To Trudy Turner, CFP®, financial planning is not just her profession, it’s her calling. When she is not working with clients as a Senior Wealth Manager at United Capital, Trudy can be found teaching, mentoring, and counseling students, young practitioners, and career changers to accelerate their success in the financial planning profession. On top of all that she’s accomplished in her own career, Trudy has also served as the 2006 President of the Dallas Fort Worth Chapter of the FPA and on numerous national FPA committees. She’s also one of three co-founders of the FPA Diversity Committee.

I had been wanting to sit down with Trudy Turner for a long time, and I was so excited to finally connect with her at the FPA Annual Conference. In this interview, she shared such valuable information on the financial planning world — not only of the history of the profession but also where it’s headed. Trudy offered up some serious guidance (and a few of her mantras) for NexGen planners, as well as what she has come to learn through her experience in the financial planning profession. 

 

Navigating toward a financial planning career path

Trudy is a self-proclaimed “career changer,” and shared that she switched from engineering to business to finance before ultimately “settling down.” As she focused more on finance, she decided to chart her course to become a CPA because, as she put it, “CPA is the language of business.”

However, she saw the error of her ways when she was inspired by the Institute of Certified Financial Planners™, which held their annual conference in Dallas while she was still a tax accountant. The conference lit a spark deep inside of her and Trudy knew from that point on that working towards a Certified Financial Planner™ designation was her ultimate goal. 

(Fun fact: the Institute of Certified Financial Planners™ merged with International Association for Financial Planning in 2000, thereby creating the FPA!)  

 

Mantras for success

After shifting into the financial planning profession, Trudy thoroughly vetted the companies she applied for. Her first position is where she heard the “mantras” that would guide her success throughout her career. The first one, she shared, was: “If your revenue is based on assets under management, you will be overpaid when the market is good and you will be underpaid when the market is bad.” This gem of information stuck out to her and is something Trudy carries with her to this day.

She also gained a second mantra during her first position within a firm: “if you’re an expert in something and you know it really well, someone paying you potentially by the hour isn’t a good reflection of all of that time and expertise that you’ve grown to accumulate. If you’re ignorant to something and you have to spend a lot of time to find the answer, you’re overcharging a client for your ignorance.” That’s a pretty great point, don’t you think? 

It was also during this time that Trudy began “testing” out the type of career she wanted to have within the profession. If you’re in a position where you’re not sure which path to follow, Trudy shared that you should always listen within first and foremost. Knowing what you do not want to do is almost as important —  if not more important than — knowing what you want to do. For example, Trudy knew she wasn’t into what Wall Street had to offer, which continuously led her to look for more. Eventually, that inner knowing led her to her successful financial planning career.

 

Do it now, not someday

Another theme that came up during our talk was the importance of not waiting for “some day.” Trudy’s parents were first-generation African American college graduates who often sacrificed things so she and her brother could have the education her parents desired. They pushed the other things to the back burner with a “Someday, we’ll do that” thought process. 

Trudy says this comes up a lot with her financial planning clients, who often push their desires off until later in life as well. She has worked with many clients who continuously think they have to wait to live out their dreams. When she knows she has a client who is physically, mentally, and financially able to do something they have been wanting to do, instead of putting it off for years, she encourages them to go out and do it.

Of course, Trudy explained, this is changing for the next generation of clients. Retirement isn’t as “guaranteed” for this generation as it was for generations prior. Being financially responsible, growing your career, saving money, and achieving your goals also aren’t as easy anymore. 

This is where Trudy’s idea of providing financial planning services to help the masses comes in. There are still people out there with the misconception that financial planning and wealth management only serve the wealthiest in the world. She shared how exciting is to think of the next generation of financial planners getting started in the profession, and how they are thinking outside of the box so they can serve more people — not just the most privileged. 

Of course, this is part of why Trudy is so passionate about diversity, inclusion, and representation — not just in the work we do, but in the profession itself.

 

Diversity & Inclusion 

Trudy’s passion is clear in all of the work she has done for diversity inclusion. She is a co-founder of the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative in the FPA and she, along with her counterparts Lee Baker and Ed Gjertsen, spearheaded the first diversity initiative, which is now the standing committee. 

Even with all of the work done, there is still more to do, Trudy said. “There’s also so many things that aren’t being done in regards to diversity inclusion. Lots of times we focus on what we see or what we know of certain diversity topics. And there’s so many other topics that we lose sight of because we’re just focusing on some of the few.”

Within large associations like FPA, or even in firms or large agencies, Trudy wanted to make one point very clear: it is possible to make big changes as individuals. Instead of waiting on large groups to form or big organizations to change, we can start within. Trudy asked a great question: “What could you be doing just individually to make a change?” 

