I was lucky to connect with McCall Fen last year. We had a great conversation about the important qualities of a Financial Advisor (they might not be what you think) and what she sees as the future of the financial service industries.
The Pledgettes is a community of women taking a more active role in their finances, clarifying their financial goals, and building their Financial A-Team. Many people add a Financial Advisor to their A-Team. And I have been blown away by the many incredible Advisors I have met at The Pledgettes. Throw out your traditional ideas about an Advisor…or heck, become one yourself and partner with clients the way you wish you had an Advisor partner with you.
1 – What has your career journey look like?
I am a graduate of Colorado State University and joined Northwestern Mutual in 2014 as a marketing intern and then returned in 2018 as a recruiter. I began my career right of college as an executive for Target working in guest experience then human resources. In addition to my daily responsibilities at Target, I was also on the CSU recruiting team and lead team member volunteer events. I returned to Northwestern Mutual in 2018 as a recruiter and was quickly promoted to the Director of Selection where I also led recruiting strategy. In April of 2019, I added supervising a team of 4 and overseeing both the full-time career and internship selection as the Executive Director of Selection. In November of 2020, I was named the first-ever Chief Recruiting Officer for the Cunningham Financial Network here in Denver where I now have full responsibility for all new advisor hiring functions and team. I love finding the right person to do such a high-impact and high-income career that changes both their life and career trajectory for the better, but also the lives of every client they serve in the future. Our community has such a huge need for financial guidance, and I am proud that the individuals my team and I hire get to provide that to people every day. On a personal note, I am an almost CO native, my parents moved to south Denver when I was one. I love it here- the weather, the mountains, the community. My significant other Alex and I love to cook and hang out with our Frenchie, Norman.
2 – What are the qualities that make a successful Financial Advisor?
- Entrepreneurial: This career can be a great fit for someone who has the entrepreneurial bug of wanting to have flexibility and work for themselves but doesn’t want to take on all the risk of taking out a business loan or signing a lease. This is much more of a long-term career and business venture than it is a job. Similarly, it has a startup, growth, and maturity phase.
- Relationship Oriented: Interpersonal skills are necessary because this business is all about building and maintaining relationships with a large and diverse group of clients. It is important to get to know each one and dig into what is meaningful to them, then advise them through life transitions year over year.
- Impact Driven: There are a lot of ways to help people in this world, and this is one of them. 41% of Americans will run out of money before the end of their life, 22% of Americans have less than $5,000 in retirement savings, and 15% of Americans have no retirement savings at all. 45% of Americans say debt makes them feel anxiety on at least a monthly basis and 35% feel guilt at least monthly because of the debt they are carrying. Americans are shouldering the burden of financial security more than ever.
- Willing to face challenge now, in exchange for the long term: Creating a new financial advising practice is what many say is the hardest professional move they ever made. From the demands of client building, the knowledge and licensing learning curve, the no’s from people not ready to become clients. It is tough work. But the hidden gem is twofold. 1) You are creating a building a client base that will serve you long term. The need for financial planning doesn’t go away, it just increases as people grow in their career, grow their families, and get closer to are enter into retirement. So, you by no means start over each year, you build on top of what you built last year. 2) You earn residual income through renewals on past business which becomes a safety net stream of revenue. If you are willing to dedicate 4 years of the hardest work you have ever done, you get the rest of your career to enjoy a high income, high impact, and highly stable career.
3 – What is a common myth about working in Finance?
One of the common myths about working in finance is that advisors have to have a finance degree or extensive industry experience to start in it. This is not necessarily the case. Some of our top advisors used to be attorneys, real estate brokers, teachers, corporate sales executives, nonprofit directors, etc. If you have an interest in changing careers and getting started within the financial services industry, there are companies that will support that journey. Our approach at NM is if you have the characteristics outlined above and the willingness to do the work, you will have more resources than you know what to do with to make the transition successful.
4 – What is an exciting shift you see happening at NM or in the industry?
I think 2 of the most exciting shifts happening at Northwestern Mutual are advancements in technology and building a more diverse field force. Our proprietary planning tool has combined the best of both worlds- ease of good technology and the relationship/ support/ guidance of a personal financial planner. It has given clients their personal website/ app that they can play around with and check on a regular basis in a seamless way.
Northwestern Mutual is dedicated to building a more diverse workforce and doubling down on support and resources for women and people of color already here. Northwestern Mutual was up 31% this year over last in diversity recruiting. We have seen a culture shift to increased listening, sponsorship, initiating important conversations, and allowing more voices to be heard. I am excited to see Northwestern Mutual continue to grow in this area and change the look and feel of financial planning for generations to come.
5 – Who is inspiring you on your personal financial journey?
For my personal financial journey, it is important to me that I am investing in my future, living within my means, giving back financially to others less fortunate, and being able to buy myself nice things that I want (vs relying on a man or someone else to buy them for me 😊)! I trust my personal advisor for guidance + I like to do my own research and reading. Working in a financial firm I also get to hear presentations from all around the country and have even gotten some of my own licenses. It gives me a lot of confidence in having financial knowledge to make smart money moves for my future.
McCall Fen is the Chief Recruiting Officer for the Cunningham Financial Network here in Denver where she now has full responsibility for all recruiting functions and team. She loves finding the right person to do such a high-impact and high-income career that changes both their life and career trajectory for the better, but also the lives of every client they serve in the future. Our community has such a huge need for financial guidance, and she is proud that the individuals she and her team hire get to provide that to people every day. To learn more about Northwestern Mutual and McCall, visit Downtowndenver.nm.com