Episode 2: The Value of a Good Financial Advisor

My Conversation With Melissa Joy, CFP®

In this episode of Financial Finesse, I have the pleasure of chatting with Melissa Joy of Pearl Planning, an independent, women-owned financial planning firm based in Michigan. Melissa and I met through an advisor peer group and have a lot in common when it comes to our careers and how we manage our financial planning businesses. I thought she’d be the perfect guest to discuss the value of a good financial advisor and what to look for when hiring a financial parter.

Melissa and I discuss a range of topics, from the types of clients we work with to their most common pain points and how we look at each client’s entire financial picture to develop and implement a comprehensive financial plan. We also touch on the role of investments in a client’s financial plan and why neither of us makes it the focal point of our discussions despite our shared interest in the topic. Finally, we discuss the progress the financial advice industry has made in terms of service and technology, but why it still has a long way to go when it comes to encouraging more diversity among professionals joining the field. 

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Episode 2 Transcript: The Value of a Good Financial Advisor


Welcome to the Financial Finesse Podcast, where we’ll be discussing tips on how to handle your money and life with skill and style. Your host Cathy Curtis, CFP® has been helping make finance accessible and intriguing for women for almost 20 years. You’ll get savvy, actionable ideas, listening to her conversations with some of the coolest and smartest women on the planet. And now, here’s your host, Cathy Curtis.


All right. Hi, everyone. It’s Cathy Curtis. And this is episode number two of my new podcast Financial Finesse. Yeah, I am thrilled to be having a conversation with Melissa Joy, who is a financial advisor like me. We have a lot of similarities except she’s in Michigan and I’m in California, but other than that, we’re both independent businesses, women-owned firms. We do financial planning, retirement planning, investment management, we do holistic planning. And one of the reasons I wanted to have this conversation is I think there’s a lot of people out there that don’t really know what independent advisors do, and how much help we convey to people with their finances. People know about brokers and big banks and things like that. But there’s, there’s this whole other world of small, independent businesses, whose whole goal is to make sure that their clients leave really successful financial lives. And Melissa and I happen to be two of those people. So, we’re gonna share our experiences and why we’re doing what we’re doing and what kind of services we provide and hopefully you will find it very interesting. But before we start, it is cocktail hour. And it just so happens that Melissa and I are taking a little break from drinking this week. So we’re actually not going to be drinking any alcohol, but we thought we would share our favorite. For me it’s wine. So I’m going to start. And if I was drinking right now, I’d be drinking a Lynmar Estate Chardonnay. Lynmar is winery up in Sebastopol, California. It’s my absolute favorite winery in Sonoma County. They also make a wonderful Pinot Noir. And every Chardonnay they make is great. They’re not open right now. But they are going to be open soon and I can’t wait to go back up and sit on their beautiful patio. So, Melissa, welcome to my podcast. And hi Cathy. Hi. It’s so good to see you. And why don’t you share what you would be drinking right now?


Well, I’m dreaming of wines from California, but I feel like I need to be loyal to the home, the home state, the home field and mention I love IPAs and Bell’s Brewery here in Michigan makes Two Hearted which is just my favorite beer. We had it the keg in our wedding 12 years ago and still have it in the fridge today. So shout out to Michigan IPAs.


Yay. I love a good IPA. Definitely beer really hits the spot more when it’s super hot. And you told me you’re in 78 degrees right now in your office and I’m about to say


the office is warm.


That would be pretty tasty right now. Sounds good to me. Yeah. So also I want to add I am wearing my pearls in honor of Melissa because her firm is Pearl Planning. Am I doing that Pearl Planning right? That’s perfect. Yes.


Tell us about why you named it Pearl Planning.


Well, a couple reasons.


A pearl is something that is a challenge, a piece of sand, a grain that’s an irritation that turns into something beautiful. And don’t we know that our financial lives have those moments to where you need resilience, it’s not always perfect. And, and for me, it’s personal as well. So my grandmother was Vera Pearl and my daughter is named Josephine Pearl. And so there’s that legacy of the past as well as the possibility of the future. And that’s a perfect fit. So our tagline is no grit, no pearl.


