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Life and Work with Mahalene Dulay

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mahalene Dulay.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Mahalene. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
The first part of my story begins before I was born. Both my parents are Filipino immigrants, and like many that left their homes to start a new life in the U.S., my parents had very little money when they arrived. They met in San Diego and shared the same dream of building a life for themselves where their future kids (my sister and me!) would have opportunities that they never had growing up in the Philippines. My parents worked long hours, sometimes even took on multiple jobs, to provide for us. Because of the poverty they grew up in, my parents were very determined to practice strong savings habits to help them reach their goals. Hearing their stories about growing up in the Philippines with not much to their names, to making their dreams of a better life into reality was one of the first catalysts towards my interest in personal finance. It showed me that with determination, and a disciplined plan, people’s financial dreams can become a reality.

It wasn’t until my Senior Economics class in high school where I slowly began to realize that I really enjoyed learning about personal finance, or what I call “practical math”. My teacher at that time spent a week teaching the class about different types of retirement accounts, the importance of savings, the “debt trap” that young individuals right out of high school can fall into, and other basics of money. I thought the class was helpful for my own personal use but didn’t know much about it being a career. Towards the end of Senior year, the counseling department hosted a class on different career paths post-high school. I initially wanted to be a child psychologist, then learned about a career in financial planning. The fact that I could teach and help others about the importance of savings towards their financial goals, all the while making a career out of it was helped solidify my path.

Shortly after graduating from college, I started my career with a firm in San Diego and worked really hard to build my business. As changes were happening in my personal life with marriage and kids, the culture in my old firm was changing as well. I realized that in order for me to continue to grow my business in the fashion that I envisioned I had to take a leap of faith and start my own boutique firm. Thus, Vista Del Mar Wealth Management was born.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The beginning of my career was definitely not an easy road. Like many small businesses, I had to start from scratch with putting in a lot of hours to build my foundation (sometimes 60-70 hours a week in the first year!). I used to call potential clients from the phone books or from tradeshows, and would often times get more “No’s” than “Yes’s” for appointments. I had my fair share of being no-showed for meetings or having people hang up on me mid-sentence. There were a lot of times where I felt discouraged not just from myself, but even from family and friends that said I wouldn’t make it through the first year. But I knew that there was unlimited potential for professional and personal growth, and knew that I was the person that clients needed in their village to guide them in their financial endeavors. I took whatever negativity that was thrown at me and used it to fuel my motivation to prove to others that I was not going to give up on this dream career of mine. I had to keep in mind that the short-term sacrifice was for a long-term benefit. This mindset is also really helpful in building a strong relationship with my clients; I’m so grateful and proud to say that many of them have been with me for ten years or more!

Though a lot has changed over the years, financial planning in both the role as an advisor and the role as the client is still a primarily male-dominated industry. One of the struggles I had starting out was building credibility with some potential clients, and even with some male colleagues, because it wasn’t as common to see women financial advisors. I was fortunate to work with and be mentored by incredibly intelligent and strong women that helped me break stigmas about the industry. Their guidance helped me shape the foundation to which my firm today can help women become more confident in both their short-term and long-term financial plans.

For other women who may be just starting out in their journey, one of the forces that helped me become successful is having a tribe of like-minded individuals (both women and men) to support me along the way. As they say, “It takes a village.”

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Vista Del Mar Wealth Management – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
As a financial advisor/wealth consultant, my focus is on creating and building personalized financial plans for individuals, families and small businesses that are concerned about not having a solid picture of what they need to do to reach their financial goals. I spend time getting t o know my clients and use their financial goals as the basis for the roadmap we build together. I take a comprehensive wellness approach by diving into:

– Cash flow, debt and budgeting analyses
– College planning for parents and grandparents
– Strategies to understand taxable, tax-deferred and tax-free account strategies
– Investing into the market
– Retirement accumulation and income planning
– Wealth protection through life insurance

The wellness approach also takes into consideration the expertise of other professionals, such as tax advisors and estate attorneys, in areas that are needed. The beauty about financial planning is that as the market and clients’ lives change, we can adjust the plan accordingly to stay aligned with the clients’ goals.

One of the key values of Vista Del Mar Wealth Management is activism in the community. Big changes oftentimes starts with the small ones, and though we’re a boutique firm, we know we can make a big impact in what we do. Through activism and giving back to our communities, we can create, and more importantly, sustain a better world for all of us. We’ve designed a unique way for clients to be a part of our movement: for every client that starts a relationship with our firm we are donating $20 in their honor to a list of organizations that either specialize in environmental conservancy or provides important resources to youth and women. Clients may also have the choice have a contribution made in their honor to an organization that means the most to them. This gives our clients the opportunity to be a part of #thevistadelmardifference.

As an activist in the community, one of the goals for the firm moving forward is to host community service events throughout the year, where clients can participate in giving back.

Were there people and/or experiences you had in your childhood that you feel laid the foundation for your success?
As I mentioned, both my parents built great things out of nothing. Part of that was due to their entrepreneurial spirit, which I thankfully inherited! My experience in watching my parents work really hard and sacrifice so much for my sister and me is one of my main motivators to do the same for my children. Another important lesson I learned from them was that whatever I do in life, I need to be passionate about it and to spend my time on the people and things that fill my cup. I define my success not by how many clients I have, or how much money I make, but by the relationships I have built both professionally and personally. I hope that my kids can see that I worked and continue to work really hard for them to have the opportunities that I grew up with and more. I hope that I can be a strong female role model in their lives so that they can support and encourage girls and women in their lives along the way.


  • Because each financial plan is unique, the fee structure will vary depending on the assets, complexity and expectations that clients have of our firm. Our firm believes in fostering long-term relationships with clients; there is an initial 10-15 minute phone consultation where clients can determine our firm is the right fit for them.

Contact Info:

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS.  Kestra IS or Kestra AS are not affiliated with Vista del Mar Wealth Management, LLC or any other entity listed.

Image Credit:
Shiloh Colleen Photography

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