This episode is a moving testament to everything that a mentor can do for you. Allison Masoero, CFP®, goes into detail about her relationship with her mentor, Jeanne Robinson, CFP®. She shares how it impacted and changed her life, how her relationship with her other firm members are constantly pushing her to be the best planner she can be, and her deep desire to continue the tradition of mentorship to the next generation of financial planners.

There’s something truly magical about passing the torch – or being on the receiving end as a mentee. Allison’s experience was no different. Jeanne met her when she was still in college and guided her through the early months of her financial planning career, up through passing her CFP® Exam.

We talk a lot in FPA Activate about the importance of community and connection within the financial planning profession. More specifically, we talk about the importance of finding a mentor (or being a mentor). Mentorship in financial planning is more than just learning the ropes as a new planner – it’s engaging in a relationship with someone who wants to fight for you, encourage you, help you grow, and guide you through the early years of being a planner in order to help carry on the profession.

Hannah's signature

 

What You’ll Learn:

  • The importance of mentorship as a financial planner
  • How mentorship can positively impact the career of a new planner
  • What kinds of encouragement new planners need from their mentors
  • How and why we can continue to pass the torch to new planners
  • The difference a supportive firm can make in the career and life of a new planner
  • The importance of having a supportive network – even if you don’t have bulletproof confidence as a new planner (yet!)
  • Ways you can get connected with mentees
  • Ways you can find a mentor as an aspiring-mentee

 

To Act…Like a CFP by Jeanne A. Robinson, CFP®, and Charles G. Hughes, Jr., CFP®

Employee Stock Ownership Plan – ESOP

 

Show Transcript

Episode Transcript


Hannah: Well, thanks for joining us today Allison.

Allison: Thank you for having me. I’m so excited.

Hannah: Oh my goodness. I’m so excited to have you on this podcast too. So, for all the listeners, tell us your firm and your position that you are right now.

Allison: Yeah, of course. I am an associate financial planner at Marshall Financial Group which is in Doylestown, Pennsylvania which is the suburbs of Philadelphia, I’d say 45 minutes outside of the city.

Hannah: We are going to dive into your story and I’m just so fascinated. But in just talking with you beforehand, it seems like much of your story is around Jeanne Robinson and your relationship with her. So, can you tell us who is Jeanne and how did you first get connected with her?

Allison: Oh, my goodness. Who is Jeanne? Well, for all of you that don’t know, wherever I’ve met Jeanne Robinson she is probably the most incredible person I have ever met in my entire life, and she is the epitome of what a good financial planner is. And so, I’ll go into my story about how I met her. I was a junior in college and I went to Virginia Tech, go Hokies. And being a part of the financial planning program, we got invited to a lot of industry conferences. So, I had gone to a Schwab IMPACT conference that was in Denver, Colorado. And I was at a women’s networking happy hour event, and one of my traits almost to a fault is that I will go and talk to anybody about anything at all. And so, I think this was the best decision I’ve ever made in my whole entire life was going up to talk to Jeanne that day.

Allison: And so basically, I went up and started talking to her, and we hit it off immediately. It was one of those people where you get that instant connection of just like, I love you, you love me girl crush thing. And so, we were talking and she was talking to me, and she’s like, “Oh, so do you know anybody that’s looking for a job?” And I go into this whole rant, selling all my classmates saying, oh, so and so is a good fit, so and so is a good fit, which mind you, I was there looking for a job and she gave me a hard time afterwards. She’s like, never once did you bring up yourself. And I think back today, and I’m like, I’m an idiot. Why did I not try to sell myself?

Allison: And so, anyway, we kept talking and I gave her our schools information, and we parted ways, and I left the conference and I did my usual follow up emails, Lottie, Dottie. And basically time had passed, and it was a few months later, and I received this email and I always say, it was a very Jeanne email. The first line of it was, I can’t stop thinking about you. And as soon as I read that email, I was like, I love this person. And so, from there, her and I just started this relationship of just we talked very often and at that time I was finishing up my … I think it was actually finishing up my senior year, and I was doing an extra semester and graduating in December.

