Ms Kelly Gwynn, an Associate Advisor at Moss Adams Wealth Advisors, cites the benefits of having a supportive team and the fascination of learning about financial planning's emotional and psychological side as reasons for loving her profession.
Support in career development
I joined my current team fresh from college, accustomed to the solo journey of navigating my professional goals by myself. I was pleasantly surprised that my team quickly embraced and supported me, where I was and where I wanted to go.
Starting off as a paraplanner automatically puts the goal of being a partner at the end of your path in our firm. The first and biggest milestone on that path is achieving the certified financial planner certification, required in the early years of this career.
Throughout my journey to achieve my CFP, my team was overwhelmingly supportive of me and others pursuing the mark. Everyone on the team put in time to nurture the skills of novice colleagues in an effort to help see their goals realized. It’s thanks to my support system and their encouragement that I achieved this designation so early in my career.
Psychology of financial planning
One of the aspects I didn’t foresee was the emotional and psychological side of financial planning. I’ve found that when clients are upset about market performance, it may be more tied to a client’s fear of missing out or keeping up with peers.
For example, if a client has a friend whose concentrated tech stock returned 300% over the last two years, they may be disappointed their personal investments weren’t as successful. They may fixate on this data, regardless of whether their investments are aligned with their risk tolerance and objectives and are likely on track to fund their life goals.
Goal-based planning can help shift their perspective and manage expectations of what clients need for the life they want, and what their portfolio can withstand in terms of market downturns – while still meeting goals. Managing client expectations is a major pillar in a personal financial planner’s role and it helps to know what’s driving their goals and fears.
As a financial planner, you have to learn to see the disconnect and coach clients to look at their financial picture holistically. Helping them through various hurdles, including emotional hurdles, builds and strengthens your relationship and gives you a sense of high positive impact on individuals and families.
Representation is paramount to bringing diversity to this largely white and male-dominated industry. I know this to be true, because I wouldn’t be where I am without having been inspired by many amazing professional women in finance who helped me envision myself here.
I come from a conservative, religious background, where women are encouraged to be stay-at-home moms, so I didn’t have many women with professional careers as role models growing up. I was accustomed to traditional gender roles, so naturally, I felt I had a lot to prove to myself.
I’m also a first-generation college graduate. On my journey to find a career that inspired me, I read the book “9 Steps to Financial Freedom” by Suze Orman. The main takeaway for me was that this book was written by a woman financial advisor — someone I could model my future career path on. As a result, the book inspired me to continue pursuing a college career.
Fast-forward to after graduation, when I started my first full-time position in wealth management. My addition to the team, as well as others’, was a step toward broader representation, as the number of women financial advisors doubled at the time I joined.
In the three years I’ve been on this team, I’ve witnessed the arrival of additional women financial advisors, and while the growth is slow, I can see it gaining traction. While the vast majority of applicants for open positions on our team are men, we are starting to see a trend of more diverse candidates considering a career in this field, from interns to experienced hires.
I wouldn’t have found this career path had it not been for visible female role models who inspired me.
To help change the demographics of this industry, my fellow female advisors and I need to continue to make ourselves visible, leaning in on efforts to inspire the next generation of advisors, and broadcast our support for future females wherever they are, especially those who see themselves as lost girls – just as I did.
This is an abridged version of an article which appeared on InvestmentNews.