Lately, I have been meeting one-on-one, in my office, with college students. In many cases, they are the children or grandchildren of my investment management clients. I am very proud that we work with multiple generations for several of our client families. We know and take care of grandparents, parents, children, and grandchildren. We can’t be passive. There are just too many bad stories “out there” about how the second and third generations lose the money the first generations accumulated.
How Did I Get Here?
The students I meet are beginning to wonder about their careers after college and this is what they all ask: How did you get here?
So this is my story. Thirty years ago I finished graduate school and was working full-time as a computer operations supervisor on the U.C. Berkeley campus. I no longer had to go to classes, write papers or prepare for exams so, for the first time, I purchased season tickets to the American Conservatory Theatre (ACT) in San Francisco and the Oakland Symphony. There were many nights on the town, and I soon realized that I was living beyond my means. I had never done a personal budget before, but I knew that I could get a handle on my spending problem sooner if I hired a professional.
I Got Professional Help
I think that one of the questions behind the question How did you get here? is How did you find your way to success? I have no doubt that one of the chief qualities that has made me successful is my willingness to find and pay for competent professional help. My very positive experience of working effectively with a financial planner to design a prudent, sustainable, and enjoyable spending plan opened my eyes to a career I could enjoy.
I think that career choices are often made from the positive experiences we have in the marketplace or in life. These could be experiences we have with teachers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, ministers, or our experience of something like architecture.
As a computer operations supervisor I worked 12-hour shifts usually three days per week. Because I was always off onThursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, my financial planner suggested that I could pay off my debts sooner if I found a part-time job on Thursdays and Fridays; she even had a referral for me. She knew a stock broker at Dean Witter Reynolds who was looking for someone to tutor him on computer technology and data processing. Believe it or not, this was before personal computers were on the market! The stock broker and I hit it off, and I discovered that I not only enjoyed learning about and working with other people about financial matters, but I was good at it. Within two years, I was fully licensed and began working full-time as a junior investment advisor, which then led me into a life of continuing financial and business education that persists to this day.
My willingness to seek and find competent professional help has always yielded more than I could have expected. Little did I know that when I sought the services of a financial planner to help me with a budget that I would find not only a mentor but a satisfying career. This leverage has repeated itself many times in my life. I know I need help. I am willing to pay for it. I am a good student, and people help me way beyond our initial engagement. While it may not seem like a principle of building power, I have found it to be so. It is something college students and adults need to practice.
Career as Your Chief Financial Asset
I have no idea if any of the college students I meet with will choose a career in finance or financial planning, but I do know that financial planning can help to optimize what your career can produce to take care of your concerns now and in the future. Financial planning at its best causes you to keep asking, “For the sake of what am I working, saving, and investing?” There is no greater force for success than working in a career with passion, clarity, and focus. Finding out what that is for you and developing the skills to support it is a journey well worth taking.