I love that so much. I really do. No grit, no Pearl, it’s perfect. I have a Pearl in my life too. My dad worked for Rand McNally maps and you’re a map person. I love maps. Yeah. He worked for Rand McNally for many years, and his secretary was named Pearl. And she used to travel. We didn’t travel as six kids. We were homebound all the time. But his secretary traveled, and she’d bring back exotic stuff from like Japan and places like that. And so we always loved Pearl. So that’s a special name in my life too. Let’s get on with how we’re working with our clients right now. And, um, what kind of clients we work with and things like that. We’re very similar in a lot of ways. We’ve both been 20 years in the financial services business. We’re independent businesses. I, I work with women mainly. And the triggers that clients come to me for are usually they inherited money, and they don’t know what to do with it. And we all know how emotional money is, and they’re worried that they’re, they’re going to blow it. They want to really make sure they plan for their future, and also women who are nearing retirement and want to plan for retirement. Those are the triggers for me and the kind of clients that I work with. What about you?


I think you have a terrific focus on working with women. I find that oftentimes women reach out to me, but oftentimes they’re in heterosexual couples. So it’s a man and woman working together. And more recently, I’ve been starting to work with people who are younger. So more in Gen X and Gen Y or millennial. And I find people are reaching out to me because they say, Gosh, I’m maxing out my 401k. And what’s next? Like, I don’t know where this money that I’m accumulating should go. I also find, I have a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst designation and right now I I’m questioning whether that spike in divorces may be occurring because I’ve been talking to quite a few people who are going through a divorce and then word of mouth. You know, clients will mention me to other clients and it’s certainly I’m so appreciative that they feel confident to share my name in a way that they know I will help their friends. So those are some of the reasons that people reach out but there’s often a pain point like you described and how would you describe inheritance as a pain point? Yeah. Well, there’s so much emotion tied to taking, you know, doing the right thing for money. And it’s a, it’s a huge transition.


Oh, my gosh, I mean, I hear the word. I’m so anxious around this money all the time. But it’s definitely, there’s definitely a lot of mixed emotions around it. And same with heading to retirement. Oh, yeah. People are scared. I mean, you have an income coming in every month and the confusion around how am I going to get paid when I’m retired?


Right, totally. What does that paycheck look like and I can’t believe that we aren’t able to articulate that more easily. I make sure when I’m doing a retirement discussion to not only talk about the actual like which account what dates all that good stuff. Yes. So like some trends in retirement because I don’t think we’re educated enough on the life of a retiree.


I don’t either. And also, knowing that spending changes throughout retirement, you know, I’m sure a lot of it has to do with how energetic and healthy you are.


Yes. Are you younger than status age or older than status age?


Oh, I like that. I haven’t.


Because I mean, like I don’t know, we’re both young at heart. We met each other through kind of an advisor peer group where we probably are topping out at the high end of the age group but I feel like I’m just getting started and sometimes people start to kind of separate themselves into the stay at home a little bit more just you know, because of health or whatever.


But you know what, we have the experience, but we also have the joy and the enthusiasm. So we’ve got the best of all worlds. Right? Well


share with you a little bit. We’re pretty darn passionate about what we do.


Yeah, definitely. And so what are some of the ways that you help somebody through these pain points that they come to you with? Whether it be wanting to know when to retire, or they’re going through a divorce? What’s your process?


So my process is to first listen, so I want to hear what that pain point is. And I want as soon as possible in our discussions for the client to feel comfortable being vulnerable. So I, you can’t just tell somebody, hey, it’s okay to trust me. It has to be based on you know, what they’re hearing from me how I’m listening. I want to make sure that I’m able to listen to them and their needs, and hopefully also I can hear about that anxiety that you’re describing, or they feel comfortable enough articulating that to me, I find that so many people, women, especially, but maybe it’s just because women are able to articulate it. They think they’re not doing well enough. And I just described a lot of the clients that come to me are doing great. Yeah. And they need to hear that from somebody else because they see everybody else seemingly doing well. And you and I both know that behind the scenes, every American household is different and a lot of them are very financially vulnerable, even if they look pretty secure from the outside looking in. So


yeah, I’m trying to hear what they need.


