Over the years I have met one-on-one with many college students, often the children or grandchildren of my investment management clients. I am 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 about how 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 they all ask: “How did you get here?”
My story: thirty-eight 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 to the Oakland Symphony. There were many nights on the town, and I soon realized 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 a question behind the question “How did you get here?” is “How did you find your way to success?” No doubt 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.
Career choices are often made from the positive experiences we have in the marketplace or in life. These could be experiences we have with professionals (teachers, doctors, ministers, etc.) or with something in our environment, such as architecture.
As a computer operations supervisor I worked twelve-hour shifts with Thursday, Fridays, and Saturdays off; my financial planner suggested I could pay off my debts sooner if I found a part-time job. She even had a referral for me: a stockbroker at Dean Witter Reynolds was looking for someone to tutor him on computer technology and data processing; this was before personal computers were on the market! The stockbroker and I hit it off, and I discovered I not only enjoyed learning about and working with people regarding 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 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 expected. Little did I know that when I sought the services of a financial planner to help me with a budget, 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 getting professional help 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.