Allison: So we were just constant contact, I would call her to complain about the capstone class. I’d call her to complain about my classmates, and we just formed this bond. And so, that was me and Jeanne Robinson for a long time before I ever found Marshall.

Hannah: And so she really acted like a mentor for you, is that what I’m hearing?

Allison: Yes. And she did it in a very, very unique way, where she was a mentor but she was also a friend, which I think is the most incredible form because everyone can have a mentor and there’s a lot of smart people in this world, and we all know that but if you have a mentor, that’s someone that actually cares about you, and then also can teach you about what you dream to be, it’s the best of both worlds, and that’s what she was. It’s just, she was my friend and she was my mentor.

Hannah: And so when you started looking for jobs, is that when you and Jeanne knew that you guys wanted to work together or how did your job at Marshall come about?

Allison: Oh my god, this is really funny actually. But in very Jeanne nature, I was applying for a couple of jobs and I was filling in a couple offers and every time I got an offer, I’d call her and she’d be like, “Oh, my gosh, no, you’re too good for them.” Doing her solid self, just like, “Oh, you’re better than them. You can do better.” But at the whole time, in the back of my mind I’m just thinking, is she going to offer me a job, what’s gonna go on here? And so, basically, finally she came to me, and she was like, “I really, really want to hire you. I’ve told everyone at the firm I want to hire you but we’re not looking for exactly what we want from you right now.”

Allison: So, normally, someone my age would go in as a pair of planner position, and she’s like, “We’re just not looking for that right now.” And so her and I put our heads together, and one thing I always found about myself is that I wasn’t the strongest in the investment side of their business. I thought that Tech did a really good job at shaping my financial planning skills, and I wanted just to evolve my investment skills. So, she offered me a job coming in through the investment department as the trader and analyst, a researcher. And as soon as she offered me the job, I don’t care, it could have literally been a dishwasher, I said, yes, absolutely, I’m there. And so that’s how I ended up there and ended up in my role at Marshall.

Hannah: And then was it all that you thought it was going to be?

Allison: Was it all that I thought it could be? That’s a great question. It wasn’t all … That’s where things got a little bit difficult for me because I started at Marshall in, actually, this is weird, because today’s my three year anniversary at Marshall. I started at Marshall on January 11, 2016. And I started there, and when I first was there, it was me and Jeanne against the world. I’d go in her office all the time, we’d always be talking, her and I had a really good bond, and then I started bonding with another person in our office, Adam, who was in charge of the investment department. So he was also my guy at the same time. So I had two good bonds with them, and then was just floating … was not floating, but was doing my job and going day to day.

Allison: And then, a few months in is when we found out that Jeanne was sick. She was a breast cancer survivor, which she fought really, really hard. And it was incredible to watch her overcome that. I know I’m really bad with timelines, but I want to say it was the spring of 2016 is when we found out that the cancer had returned, and it had spread throughout her whole entire body. And so, for those of you that don’t know much about cancer, breast cancer is one of the top cancers that’s most likely to reappear. And so that’s basically exactly what happened to her. And so, a couple months into working I found out that my mentor was battling cancer once again, and … Yes.

Hannah: So, how did you find out that her cancer had returned?

Allison: Jeanne was an incredibly open person, an incredibly beautifully open person. She was an open book and so she basically just told the whole entire firm because the way that Marshall works is we’re a literal family and there’s no secrets. You could try to have secrets, but it’s almost impossible. And so she basically just got us all together and was like, “Look, this is what’s happening.” And so, you heard the whispers beforehand but then she brought us all together and told us, and that’s when we all knew what was happening. And she said, “I don’t know what’s going to happen. It doesn’t look great. But I’m never going to stop fighting.”

Hannah: Several months beforehand, you were taking finals. And now you’re working at this firm, your mentor, friend, Boss just told you that she is fighting a pretty severe form of cancer. What was that like?

Allison: I can’t lie to you guys. I mean, I was Gosh, darn terrified. I was so scared. I was so scared because she was my person and she now all of a sudden is distracted. And I’m not saying distracted in a bad way but she now has her focus on trying to beat this thing, and trying to be that 1%, and trying to do whatever she can to beat it. And so there I was left at the firm with … Not that people didn’t know who I was, but people didn’t know me as well as she did, and didn’t know what my goals, and my dreams, and my ambitions were. And so I had to study for the CFP while she was fighting cancer, and I think that was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever experienced in my lifetime.

Allison: Just having to feel like you didn’t want to go and talk to her about her problems, even though she would listen to them. It’s just like, you just had to fight and he had to fight for her. And so that’s the outlook I took when I was studying for my CFP because if she was fighting that hard, I can fight just as hard.

Hannah: So, as you’ve been going through this, you have this incredible mentor, Jeanne, did you ever doubt that you wanted to be a financial planner or that this was the career for you?

Allison: Yes. Being alone crept up a lot in that feeling of second guessing what I’m doing because she instilled confidence in me that I had trouble finding in myself when I would lose it. And so, all of those thoughts come creeping back and for people that know me, I’m a firecracker, I sometimes probably should shut up half the time that I’m talking but that’s just who I am. And so I started thinking, and I’m like, Can I do this? Can I be a planner without saying something stupid or being in a meeting and want to kick myself in the face because I said something idiotic? And just those were the thoughts that were going through my head, like, maybe I’m just too out there for this, for lack of better terms.

Allison: And so, there was one day I went into Jeanne’s office and I was just telling her how I felt, and I can’t even describe what she made me feel. She just looks at me in the eyes and goes, “Never change your personality, and never lose your spark. That is what’s going to make you a great planner.” She just wanted me to understand that each planner has their own personality and that’s how clients are going to relate to you. And if you try to doubt who you are, then your clients aren’t going to believe in you for who you are. And so, if that’s the biggest takeaway I could have taken away from her, even though there’s thousands of them, I think about that every single day when I doubt myself as a planner.

Hannah: So, you’re studying for the CFP exam, your boss, your mentor, your friend is fighting some pretty serious cancer, then what happened?

Allison: Yeah, the trajectory of our paths was almost the same in a weird sense of, as I was getting closer to the exam and the pressure was adding on, that is when she was getting worse. And she was getting worse. And so, I had to keep myself together, and I had to push myself through this knowing that this is what she wanted for me and this is what she wanted, she wanted it so bad. And I think the hardest thing for me was, she eventually gets put into hospice. And a lot of times when people are in hospice they just don’t know or don’t really want people coming to see them constantly.

Allison: And so, for me, it was so difficult because I was in the midst of my studying, and I was in the middle of it, and trying to find time to visit her at hospice when she wanted visitors never came. And so, unfortunately, Jeanne passed away in October of 2016, and that was right before I sat for my exam. And I sat for my exam. And I can’t even tell you, I thought this was a joke but I sat for my exam on the day of her funeral.

Hannah: Wow.

Allison: And I went to everybody in my firm and I’m like, guys, I can’t, I got to try to call the board, I got to try to reschedule. I got to figure this out. I have to be there. And they’re like, “If you did that, she would be so mad. She would be so mad.” And so I took it as almost like a weirdly eerie omen that I took it on. Which mind you, Jeanne didn’t have a funeral, she had a party. So, I had took my exam on the day of her party. And I’ll never forget that I wrote the morning of my exam in pen over my heart her name because I knew that if I needed any strength during that exam, I could just pat my heart and just know that she was there. And so, that’s one of the greatest things because I knew she was there with me.

Allison: I knew that she wanted me to do this, and I’m going to tear, and so there was nothing I could do to fail that exam. I was going to pass it if it took everything out of me. And so, yeah.

Hannah: What was it like leaving that exam?

Allison: Oh, my gosh. I always say, my poor Uber driver. Oh, we’re winding really quick walking out of that exam and getting the fact that you passed and it was your first try and I just turned 24, I never thought, in a million years, because of the statistics that I would have been that person that passes it on the first time. And I just walked out and held that. They give you a sheet that says, you pass, to your chest and just looked up, and I just said, thank you so much because I can never give back what she gave to me. And I could have never been where I am today without the guidance that she gave me.

