It isn’t always easy to find that perfect balance between work and play, but Glennel Warren seems to have it figured out. Although the North Shore resident believes that it’s more important to
surf than make money, she still manages to maintain a highly successful professional career. When this incredibly motivated woman is not working as a financial planner at American Savings Bank in Haleiwa, you’ll most likely find her dirt biking the Kahuku motocross track, kiting out at Mokuleia, or surfing big Sunset.

“Work is very important, that’s why I got my MBA, but I have prioritized all these activities to be equal to my professional obligations,” she says. “I could be in L.A. or New York making a ton of money, but I’d rather be out in nature. I think it’s more important to do the things that make you happy than just to pursue financial and professional goals.”

The financial planner has been advising clients for eight years and says that one of her favorite things about working in Haleiwa is the location. When Glennel talks about the North Shore, her excitement is palpable. “It offers so many opportunities for so many sports and activities,” she says. “I can kite, dirt bike, SUP, run the beach, hike, surf, swim. The possibilities here are endless.”

Plus, having a job on the seven-mile miracle enables her to surf before, after, and occasionally between meetings. “If I don’t have a meeting til noon, I surf in the morning,” she says. “If I’m done at four, I surf after work. Luckily most of my clients are surfers too, so they understand. I actually see a lot of them out in the water.”

Working at a major bank can be quite intense, but this wahine says that as long as there’s time to get in the water, she can handle just about anything. “My job can be very stressful, but I find that surfing gives me the confidence to take on the challenges in my profession. Being in the ocean or riding in the jungle is what keeps me focused. It makes it so that if I do have to pull a ten-hour day in the office, it’s okay. Because after, I can go surf and it just takes away all the stress.”

Glennel Warren Photo: Heff
Glennel Warren Photo: Heff

Eighteen years ago, Glennel learned how to surf in the cruisey waves of Malibu, California. At age 15, she left home and moved to Maui, ending up on Oahu a few years later. As time passed, her confidence in the North Shore surf grew and eventually she began paddling out in larger surf. “Five years ago I started tow surfing. It really helped me to get more comfortable in bigger waves,” she says. “A year ago I decided I wanted to actually paddle out into some larger waves. I got a 10-foot gun and started paddling out to big Sunset.”

Glennel doesn’t just go big out in the surf; she is full on in every aspect of her life. From dirtbiking to stand up paddling, to her professional life to kiting, the overachiever tends to do as much as possible and always wants to go bigger. “That’s why I decided to start surfing Sunset and that’s why I want to start my own financial planning practice, she says. “I can’t help it, it’s almost like I feel anxiety if I’m not doing more and more.

It’s like it gnaws at you, the feeling that you have to do something bigger and more challenging and scarier. I think some people are hardwired like that.”

Glennel didn’t grow up with the notion of being a big wave surfer or financial planner, but she definitely has the mindset for both. She is highly ambitious and doesn’t give in to fear: “there are days where I’m terrified, but I don’t put pressure on myself,” she says. “The whole thing with big wave surfing is it’s a head game. When you know your capabilities, then you can just relax. It’s all about knowing what you can do. We get scared when we’re not sure of ourselves, but when you know what you’re capable of then you can just relax and go through the motions.”

As far as her profession is concerned, she explains, “When I started college I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I was good at finance and interested in it on a personal level. I’ve just been drawn into it since I was young. I read books about it as a teenager and when I was twenty-one, I did an internship at Merrill Lynch. Until then, it had never dawned on me that I could make a career out of it.”

Once she realized it was possible to make a living by helping people invest their money and plan for retirement, she charged full speed ahead and has yet to even think about slowing down.

From her personality to her demeanor, Glennel is instantly likable. She’s genuine, smart, personable and confident, yet humble. The topic of how her day was going arose, and she said, “I just got out of a business meeting in Wahiawa. After this interview I’m supposed to meet up with a few friends out at Mokes to go kite and if I make it home before dark, I’ll try to squeeze in a quick run.”

What does the future hold for the woman with a Cheshire Cat smile? “I eventually want to start my own financial planning practice,” she says. “I’d like to be the go-to financial planner for the residents of the North Shore while maintaining the ability to keep surfing, dirt biking and kiting.”

When it comes to surfing and her career, Glennel holds a quality that begets success: she’s always ready to step up her game by going bigger and charging harder than ever before.


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