Owen Malcolm remembers when he was first introduced to financial planning. He was sitting in the corner of an office quietly waiting for his parents to finish meeting with their financial advisor. At 12 years old, he wandered off in his own thoughts and occasionally caught bits and pieces of the ongoing conversation. His father, a CPA, was always crunching numbers around the house, but this time he was the one getting advice. Any other 12-year-old in such a predicament would rebel with loud sighs and rolling eyes, but not him. As he heard words like diversification, risk tolerance, overall returns, and retirement, his ears opened, and he began paying attention. At the end of their meeting, the advisor called Malcolm to his desk and told him something that would change his life. “When you are 18 years old, if you take $5,000 and invest it,” the planner explained, “and you earn a 12% return, you would be a millionaire by the time you retire.”
Says Malcolm, now 29: “That just blew my mind.” Wanting to hear more, the advisor explained compound interest and the Rule of 72. “If you take 72 and divide it by your expected return,” the advisor continued, “it will tell you how long it will take for your money to double.”
“I didn’t believe him,” Malcolm recalls. “I went home and spent half the night on a legal pad crunching numbers trying to prove him wrong. It turned out he was right.”
For Malcolm, VP and COO of Sanders Financial Management, Inc. in Norcross, Georgia, that was a defining moment that led him to the financial planning field. Not everyone in the industry can say they’ve had such a memorable “Aha!” moment, but each of the following advisors knew financial planning was indeed the place for them. These are the new faces of financial planning. Their practices may be different, but their objectives are the same: to help people reach their financial goals and do it in a way that puts ethics before earnings.
The Enthusiast: Jamie Oder
Saunders & Associates Financial Management
At 22, Jamie Oder is the kind of person you just want to talk to. A December 2004 graduate of Kansas State University, Oder represents the newest face of the financial planning industry.
“I always knew I wanted to help people,” she says. “When I initially went to college, I started out in family studies and human services with a minor in business.” But Oder says that personal financial planning brought all those areas together, so she changed her major.
Now an assistant advisor with Saunders & Associates Financial Management, a fee-based independent advisory firm in Flower Mound, Texas, she’s been in the business for less than three months and is already a member of the FPA and the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants (IARFC). “I love the financial planning field and am getting as involved as I can by going to conferences and networking with as many practicing financial planners as possible,” she says.
But make no mistake. Veteran advisors could learn a thing or two from her as well. “I think older advisors can benefit by bringing on [new financial planning] graduates to their practice because we have fresh ideas and different perspectives of the world than they do,” she says. “Coming out of school it’s hard for us to jump right into it and start our own business. We can’t say, ‘Hey I’m a financial advisor, let me give you advice on your mortgage. I have never done it myself, but let me tell you how to do it.’ We don’t have any real-world experience, just a whole lot of book knowledge.”
Oder is also up to date on all the latest technology. In fact, she often advises her new boss on the subject– that is, when she’s not studying for her CFP certification or busy learning the ropes of her new career. “We do the day-to-day tasks,” she says, which gives her boss, Barbara Saunders, time to focus on seminars, clients, “and other parts of the business.”
Alongside another assistant advisor, Oder is currently working on portfolio reviews and annual reviews, and meeting her new firm’s clientele. “It’s busy but I love it,” she says. “I enjoy working with people and think that being someone’s financial planner really makes a difference in their lives. As a planner, I believe I can take clients from where they are to where they want to be, essentially making their dreams a reality.”
Saunders & Associates currently has $40 million in assets under management and serves about 150 clients with net worths between $3 million and $4 million.
Like most advisors, Oder hopes one day to open her own practice. “This is a growing field and the best field out there,” she says. “Banks and attorneys are slowly starting to offer financial planning services,” she notes, “and there’s no telling how big this is industry is going to become.”
The Stock Picker: Owen Malcolm
Sanders Financial Management, Inc.
Having an interest in personal finance at a very early age is something Owen Malcolm is proud to share.
He loves what he does and makes it a point to get out into the community. He regularly speaks to church groups, does pro bono work for the needy, raises money for children’s health care, and sits on a leadership board that focuses on teen education and lowering the number of high school dropouts in his area. Not to mention the fact that he helps run a successful practice and keeps up with his three young children. Needless to say, he’s a busy guy.