This is such a great point! If we expect large changes to happen when it comes to diversity, why wait around for others to start the change?

 

The next generation of financial planners

When I asked Trudy what bits of information she wanted to leave for the next generation of financial planners, she immediately blew me away with her response.

She said that it is absolutely critical that, as a profession, the current financial planners spread awareness. Once other people are aware it exists, then current financial planners should expose the new generation to how great this work can be. Once they have been both made aware of the profession and exposed to it, they need to have the opportunity to be part of it.This really stuck out to me because it makes so much sense — people won’t chase after a dream if they don’t know it exists. 

Trudy left us with this final nugget of wisdom: “First there’s awareness, then there’s exposure, and thirdly there’s the opportunity. And that’s how we make this profession better.” 

 

 

 

What You’ll Learn:

  • The passion behind Trudy Turner’s career as a financial planner
  • The sometimes-winding road to a  financial planning career
  • Why and how to switch career paths 
  • The power of taking action in your life NOW instead of someday
  • Why human interaction is a vital component of financial planning
  • Why it is possible to serve the masses with financial planning
  • How putting yourself in an uncomfortable position leads directly to growth
  • The amount of work left to do in diversity and inclusion in the profession
  • How the next generation can step into financial planning

 

Show Notes:

In this episode of YAFPNW, I talked to Trudy Turner, CFP® about:

Trudy is an absolute wealth of information for the financial planning profession, you’ll definitely want to keep up with her journey. The knowledge she shares and the beliefs she lives by are truly inspirational. You can follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Show Transcript

Episode Transcript


Alexandria: Hello Trudy, welcome to the podcast.

Trudy: Hello, it’s good to see you after FPA in your conference 2019. Good to talk to you.

Alexandria: Exactly. It was pretty perfect that we got to meet there and then go, “Oh great, let’s do the podcast in a week or two.” I was just too excited for that to happen because I hadn’t actually met you in person yet.

Trudy: That is correct.

Alexandria: Well, again like I said, thanks again for joining the podcast and you truly are a gem of the financial planning profession and I just can’t wait for listeners to be able to hear from your wisdom and your insight.

Trudy: Perfect.

Alexandria: For today’s podcast, I really want listeners to get a very high level overview of what you see as the future of the profession. But also I want them to kind of leave what some smaller details maybe on how they can take and be a part of that impact. And before we really dive into all that, I want listeners to just get to know you a little bit better. Can you share with us how the landscape was when you joined the profession and industry< and when you first started and what your first job was into the profession?

Trudy: I started the profession a very interesting time. I specifically say interesting because it was just before the burst of the tech bubble. I started in 2000 and it was right after tax season, because being a career changer, that’d be the first thing I’d say about myself is that, I have a background in finance and I got a master’s in accounting and I was in the public accounting world as a senior tax consultant. And I put in my notice on October 15th or October 16th, the day after all the taxes were due for the end of the year. And I went straight into wealth management.

Trudy: But it was really interesting time for me to start there because everything that I knew about finance and being a CPA in the world of accounting and business was that the tech bubble, we didn’t call it that yet, it’s going to burst, because it just didn’t make any sense to me how we were having such a high stock market with companies that didn’t make any money. And I’m not pleased to say that there was a bubble, but I am pleased to say that some of the bedrock studies that I had in school about how the market is supposed to work actually finally got realized with the market having the bubble and going back to maybe a little bit senior territory.

Trudy: Now, one reason I even mentioned that is looking back, it was absolutely one of the best things, best times to actually come into the business. I can say that 19 years later now, because if you go into turmoil and drama and you’ve come out stronger than as a practitioner, that’s only a good thing. For those of you who might’ve started in times that you thought this is a really bad time to be in financial planning, it’s actually one of the best learning investments that you should have.

Alexandria: I don’t even know what to say first because that was such a big point right there. But so before I get to that part, because I do want to impact that a little bit. One thing that you pointed out is that you’ve mentioned you’re a career changer. I don’t want to gloss over that because there are several next gen that are joining the profession that are career changers. But what’s really unique about you is that oftentimes career changers are coming from tech space, education. But you are actually a professional that maybe worked with finance in conjunction being from the accounting space. How did you transition or how did you know you wanted to transition into wealth management? I know you quit the day after all the returns extensions were done, but how was that transition?

Trudy: Well, I will actually tell you, I didn’t know, and just they … What I mean I did know in advance. What I would say is first you don’t succeed, keep trying. What happened is in school, I went in as an engineering major, did math and science, surely you’re going to be an engineer. What I found in school is I did great grade wise, but I had no idea what I wanted to do with an engineering degree and I didn’t like that fact that I was going to be far moved, at least I thought so for people.