Well, okay, so the listening thing is so big, and you share it a number of times, I think listening to a client more than you talk is so, so important, especially in the early stages of the relationship. And I think that’s, that’s why one complaint that I have heard from my female clients that in the past, if they’ve gone to an advisor, they don’t feel like they’re listened to enough, either. It’s a woman in a couple and the advisor doesn’t necessarily pitch themselves to them. Yeah, yeah, I think that’s changing because I think all of us advisors are so aware that women are involved in the financial decisions in the household and they need to be listened to too. But listening is a skill that not everybody has.


So I think you’ve told me that you kind of that’s your superpower, right? I


did tell you that is my superpower. And I love it. I’m a good listener. So if I interrupt you, I’m sorry.


I try really hard not to interrupt people.


But that’s terrific.


So okay. So you listen, you get all the information you can about the person situation and then what happens.


So then we do a data gathering meeting, and I also use technology to gather information from the client. And then we spend a couple hours in a plan presentation. So I will go over both those pain points that the client brought up, and hopefully answer them. And when I address them, I make sure I really work hard to make sure that I don’t tell them, here’s what you’re going to do. I’m making a conversation. It’s a consultation where they make the ultimate decision. I think there’s huge increase in buy-in. I think there’s huge increase in the likelihood of implementation. And it just feels like more that you’re the quarterback of your financial life. I’m a coach that’s helping you to call the play.


Okay, you know what that reminds me of a therapist relationship where you tell them something, they go, well, what do you think about that? You don’t do


that. Do you? No I mean, I usually know the direction we’re going to go but I want their input and feedback. So my Action List during that time presentation is blank. And I create the Action List after but to take an example in the retirement space, let’s say they’re approaching retirement, they’re ready. They think they’re ready. Well, I’ll look at how much money can we spend what you know, loose ends need be tied up with how would your money be invested? How do you coordinate your financial life with your life goals, and you may not have even explored what life looks like or feels like after you’re retired, so they may need a connection to someone that’s going to help coach them in how to be a successful retiree. And we’ll talk about the statistics in retirement actually, you end up sometimes spending less money in retirement and in successive years, there’s a deflation in spending, not an inflation. Yeah. So I’ll educate them on that and help them understand both you know, this statistical analysis but also the reality of what we’re seeing in terms of retiree behaviors.


Right. You know, another thing I tell clients that I think is really helpful when you’re planning is, okay, you do a plan. It seems like a static event, but it’s really not. It’s a live, ongoing thing. And both of us work with clients on an ongoing basis. I believe you do, right? I have a family there with me year after year after year, we revisit their plan every year, or when an event happens, something big changes in their life. So you don’t just do a plan, a one-time thing and go, okay, this is what it is. Good luck. See you. We work with our clients ongoing to make sure that they stay with the plan. Things happen. There’s always an unexpected event that will happen and we help them pivot and make the plan work. So I really think that’s one of the true many values of an advisor is helping a client stay on course, stick with their plan and when something big changes, help them through it to come up with a solution. And I know that’s probably exactly what you’re doing with your clients as well.


I call that the magic of financial planning because it’s not transactional. Although you can find a financial plan that’s just delivery. Here you go. You’re on your way. And I do think honestly that in many cases, people say they’re financial planners, and they’re using the plan to sell either an investment strategy or a product or to turn it into an assets under management relationship. And that’s not to say that we don’t manage investments, because you and I both do, but to me, the process the repeated once a year, or four in my case, process of revisiting the financial plan, refreshing, updating and upgrading results is a compound return of good financial decisions. And it’s that process that is amazing. It’s so powerful. It’s very difficult to describe, which is why I’m so excited that you thought this would be a good topic for us to


discuss. Yeah.


But it is really important. And you know, one of the things I should have mentioned, we’re not just talking about their pain points. We’re also, I know you do this too Cathy, we’re looking at the entirety of their financial life. And there may be a variety of things that are we see as low hanging fruit that they would have never thought of. So we are using the process of financial planning to uncover other planning opportunities that are important, important for them to be discussing.


Oh, yeah. And think about all the things we need to be educated on as CFPs. Right. It makes my head spin. And I do this for a living. I can’t even imagine how someone who was not educated in this, never had to be educated in it, can learn everything they need to know. I mean, both Melissa and I, today we’re on a webinar about Medicare. And I know people don’t know all the ins and outs of Medicare, and when they need a Medicare website, their eyes cross yet, and you can make mistakes. That’s the thing with a lot of these financial issues, you can make mistakes unless you get the best advice. So we help with a lot of different issues. Let’s talk about the investment piece just a little bit because I do manage investments for my clients, but I look at it as a whole. So it’s a process where you start with the financial plan, you determine what the client needs for return. So how much risk do they need to take in their investments to reach their goals? That’s kind of one of the most important things I try and figure out because unless somebody is really risk tolerant just wants high growth and can handle the volatility, most of my clients I put in an age and timeframe appropriate portfolio so that they can feel good year in year out. And they understand when things get volatile that they’re going to get through it and stay with it and they’re going to reach their goals. And I think that’s also another value add for advisors like us is that we keep our clients in the market through thick and thin even though it is so hard sometimes. I mean, this year is a perfect example of that. I’ve been doing this for 20 years like you I’ve never seen anything like it.


I agree I’ve been doing it. My first day on the job was June of 98. So I got a chance to see the end of the tech bubble. And then right into a bear market. So this is my third bear market if it ends up where we’re at then the shortest, for sure. But March was, and I you know, of course the story is not yet finished. But March was such a crazy month as an advisor. And just between you me and the audience, like financial advisors are not immune to feeling awful and like you’ve been punched in the stomach just like clients. Yes, I think I would, you know, mention that if you’re listening to this podcast and you’re talking to financial planners, you know, you want to be listening to their investment process to make sure that they are not their process. Is it vulnerable to behavioral biases of the planner themself. So I work really hard to kind of set some real defined process so that I don’t kind of bail on it because I know a lot of advisors that are like, well, this is what we do all the time. Except in a way where we bailed on everything and you know, went to cash for half of the portfolio and then spent the next two years trying to get back in. It’s not just clients that do that.


So, it’s so important to have a good process in investments because we’re all human,


totally. And I got my start first being kind of a research analyst on investments only. And then I developed an investment department at a registered investment advisor. So investing was my first love in this business. I loved the research end of the process, and it was fun to develop to build an organizational structure for how to invest. And then I woke up one day and I kind of felt like the world of investing didn’t feel that new anymore or novel and I’m someone who loves, you know, a new challenge, often. Mm hmm. I felt like I climbed that mountain. So I still have that love of investing but I feel like you know, making it something where you don’t need to change just like you said, and, and you’re really hearing from the client. And your goal is to get a portfolio that they can live with in March of 2020, as well as 2019. Two radically different environments.


Yes, it’s almost like


the investment piece should be the least complicated piece of this process, wealth management process we’re talking about. Totally, right. Yes, financial lives are so complicated because things can be unpredictable, and change happens. But an investment process can be set. There’s science around it, and you don’t fiddle with it too much and you’re going to be okay. And totally, it sounds simple. It is but it just takes discipline. It takes discipline in a process and the good financial advisors approach investments in that way. They really do. And I it sounds like we’re both on the same page. I, by the way, we have that in common too. When I was in my teens, I used to track stocks by hand. I loved stocks so much. I thought this is so fascinating. Um, I read Forbes and Fortune, just to figure out why some companies were more successful than others. I just loved it. Now, right now, I don’t do stock picking. I’m not that kind of an advisor, but I still love it. So it sounds like you’ve got that real love of the whole thing.


