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.
What made you decide to pursue a career in finance?
I didn't know much about financial planning until after college when I happened to be hired at a wealth management firm as a temporary employee. I was supposed to be there for 90 days while an assistant was out for surgery, but I ended up staying for 9 years and working my way up through the ranks. By working around such incredible people, I learned that financial planning is not just about crunching numbers and buying stocks; it's about helping people make decisions that support the kind of life they want to live. That is truly what appealed to me and what I still love about my work.
The study group with Kristen Moosmiller, Danielle Seurkamp, Ben Hockema,
Jake Kuebler, Daniel Wrenne and Grant Moore.
What part of your work gives you the most satisfaction?
My favorite moments are when I get to tell a client that they are on track and that they have done enough to achieve their goals. I work with many clients who highly value financial security and there is often a palpable sense of relief that comes over them when they hear this news. Taking the burden of stress off their shoulders is the most rewarding aspect of what I do.
What needs to be done to diversify the financial services industry?
The number of Black and Latino financial planners is sadly only about 3.5%. Women make up about 25% of the industry. It's a multi-faceted issue that has to be addressed throughout the career pipeline.
It is important that young students learn that financial planning isn't simply about sales. The collaborative, personal nature of the business appeals to a broader group of people, who may make great advisors, but who aren't particularly sales or investment-oriented.
Financial service firms can also do quite a bit to promote diversity and inclusion. They can be more intentional about their hiring practices— everything from the language in the job posting to the compensation structure of the position can be designed to have wider appeal. Blind hiring practices can reduce the degree of bias in the interviewing process. And once a diverse candidate is hired, it's critical that they receive equal pay, opportunities for advancement, and comparable mentoring.
I serve on the board of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors who is about to release a handbook on these very topics to help firms put these and other concepts into practice.
What advice would you give financial professionals just beginning their career?
There are currently more financial planners over age 70 than under 30, so there are many great opportunities out there for someone pursuing this career. First, remember that no one cares more about your future than you do. Firm leaders are bogged down in their own work so it's important for the ascending professional to create opportunities to discuss their future. They should be active in that process and create a career path if there isn't one laid out. Make sure it's clear what is expected for advancement.
My other piece of advice would be to find allies who are in similar positions in their career. I have been in a peer advisor study group for many years with five other planners around my region. We have two rules: share everything and show up every six months for in-person meetings. The perspective and support I have gained from this group can't be overstated. Simply seeing how things are done at another company can be very beneficial.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I founded my firm to empower people with the financial knowledge and personal support they need to succeed and dispel their fears of running out of money. Our mission is to grow people's sense of financial security, free them from unnecessary sacrifice, and prepare them for a life well spent.
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- Website: wellspentplanning.com
- Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/danielleseurkamp/
- Twitter: twitter.com/dseurkampcfp
- Facebook page: facebook.com/wellspentplanning