Trudy: Even at school started as an engineer, but retreated personally when I wasn’t studying to business and people and finding myself reading, I mean I say, I’ve been a business and entrepreneurial magazine reader since I was 16 years old. And I just decided one day, I said, surely we have a major for this. And that’s when I went into the business school. And so I started as a finance major, but I was a finance major who always knew that they wanted to be a CPA, because CPA is the language of business.

Trudy: Now when I went to school, you didn’t want to be a CPA and a finance major or accounting major and a finance major, the two did not meet. And so I was a finance major. And then in my master’s studies I went to be an accounting major. Nowadays it’s not uncommon for people to be dual majored in both, but way back in the day it was like you were one or the other. You do not do both. So maybe the kind of the lesson of what I’m saying is that I didn’t know what I wanted to start with. I started with what I thought I did well, engineering, and then it morphed into finance, then I knew I wanted it to be accounting.

Trudy: And even then, I didn’t know about wealth management. I didn’t know about financial planning, but I did know what I didn’t want to do. And I didn’t want to go to Wall Street. I didn’t want to cold call. I didn’t want to see what I saw as much as little as I knew about what advisors were who worked on the street. And so I’ve kept tweaking my career until I found what I knew I didn’t want to do until I found what I did want to do. And that is when, in Dallas, the Institute of Certified Financial Planners had its national, the ICFP had its national conference in Dallas, I was still a tax accountant. And I said, “This is pretty interesting.” I went to that conference and I was immediately like, “This is exactly what I want to do.” And from that point you couldn’t stop me.

Trudy: I basically met Cheryl Garrett at that conference. I asked her what I should do. I saw from the CFP program stuff that I found out about. I went to residency after finding out about it at CFP residency. I just did everything that I could at that point because it was like, I didn’t know it existed, but now that I know it existed, I’m going to do everything possible. Do you go that direction?

Alexandria: It really sounds like people should really take notice. We may hear this a lot, but it’s really good to get these reminders about like, it’s just as important to know what you don’t like as it is to know what you do like in order to shape and kind of help guide you on the path of figuring out what it is you want to do. And it just happens to be that way. Also in the financial planning profession, it sounds like that’s exactly what’s happening to you or what basically guided you all the way to being a wealth manager even when, as far back as where you think about where you started as, oh, engineer possibly, and how you ended up all the way here. It was a whole lot of don’t like this, I’m not a fan of that, and then it got you there and that’s amazing that you’re able to self-assess that way.

Alexandria: And oftentimes as next gen we have to keep reminding ourselves to continue to do that, that that’s a part of the process. But there’s also one thing that you touched on too in the beginning when you were kind of just sharing with us the landscape. But the best time or one of the times it’s a start in the profession and it’s really from a learning aspect. And I wanted to hear a little bit more about this because I thought it was such like a gem that you shared about people who maybe have started during the time when it was a downmarket or it didn’t look like financial planning or wealth management or just finance was a ideal place to be involved in. Could you just share a little bit more about that?

Trudy: Well, yes, sure. Definitely. I think, not to give away my age, but I actually was in college when black Friday, 1987, hit. And it was very interesting to me to actually have seen what happened. That was a very incredibly sharp one day for the most part event. And it was interesting for me to watch people’s reactions and how basically my college peers reacted to that. But it was something that was so quick and fleeting, it was interesting to me.

Trudy: When I’m sitting here as a tax consultant and I’m getting ready to become a financial planner and all my teaching is telling me that that’s probably going to happen. And if it doesn’t, that’s great because the market’s gone up. I didn’t really fear it. If there was anything I would say about you being maybe a little bit naive about going into the profession at that time, it wouldn’t have been good if I hadn’t really vetted who I went to work for. Because if they weren’t properly set up, they didn’t understand how the market works. They weren’t ready to deal with the decrease in revenue that will ultimately hit with a correction in the market, then that could have been a really bad answer.

Trudy: Because I had vetted who I decided to work for very well, they were very in tune to the fact that, matter of fact, they gave me several mantras that I learned when I went into the market. And one of the first mantras that they taught me was, if your revenue is based on assets under management, you will be overpaid when the market is good and you will be underpaid when the market is bad. And that is very true because the payment stream comes from how the assets are doing, it’s not a matter of how hard you’re working. They understood that and that is one of the lessons I learned from them very early in the beginning. And I have made sure to think about that along my career along the way.

Trudy: Maybe just another quick golden nugget that they gave me was that they said, be mindful that if you choose to work in an hourly basis, be mindful of the fact that if you don’t consider your own expertise, you can overcharge for your ignorance and undercharge for your expertise. And I also found that pretty profound and it’s been something that I make sure to be mindful of. If you’re an expert in something and you know it really well, someone paying you potentially by the hour isn’t a good reflection of all of that time and expertise that you’ve grown to accumulate how hard you’ve worked, how much you know. But on the other side of it, if you’re ignorant to something and you have to spend a lot of time to find the answer, you’re overcharging a client for your ignorance. Those are a couple of the gems that this firm just gave to me at that time.

