Follow Cydney’s journey as she begins HER PATH as a new financial advisory

Follow Cydney’s journey as she begins HER PATH as a new financial advisory

HER PATH, Cydney’s Journey, Part One: “You Can Be What You Can See”

Follow Cydney Gutridge’s path as she begins

her new career as a financial advising professional


Everyone has to start somewhere, right?  My “somewhere” is the 5th floor of the Granada Theatre building in Santa Barbara, CA. I’m not exactly sure how I pictured my first real post-grad job, but after a long three years of school, you hope to walk in the office on Day One, know exactly what you’re doing, and how to do it effectively. The reality? The reality is full of learning all new processes and terminologies while making plenty of mistakes. I guess that’s part of the journey, right?

College really doesn’t make you an expert at anything; it doesn’t prepare you to manage Bill Gates’ stock portfolio. But it does teach you how to learn, and, as I’m realizing now, the learning has truly just begun.

Hello everyone, I’m Cydney, a 22-year-old go-getter at the very beginning of her financial advising career. I was inspired to write this blog series to share my experience so far and hopefully, to encourage other females to consider this career path. My journey has been far from perfect, but if someone reading this can relate to any of my experiences or is encouraged about the possibilities within the financial advising industry, then I am on way to achieving my goal of advocating for women in finance.

I grew up in a town just south of Portland, Oregon. I was an athlete. I played basketball, soccer, lacrosse and even track. When I reached high school, I decided to focus on one sport… basketball. I fell in love with the team environment, comradery, and the high level of competition. I share this because my time in sports has played a tremendous role in developing me into the individual I am today. I learned how to work hard, compete, and navigate unexpected challenges.

I was first introduced to the financial advising profession by my mom. I have been blessed with an awesome mom who is a Certified Financial Planner and has been in the business for nearly 30 years. She had an incredible mentor, Judith McGee, who taught her about the business and what it takes to be successful as a woman in finance. Judith has since become like family and continues to be a resource I call on often. I have been incredibly fortunate to have been surrounded by strong and successful females my whole life. However, I would be lying if I said that because my mom and Judith were financial advisors, I always wanted to be one too.  But, as I made my way through college, I began to realize that this whole financial advising thing might be for me after all. I knew I loved working with people, crunching numbers and planning every detail possible – I know these qualities will serve me well in this profession.

In fall of 2019, I moved to San Luis Obispo and began my college journey at Cal Poly. I decided that I would major in business with a concentration in finance. My time in college was anything but ordinary as COVID-19 hit in March of 2020 (just 6 months after I started college) and my experience changed dramatically. With courses all shifting to online, I moved back home to Oregon.  Always up for a challenge, I decided to make the most out of the unfortunate circumstances and push myself to graduate a year early. I took on a heavy load of high-level coursework and challenged myself to take on more than I thought I could. I accepted a leadership role in my sorority, Vice President of Finance, and joined various clubs such as the Financial Management Association and the Order of Omega. I juggled my social life and school and am proud to say, three years after entering college, I received my degree in June of 2022.  Within two weeks of graduating, I started my current job as a Client Service Associate at Raymond James in Santa Barbara.

Now that you know a little bit about me, the story of how I landed this job should not be surprising. Like many people, I became frustrated applying to LinkedIn job postings and attending career fairs with no results. So, I decided to take a more direct approach. I began to research companies, financial advisors, and different office locations.  I narrowed my search to the following three non-negotiable criteria:

    • A Raymond James office
    • Located between San Luis Obispo, CA and Los Angeles, CA
    • With a female advisor with a CFP designation.


There were very few job postings that fit these specific criteria, so I began emailing advisors directly, asking for available job opportunities or referrals.  I figured that this was a way to set myself apart from the thousands of other college graduates looking to land a job right out of college. And…through persistence – and a lot of emails, I secured my very first post-grad job at The Neunuebel Barrantes Wealth Management Group of Raymond James!

The advisors were welcoming from the very beginning and dedicated a lot of time teaching me the ways of their practice. In my entry-level role, I operate behind-the-scenes of the business, communicating with clients, overseeing paperwork, planning events, and more. Based on my experience so far, I believe that everyone new to the business should spend some time in this role. It’s given me the opportunity to learn valuable lessons from the ground up.

Over the first few months in my new role, it was like learning a new language – (I still sometimes feel this way!) My coworkers were patient, and I was determined to keep absorbing information. Before too long, I had processes in place and started building great relationships with my peers in the office. This has been extremely important as I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without the support system I have built at work.

Once settled, I decided it was time to prepare for my securities examinations. I started with the SIE exam, then Series 7, and I am currently studying for the Series 66. I’ll be honest, the Series 7 gave me a serious amount of trouble, I failed the exam not once, but twice. Yikes!  My confidence sunk and negative thoughts like, “Should I even be in the business?” ran through my mind. On my second attempt, I missed the mark by 1%. I had poured so much time and energy into passing the test and it ended up in failure-again. But I stayed focused on my goal and a couple of months later I was in the exam room to give it another shot. I passed on June 1st, 2023. This was one of the best days of my life! OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it was a pretty great day! I will say that I learned a lot more about myself from failure than from success. Not everyone’s path is perfect, so take it easy on yourself. (Easier said than done!)

In addition to my exams, I wanted to look for ways to become involved in my company. Raymond James has fabulous resources for individuals looking to advance in their careers. The growth opportunity at this company is what I find most exciting. In mid-July I found out I had made it into the RAMP program, (Registered Associate Mentorship Program.) I passed my Series 7 just in time to apply and thankfully, I was accepted. Through this program, I will be assigned a mentor and will learn more about transitioning into an advisor role. My hope is that this one-year program will help me build the confidence to take the next steps to become an advisor.  I’m getting started this month, August 2023, so I look forward to keeping you updated on my progress in the program in my next blog installment.

I hope that reading about the progression of my career in my first year inspires you to see what this profession may have in store for you. Please reach out to me at [email protected] with any questions, words of advice, or even just to chat. I am constantly looking to build my network and learn.

And be sure to subscribe to the Women’s Leadership Alliance to catch updates on my journey and for some awesome opportunities to become a part of an amazing community of women in the financial advising profession!

Sharon Gottula
[email protected]