Allison: And so I left there, was an amazing feeling of fulfillment, and just overjoyed, just incredible, weird sadness. And that’s why I brought on the Uber driver because I was in there, telling him my life story, and I’m crying, and I’m happy, and my parents are trying to call me, and I always tell people, there’s no better feeling than passing that exam. All the hard work, all the studying. And for me, it was so emotionally taxing. It was exemplified to a level that I would never want to go through that again. And so the fact that I passed and knew I didn’t, I was just like, Oh, my gosh.

Hannah: I can’t even imagine what this experience is and you’re sitting there taking your exam, your coworkers are having a party but not the type of party you really want to be going to.

Allison: Yeah.

Hannah: And so you show up to work the next morning, walk me through that.

Allison: Yeah. So, I showed up to work on Monday. I can’t even tell you because it’s just … and that was one of the things of me being at Marshall at the time and that’s why it was so scary is because no one really knew much about me. No one knew, I hate saying this word, but no one knew if I was smart, no one knew if I can do it, no one knew who this girl was. And so, me going into Marshall on Monday was just … there was great congratulations and stuff but she wasn’t there. And so, it almost felt like something was missing because Adam was there, which was great. He’s the guy in the investment department. And I look up to him a lot. And so him and I, he was the first person I texted after my exam. But there was a feeling of emptiness when you walked in there, because I just wanted to give her a hug.

Hannah: Were you talking to clients at this point? I mean, were you engaging with clients kind of have that client relationship?

Allison: Yeah, a little bit. I would sit in meetings every now and again to take notes and to observe the planners and how they plan and basically, just get my feet in the door. I wasn’t introduced on the team taking care of the relationship, but I was introduced as, this is Allison, she’s our newest hire, and they would go into … And I would start creating relationships with clients so they knew who I was, which is what I liked because I wanted to be known in the firm. So when they did cross paths with me, I wasn’t just the new girl. So, that did start to begin.

Hannah: Jeanne was one of the firm’s founders, is that right?

Allison: Yes and no. Well, Bill Marshall started the firm, I think I wrote this down, in 1968. And basically he started the firm on his own and was doing a great job. And just like me he met Jeanne and could not let go of her. And so she came on as basically, yes, like a co-founder because they then transformed his brokerage business into an RIA firm and we’ve been around for as an RIA for about 38 years. So basically her and Bill built this together.

Hannah: And so she was very much a central figure at the firm?

Allison: Yes. I mean, her loss hit the firm, hit the clients hit everything like a shockwave.

Hannah: Okay, so tell me about that. When you say that it hit like a shockwave, let’s talk about just the firm for a minute.

Allison: Of course.

Hannah: What do you mean when you say it like a shockwave?

Allison: She was the heart and soul of this whole entire firm. If you talk to a majority of the planners that work here, she was the reason that they took the job, stayed, are still here is Jeanne. She had relationships with everyone and cared about everyone so much where everyone felt like they lost a sister, they lost a mother, like they lost a member of their family. And so, just for a little background, the tenure of all the planners here is incredible. A majority of the planners have been here for 15 plus, 20 plus years. So they’ve all been here since the beginning. And a lot of majority of our pair planners have been here since the beginning. And so, they all have been in this together for a really, really long time. And so that was a difficult thing for myself as well because I’m walking into a world that I have no idea what they have been through together these past 15-20 years.

Hannah: So let’s talk about clients for just a minute too because I’m always interested, how did clients respond to Jeanne’s passing?

Allison: Heartbroken. The clients weren’t going anywhere. They love Marshall. They love the people at Marshall. And it’s a hard thing to describe other than everyone was faced with just a terrible loss, but they would never ever think to leave because we’re their family as well. Regardless even if it’s Jeanne, or if it’s Dawn, or if it’s Ross, or if it’s Jim, like we are their family. And Jeanne was the heart of that family.

Hannah: So now there’s been some time that’s pa- … I mean, not a whole lot of time, two years has passed, how have you seen your role at Marshalls evolve in those few years?

