Ed Vargo and Melana Carbary run Burning River Advisory Group with a mission in mind:

To help women achieve financial strength and independence at every stage of their lives.

Without financial equality, women will never achieve full equality. That’s what I want for my five daughters. That’s what I want for the women we serve.

Ed Vargo

Ed Vargo, CFP®, CLU®, CDFA®, ChFC®, AIF®, founder of Burning River Advisory Group, grew up in inner-city Cleveland.  During the Vietnam War, Ed’s father served as a sergeant military policeman in South Korea where he met and married Ed’s mother.  Once back in the States, Ed’s mother faced the challenges of a being a first-generation immigrant who couldn’t read or write English or drive a car.

Above all, Ed saw his mother struggle as she was not educated in financial matters. A strong-willed and capable woman, she was nevertheless stuck in an unhealthy relationship, unable to control her own well-being. She was financially dependent and had few options for finding a better life. Eventually, she was able to find the power and resources to end the marriage but her struggles left a lasting imprint on Ed and the values he holds dear as a husband, father, and advisor.  

Ed’s father, a steelworker, did what he could as a single dad of four young children.  Growing up in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood — a proud, hard-working community (but one not known for its college acceptance rates) — Ed worked hard in school eventually attending Case Western Reserve University.  There he earned a BS degree in Management and met his college sweetheart and future wife, Wendy.

Ed and Wendy are now the proud parents of five—yes, five—charismatic daughters. Ed knows how much financial strength matters to the health, safety, and opportunity of a woman’s life, and he’s determined to raise his girls to be as strong, independent, and powerful as possible. He firmly believes that without financial equality, women will never achieve full equality. He wants this for his girls and for all women.

This deeply personal commitment to women’s empowerment is the powerful undercurrent running through Burning River. Ed also believes deeply that a woman’s hard work — as an individual, a professional, an artist, a mother, or anywhere in between — deserves to be recognized and supported. Through customized, compassionate, and devoted financial planning, he is committed to helping women achieve financial independence.

Ed is a 20+ year veteran of the financial services industry. While growing up in the inner city gave Ed a proper education in the school of hard knocks, he is also a strong proponent of a formal education. Ed holds numerous distinguished industry designations including being a CFP®, AIF® and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, amongst others.  

Ed is a frequent guest speaker at companies, organizations, and conferences, as well as a regular contributor to various media outlets including the Associated Press, Money, CNBC, and Forbes.  Ed and his firm, Burning River Advisory Group, have been awarded the Women’s Choice Award for Financial Advisors/Firms every year since its inauguration. They are honored in being recognized as one of the first 100 companies in the country to receive this prestigious award.

Knowledge is the cornerstone of financial independence for women. When you know what you have financially, and how it works, you can take charge of your life.

Melana Carbary

Melana Carbary, CFP®, CLU®, CDFA®grew up in a small Ohio town, the daughter of a second-generation railroading family. While extremely close with all of her family, Melana shared a special bond and relationship with her mother. Her mom’s strong role within the family led Melana to be the strong, independent woman she is today and helped shape her career and passion for working with women.

Melana strives to live simply, be a prudent steward of her money, and create a life full of meaningful experiences. Her journey is about collecting memories, not “things.”

Ed and Melana began working 2005. While Ed initially served as Melana’s mentor, it became apparent their skill sets and approaches to financial planning and women’s empowerment were in complete alignment. They officially merged practices in 2009 and formed what is now Burning River Advisory Group.

Melana earned her bachelor’s degree in business management from Heidelberg College. She is a CFP®, CLU®, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® and holds other distinguished industry designations. Melana specializes in working with women new to financial services and is the firm’s in-house insurance specialist. She is a member of the Financial Planning Association® and the Center for Principled Family Advocacy.

Additionally, Melana holds an associate degree in Floral Design and Marketing and is also a Certified Yoga Teacher (CYT 200).  While she enjoys serving in the roles of advisor, designer and yoga teacher, she is most proud of the role she served in supporting her mom during her battle with cancer. She is also now the proud auntie of two beautiful nieces.

Ed and Melana are popular speakers and teachers. Their compassionate, straightforward approach and delivery cuts through the jargon and boredom of finances leaving their audiences with inspiration, courage, and the tools to take charge of their financial lives.

  • Topics include:

    • Why Smart People Do Dumb Things With Their Money
    • How to Recreate Your Paycheck in Retirement
    • Women and Money – Your Worth is NOT Tied to Your Net Worth
    • $@%^ – Where Did All My Money Go?
    • Finding Balance – Meeting the Needs of Your “Current” Self with Those of Your “Future” Self
    • Life Hack: What You Need to Know to Be “Cocktail Napkin” Smart Financially
  • Recent speaking and media engagements

    • Frequent presenters at the Women in Transition program at Cuyahoga Community College
    • enlightenHer Divorce workshops
    • What Glass Ceiling? podcast guest
    • Contributed to numerous articles in Money, US News and World Report, CNBC, Forbes, and many others.