Financial advisors are wont to liken their advice-giving approach to that of doctor and patient. Well, here’s an RIA who knows about both professions personally: She has earned a medical degree and is a certified financial planner, too.
From Cordi Powell’s angle of vision, the main commonality between people working in medicine and those dispensing financial advice is having “a heart to help others,” as she tells ThinkAdvisor in an interview.
Powell founded Favored Financial Planning, based in Greensboro, North Carolina, after serving a residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Brody School of Medicine in Greenville. But married to a physician and with three young children, she found the couple’s separate, demanding on-call schedules at odds with family-raising and opted to leave medicine.
In 2007, she began teaching financial basics to a community of African Americans who were members of her church, joined a tax preparation firm and soon discovered a “newfound love for personal finance and taxes.”
As an enrolled agent, she is federally authorized to represent taxpayers before the IRS. Most of her clients are middle-income African Americans, ages 50-70, with investable assets ranging from $500,000 to $2 million.
For clients who request it, Powell, 51, offers Christian financial planning, which integrates biblical principles with financial and investing advice, she says.
A member of the Alliance of Comprehensive Planners, which she joined at the outset of her practice in 2011, Powell, who is compensated solely by retainer, credits ACP and being independent with helping her avoid potential issues of diversity faced by many advisors of color working at, or aspiring to work at, large financial services firms.
Indeed, gender and racial diversity and inclusion are hot-button issues for the financial services industry. In the interview, Powell argues for what she believes is a more equitable way to screen and hire FAs.
ThinkAdvisor recently interviewed the planner, speaking by phone from Greensboro. She grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where her parents worked in the health field: Her mother was a registered dietician; her father was employed by a genetics lab. As for daughter Cordi, her future ultimately lay in caring for the health of people’s finances.
Here are excerpts from our conversation:
THINKADVISOR: Do you see similarities between the world of medicine and financial advisory?
CORDI POWELL: People in medicine and financial advisors have a heart to help others. And there are also similarities along the lines of having a plan and sticking to it. Being proactive with your health and with your finances early [in life] prevents [the need for] rehabilitation of your health and finances later.
You earned a medical degree and completed your residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Why did you want to give up being a doctor?
It wasn’t conducive to family life. We have three children [who were very young at the time]. My husband is a physician [too]; so you can imagine how hectic it was, especially when we were both on call at the same time. Balancing family and work was difficult, and [as is common], I, the woman, was the one who stayed home when a kid was sick.
Why did you choose to work in financial services?
In 2007, I started helping the African American community in my church understand budgeting and to become financially literate. Then I moved on to teaching the basics of investing so they could understand the terminology when they would work with a financial advisor.