Alexandria: I know I would be listening to this and going like, well, she gave us two, I just have to know what the other two are. Because I’m over here writing ferociously down on a piece of paper and I understand the place, but I just want this to really be a vessel for information for people, because just those two mantras are huge. And I’m thinking, I’m at work or I’m listening in the car as I drive to my firm and I’m like, man, maybe that’s something I’m dealing with, or maybe that’s something the firm’s dealing with. And so I don’t know if you have, if the other two are short and quick, but I’d love to hear the other two if you’d like to share.

Trudy: Well, I’m not sure I had two others, but I have others probably… I do have others, they’ll come up along the way.

Alexandria: Okay.

Trudy: I will come back to what you said before. I really do believe in listening to yourself in the sense of when you’re curating your career. Often times, and I guess this is kind of a mantra that I tend to tell the many people that I either mentor or sponsor or they ask me for advice, I say, often times knowing what you don’t want to do can be much more important than knowing what you do want to do. In my case, I knew I didn’t want to be what I saw Wall Street was all about. And that led me to always been looking more for what ultimately I found to be financial planning.

Alexandria: Now that you’re a wealth manager currently, what about financial planning profession excites you or makes you go, those are the dupes, and that’s what I do. What are some of those things that you do realize about yourself?

Trudy: I think it’s for pretty consistent profession that most of us have a high emotional quotient to want to help people. A high quotient of being very comfortable and familiar with numbers and analysis and money, have a high emotional cushion or understanding of how money is a tool in this world to achieve goals, dreams, things that you want in life. Those are a lot of the things that I’d say a lot of people get into the profession, because they think they understand and they know that about themselves.

Trudy: But I would also say that, and you hear this a lot in work with money scripts and understanding things about ourselves. There’s probably, at some level there’s some ways that you grew up or you are influenced or your parents influenced you or you saw an offense in a family life or you just observed. There’s probably something that influenced you to think, if I’m able to help or assist or change that for other people, I would want to do it. I don’t have any crazy money script in the sense of, I didn’t have family member die and their affairs were out of order.

Trudy: I had something as simple as, my parents were awesome in that they felt education was so important for us, in particular for them that they are first generation college, African American graduates. And that for us, meaning my brother and I, education is so important as an opportunity for us to live a better life than they did. But as a result of their sacrifice to make sure that we had education, a lot of the other things that we might have wanted to do as a family was always, well, someday we’ll do that.

Trudy: And I think a little bit of that has, probably was maybe the money script that I heard that I was like, you know what? Someday is not promised. I don’t want that to be my mantra, someday I’ll do that. And financial planning for me has a lot to do with that. When people tell me they have dreams and goals, I am one of the first that I’ll point out, you can do that now, this doesn’t have to be someday.

Alexandria: I really like that, that concept of do that now versus someday because even the role that I play, let’s say in a financial planning firm as supporting the planners, sometimes you hear the discussion with clients and oftentimes we’re planning for something that will come in the future, retirement, this goal, years from now. And maybe we don’t have enough discussion around, well, could that happen right now? And that could be just due to some of our own biases. If we didn’t accomplish or didn’t do it like how your parents had to overcome it or that sacrifice then like, how would we see that that’s possible now? And being the planner in that space or whoever’s listening being the planner in that space, that could be a very difficult line to constantly be at with a client of making sure that you’re also helping them see that within themselves, if that makes sense.

Trudy: I have very strong feelings about and feel so blessed to have taken some clients who thought they could not achieve certain things, and to have worked with them and shown them how they actually could achieve them. Maybe it was they wouldn’t be able to call a child through college and they didn’t think they had the means. Maybe it was because they wanted to retire a little bit earlier and they didn’t think they had the means. I’ve had great experiences in this career to be able to help people do that. But I will also share with you I’ve had, and I still have great sense of failure for some of the clients that I tried to help them realize that they can do things right now and they chose not to do that.

Trudy: For example, I had a client there at a former firm, so they’re no longer my client. But it was an executive woman who was working after divorce. She was financially set in terms of what she said she wanted and needed from a financial standpoint. But she always says, well, I’ll travel when I retire. Well, she was over 65 so she was continuing to work past what most people kind of consider, I’m going to retire by 65. She was approaching 70s. I bet she’s still working, but she didn’t travel and I didn’t understand why. I was never really able to figure that out. But she had the means to travel but she always says, when I retire, but she wasn’t willing to retire.

