Most people have some idea of their desired future. Whether it’s saving up for that big purchase, such as their forever home, or contributing to their 401(k)s or IRAs to avoid running out of money in retirement, setting big goals and taking steps to achieve them aren’t always easy.
That’s where financial planners and advisors come in — in the age of TikTok, Instagram and Facebook, we provide invaluable, highly customized advice to people that’s not available anywhere else.
A career in financial planning may seem out of reach for some women in their 20s. You may be asking, “Don’t I need to get credentialed, or earn an MBA?” Credentials are always a plus in today’s job market, but I began my financial planning career not long after graduating with a degree in economics from UCLA and earning a master’s in education at the University of Missouri, Saint Louis.
I also was a teacher for a few years, before making the leap to financial planning — and I’ve never looked back. Here’s why:
• Financial planning rewards fresh perspectives. No two career paths in financial planning are identical, and my journey has been gratifying because of the business development support I’ve received across teams — even training — and from people who allow me to bring my authentic self to work.
As a Somali refugee, I know what it means to rebuild a life after a major life event or catastrophe beyond our control. In my career, I bring this perspective to help my clients — women recently widowed or going through divorce.
By helping women clients through major life events, I have learned the value of financial planning as a career and as a channel to bring support to people in times of need. And while this career is not for everyone, I’ve learned at this early stage that a job where you give advice can help people in immeasurable ways.
• Career success means lifting up others. Job seekers know all too well that it’s important to find roles and organizations that align with values shaped by their experience. My background informs my career: I know that life is about the unexpected for many families.
My family fled Somalia during wartime, then lived in Switzerland before permanently resettling in the United States. Nobody chooses to be a refugee — to leave all that they know and love for the unknown.
Similarly, women recently widowed or going through divorce are almost never prepared for what comes next. When I support my clients at their most vulnerable moments, I’ve been able to draw from experience and the example set by my parents, who were pillars of strength in my growing-up years.
• Informed financial decisions enrich all, not just the wealthy. Planning and advice should not be exclusively reserved for the wealthy. Rather it should serve everyday people. As a financial planner, I also educate clients to make better decisions at the most critical inflection points in their lives.
I not only plan on their behalf, but I draw from my background as a teacher in St. Louis to educate them on the basics, providing them with foundational knowledge key to their future. When I left my teaching position to become a financial planner, I trusted my gut and followed the opportunity. Now, I am more aligned with my purpose. I have no regrets and feel fulfilled every day.
We Are on a Journey in Fast-Changing Times
I found my way to the career I love not long after I received a message from a recruiter at my current firm, who initiated a conversation on LinkedIn. What drew me in was the promise of being in charge of my career and income: the freedom of building a financial planning practice on a solid foundation of support from dedicated personnel and marketing resources and tools — without knocking on doors — a common practice at other firms.
Happiness at work has meant a supportive team of colleagues in my office and across a vast network of advisors and executives who understand that financial planning is a great career choice for Millennial and Gen Z women, particularly women of color, because we bring our unique perspectives and talents to the most diverse adult generation in U.S. history.
Planners are best prepared to help households during one of the largest instances of intergenerational wealth transfer: Nearly 45 million U.S. households are expected to turn over more than $68 trillion in the next 25 years, according to a 2021 forecast from Cerulli Associates.
My work helping women undergoing major life transitions has been eye opening. Many are more comfortable discussing finances with another woman. It’s helped shape my goal of reaching women earlier in life so that they are better able to understand and navigate their finances.
Sometimes, my women clients have come to me after their husband, the initial client, passes away. Sudden changes mean tough times, but as their planner I’ve seen how building strong relationships and providing financial education basics can make a big difference.
My family traversed continents to build a better life. Those experiences continue to guide my mission to broaden client horizons, so they reach their financial goals not on their own but with a supportive team of professionals.
Financial planning helps my clients better handle their finances and prepare for the future. For me, it has reaffirmed common bonds with my clients about the benefits of coming together in the face of the unforeseen.
Amal Hagisufi is a financial planner with Prudential Advisors. A millennial professional, she works with women clients experiencing major life changes and holds a degree in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles.