Emily Purdon, CFP®, EA, is a Financial Planning and Process Coach at XY Planning Network. Emily earned a Financial Therapy Graduate Certificate from Kansas State University (KSU) and completed Wharton’s Executive Education Program in Client Psychology. She expects to earn her M.S. in Advanced Personal Financial Planning from KSU in May of 2020. On top of all that, Emily currently serves on the Pamplin College of Business Recent Alumni Board as the Outreach Chair.

I was lucky enough to sit down with Emily at the FPA Annual Conference for a follow-up to the first podcast she appeared on with me just over a year ago. Emily shed some insight on her career change since the last time we spoke, as well as what Emily thinks many other NexGen planners are looking for when it comes to careers within the profession. 

In this interview, Emily shares what she has seen in her current role at the XY Planning Network and how it can help firms reach the next level. She also gives some really inspiring advice on how we, as NexGen planners, can determine our own career paths.

Exploring different opportunities

After graduating from Virginia Tech’s CFP® program, Emily started off her career as a financial planner for Sullivan Bruyette Speros & Blayney and McLean. She realized, after being at the firm for a couple of years and promoting up, that there are many ways to use financial planning knowledge — and it doesn’t have to be strictly in a paraplanner or lead planner role. After realizing this, she decided to venture out and start looking into new opportunities to utilize the skill set she had developed while at her current firm.

A lot of young planners fresh out of college see a big gold star with the words “Lead Planner” in their future, but Emily wanted to share that there are so many other avenues out there worth exploring. And she walks the walk — Emily wasn’t afraid to do to take her financial planning career to the next level, and a new place entirely.

She knew following an entrepreneur-type model wasn’t for her⁠; she had seen others do this and knew her skills didn’t reflect that of an entrepreneur. I think this is incredibly self-aware because, sometimes, knowing what you don’t want to do is half the battle. 

Knowing she had skills in teaching ⁠— and understanding how teaching correlates to advising clients — she started paying more attention to the profession. After ruling several paths out, she accepted a position at XYPN as the Financial Planning and Process Coach, where she is now able to share her knowledge in the profession to new planners as they start, run, and grow their businesses. 

Current trends in the financial planning profession

I’ve learned from my discussions with Emily that she is a woman who isn’t afraid to own what she’s good at, which I think is a huge factor in her success (plus I admire her for it!). She also understands the current trends and how to use them to our advantage as a profession, so of course, I had to ask her about the current trends she’s seeing and what we need to know about them. 

“I’ve seen a lot of what we call ‘solopreneurs,’” she said. “People that went out there with the purpose of building a lifestyle practice where they can maybe replace or duplicate a previous salary, live a fun, fulfilled life spending time with family. I’m actually seeing them shift into hiring virtual paraplanners, interns from various CFP® programs, and actually starting to staff out a little bit, which wasn’t really their initial goal.” 

A couple of years into their businesses, Emily shared, these solopreneurs start looking for young professionals straight out of college, perhaps people who want to work virtually and allowing those new planners to do virtual work for the firm.

Of course, this leads to the major trend right now: firms across the board are doing what they can to leverage technology. One of the topics covered at this year’s FPA Annual Conference was about how and why financial planners are integrating technology and virtual elements into their firms. Emily shared that she has seen this take off firsthand in her own firm and amongst other members. She said that she thinks the biggest reason for this is the flexibility technology allows: “It comes down to the fact that when you’re able to hold a virtual meeting efficiently, transparently, you allow them to spend time with their families, you allow them to spend time doing what they love,” she said. 

I find it interesting how professionals are using tech to grow their practice in meaningful ways, and how it’s going to change the future of our profession, so I’m glad Emily called attention to this. 

Taking your firm to the next level

One of the biggest questions I wanted to ask Emily was about her experience seeing firms taking their businesses to the next level in her role at XYPN. (If you’re interested in growing your own firm, this part of the interview is gold!)

She shared some of the research that’s been done, which found that most firms hit capacity around 70-75 clients. That’s a lot of clients, but Emily shared what she sees the “smart” firms do: “What I see people get right is when they hit 30 clients, they actually hire help. And that help could be a virtual paraplanner, that help could be an intern, that help could be admin or back office. That initial round of help gets them to 75.” 

Basically, these firms (and the people operating within them) know when they need help before things get too crazy. These firms also recognize that hiring and delegating are the key to taking a firm to the next level.