Yeah, and I, it’s interesting. I think we have a little bit of an advantage there. Because so many financial planners nowadays, especially if they are in a larger firm, may never have made the investment decisions themselves because as firms grow, they have investment departments. They have strategies. And I don’t think that gives us a superpower, like a different return set. But what it does is we can talk. I can get very technical talking about investments. But I don’t need to do that every day. Because for the most part, you know, our financial planning. conversations are, you know, really, they’re about financial planning. They’re about everything else in life. And certainly we’re addressing investments, but it’s not a 90 minute two hour conversation on investing only, right? But when we need to get deep on that investing, when you need a tax aware strategy, because you’re high net worth and you have taxable assets, when it’s time to rebalance, or when you need someone that you can have confidence in to help you say don’t sell your entire account in March of 2020. Then it helps to have someone that’s kind of, you know, made big investment decisions in the past.


You know, you brought up another really good topic, and that is tax planning. Neither of us are CPAs or accountants, and we do not do taxes. However, as part of the CFP curriculum, we need to know about tax and tax is so important. It’s almost like it’s the well, I think having enough insurance is kind of the basis of a good financial plan to protect yourself from risk. But I also think taxes are key and people care so much about taxes, they don’t want to pay more taxes, and they have to, and so good advisors know about tax. And the truth is most people who prepare taxes, don’t do the pre planning that you need to do before the end of the year to put into place tax saving strategies. They do the taxes but then it’s too late. You really need to do tax planning in probably October or November. And so I always have a special tax planning meeting where I look and see what techniques could they use whether it’s more charitable giving, Donor Advised funds, Roth conversions, tax loss harvesting, I know some of these terms are getting a little technical, but that’s another value that independent advisor can add is to, it’s almost like it’s an adjunct to your taxes, your tax professional, they can help you with that as well.


I so agree, so there’s so many things you just said where I’m just like, absolutely. So first, because most people just think that their tax preparer you know, it’s prepare the taxes, get it done one time a year, it’s after the year’s over so the calendar year deadline matters and so many of your tax decisions, then it’s a process for tax planning is not a part of the conversation and it costs more to do tax planning, frankly. In many cases, but and I’m seeing all the time that there are, especially if you were really more investment focused as a financial professional versus a holistic financial planner or comprehensive financial planner, then there are things that are occurring in taxable accounts where I just I see money just leaving the accounts or leaving, you know, the network statement. So, you know, some ideas that I always try to mention are, what is your strategy for cost basis reporting? Like, how have you selected that average cost? Is it minimum tax? Is it first in first out, so that’s a choice. Mm hmm. And oftentimes, I find that it’s not the most tax aware choice. Also, if you are managing, you know, if you have 10 accounts are they each managed with their own strategy or if you look at them all together, I call that household. Then you could be more tax aware by owning the assets that have a higher tax cost, maybe in tax deferred or tax-exempt account, making decisions for where you access your money before you’re required to take money out of your retirement plans. Again, that’s just location. Right? Yeah. So important. There’s so many things that I know that you and I would just do, as part of our process that if you’re just getting investment advice versus financial planning, even if you think you have a financial planner, in some cases, then that may be missing.


Yes, exactly. You know, a few things both of us have brought up is technology. Okay. I think for people to understand how advisors like us use technology is so important. Because someone might think, oh, well, you’re a small firm. Do you have the resources that a bigger firm has to help us. And the world of financial technology is so incredible, that literally we can do anything that a bigger firm can do. And it gets better and better and better. Tax planning software, financial planning software, investment management software, really the sky’s the limit on it. I know my budget for technology is quite large. And I want to keep it that way. Because when I find a tool that is useful to me and makes it easier to analyze a situation, I jumped on it. And I know you you’re a little bit of a geek, so you probably are exactly the same way. Right?


