I passed the CFP® test on Monday!!

For those that have been following me for a while, you know that I’m a big fan of knowing the technical details of financial, tax, and retirement planning. This is what I’ve been doing as a profession and studying for the past 6 years primarily. You can add in lots of knowledge of marketing and business management as well.

If you’ve never heard of the CFP® test, it’s the test we as advisors have to take to become a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. It is seen as the “gold standard” for advisor certifications.

From the CFP® board “The CFP® certification process, administered by CFP Board, identifies to the public that those individuals who have been authorized to use the CFP® certification marks in the U.S. have met rigorous professional standards and have agreed to adhere to the principles of integrity, objectivity, competence, fairness, confidentiality, professionalism and diligence when dealing with clients.”

While I do agree the rigor and knowledge you have to have to pass the exam is very high, I still think we need to have an additional skillset that’s just as important. Mainly communication and client psychology.

But, regardless, this is a journey I began back in 2011. At that point, I was in a corporate job that I didn’t hate. It was ok. I was making enough money. But, in all honesty, I was bored. I had mastered the skillset needed for my job and I was lacking purpose.

During that time, I was working in the finance area of a Fortune 500 company and dealing with a lot of clients and their goals for credit approvals. In my work, I saw many consistent patterns regarding people’s financial situations.

Some had excellent credit, good savings reserves, and seemed to do quite well even though they only made $45k/year. While at the same time, I dealt with clients with $200k+ incomes that had bad credit, weren’t good at managing their finances, and had either zero reserves or even worse, negative net worth due to being over extended on credit.

I saw this over and over and would have conversations with these clients about why they were where they were. Over and over I saw that it was more behavior than income and I found myself very interested in the psychology of wealth and financial management.

Ever since I failed my interview for a promotion and management position due to lack of interview skills (not qualifications), I’ve been a big reader and always try to absorb lessons from business, philosophy, leadership books and other personal development type subjects. But, at that point, I started becoming obsessed with the topic of personal finance.

This was before I was a big user of Amazon so I actually went and got a library card (can you believe it?) from the Huntington Beach Main Library near where I used to live. I picked up a couple of the personal finance classics and really enjoyed them and actually got a lot out of them.

I continued borrowing and reading every book they had on the shelf. I probably read over 150 books on the subject over the next couple years. Books from Thomas J. Stanley, Dave Ramsey, Warren Buffet and more. You could say I was a bit “obsessed.” I get like that whenever I’m really interested in something I’m learning. It’s the same way I was when I studied Chemistry in college. Anyone else like that?

But after I read those books, I started to wonder if I could start to help people in this area as a career?

If people would even pay for help?

When I needed help a few years earlier, I couldn’t find anyone to help me unless they wanted to sell me a whole life insurance policy or I had $500k for them to manage. The industry is still pretty much like this but I wanted to do something different.

That’s when I found out about the CFP® approved program they had at UCLA. It was a graduate program so I thought it would be good. Like any good financial planner would do, I researched my corporate job for benefits and found out that they would pay for any education you wanted to do as long as the school was accredited. Score!

Over the next 2.5 years, while working 50-60 hours a week at my job, I took 1-2 classes per quarter. And in 2016, I finished my certification with “distinction.” (That’s like honors since I was above a 3.5 GPA)

By this time, I had already began interviews with other firms trying to find a J-O-B but wasn’t having luck. I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for but what I did know is that I didn’t want to be an insurance salesperson and I wanted to help people directly.

Long story short. This industry is a bit broken and unless you get lucky and can find a gig with a fee-only fiduciary firm (which is what I wanted to do) you are most likely going to be pushed to sell whole life insurance to survive or work in an admin position getting paid peanuts for 3 years.

Living in Orange County, and having integrity, neither of those were options.

After researching heavily and reading a book [that I’m now featured in ;)] called “So You Want To Be a Financial Planner” by Nancy Langdon Jones, I was able to stumble across a couple of networks that would help you start your own firm. So, that’s what I did.

On February 22nd 2016, Keep It Simple Financial Planning was born! It’s now been over 3 years that I’ve been in business and I can tell you this. Looking back, I would have it no other way.

The first 1.5 years were very rough but once I paid a coach nearly $10k to teach me online marketing, then implementing everything they said for 6 months, I finally started bringing in business at a sustainable level. Since then, I’ve been blessed to work with clients from Alaska to the tip of Florida. About 15-20 states in all!

Just recently, I hired my first CFP® to work with me on my team

Things are going quite well and taking the CFP® test was the next logical step. So, for those that have supported me and believed in me from the beginning (especially my wife Dorima) I say thank you.

I am forever grateful and appreciative. And if I’ve ever helped you with your finances, I want to say thank you for trusting me with your precious resources. I take this career as an honor and a duty to do the best I possibly can for each client.

Now, it’s time to get back to serving our current and future clients.

If you’re reading this and you would like assistance with your retirement planning or any other aspect of your finances, I would love to do my best to help you.

You can either ask a question on my page here, or if you would like to schedule a complimentary retirement strategy consultation where we can spend about 45 minutes to an hour working on your retirement, then you can schedule a call at keepitsimplefinancial.com/talk.

Thank you for reading!