But that doesn’t mean these firms are always getting it right to bringing help on. One of the issues Emily pinpointed is the training of new employees at a firm, something every company does a bit differently. Some firms, she said, have robust onboarding processes for their staff. Others, however, just have the new employee shadow them for a month and operate on a “let’s see what happens” basis. 

If you’re thinking about starting your own firm, are growing one currently, or want to be part of a succession plan, you need to know how to onboard new talent. It’s also valuable for those of us looking to change firms or careers within the profession; consider what sort of support you need in a new position, and look for places and people who can offer that.

This podcast has so much more insight in it than what I could share here, including how NexGen planners can find their career path, why you should be attending conferences and in-person events, and why more of us need to speak up. Tune in, because Emily has so much wisdom to share with all of us.



[tweet_box design=”box_10″ url=”https://buff.ly/36IJMSQ” float=”none” excerpt=”I realized that there are a lot of different ways to use your financial planning knowledge, and it doesn’t have to be strictly in a paraplanner/lead planner type role. – Emily Purdon, CFP®, EA on #YAFPNW”]I realized that there are a lot of different ways to use your financial planning knowledge, and it doesn’t have to be strictly in a paraplanner/lead planner type role. – Emily Purdon, CFP®, EA on #YAFPNW 187[/tweet_box]


What You’ll Learn:

  • Why it’s OK to switch from a career you’ve enjoyed to an unknown
  • Why exploring different avenues and career paths is essential to growth
  • How to evaluate what you do NOT want to do, and why it is just as important as knowing what you DO want to do
  • How the financial planning profession and NexGen planners are really growing thanks to technology
  • Why virtual planners are becoming more popular for boutique firms
  • How to be an advocate for yourself in your career
  • Why finding valuable employees isn’t a problem—retaining them is
  • How to take your firm to the next level by upping your training standards


Show Notes:

In this episode of YAFPNW, I talked to Emily Purdon, CFP®, about:

Stay up to date with Emily’s journey as a CFP® by following her on LinkedIn.


[show_more more=”Show Transcript” less=”Hide Transcript”]

Episode Transcript

Hannah: Well, today I’m excited. We are at the FPA annual conference in Minneapolis, and I have with me Emily Purdon who we had on the podcast a little over a year ago now. And the podcast was titled Launching into the Financial Planning Profession where Emily really kind of shared with us how she got into financial planning, her job, and it was a great episode. So, if you are listening to this, definitely go check out part one.

Hannah: But I’m so excited to have you here, Emily, for this part two of where you are now with your career. So, thanks for joining us.

Emily: Of course. I’m really happy to be here. I’m glad I ran into you at the conference, and we can do part two.

Hannah: Yes. So now, you were, remind the listeners, you were at a planning firm, client facing planning firm in the DC area, right?

Emily: Yes. So, I was at Sullivan Bruyette Speros & Blayney and McLean, Virginia, also known as SBSB, And I was there for about three and a half years before making the change.

Hannah: And so, you were … I remember on this podcast, you were really kind of living the dream if you would. So many young planners that I hear who are wanting to do real financial planning in a client facing role. What kind of made you question whether you wanted to leave that role?

Emily: So, as I kind of alluded to you in part one, I graduated from Virginia Tech CFP program. So, I knew I wanted to be a planner, but I just didn’t necessarily know kind of in what capacity. So, from Virginia Tech’s program, I went right into my role as a financial planner at SBSB. And then, within I want to say a year promoted to senior associate, maybe another year promoted to manager, and then I became client facing. I was basically the equivalent of a lead financial planner. And I did that for three and a half years, and it was wonderful. I loved my team.

Emily: Worked in a small team of five people, so a little bit of the silo approach that you hear about sometimes. And I had a wonderful director. She totally inspired me every single day, and had been in the industry maybe 30 years, something like that. I did a lot of recruiting, I took up different committees, and things like that, and really enjoyed my time at SBSB. And then, I realized that there are a lot of different ways to use your financial planning knowledge, and it doesn’t have to be strictly in a paraplanner, lead planner type role. So, I started to kind of explore opportunities and see what was out there.

Hannah: That’s so interesting. I was just having a conversation last night with a young planner, and they were frustrated because they’re like everything … If you get your CFP, if you get through these financial planning programs, the goal is always to be a lead planner, and it’s like there’s so much more out there. So, what were some of the different things that you were exploring as you kind of went on that journey?