Allison: Oh, boy. It has been a very, very, as I said, today is my three year anniversary. It has been a very long three years. As soon as I passed my CFP my number one goal was just to get connected with the people in my office, create relationships where I could start to understand why I still wanted to stay and why I still wanted to be there. And I started to just see slight glimpses of it. Right before I sat for my CFP exam, and this is when Jeanne had passed, and so everyone was just really sad just walking around the office. One of the planners, Russ, comes into my office and him and I just never talked, we didn’t talk at all.

Allison: And he came into my office and he just looks at me and he goes, “Allison, it’s okay. It’s okay if you don’t pass this the first time.” He goes, “We all believe in you and we know that, that’s not an easy exam. We’ve all done it and I just want you to know that, it’s okay. And that you got this, and we’re going to support you no matter what.” And so that was the first glimpse that I got of just, okay, maybe I feel like I don’t belong here, but for him to come in my office and basically verbalize that to me, just made me feel incredible because that’s something that Jeanne would have said to me. And it’s something she didn’t.

Allison: And so, I started seeing small things like that and that fueled me to just engage with the people at my firm more and just create relationships because I am a huge relationship person. I believe that I am going to be the best planner that I can be because of the people that are in my life, not because of how hard I work or … well that too, but I just think that the influence that you get by people is the best influence you could ever get. And so, I just kept pushing ahead and basically, I got a seat at the table. I passed that exam and I was all of a sudden sitting at the table. And I was helping make decisions. And when I was starting to help make decisions, those are when the relationship started forming.

Hannah: So how did the dynamics of the team change after Jeanne’s passing?

Allison: One of my co workers had gave me a great analogy for this because it was funny, I was, of course, before I came on this podcast, I literally talked to everybody for their advice and stuff. But he described it perfectly and he said, “It’s like a pack of dogs. And a pack of dogs always has their lead dog. And when that lead dog is gone, all the other dogs are going to fight to become that lead because everyone feels like they have to step up to the plate. And so everyone’s just trying to fill the void of what we just lost until we find that other lead dog.” And that’s exactly just the Alpha Dog. That’s what happened because everyone was trying to fill in what we lost and that was a struggle for a really long time, because we lost something big until we were able to not replace, I can’t use the word replace, but until we were able to get that Alpha Dog again.

Hannah: And so now you really feel, at your firm, you have a seat at the table, you have a voice contributing to your firm.

Allison: Yeah, and everyone always wants to know, how do I get a seat at the table, or how do I have a voice and things, but I’ll tell everyone it is just as scary. I mean, you have the ears to the wall about everything. And so, when I just described that Alpha Dog situation, and when that whole thing was happening, I’m almost was just sitting there like a deer in headlights just terrified because I didn’t know what the future of the firm was going to be like, I didn’t know what was going to happen, I didn’t know if we were going to be okay, there’s a lot of emotions flying, but I just observed and I just saw all these incredible, incredible people work their butts off to make this happen.

Allison: And so, being at that table solidified my decision to stay here because I saw the people that work at Marshall financial, and I wanted to be one of those people, and I wanted to be there to help make decisions. I’m just as much of a part of creating the problems as I am solving them. I say that all the time because it’s like, I’ll literally start a problem but then I’ll be forced to help solve it because it’s like, you’re at the table. So, if you want to bring up a counteractive idea you got to be ready to hear opposition.

Hannah: And then the problem has to be solved.

Allison: It does.

Hannah: So now that you have a seat at the table and you’re in that position, what do new planners need to know about getting that seat at the table or what to do with that?

Allison: There’s never going to be a right answer for these types of situations, but number one, you need to tell yourself that you’re at the table for a reason. And you need to understand that because they want you to be at that table, that means you’re going to be yourself. And so to give people an example of what I alluded to earlier, I’m a loud mouth, right. And so, all of a sudden I’m at this table and I’m speaking up in meetings when I’m just like, was not my place, right. Was just like, I would have an idea and I would just blurt it out in front of all these people and they would just look at me, and I would just be like, I just did that.

