth managers.

A former caterer and gourmet cook, Marie studied the culinary arts while living in Colorado. She enjoys fine dining and rustic meals, family outings, traveling to new places, and long walks with her husband and kids in beautiful Leawood, Kansas. Becoming a first-time grandma was a 2020 pandemic blessing.


As the Executive Assistant to the CEO at Impact Communications, Dori offers high-level administrative support to facilitate the daily operations of the organization. As a Special Projects Team member she supports digital and onsite logistics for company and client events. She also serves as project manager for the Executive Roundtable Journal, and is a relationship manager for several of our retainer clients.

Before joining Impact, Dori worked with hundreds of financial advisors as the primary point of contact for members of the Garrett Planning Network. She has additional experience in marketing, project management, publishing, and event production in the financial services industry. She has been an event organizer since the late 90’s and has for many years coordinated community, educational, and corporate events, as well as festivals and live stage performances. 

A Kansas native, Dori has put down roots in Leavenworth, Kansas with her teenage daughter and many pets, She loves traveling to visit her son in Colorado a few times a year. Dori served on the Board of the Platte City Friends of the Arts and enjoys volunteering in the community.


Privacy Notice

We recognize the importance of protecting our clients’ privacy. We have policies to maintain the confidentiality and security of your nonpublic personal information. The following is designed to help you understand what information we collect from you and how we use that information to serve your account.

Categories of Information We May Collect

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

  • Information you provide in the subscription documents and other forms (including name, address, social security number, date of birth, income and other financial-related information); and
  • Data about your transactions with us (such as the types of investments you have made and your account status).

How We Use Your Information That We Collect

Any and all nonpublic personal information that we receive with respect to our clients who are natural persons is not shared with nonaffiliated third parties which are not service providers to us without prior notice to, and consent of, such clients, unless otherwise required by law. In the normal course of business, we may disclose the kinds of nonpublic personal information listed above to nonaffiliated third-party service providers involved in servicing and administering products and services on our behalf. Our service providers include, but are not limited to, our administrator, our auditors and our legal advisor. Additionally, we may disclose such nonpublic personal information as required by law (such as to respond to a subpoena) or to satisfy a request from a regulator and/or to prevent fraud. Without limiting the foregoing, we may disclose nonpublic personal information about you to governmental entities and others in connection with meeting our obligations to prevent money laundering including, without limitation, the disclosure that may be required by the Uniting and Strengthening America Act by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act of 2001 and the regulations promulgated thereunder. In addition, if we choose to dispose of our clients’ nonpublic personal information that we are not legally bound to maintain, we will do so in a manner that reasonably protects such information from unauthorized access. The same privacy policy also applies to former clients who are natural persons.

Confidentiality and Security

We restrict access to nonpublic personal information about our clients to those employees and agents who need to know that information to provide products and services to our clients. We maintain physical, electronic and procedural safeguards to protect our clients’ nonpublic personal information. We respect and value that you have entrusted us with your private financial information, and we will work diligently to maintain that trust. We are committed to preserving that trust by respecting your privacy as provided herein.