Yes, I am. I you know, what I find in your very large enterprises is there’s a big-money contract that gives software solutions across the board and as an independent firm owner, I’m allowed to look around and pick, oftentimes more modern technology. So like my financial planning software isn’t just like put your numbers in and the plan pops out, because so much of the plan is our conversation. I have an educational component that is more of a presentation. And then I have the analysis side which I use the software for. But it’s a newer software that didn’t exist five years ago. And it’s fantastic. And I like to, to evaluate, you know, what is the best user experience for my clients with the software that I use for myself, as well as what are the analytical capabilities. It’s really amazing what the FinTech world, that’s what we call it, is doing and it’s funny, I moved into my new offices when I opened my company in 2018. And across the hall from me, was a woman who had a FinTech startup. In our little town in Michigan. She creates financial literacy apps for banks. And there’s just fascinating things going on.


I’m so grateful that I can be an advisor right now because there’s so many wonderful tools for us to use. And I’m, I’m similar to you I find the technology is what I use to really understand my client’s situation on an analytical level, so that then I can talk to them about all the strategies that will benefit them. So the technology is really for me, um, a way of interfacing with the client. It’s as much as they want. I find most of my clients want conversation. Yes, they want to look at the numbers and I have the numbers all ready. Another trend that I really noticed, I don’t know about you, is I use hardly any paper anymore. I mean, paperless office for what’s been a long time. When I started, I read, um, Joel Bruckenstein’s book about the paperless office. I don’t know. Do you remember that?


I don’t remember the book, but I know him.


Yeah, it was a game changer. For me. It was such a game changer. I’m so grateful to him. Anyway, so I’m paperless. And I find more and more, my clients don’t want paper. So I usually do an interactive meeting with a big computer screen, showing them the data I need them to see. And I’ll say, now I can print out this view, none of them want to print it out. And that’s so gratifying to me because it means that the conversation was so useful to them. They take notes, we’ve got you know, follow up things to do and all that and I follow up with a to do list, but they don’t need a big stack of paper so that they feel comfortable with our relationship and what we’re talking about. My time.


Yeah, tying things together. First of all, I was just thinking about finding what we were the modernization of financial planning software. And just all of the resources we have technology wise, that used to be so much work, like when I first started in the business, and I was fortunate to be kind of trained by some pioneers in financial planning that had started in the early 80s. And they would be crunching numbers and entering the investments into let’s say, Morningstar. Yeah, and it would be hours upon hours. And then, in addition, the, you know, kind of the value of the financial plan, I feel like was by the weight of the number of pages that you printed out. And it was like a book. Yeah, and it was a lot of like, I don’t know, it was just dry language, where I use a lot of visuals and technology is a communication tool as well as an analytical tool and I agree with you. Yeah, I, in my office, we have a rinky dink printer that we almost never use. Same goes for mail, you know, everything is, other than my 94-year-old client, everybody else is fully good with email. Right. And, and, you know, I feel like even though the plans weigh less, the value has just skyrocketed of a financial planner. You can get that old school, you know, Excel technology printout from, you know, any little website. But there’s wisdom that you’re getting with financial planning with our analytical capabilities and our complex strategies that we can we can discuss with clients nowadays.


Yes, I so agree with you. So I’m going to circle back just to the beginning, and we’re both going to talk about why we became financial advisors. So why don’t you start with what motivated you to do this work?


