How does a little girl, wandering through some of the most famous museums in the world and dreaming of ancient civilizations, grow up to find herself managing the wealth of some of Boston’s most prominent families?
Brenda Reny grew up in Washington, D.C., a self-described “Smithsonian child.” It was in those hallowed halls that she found her first career as an archeologist. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University, a first step that would later bring her down a very different path.
After returning from directing excavations in Europe, she began teaching at the University of Pennsylvania. There, while auditing a class at the Wharton School, she accidentally embarked on her second career: She was invited to join the inaugural class of the Alternative Careers Program.
“I decided I would do it; I would get an education in business,” she recalled. “I didn’t expect to love it.”
After earning her certificate in business administration, Reny worked briefly in New York City, before getting married and moving to Boston, where she worked for the Bank of New England in asset-based lending.
Reny took a few years off to have “a bunch of kids” (three boys), and when the youngest was in kindergarten, went back to work at Fleet (now Bank of America).
“It’s very tough to come back when you’ve been away,” she said. “I was fortunate to recover some of that lost time, but the teacher in me kept lurking – I preferred to be in the role of trusted advisor, that the client would trust me to give me their money, as opposed to lending the bank’s money.”
She left BoA in 2006 to build the Boston private wealth management office of Deutsche Bank. A few years later, a former Wesleyan classmate called her and said he was going to start a private wealth management company. Her response: “I asked him if he was crazy.”
No, he was not crazy, and in 2010, at the height of the recession, Reny helped found Daintree Advisors LLC. The firm now has 25 employees, 85 clients and is managing $800 million in assets. It also donates 10 percent of proceeds to charities annually.
“We started with a clean slate and did what we wanted to do,” she said. “We’ve been fortunate. It remains a tough market, very volatile, but our business model is highly desirable and somewhat unique. We’re completely independent.”
Helping Women And Girls
Eric Allon, an attorney with Bernkopf Goodman LLP in Boston, who nominated Reny for a Women Of FIRE award, noted that she is personally committed to causes serving women and underprivileged children.
“She is dedicated to working with nonprofit groups, particularly those dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls,” he said, including as a founding member of Womenade Boston, a trustee of Agassiz Village, and a trustee with Compass for Kids.
Reny is also passionate about diversity in her firm.
“She has been instrumental in recruiting and hiring female staff who now make up 50 percent of senior management leadership at the firm and a third of the executive suite, statistics dramatically above the norm in the financial services industry,” Allon said in his nomination.
Her commitment to mentoring women in finance is where all of the parts of her long career come together.
“The biggest take-away of my life is that women led the way for me,” she said. “From my high school biology teacher, who told me it’s okay to be smart and be a girl, to my professors in college, the women I’ve met in this industry – support among and for women is all too rare, especially in the financial industry. My mission is to give back, in all the ways that I can.”
This article has been revised to reflect several factual corrections.