Trudy: I mean, I sent this woman travel magazines on a regular basis to our house to say, “You can go here, you can go there. Tomorrow’s not promised. Why don’t you try a little trip?” And so it’s not always a money issue. I also had another client who had more than enough money to purchase a second home, a vacation home. Which was absolutely the desire of his wife. But he couldn’t pull the trigger on actually purchasing the home, even though every indication was that it was very much within their financial reach.

Trudy: But the caveat here was that his wife was a second time cancer survivor, and this was her main dream, vacation home, bring the family together. I don’t know how long I’ll be on this earth. But had some money scripts were so strong that he couldn’t spend the money at that level, even though he’d been reassured that they could afford it because of family tragedies. Probably the money scripts of the great depression and things like that. Sometimes it’s really difficult, even when everything indicates you can do something that we may not be able to get or help clients actually achieve what they say they would. I think you can say to us other goals.

Alexandria: I really like how you basically, not only like share with us but also the examples, because sometimes it can be very hard to see what it is that some of the thing, see some of the things that are said on the podcast. And like just me now, I’m like, wow, that’s real. And you being willing enough to share the wins of being a planner and some of the losses like, and not just like a loss like you lost a client. But if the client said no or the client never actually got to that point of hitting that goal they said they wanted, because that does happen. I just really liked that you shared that, is really authentic to me.

Alexandria: And then also just to kind of transition us, but keeping that same authenticity in our discussion when it comes to how we see the future for our profession. Because it’s like that work that we do with clients. How do we continue that? How do we keep that balance of making sure we’re still doing what’s needed and wanted? And then also what it is we see the future even coming out to be. I know this year we celebrated 50 years as a profession. But for you, Trudy, what is it that you see the profession going in the future?

Trudy: Well, I have the privilege of raising an eight year old. And so when you look at the differences or the environment or the way that he’s growing up versus the way that I’m growing up, the way that I grew up, it’s very humbling to see someone who’s so much more of a digital native, someone that, well, that’s good. Someone who you can see because of the way technology interactions rules right now, that without some nurturing could go to a much less ability to relate to people. And I think that’s important when we talk about financial planning because in a time where you have ever more information about what we do, just publicly available, that doesn’t make it accessible for everyone.

Trudy: I have no doubts the human element is critical to the profession. The complexity of something that really honestly used to be very simple. Retirement wasn’t hard way back in the day. It was get a job at a good company, stay there 25 years and they take care of you. That is not the recipe for success today. The whole concept of being financially responsible and how you do that and how to cultivate your career and how to save money and how you achieve your goals is not easy anymore. And so many of the pieces of doing that require human discipline. And that’s why I think that our profession is not going to go away anytime soon, at least the human element.

Trudy: That being said, it is changing a lot. There’s so many more expectations as far as how we interact with people, not just meetings, not just virtually, how often? In what ways? And the types of services and things that we provide to those clients. And quite frankly, that we have to be better technicians. But that is getting to be very complicated even for our mass affluent or regular citizens. And it’s becoming very complicated even if people do everything that is in my generation, they said you should do, but that doesn’t necessarily mean financial success in this world anymore, the typical graduate from school, go to college, get a good job.

Trudy: Sometimes even today those things are not even close to the recipe for success to be financially stable in the United States. There’s a lot that we can help people with. And even some of the most basics, but even to the most difficult things like starting a business or execute stock options or whatever you want to insert in there.

Alexandria: I want to dissect this a bit because obviously the future of the profession is a conversation that is being had just about everywhere. Two of the things that stuck out to me when you were sharing was the level and the amount of information and then also the human element. And so maybe we could tackle this a little bit of, in the space of information, I just think of like we all walk around with a phone in our hand that you can literally Google a question you have about something and there’s information on it. But then there’s the level that you also talked about how things are just becoming more complex and more complex. Where it’s like you can’t just ask a simple question into Google and it just spit out that answer, because there’s so many other layers to the complexity that you had to have asked to actually get the question right. Can you maybe share a little bit of how, just the amount of information and how you see the future of the profession is either benefiting or is it a con, how that looks like to you.

Trudy: Here’s… I just had a meeting last week situation, new our client, been client for about a year came in and said they’ve just retired, the retirement days. And so lower income and just came in all on fire about how, hey, we’re going to start social security and I’ve done a lot of research and I’ve thought of this and I want to figure out how exactly we could not pay taxes on our social security, use our tax money so that we can keep our income low and just was very proud of themselves for the research that they’d done and everything that they had put forward and I listened.

Trudy: And when they were done then they said, “What do you think about that?” I said, well, I can actually tell you that that’s a great plan if your goal is essentially right now, it’s pay no tax. What I don’t want you to do is to be … I always get this messed up, penny wise and pound foolish. Because the level of information was out there for them to grasp how I can today pay no taxes.

