Three years ago, Shannon Ryan of Manhattan Beach, Calif., left a position training and overseeing advisors with Ameriprise to return to full-time planning herself. The veteran of a successful planning practice years earlier on the East Coast, Ryan realized that her neighbors in California knew her mainly as the mother to two young daughters.

“How do I truly brand myself?” Ryan says she wondered, after buying a $56 million AUM practice from a retiring planner.

Back on the east coast she had answered that question by hosting her own regular show on PBS and appearing on Good Morning America.

This time she decided to write a series of children’s books designed to help kids as young as three learn about money. She’s used the books both to pursue a passion for teaching financial literacy and to get the word out about her practice.

“What I know, as a busy mom is most moms and dads of three- to 12-year-old children do not have time to sit down and read a reference book,” Ryan says. “So my thought was … I could write a children’s book that starts to instill basic ideas of saving and spending” in kids.

Now, she says, prospective clients are calling and emailing her regularly. In much the same way that she used to coach Ameriprise planners about how to grow her business, Ryan urged attendees at the Women Advisors Forum in Newport Beach, Calif. to follow their passions in order to build their brands.

“Open up yourselves in your community,” she told about 90 attendees, “and you will be, I’m sure, just as amazed as I am.”

Ryan hastened to say that the books themselves are not money-makers.

But, because of them, she speaks about financial literacy for kids wherever she can. Recently, she spent a day reading from the book for kids at a catholic school.

After the school visit, she says, “I received no less than 15 calls and emails from mommies and daddies saying, ‘Wow, what did you tell our kids today? They are fired up.’”

Some of those inquiries, Ryan thinks, may lead to new clients.

She keeps in touch with them and others in her community through a new website for the books, That’s also the name of the first book in a 10-book series that Ryan anticipates publishing over the course of coming years.

Through the website, Ryan also offers downloadable workbooks for parents who are teaching smart money skills to their kids and she uses her blog to stay in touch with existing and prospective clients.

Recently two LPL-affiliated planner friends who also live in Manhattan Beach sent links to her site to their own clients as a way to promote their own businesses, she says.

Overall Ryan says she’s added over $18 million to her more than $100 million AUM practice this year, and the books have helped.

“My business is growing,” she says, “and it’s growing in a way that is completely aligned with my values.”

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