Well, I say that completely, I’m a financial planner because of serendipity. So, you know, when I was growing up, I wanted to be an attorney. And I majored in political science. And frankly, like, I looked at the state of the world, and I was like, just not inspired in learning more about politics or political systems is, frankly, a little bit depressing. And I just stumbled into an office job and a financial planner’s office, my answer to a want ad, so they still had those. There were newspapers back then, that you bought that were physical papers and I circled want ads. Yeah, I, my dad was a mortgage banker and executive. And so I had experience in offices. I knew I was good with numbers. I liked research. I thought it could, you know, pay the bills for a while before and then I’ll figure out what I want to do when I grow up. And so I kind of had a job for a while, not a career, you know, I didn’t, I didn’t go to that office to say, hey, you just found your next financial planner. And thinking of filing, I was like, I’m the person who can file things I, I’ll do everything you don’t want to do because it was a two-person office. So I got to learn a lot of stuff. And I was happy to learn it. And eventually, I went to a larger firm that had an investment research department, or well they basically had one of their partners was doing investment research, and they wanted him to be focusing his time with clients. And so they needed to reassign that research job. And they thought I had some capabilities and was coachable or teachable. And so I got that investment research job in addition to my administrative assistant job, so I’m kind of a mailroom to C suite kind of story in a small firm.


This is how many people got jobs and worked their way up in the past, isn’t it?


Totally I mean, we need a, you know, we don’t have an ER kind of show to tell you how cool our jobs are. So we really need, you know, one of these new Netflix shows to be all about being a financial planner in a


way that can we go on it, we got to be on it.


Really? Yeah, it’ll be the next like, you know, Trading Places or you know, Home Improvement show. It’s a money makeover, right? So I didn’t even know my first day on the job. I didn’t know anything about investing. But it’s a really wonderful, extraordinary career. And the more responsibility I got, the more I loved things. And so I you know, got licenses and training and I always worked in a comprehensive financial planning firm. So there was definitely when there were possibilities that I could become a partner. Then I knew even though I was still doing the investment side of things, only that I needed that CFP in order to reflect the values of the company. And I’ll tell you the, the education component to me was less real world than I hope it will be in the future. And I think they’ve changed some things with case studies and things like that, but it was pretty clinical. But I feel like when you get through the Certified Financial Planner process, which I did mid-career,




something it just changed my perspective. And I knew quite a bit before but it just gave me such a more robust knowledge of how to approach talking about money with people.


Yeah, you know, I’m just wanting for our listeners, I want to explain a couple of terms. So we keep talking about comprehensive financial planning, and then yes, CFP. So when you’re a certified financial planner, CFP, you get to know, a lot of different things you need to know about investments and employee benefits and insurance and estate planning. That’s what comprehensive mean. So it means you’re looking at the whole person in all aspects of their financial life. And both Melissa and I are trained in that. And that’s what we love to do. And that’s what we mean about it being comprehensive. Like, it’s the whole thing.


Your whole world. Right and I think another difference perhaps, but I think we may share this. For me, the goal is not for you to have the most money at the end of your life. The goal is for you to have the most fulfilling life, the life that you wanted to lead, and to have your money be a resource for that. So it’s different than the goal. Certainly we want your account to grow. But we also want to expand your boundaries and if you have a dream, we want to help you make it happen if we can,


Right. Definitely. And that’s where the listening comes in, what do they really want? So we just have a few more minutes. I’m just going to quickly say how I got.


Yeah, I want to hear your story tell me.


Um, I was in another career for a good long time. And I was selling product. And I didn’t feel like I was really helping anyone. I was making money for a corporation. I wasn’t doing anything that was people to people. And I really wanted that and then combined with my love of stocks, investing personal finance. I decided to do this career and I found out that you can do it independently. So I started right off the bat on my own, which, when I look back, it was crazy. But my whole goal was to not have another bad boss, which I had many of in the corporate world. And I wanted to be independent and it was a struggle. It took several years to get it going. I’m so glad I stuck with it. And I just love what I do. I love this career so much. And I know we both totally share that love of helping people and feeling challenged every day and feeling good about what we do. I love it.


It’s an amazing career. It’s a helping profession. And you need to be in the right situation for that.


Yes. And we both share this too. We both want more women in this profession. What’s the gap right now on how many financial advisors are women. I’m talking about in the independent? Is it like 15%?