Allison: But in that sense, people would come to me and they would say how much they appreciated it afterwards because that’s why they wanted me there. That’s why they wanted my opinions, my fresh perspective, my thoughts on what I can bring to the table. And so, number one is just to be yourself, because that’s what they’re asking for. And then also, secondly, is just you can’t do it all by yourself. You can’t solve all the problems. You’re not going to show up at the table and all of a sudden become the CEO of the firm, that’s not how it works. And so, you just have to sit back and be a part of this team because this team is what creates the firm and what keeps us pushing.

Allison: And so, don’t be afraid to just lean on people, and just ask questions, and be engaged, and just be a part of what they want you to be a part of. It isn’t your show, it’s everyone show. So, once you learn to just lean on the people around you, that’s when you’ll see it just flow organically.

Hannah: You have such a unique experience. What do you wish that you would have known before Jeanne passed away?

Allison: As cliche as it sounds, I wish I would have known that I was going to be okay. And even if if anyone out there, you don’t even have to be in my situation. Even starting out a firm when you’re fresh out of college, you don’t know anybody, and you’re all of a sudden trying to prove yourself it is so gosh darn scary. It is so scary. And unless you make immediate connections, you feel alone, and you feel so terrified but I want people to understand that it’s okay. And that, it’s part of the experience, and that’s part of what’s going to make you a better person because in those times, in those struggles, that’s when you work harder, make yourself better and just come out. I mean, I’m still not on top but I’m digging out and I’m being the best that I can be.

Allison: And I think that’s what anyone needs to know is that, just keep working, it’s going to be okay and we can do this, we all can do this.

Hannah: Allison, you’ve talked about Jeanne as your person and she was really this mentor to you. Do you see yourself being that mentor to other people or what do you need to really step into that role of being Jeanne for somebody else?

Allison: It’s funny because it’s almost like what I lost from Jeanie, I just still got from Marshall because all of the people almost learn from her in the sense of just how to be a mentor, and I almost think that I’m in this mentorship training program as well as I am working here because the people here and, especially Jeanne, just know how to be there for you, and how to listen, and how to not make it about themselves because it’s not. Because a lot of the times, the problems that people have in the industry or just even in professions all over the world is just there’s going to be no one that’s pushing for your career more than yourself. But when you can find those people that are on your team and I know you guys like to use the term tribe, and are pushing you, that is what it is to be a good mentor. That is the person that believes in your future as much as you believe in yourself.

Allison: And so, that’s what I strive to do. I’m getting involved with local student chapters going to speak and just want students to know that people are pushing for them. And it’s not just them, they’re not alone. We’re all their cheerleaders, their cheerleaders. And so, this is a long winded answer to just be yourself, be encouraging. I just want to be that person that someone can come and talk to, if you want to rant me for an hour, you can rant to me for an hour, or if you’re doubting yourself, I’m going to fight you to the bone that you’re being silly. And so it’s just that person and that is what everyone at Marshall does for me now and I am so beyond thankful.

Hannah: We talked earlier in the podcast about you doubting whether financial planning was where you wanted to be, and talking to Jeanne about that. And now you’re a couple years past that, do you still doubt financial planning is where you want to be?

Allison: I get so much joy from doing this day to day and if I could, as sill as it sounds, but if I could brand myself, I am a relationship person. Like, yeah, the numbers are fun. I was a math major in college at first, I love all that dorky stuff but I love the ability to create a relationship with clients and other people in the industry to just make them happy. Seeing a client smile when you just showed them that they can retire, and they can buy that boat that they’ve always dreamed of, I love that. And I just love … Yesterday, a client of mine came in and we hugged, and I was like, Oh my gosh, we’re on hugging status. That just makes me so full. And that just makes me so happy because I’m bringing that happiness to them.

Hannah: So now that you’re working with clients and deeper in those relationships, are any of those clients Jeanne’s clients, and what does that look like?

