Job: Financial Advisor, Azimuth Wealth Advisory at Raymond James
Location: Greenville, South Carolina
Brittany and I met at a networking event back when I first moved to Greenville and have stayed connected ever since. As a young professional, I always feel comfortable going to her for advice, so in the wake of what’s happening in the world today, I wanted her to share her insight with all of you.
This is part of a month-long YoPro Know Series featuring young professionals as they share their tips on navigating their fields in the wake of COVID-19.
Give us your background.
I’ve spent most of my life in Greenville, South Carolina. If you know anything about Greenville you know you are either a Clemson or USC fan. I chose Clemson and ended up attending there for undergrad. Initially, I wanted to go to medical school because I wanted to help people, so I started as a biology major. I realized it wasn’t the right path for me (partly due to Organic Chem). I switched to Psychology, thinking that Physical Therapy would be a great field. By the end, I again changed my mind. No career opportunity I could think of seemed right. Being a planner, it was stressful to not have a career path lined up. Finally, I decided to apply to a temp agency.
They put me in a role as a receptionist for a wealth firm, which I had no idea what that was at the time. I didn’t know a thing about stocks or what a financial advisor even was. I was only supposed to work there for a month but then one of the advisors asked me to stay on as his assistant, so I said why not? I became very intrigued with what he did with his clients, realized that being a financial advisor checked off all my boxes, and so I started studying, got registered, and became an advisor. For those who don’t know, the financial industry is largely male. Currently, 16% of financial advisors are female. Being someone who is very competitive, I was excited that there was a challenge ahead of me. Since then I have focused all of my time and efforts on working with individuals who I relate with and primarily focus on women and young professionals because I feel that both are underserved by the financial industry.
What should young professionals know about planning their financial futures?
Start now. Never has anyone said they started saving too early. Go ahead and get the basics down while life is a little less complicated. Also, make sure to find someone you trust to turn to for advice. Millennials are a do-it-yourself generation, which can be a downfall sometimes. Think about how often you can go on WebMD and get a result that is completely inaccurate. There is a reason why each and every one of us specializes in a certain field. You don’t need to be an expert in everything.
What are some of the sources you trust? Starting out, I had the same struggle: where to get accurate, unbiased information. First, I would say throw out the clearly unreliable info such as Facebook, coworkers, or the family conversation at Thanksgiving. Make sure to read multiple sources so that you can get both sides of the story. One blog I’ve referred women to is Ellevest. They have a knack for simplifying overly complicated financial lingo.
Talk about a hardship you have experienced in the workplace? I would say not being the status quo in my industry. I am a young female financial advisor, so starting out and even now, people second guess me when I tell them what I do. I’ve had to learn confidence in who I am and what I can bring to the table. I have also found a good mentor and support system, so that's always helpful when people are questioning you. At first, I struggled with the lack of experience and not having the knowledge of other older advisors. I realized that people respect you a lot more when you are honest and say that you don’t know something versus giving them a wrong answer and having to correct yourself. It’s being okay with not knowing and being confident that you will continue to learn.
What have you done to make yourself stand out? I think my challenge in this industry is also my competitive edge. I am not your traditional advisor, therefore, I’m not going to act like it. I approach all of my clients the way I would want to be. I learn about their hopes, dreams, and goals. What are their motivations and what are their fears? Since everyone is different that is the only way I can really get to know someone and help them. I also find that working with people like me, females or young professionals, is helpful because I understand exactly where they are coming from. What I do is primarily about relationships, not numbers. Money is just a tool that allows someone to get to where they want to go.
What is going on in the markets right now and what should we know as young professionals? In regards to what is going on in the market, my team always looks at what we call the three E's: emotion; earnings; and economy. Emotion is obviously people's reactions to any type of headlines. Right now there is a lot of uncertainty and fear in the world. This is unfortunately hyped up by the media. We need to realize that the only way the people on TV get paid is if we watch. Train wrecks and disasters grab attention. Secondly, we look at earnings, which show how individual companies are doing. As people practice ‘social distancing’ and do not spend money we will probably see a decline in earnings this next quarter. Once the virus starts to clear up, individuals will start to go about their business and spend as they did before the outbreak. Finally, we look at the economy. Unemployment is low, tax rates are good, and cash flow is good. We may have a slowdown in growth due to the prior E, earnings, but once there is a cure there’s no good reason to say we won’t bounce back. We’ve been here before. There have been 27 market corrections since 1945. No one knows exactly what will happen when, but we can look at history and see that we have always recovered. Even in 2008, if you were to stay invested and continued to invest, you would have gotten back to the top in two years.
What is the move for us as young professionals right now?
If you haven’t mastered the basics, then do it now. Look at your cash flow and expenses (aka, your budget), and establish an emergency fund. Put a plan in place to pay down debt and save towards your goals. If you are already investing, make sure to not react and just keep up your automated investing schedule. If anything, now is a great time for young professionals because most of us have fewer necessities we need to pay for. We can use the extra savings and invest when the market is down. Often times it is referred to as buying on sale.
I would also caution against trying to outsmart the market or finding the next big thing. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about investing, fitness, etc. It’s human nature to want to find the newest trick, but the seemingly boring ways are the ones that work. Invest and stay invested in a diversified portfolio.
If we do head towards a recession, what should young professionals know from a career standpoint? From the financial side, again, make sure you have the basics down and continue to learn so that you are not feeding the misinformation and fear. From a job perspective, make sure to go above and beyond what is asked. When choosing between you and a co-worker being paid the exact same, you will be more valuable.
What is the biggest mistake you have seen young professionals make financially? It seems more than ever we want to live it up, not later, but now. I see young professionals spending a lot on becoming ‘Instagram worthy’. This can be a detriment, not only to your savings, but also your credit. I am all for making sure to enjoy today, but we need to make sure it is not at the expense of tomorrow. Keep in mind that retirement will probably not mean the same thing it meant for our grandparents. Maybe we don’t even call it retirement, but a work-optional lifestyle. Build up savings to the point where we can do what we love and work at something because we want to, not because we have to.
The YoPro Know's Takeaways:
- Start planning for your financial future now
- You don't need to be an expert in everything
- People respect you a lot more when you are honest and say that you don’t know something versus giving them a wrong answer and having to correct yourself
- Invest and stay invested in a diversified portfolio
- Enjoy today, but not at the expense of tomorrow
Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse the opinions or services of YoPro Know
Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services are offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. Azimuth Wealth Advisory is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services.