That’s the number I always hear, and I will always devote time to encouraging more women to join our profession. I think our voice makes the whole profession more prepared to work with the women investors. And of course, in many cases, women do reach out to other women and we need more of them. And if we can get, but we also are educating our peers, our male peers, about how to think on behalf of both of their clients that they’re working with a couple who’s a man or a woman?


Yes, absolutely.


And we, you know, same goes in this month with the need for more racial diversity in our profession, which is even more staggeringly low than the female numbers.


Oh, it’s so low, like 3% or something like that. Yeah, I am so encouraged by the activities of the last month in that area. And I know I’m going to do all I can to highlight other advisors, black advisors and other types, you know, and, and I know you are too. We’re both committed to doing that. And, yeah,


I’ve worked on some


volunteer councils for women advisors. And, you know, as you make a commitment to being active and changing the ratio, as we’re both discussing, then, you know, you can’t just pick, you know, one group of people and it is all about the we need to see a profession that we would be proud to encourage people to join. And there are some challenges when you’re such a minority, whether you’re female or people of color and black people, and we also need, it’s going to make our profession better it’s going to make working in our profession better for us and, and everyone, and it’s also going to have, I think, a huge impact on the wealth gap that exists in our country. Both for women as well as for black and people of color. Yes. And people of color. I just think from the ground up that financial advice access is one of the critical components.


Yes, I so agree. Thank you for bringing that up such an important issue. So it’s time to close but I wanted us both to share ways we could be contacted and I know you have a podcast as well. So why don’t you share your website info, how you can be contacted, all those things.


Perfect, then my website is so pearl we already discussed and then just and I have a blog on the website that I frequently update so you can hear you know, new information about my webinar replays on the blog as well. And then our new podcasts which the company started, me and Melissa Fradenburg, my colleague, is called 52 Pearls: Weekly Money Wisdom. And we also do on social media, you could follow our page on Facebook Pearl Planning, as well as I’m on LinkedIn. And we do a weekly financial tip of just a bite sized piece of information that people could implement into their lives. So the podcast was a takeoff on that series, which we started in 2018.


Fantastic, I love it that you have a podcast we have to share podcast tips.


Well, I have a feeling you’ll be a guest on the podcast sometime soon.


If you would be willing,


Great, I’d love to. So I also write, I have a blog Of Independent Means. This is my new podcast, which I don’t think it’s on Apple iTunes yet because it’s new. But anyway, I don’t even know where it can be found to tell you the truth. But I hope you enjoy this discussion. I totally enjoyed it. Melissa, thank you so much for joining me. And I know we’re gonna collaborate on a lot of things in the future.


Time flies whenever we chat so


we got to keep it up. Definitely. Okay, well, you have a good night. I know it’s later for you than me. I’m gonna go enjoy some dinner. Good. Oh, and I’ll share the recording with you.


Awesome. Thank you so much, Cathy.


Bye. Bye.

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The New CNBC Digital Financial Advisor Council and Hub

This month I was honored to be asked to be part of the inaugural CNBC Digital Financial Advisor Council. The council was conceived by Jim Pavia, formerly editor of InvestmentNews and now digital editor at CNBC.

Jim’s mission as a journalist is to educate the public about personal finance and the importance of long term planning. This council is unique in that it is made up of working independent financial advisors (not talking heads) who are meeting with clients regularly and helping to guide them through all the complexities of personal finance from building a diversified investment portfolio, to creating a workable budget, to retirement planning. The ultimate goal is to provide investors with straightforward, informative and relevant content that is transparent, timely and useful.

The 20 council members all have expertise in comprehensive financial planning and investment management but also have particular specialties such as divorce planning, women’s financial issues, wealth psychology, healthcare, life-threatening illnesses, and business-planning. Several of the members are well-known researchers and thought leaders in the financial community and add a breadth of knowledge and experience that is invaluable.

You can benefit from this brain trust by logging into the “FA Hub” on the CNBC Site and checking out recent articles and videos.

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Curtis Financial Planning