In my previous post, I talked about my journey into the wild world of finance and what led me to launch Empowering Finance. But what does it really mean to work with a CFP® professional? What does that offer to you and what does it mean to be a woman in this highly competitive field? And why is my motto “WWIDIIWMMM?”?
While exploring the various career paths and designations within finance, it became clear that the CFP® certification was the right path for me. The three highest designations within finance are CPA, CFA, or CFP®, and anyone advising you on your assets should have one of these at a bare minimum. Since I wanted to work with both people and numbers, I chose the CFP® designation route and began my journey to obtain these credentials.
The CFP® certification process is not for the faint of heart–it is the highest designation available to financial planners. I basically lost two years of my life nerding out about all things finance-related, as candidates begin with education coursework, then pass a brutal exam on top of having at least three years of professional experience related to financial planning. When I passed the CFP® Board exam in November of 2010, I was the ONLY woman in my testing room. At that time, the CFP® Board exam was done by paper (over two days) and it took a few months to receive the results. I distinctly remember receiving the envelope that held my passing results and screaming/jumping/crying for joy out in my street. The pass rate was only 51% and I had done it! Passing that exam was a huge step forward for me, but I also hoped it was one for the industry as a whole. If I could do it, surely more women would and could, and soon financial services would become more inclusive. If you read my introductory post, you know it didn’t quite go that way. Yet, anyway.
When I passed the exam in 2010, the percentage of women CFP® certificate holders was 23%. Want to take a wild guess what it is in 2020, a full decade later?
There hasn’t been a single percentage of change in over a decade, and the CFP® Board is calling it “The Lost Decade.” This lack of change points to a problem in the financial services industry that Empowering Finance aims to remedy. Women need to know that they can find financial planners who truly understand their needs from their own perspectives. Women also need to see other women succeed in the industry and be there to offer a helping hand as they start climbing the ladders of their own careers. Empowerment is key at every step—hence the name of my firm. I’m thrilled to be a part of this.
While the CFP® education, exam, and experience requirements give one a great base for a financial planning career path, you are on your own in figuring out what the best investment philosophy and investment options are for your clients. In a billion-dollar industry where everyone is trying to sell something, this is where one’s fiduciary obligation becomes extremely important. I remember early in my career questioning why we were investing client assets with one company over another and the Advisor being frustrated with my questioning. I wasn’t trying to be the annoying kid asking why—I truly wanted to understand the investment decision and rationale. Unfortunately, very few financial professionals can answer this very important question about why they invest their client funds the way they do or whether they have their own money invested in the same holdings as their clients. It wasn’t until a bit later in my career that I finally found a firm who could finally answer all of my questions and who also holds true to the fiduciary standard.
I feel incredibly lucky that I did spend half of my career at Vista Capital Partners, a firm that truly embodies putting their clients’ first above all else. It was there that I learned an important acronym that I still keep in mind with every investment decision I make for my clients: WWIDIIWMMM? aka What Would I Do If It Was My Mom’s Money? That phrase really puts things into perspective (if you like your mom, that is). This same firm gave me a strong foundation in how to run a client-first practice, including the application of a Nobel prize-winning investment philosophy. I’ve carried those lessons with me to Empowering Finance.
I take my fiduciary obligation very seriously and I will always abide by “WWIDIIWMMM?” And my Mom is my favorite person in the world, so you better believe I will do the best by you. 😊
For more details to consider before working with me, feel free to review my FAQ or book a time to chat with me at your convenience. There is no charge for the first call—it would be wonderful to get to know you and see if we might be a good fit to work together.
Corey Beal, CFP®
CEO & Director of Joy