When I set off for college in 1969, I decided to study the only subject I was interested in AND was socially acceptable in those days for women: Education. I graduated, left Minnesota and found my way to Florida to be a teacher where I later earned a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Psychology. To this day, I use what I learned to help my clients.
Back then, teaching and counseling jobs were scarce, so I went to a recruiter who suggested insurance sales. I joined a five year training program and soon learned the men in the program earned significantly more than the women. At the time, the differential didn’t bother me but looking back I wish it had!
In those early years, I discovered that I don’t like to sell to people so I decided that rather than selling, I was going to survive this business by finding people to help. I found them in tree farmers and their families in southern Georgia, some of whom are still clients today.
To help those tree farming families, I had to learn about their business. It became clear the farmers wanted to keep the land in the family for generations which took estate planning, insurance, and financial planning. As I grew my book of business, my income increased. It didn’t matter that the men on my team made more to start, I outpaced their production over time. More importantly to me was that I was helping people.
In the late 1980’s I started at Raymond James. For years I was one of the only women in the room. Eventually, I started my own financial planning practice and became a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. While I struggled for the first year, I was able to grow it to the thriving firm it is today.
The reason I am passionate about the Women’s Leadership Alliance is because the industry has been slow to change and I believe it will take generations for women to see their value here. Many think financial planning is about money or math when it is really about building relationships and helping people … like my tree farming families. The message I like to share is the one I learned early in my career: Financial planning is not about selling, it’s about helping.