Allison: Yeah. I have worked with a few of Jeanne’s clients and other clients around the firm and I think that it’s funny, because one of her things is she would call me, her mini me. So, knowing that in the back of my head, and still the confidence when I was in front of her clients, they loved her so much that like, screw it, I’m just going to be myself because she saw something in me, they saw something in her, and there’s no reason that this shouldn’t be a bond that she had with them herself. And you can almost see that the way her and Bill Marshall instilled relationships with our clients at our firm is in just such a loving and caring way, where there’s the clients that you’re working with, there is a solid and foundational relationship where you’re invited to weddings, you’re invited to parties.

Allison: Where they have known each other … Jeanne had worked with some clients for like 20, 30 years. And so, it’s almost like being able to work with them allowed me to see a vision of a financial planning relationship that I want to create when I bring on clients or I start working with clients myself because I see that it’s possible and I see the value that she provided to them.

Hannah: You mentioned that the tenure at your firm is 15 years plus. So does that mean that you’re one of the few young people that are there?

Allison: Yes, that is absolutely. I am 25 and there’s only two people that are close to my age, and they are 31 and 38 and everyone else is just old. As all saying. And I make fun of them all the time, and I tell my parents and I’m like, I think I just signed up to have 15 to 16 more parents. I come in every day and it’s such a blessing at the same time because the amount of experience that all of them have is just something that I can never get anywhere else. They’ve been doing this forever and I could sit and watch them plan for hours and hours at a time. So, as much as I’ll give them crap for their age, their age brings wonders because they are just such incredible people and such incredible planners.

Hannah: So with Jeanne’s passing, and we talked about the changing dynamics of the firm, how are the succession planning talks? Had there been more talks and what are those have been like?

Allison: Jeanne’s passing basically, I like to say, just accelerated the process. There were talks like a lot of the firms in the industry, Bill Marshall is in his 70s, he wants to figure out what he wants to do with the firm, Jeanne was a big part of that, and then all of a sudden, she was gone. And so, that was accelerated because he really wanted this to last. And he believed in this as much as she believed in this. And so he was just looking for two things, he wanted a way to make sure his clients were happy, and to make sure that employees are happy. And those were his two number one goals. And then also, of course, taking care of himself because I think that’s one of the hardest things when it comes to succession planning is that, this is his baby, this is his child.

Allison: And so, now he has to figure out a way to pass it off and to do it in a way that’s going to make him happy, and then make his clients happy, and his employees happy. And so, for a long time, we had plenty of suitors we had rolled through. And when I say, I was seat at the table, this was an incredible experience because now as a seat at the table of just a succession planning and the way that companies go through transitions and just seeing different proposals. And we eventually came down to an ESOP which is an employee stock ownership program which means that we are 100% employee owned firm.

Allison: And so, although I don’t have an exact partner track to become partner in the firm one day, the way that it ESOP works is that it’s similar to like a 401 K, whereas like you get shares to the company instead of a 401 K match. So, the longer you’re at the firm, the more shares you get. And the way that our firm works is we’re very just horizontal instead of vertical as far as hierarchy goes, we like to make sure everyone has a voice. And so this ESOP was a perfect fit for us because everyone is an owner. You answer the phone and you call us and Kaitlin answers the phone and she owns part of the company. And I think that’s a beautiful thing. And so, that also gives me a lot of skin in the game because if our value of our firm goes up, the value of my shares goes up.

Allison: And so, that was a very unique experience for myself, but it’s also very exciting one as well.

Hannah: What would Jeanne want our listeners to know? If Jeanne was here today, what do you think that she would want to tell new planners?

Allison: I thought this would be a question that was asked, and I tried to think about it, gosh, she would just want you to love this industry so much, and she would want you to love your clients so much. And so, any of you that are out there doubting it or thinking that you can’t do it, just think of Jeanne Robinson because she would come up to you right in your face and tell you that you’re being silly. And if you want to be here, you belong here. And so, keep working at it. Keep pushing yourself and just use that strength and that love that you have inside of you to motivate you every day because none of us sometimes want to wake up in the morning and go to work. But she had so much love for this industry and so much love for what she did, and if any of us could come near to that, I think this world would be a much, much better place, an incredible place actually.

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