Coaching Approach

We help clients navigate the financial services world to protect their hard-earned money, improve their current financial situation to the maximum extent possible, and successfully set and achieve their longer-term goals.  We believe that clients are the best judges of their own financial situations and needs, and do not need to be told how to spend their money.

Appointments focus on what clients want to get out of the program. Our coaches advocate with and for clients,  coach them through the various options and inform them of their rights as consumers so they feel empowered to make the best decision.

Smart Money Coaching services are funded by the City and County of San Francisco, and provided by three nonprofit service providers. All Smart Money Coaches are certified by the National Association of Certified Credit Counselors.  

Financial Capability Investment


John has been a leader in the financial capability field since 2008. John has helped over 8,000 clients address severe personal and financial challenges, giving them support and tested tools to achieve financial security and economic mobility. As a San Francisco native from a second-generation Mexican family, a former small business owner, financial advisor and a UC Berkeley graduate, John brings a unique and powerful combination of local, cultural, and financial expertise to his work with diverse clients and partners.


Antonio - SMC - LGBT CenterAntonio

Antonio was born and raised in Utah, but the Bay Area has become his adopted home after 20 years. He holds a degree in Finance and Mathematics and is currently pursuing a CFP®
(Certified Financial Planner) designation. Prior to working at the Center, Antonio was employed at major banks and financial service companies. Antonio loves to help people in the community by volunteering his time as a VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) for The Women’s Building SF, Project Open Hand, and Trips 4 Kids. Antonio is a proud first generation Mexican-American and is fluent in both English and Spanish.  

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Team Lead

Howard has been with BALANCE for over 25 years and has worked in the financial services sector for almost 30 years! He earned his BA from Central College in Pella, Iowa with degrees in International Management and Spanish. He is dedicated to serving the local community through financial empowerment and prides himself on being professional, helpful, and non-judgmental. Howard’s advice to his clients is to “not focus on your past failures but build on your current successes.

Jim RJim

Jim grew up in a large family in Wisconsin and moved to San Francisco in 2006. He has spent the last 25 years training, leading, and implementing financial planning concepts. As a former finance instructor, Jim has a passion for education and helping individuals consider a disciplined approach to financial planning, which includes accountability coaching to reach personal goals. Most recently in San Francisco, he focused on coaching small business owners and leading teams to implement the strategic vision of an organization, specifically helping clients implement components of financial planning: budget, cash flow, debt management, retirement, emergency funds and insurance.   


Chris is a certified financial coach and educator with a background in financial services, accounting, and non-profit work. He earned his BS from Golden Gate University with a degree in business. His dedication to help others find ways to improve their lives and interest in personal finance are expressed in his practice of financial coaching, education, and empowerment.  He thoroughly enjoys problem solving with clients and celebrating their wins, both big and small.

Omar - SMC CoachOmar

Omar was born and raised in Berkeley, California. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from California State University in Sacramento. His professional experience took him across various business sectors including private, corporate, and government. However, his passion lies in helping others. The non-profit sector fuels his passion and serves as a conduit to connect with and support clients through free coaching services. Omar demonstrates a fierce commitment to collaborating with clients to rediscover their goals and excitement towards planning for the future.

Andrea - SMC coachAndrea

Andrea was born and raised in South America and earned her degree from Santa María University in Caracas, Venezuela. She has over 10 years of experience in business and corporate law as a legal assistant and legal business adviser. She is passionate about combining her interests, career, and her background as a native-Spanish speaker to empower others in her community. Andrea believes in finding ways to give back to foster a better future for all.

Zhen Zhen

Zhen immigrated to the United States over twenty years ago and resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. She earned her BS in Business Administration with an Accounting option from the California State University East Bay. Zhen is bilingual in Russian and brings with her over 15 years of experience working in the Financial and Insurance Industries. Zhen’s love for people, passion for personal finance, and aptitude for solving challenges prompted her to become a Smart Money Coach, as seeing clients achieve their dream is the most rewarding experience one can ask for. 


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