A Mid-Life Career Change and Finding My Best Place to Work

Sep 30, 2021 Willow Creek Wealth Management Posted in Articles, NBBJ

Originally published in North Bay Business Journal

Earlier this month, our Willow Creek team was thrilled to have been voted one of North Bay Business Journal’s Best Places to Work in 2021. As a newer member of the team, I have been so grateful to work with such seasoned advisors, especially following a decision I made a few years ago to take my career in a fresh direction. In 2019, my career path took an interesting turn and one that I could never have envisioned. After 20 years working in financial services with huge institutions, I felt strongly that I wanted a more personally fulfilling career where my values would be aligned with my work. This was when I discovered the role of Wealth Advisor, and I realized that what I wanted to do was to bring my insights from working with giant institutions to help individuals and families better shape their financial well-being, their lives, and their world. To that end, I earned my Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation and joined the Willow Creek Wealth Management team. We sometimes joke that the role of a Wealth Advisor can be explained perfectly by the analogy of the swan swimming in a pond. While all you see is the graceful swan gliding effortlessly across the water, what you can't see is the swan's powerful legs and webbed feet propelling the bird forward. I love this metaphor in thinking about expertise and excellence, that people who are great at what they do make it look easy.

The Value of a Great Wealth Advisor

I think for so many people, the value of a good Wealth Advisor is hidden beneath the surface, and it’s so much more than investment management. What you do see is the advisor crafting financial plans for clients or helping them build their portfolio; what you can’t see is the Wealth Advisor figuring out how to navigate family disagreements before they become fights or helping to prepare someone for the loss of their spouse. While it's essential for a good Wealth Advisor to understand markets, financial planning, and the intricacies of portfolio management, it's the softer skills that can be invaluable to the client. Every client deserves an advisor they trust. Every client deserves an advisor who understands their big dreams and goals for living a fulfilling life. And every client deserves an advisor who wants to help them build a legacy they are proud of. In the same vein, everyone deserves to have a fulfilling career, to work with people they respect, and to feel supported by their employer. After the challenging few years we’ve all had, I want to remind everyone that life is too short to stay in a job you hate. I am living proof that a change like this can open up your life in ways you can’t imagine. I spent the first half of my career learning the nuts and bolts of financial services, and I am so grateful to be able to spend the second half of my career pursuing my passions: advocating for women in investing, environmental sustainability, and helping my clients reach their goals, both financially and personally.

Some Questions for You

So...what kind of career do you want? What are your hopes and dreams for your work-life? When you retire someday, what do you want your legacy to be? These same questions, posed slightly differently, are ones I use to help clients distill their big-picture values, and it’s no less important to construct a vision for your career. A few years ago, I asked myself these questions, and what I found was that I had a deep need to align my values with my career. And in doing so, I helped construct a path for myself, which led me to a career I love. This may be my favorite thing about my role as a Wealth Advisor, that embarking on what you imagine will be a straightforward discussion of finances very often empowers clients to envision ways to make more joyful big-picture decisions about their money and their life. When I host Women’s Circles, we discuss money, of course – but the larger conversation encompasses how to build community, connection, and understanding. When I design a sustainable investment portfolio for clients, I can help them discover our deeper shared values of human well-being and environmental sustainability. Like the swan swimming elegantly on the water, a closer look reveals much more complex processes that will help you move forward. This career has helped me become happier and healthier than I have ever been, and I encourage you to build a career path toward your own version of the “Best Places to Work,” whatever that looks like for you, for 2022 and beyond.