Trudy: Well, what they didn’t understand about their financial situation or why they’re engaging an advisor is to let them know that today if we pay no tax, but when we both come into RMDs we hit this wall and we are paying so much tax that, that one year of benefit completely unravels when the government tells us how much we have to pay out on RMDs. And so I explained to him how ROTH conversions, now for them make sure much sense because we’re in somewhat historic rates of lower taxes and then going to hit RMDs at 70 and a half, maybe if they’re lucky with the Secure Act, it’ll be 72. But nonetheless, they’re going to hit them and that what they really needed to consider was paying the devil that they know, which is taxes right now to over their life, their remaining lifetimes to have a benefit. That speaks exactly to the two points that you talked about.

Trudy: Level of information is out there, but that doesn’t mean they know how to apply it. And then just the human element of someone being able to talk to them and say, I understand what you’re saying, I totally get it. However, let me give you another option. That’s what’s not going to be available by typing the question in. They don’t know how to ask that question. I don’t even know if they know how to ask the question.

Alexandria: Yeah, because the internet, you have to know what to ask. They’re not going to get that suggested drop down, isn’t going to ask you about the RMD that you just asked them about.

Trudy: And even if it does, is it going to have enough discernment to understand this is the type of client that it’s okay to say to this client, hey, I can let you be penny wise and pound foolish because you know that mantra right there and my work with one client and totally made another client very uncomfortable or mad that you said that. Again, the human element is so critical because ultimately we can make all of the recommendations we want all day long. But if we don’t find a way to connect with the client for them to understand it, appreciate and implement, then we’re not worth the money that we’re been paid.

Alexandria: This was another thing that kind of popped up in discussion at the FP annual conference with some of the students actually. I was really just amazed with the conversations I was having with students. It definitely didn’t make me feel like, oh, someone that hasn’t quite had even their first job, that wasn’t the experience at all. I was just talking to a regular peer, which was amazing. But one of the things that I was noticing, there’s a lot of the students were maybe sharing how they wanted to help serve communities or people that aren’t naturally the nature or the focus within some of the firms today. And so maybe you could talk about how you see the future of the profession helping more of the masses and more of as you said like a regular citizen. And what do you see about that and how to maybe you currently work with clients that maybe fit that mold?

Trudy: Yeah, so I will tell you what I have done in my career. I applaud and I support very heavily continued thinking in this area. I think it is key to what some people still very much believe is the recognition of whether financial planning and wealth management is actually a profession has to do with whether they serve every man, not just the wealthy man or woman.

Trudy: What I’m really looking forward to is the next generation, the students that are upcoming, the younger professionals that are coming in and really thinking outside the box on how we can work with and as a profession serve the masters. I know that I have struggled with that myself personally and I have many thoughts in that direction. But until there’s more massive change in that direction, I’m hopeful that they understand that there are things that are being done. We do have the foundation for financial planning that they can support, whether they support it monetarily or whether they support it on a volunteer basis.

Trudy: We do have other organizations that are working within the community. A great example would be like Quad-A association that American financial advisors who are working. There’s a very much of an interest to work in the communities. There’s financial planning day. I mean there’s so many ways that you can do this, even if you’re not necessarily doing in your own firm. What if I could inspire for a moment a generation to disrupt a profession in this sense? I would truly love that to be one of the next phases of the evolution of the profession.

Trudy: I’ll give you an example. Another one again is that, I sent to some colleagues today a FinTech conference that’s happening in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the capital of Ethiopia, and it’s a FinTech conference. And Ethiopia tend to have a very different mix of helping the masses than the United States has. But if you could actually see different types of things that are being done in other emerging countries, you can get a better idea of how we can solve a lot of the problems or the issues that we believe we’re having here in this country. And I find that very exciting to think that we could learn from what other countries and areas and where they’re solving the problem and how we can bring some of those solutions back to United States.

Alexandria: I just want to touch on this because we are obviously on a podcast that’s financial planning association heavy. And you just touched on basically the concept of attending a conference that is still involved in the financial planning space. But coming from a country that is maybe doing it differently and learning from them. And you also basically told the next gen community that’s the call to action, is to disrupt the norms of where we’re going as a profession and attending those type of conferences as a way to do that.

Alexandria: Now, obviously, if you can’t go all the way to Ethiopia, we’ve got to find another way. Because I immediately started to go, oh, let me Google this and see what’s going on. But also to your point of disrupting that call to action you’ve given us as the next gen.

Trudy: Yes.

Alexandria: What other ways can we be doing that? Because that was a great example right there, is attending a conference, something like that that’s going to pique your interest and expose you to other ways besides maybe the way we’ve currently are only seeing it.

