The Out & About Blog Spotlight Series elevates insight from the financial service industry’s best and brightest. We cover challenging topics around diversity, inclusion, purpose, and inspiring the next generation.
Through sharing insights and best practices, together we can shape the future of the financial services industry and support improved access to qualified, ethical financial advice and resources for all.
This week we interviewed Armond Croom, founder and CEO of The Financial Effect, a financial coaching business based in San Diego, CA. He has been a trusted financial advisor for more than 15 years, and believes that by using money as a tool, families can change their financial future.
What made you decide to pursue a career in finance?
After being in the Navy, I decided I didn't like working for anyone. My Navy experience was crucial to my career, so I would still do it again 10 times over. Since I had a degree in finance, I wanted to start a business using my degree, but I wasn't sure what exactly I wanted to do. My best friend at the time, convinced me to attend a dinner where financial planners were pitching their services to new clients. I started asking about becoming an advisor, and they were eager to set up an appointment with me. I had no clue what I was doing, and honestly, I just got lucky enough to choose the right company at the right time to mentor me in my career.
What part of your work gives you the most satisfaction?
Of course, helping people, but I also love the flexibility that my career gives me to spend time with my family. I have always loved talking about money and the economy, and now I get to talk about it every day. I love creating new relationships and finding out more about people, but I really get excited when I see progress. When clients see the difference that one year or two years make after working with me — that brings me joy.
It's incredible to see my clients who never thought it would be possible to send their kids to college or pay for their kid's wedding. I work with this idea in mind: my clients should live in the moment...they don't need to stress about the money, they can just celebrate with their family and leave the money to me. Helping them create a future for their family is exciting.
What needs to be done to diversify the financial services industry?
A lot of things! To be honest with you, I had never heard of a financial planner until that same friend introduced me. I remember sitting in that financial advisor's office, thinking that he was trying to rob me.
Many African Americans are not comfortable spending money on a financial planner, and they haven't been exposed to the work that we do. I think as planners, we need to work on making the African American community more comfortable with using a financial planner. We need to build relationships inside communities that need wealth-building strategies. Once financial planning is normalized among African American parents, their children will understand, and we can start building generationally.
What advice would you give financial professionals just beginning their career?
The financial planning business is difficult. You can make or break your career depending on your ability to add new clients. I owe my career to having great mentors and having the ability to gain trust.
A word of general advice: find a few financial advisors in your area and interview them to see how they can help you become a financial advisor. Let them tell you how they run their businesses. Look at each financial planner and see what their work habits and family life is like and then adopt some of their practices. You can adapt these practices to fit your style as you progress. I would also work under a financial advisor allowing him or her to profit off of my production. I would pay my mentor for his/her time. Yes, pay your mentor! Make them vested in your success! Your mentor isn't always going to be right, but if you choose the right mentor, he or she will be right at least 95% of the time. You can take what they taught you and build your own business.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I'm a big kid who likes to joke and have fun, but when it comes to business, I'm serious because I've been providing financial advice for over 15 years. I also want to add, that clients are better off having a financial advisor than not having one. Having an advisor is like the difference between having a personal trainer vs. working out by yourself. Financial planning clients are going to do more and make essential decisions sooner. I have seen people do well without a financial advisor, but hiring one is life changing. We keep people from procrastinating.
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