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3 business lessons I learned from my mother

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There’s probably a point in every kid’s life when he or she enjoys those ever-so-infrequent moments to prove mom wrong.

It certainly doesn’t happen often. And even when most of us think we’ve got one over on mom, she often comes back and turns it around on us. But I think I’ve finally got one on my mother.

My mom is Frannie Gardner, CFP®, CFEd, CDFA. She runs her own business, ARMOR Financial Services Group, affiliated with ARMOR Wealth Management in Addison, Texas, and has been in the financial services industry for more than 20 years. My mom, who I’ve now worked alongside for more than five years, always says I’ve given her as much as she’s given me over the years. She says I’ve taught her more about advising clients, especially younger clients, in the last half-decade than she’s learned in her nearly three decades in the industry. And right there is where my mom — and mentor — could not be more wrong.

I didn’t really think I’d end up working with my parents while growing up, and didn’t initially plan on it after graduating college, either. After leaving the University of Texas at Austin and earning my degree in Government and Business Foundations, I was looking for a job in sales and thought I had found a place that could be a good fit for me, where there was an opportunity to make a good living for myself. But after doing some interviewing and consulting with people in various industries, I realized that a great opportunity was right in front of me—the opportunity to follow my mom’s footsteps and explore a career in financial services. And after some long talks with a number of veteran producers, I decided the best path for me was to learn under the wing of ARMOR Wealth Management’s leadership team and, of course, my mother.

Certainly there was some initial awkwardness about working with my mother … for instance; she’s Frannie in the office, not Mom. But every day, I learn something new from Mom … sorry, Frannie. Being a part of her team, along with two other individuals whom I also look to for guidance, has genuinely changed how I see my future.

Here are just a few of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from working with my mom in the financial services industry. No Mother’s Day greeting card or bouquet of flowers would ever be enough to say “thank you” for any of these.

She taught me to be analytical.

Like a lot of parents who work with their children, my mom pushes me much harder than anybody else, or at least it seems that way to me. Often I’ve seen veteran advisors spoon-feeding young advisors a lot of the answers during client meetings because they want to “close the deal” as quickly as possible. Thankfully, my mom doesn’t do that. She says, “Go back to your desk, figure it out, and come back to me with a solution. Then we’ll go over why it was wrong or right.”

That was a huge step for me in learning how this business works. I learned quickly that there’s never a one-size-fits-all solution for a client. Each and every one deserves, and will receive, the best possible financial plan for their needs and goals.

She taught me the importance of building a diverse team.

My mother is the head of a four-advisor team that represents every generation in our client base. My mom is in her 50s, a baby boomer, and can relate to any client nearing retirement, already retired, or with multi-generational families they wish to protect. My peers, Patrick Wallace, CFEd, and Lindsay Vitovsky, CFP®, CDFA, are in their 30s, technically Gen-Xers, and can relate to individuals or couples starting a family, buying a home, getting married, or planning for college. And I am in my late 20s, which makes me a Millennial. I can relate to individuals just starting out, in the early stages of formulating a financial plan.

Because I work for my mom, she can introduce me to her clients and bring me in on those relationships. She is able to say, “This is my son, and once I’m no longer working, he will be your advisor. You can trust him.” They know the business will go on, and that she cares enough to make sure there’s a smooth transition when she retires. 

Our team bridges every generation. We are the mirror image of our client base. And without the ability to share common experiences and life milestones with your clients, it’s tough to build confidence and understanding. I’m proud to say my mom has successfully brought together a diverse group of advisors, all with unique strengths and skills, who our clients trust and depend on.

She taught me patience.

Moms are known for being patient. And let’s face it; there are times in this industry where an immense amount of frustration can set in. A mentor may want to teach you something you’re not ready to learn. A client may not see the need for a product that’s a good fit. There have already been plenty of moments in my career where I thought, “I just want to get through this.”

But my mom showed me the importance of patience. We are masons and bricklayers in the financial services industry. We are building foundations; we’re constructing support beams. We’re building relationships with people for the long-term. If you take things slowly, and accept that there are going to be challenges, things will eventually fall into place.

So, I’ve already learned a lot — and still have more to take in — from my mom. She’s passed onto me lessons and insights that no other person could. She’s molded me, and my colleagues, into the advisors we are today … as only a mother can.


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