Trudy: Yes. And my example is that a huge nod or understanding of how I personally learn and how I think. But one of the ways that I chose to build my career and one of the ways that I’ve chosen to just be a lifelong learner is that I truly kind of despise group think. I think group think is dangerous. And as a result of what I personally feel of how group think is dangerous, I very much challenged myself to read and to research and to challenge my own thoughts of what I think is norm or acceptable.

Trudy: Personally I go to conferences that get me uncomfortable and get me to think differently. As far as my own evolution for financial planning, I attend financial planning association. I attend investments and wealth institute conferences. I have attended vendor conferences for say like [inaudible]. I am a CPA so I attend CPA conferences. I choose to feed myself a very diverse diet of ideas and ways that I can think about issues and problems. And I think if you’re going to be a disruptor, you need to think differently. You need to be exposed. You need to challenge yourself and you need to unabashedly not be afraid to listen to divergent ideas on the same problem. And that’s how I choose to do it.

Trudy: If you’re a friend of mine you know I call myself a self prescribed magazineholic. And literally you can find me in an airplane reading anything from Forbes, Fortune, Money magazine, Kiplinger. Okay, you expect those. But then I’ll read Psychology Today or I’ll read Vogue magazine. I’ll read Cycle World, which is about motorcycles. I’ll read anything that’s interesting. I read Wired because it’s very focused on technology and forward thinking. Conscious Company because it’s about more like the ESG focus. I will put things in my mind and the connections and the creativity and the ideas will come later. But just expose yourself to so many different things that you’re not succumbing to group think or the scene solution or the same problem over and over again.

Alexandria: There’s two things I want to just share. One thing when you were sharing about the magazines part, it made me think of like on planes, how they have that magazine in that back pocket of the chair. They’re actually really for you Trudy.

Trudy: It is.

Alexandria: I can see you being there every time because it’s something different. Already now it’s got me wondering I’m like, I need to look at what’s in these magazines because I’ve noticed them. I’ve never looked at them. That was one thing, but the second thing that you brought up was the think of the group think. And I guess it’s like, how do we maybe change some habits that we’ve been brought up and especially in the next gen community, we’ve been taught to work together, think together, do things together, go through school together. I mean everything has been about group. And so, or you’re not a group or a team player. I guess I know these are extremes, but how do we begin to change those habits to help ourselves start having a better disruptor type mindset?

Trudy: Well, I think first of all, don’t beat up yourself so much because it’s not just the profession where this is an issue. It literally is an issue in our rural today, is that we’re not willing to listen to people that believe or think differently or have, basically as I say it, people who have looked through different lenses of the glasses, who have different lenses that they look through. We’re losing or we’re just choosing not to listen to other people’s perspectives and be respectful enough to say I understand where you’re coming from and whether that’s my lens or not, I still respect it.

Trudy: We as a society have lost so much of that and that’s why we’re standing at the precipice of where we are. That leads so perfectly into one of the passions that I have about the profession and that’s the work that has been done on diversity inclusion. And I say that in many ways. I say that one from being one of the co-founders of the diversity and inclusion initiative and the financial planning association. So my counterparts, my friends, Lee Baker and Ed Gjertsen and myself are the ones who spearheaded the first diversity initiative, which is now the standing diversity committee. And out of that we were born in the diversity scholarship and all the awardees that have been awarded over the years.

Trudy: But I also, as much as I’m so happy to see that the many of the honorees and award ease of the diversity scholarship are out and really doing great work in regards to diversity and inclusion. There’s also so many things that isn’t being done in regards to diversity inclusion. Lots of times we focus on what we see or what we know of certain diversity topics. And there’s so many other topics that we lose sight of because we’re just focusing on some of the few. And I talk about this a lot, because diversity isn’t just the typical five subjects that we talk about. If truly, in my opinion, the lenses that you looked through and there’s so many more lenses to look through. There’s things like being a global citizen. There’s things like being disabled. There’s so many things that are challenging us in industries that are becoming acceptable, like crypto and cannabis.

Trudy: There’s just so many other diversity subjects than what we focused on today. And I really implore us, just think beyond our traditional focus of usually race, culture, gender, sexual orientation. There’s so much more color to the rainbow of diversity topics and just those.

Alexandria: That’s a huge point because I mean, I think of myself and being African American woman myself, that I don’t always attend things because it’s a racial diversity inclusion topic but some, even for myself, there’s topics that I want to become diverse in. And even the topic that you shared at annual conference about adoption was really mind blowing to me, because I don’t have any family members that are adopted, so I don’t know what that means. But I deal with clients that have adopted kids, my boss has adopted kids. Whoever that is around you, but you never even noticed or understood that background until you got some exposure to it or someone shared their story or provided resources like you did to continue the education piece even after the 50 minute talk.

Alexandria: And to your point about the other topics, I guess, especially for our profession, we can get a little bit caught up sometimes with all the initiatives in the work as a group. And to kind of your point, how can they be people be making some change in impact about just what they do independently. An individual can make changes in their own way to include this lens so that way they’re not relying on, let’s say a huge organization to make a change or a huge … their job to make a change. Like what could they be doing just individually to make a change?

Trudy: Well, I think, I don’t remember exactly where I heard this, but again reminding me, it’s like every little thing that’s done is not in vain. Matter of fact, it’s like the little ripples in the water could actually later become the greatest change that happens to that body of water. Don’t forget that something as simple as, when I first got into the profession, I’m CPA trained and I knew about the national association of black accountants, because I am one.

Trudy: When I got into professional of financial planning, the first thing I thought of was, oh, well, maybe we should expose black accountants to financial planning. That was just one small thing and so I chose to do that. And so that one small thing that I chose to do, because there was some national conference that was here in Dallas. One step at a time I’ve chosen to do more and more and more and more with diversity inclusion. When as a initiative later to become a committee, we said, we should have diversity scholarship.

Trudy: That just seems like one small thing, but now that we’re maybe adapted into awarding the scholarships and we see the immense, if I could say it again, colors of the rainbow that have come out of having people in the profession with different lenses, it’s amazing at that one time, at that one moment of doing that one small thing, it seems like a good idea. But I would not have grown to believe it would change so much of the color of our profession now. By no means am I saying there’s not a lot more work to be done, but little things matter. Instead of thinking, what can I do to completely disrupt, just start. That’s what I’d say, just start.

Alexandria: Oh my gosh, that was the best part right there. It’s like sometimes it can be very overwhelming. And I feel like just in this profession, things look sometimes so large. The scale is so big, but it’s like, if you can make a little change for just something you do personally, that just endless effect without becoming a habit. Other people hearing about it, other people seeing the way you move when you embrace these new ideas that you have. I mean, it’s just so impactful.

Trudy: Absolutely.

Alexandria: And so I know this conversation could go on for hours, but there’s just one part that I just want to make sure we also touch on. Because I know there are listeners who are a part of the next gen community. They’re in their first decade of their career and there are several takeaways. I hope everyone was writing notes or you have to go back and relisten. But what things do you want to leave for the next gen community to help with the change in the future of the profession? What things do you want to leave them with?

Trudy: Well, I have another mantra by the way.

Alexandria: Yeah. Drop the mantras.

Trudy: Because I actually created a long time ago and I’ve chosen to whenever asked about diversity in the profession to make sure that I reiterate it. And that is, it is critical that as a profession we spread the awareness of the profession. And once people have embraced awareness, they know it exists as a profession. Then it is critical that you give them exposure in the profession. And once they are aware of the profession and they have been properly exposed to the profession, that the last thing that you provide them is the opportunity to be in the profession.

Trudy: My dad who’s an educator, he’s actually a psychology professor, saw that my mantra was A for awareness E for exposure and O for opportunity. And he said to me, Trudy, do you realize that it’s A, E, O, but what’s left is the U and I. So it’s like U and I need to provide awareness, exposure and opportunity for diversity and inclusion in the profession. And as simple as it is, A, E, I, O, U, it’s a way that could be reminded of you and I are so important that for us to get more, not just diversity in the profession, but better answers. Because the bottom line is research time and time and time and time again, because better answers come from diverse populations.

Trudy: So if we can get more diverse populations aware, exposed and actually opportunity in the profession, then we’re only going to get stronger. That’s a huge mantra that I have for anyone who’s in the profession. And is saying, how can I make it better? I would start there.

Alexandria: That was really great, Trudy. Thank you so much. That mantra, I might be actually using after this. That one I’ll probably take if it’s okay with you.

Trudy: It’s the reason why I take the time to explain it because it makes total sense and it’s actually an order. Now this might be a little extra on the mantra, but the A, E and the O are in the proper order. First there’s awareness, then there’s exposure, and thirdly there’s the opportunity, and that’s how we make this profession better. I invite you, I’d be honored for you to use the mantra.

Alexandria: Well, thank you again, Trudy, for sharing with us today on the podcast. I’ve learned a lot and I know the listeners will probably have questions, and so get your email ready. But thank you again so much for coming on today.

Trudy: No, my pleasure. And I look forward to it. Definitely hope that I do get questions and then able to help some more people. I do have a passion that I say for anyone who is interested in being successful in this profession, there’s absolutely not enough of us. And so, yes, I’m willing always for those that are willing to do the hard work and truly mean it. We need more ethical competent financial planners of diverse population, all populations in this world. So be glad to speak with people on that.

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