Emily: Yeah. I was actually exploring being a teacher. So, I had quite a few influential professors over the years, one being Dr. Sarah Asebedo, who’s now at TTU, and just kind of talking through what that would look like, which was really getting a PhD, and following kind of maybe a TTU typical path working through your master’s and your PhD, and then of course becoming a professor. Realized through quite a bit of research and talking to other professors that that probably wasn’t the right fit for me, but I knew that I loved teaching. Which isn’t really that different from advising clients, right? You’re teaching and you’re helping. And so, I just started kind of paying attention to the industry, listening to more podcasts, seeing what people were doing.

Emily: I knew what I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to be an entrepreneur, I didn’t want to start my own business, I didn’t necessarily want to be a technician as far as lead planning technician goes. So, I just started to rule things out, and keeping an open eye out there, and came across XYPN.

Hannah: And so, what was the job that you applied for?

Emily: Yeah, the financial planning and process coach position on the advisor success team.

Hannah: Spoilers for anybody listening, you got the job.

Emily: Yes I did. Yeah.

Hannah: And so what does that look like? So, what does your day look like now?

Emily: Very different. So, what I was doing before was a lot of meeting prep and of course follow up for usually high net worth clients. A lot of tax planning work in there. Doing income tax returns and projections, and things like that. So, really in software, right? All the things that you think about when you think about leveraging your CFP knowledge.

Emily: And then, the position I applied for, the day-to-day wasn’t really clear, and I really liked that. It said kind of what they wanted your role to be and what of course you needed as far as skills and things. But it looked like the day-to-day was a little bit up to me, and that’s exactly how it’s turned out. So, as far as what I do now is I hold coaching calls with our members. So, they’re all an hour, and I’ve talked to almost 175 members. We have a thousand plus in network. So, looking forward to of course chatting with all of them. And then, I do webinars, so a lot of training. Still using that technical CFP knowledge, but applying it differently. Instead of teaching clients, I’m teaching members. So, it’s a little bit different, but I think it was a really good transition for me.

Hannah: And so, would you say your role in financial planning right now, is it more of a consultant, or how would you describe where your space is right now?

Emily: Yeah, definitely. So, they call us coaches. The advisor success team is made up of various coaches, executive business coach, marketing, things like that. So, I fall within that team, but yeah. A consultant I think would be a really fair comparison. I am consulting on things like pricing, and service offerings, and how to actually deliver financial planning recommendations. So, some of that is a little more relational, some of it’s a little bit more technical, but kind of spanning that and really trying to help our members grow their businesses.

Hannah: One of the things I hear a lot from new planners is kind of this idea of this imposter syndrome of how can I ever advise somebody on these clients who have millions of dollars and I don’t. You know? Or they have all this life experience. And so, it’s interesting because I’ve heard you say that you knew that you didn’t want to be an entrepreneur, but now you’re coaching entrepreneurs. So, tell me more about that transition, and yeah, kind of how you’re approaching them.

Emily: For sure. Yeah, that’s a really … that’s a good point. So, I think for me, I love planning. I’ve always loved planning. And so, I think I wanted to stay true to what I knew and what my skills were. And while working with clients was really rewarding of course, I did feel a little bit like it wasn’t the highest and best use of my skills. And so, when I mentioned teaching, it’s very similar to consulting, right? I liked the idea of teaching. I’m actually at Kansas State’s program right now to get my master’s in advanced financial planning. So, really leveraging that knowledge to benefit all of our members that aren’t going and getting their masters due to of course running their business.

Emily: So, I think what I’m doing as I’m pairing my education, and just my thirst for knowledge in a way that can help people accomplish the things that they want to accomplish. So yeah, I think that’s how I’m applying it right now. I’m sure that’ll evolve. A lot of speaking opportunities and things like that, which I wouldn’t consider a personal strength. So, I think just continuing to grow, and say yes to opportunities that maybe you feel nervous about, or you feel like you aren’t properly prepared, that’s what’s of course going to help you grow in the end, right?

Hannah: Well, I just love seeing … and you’re young, so I can just say that, I love seeing somebody just owning what they’re good at, and being like, “You’re right. I haven’t been in that situation.” But you don’t need to be. You’re really operating in your strengths, and I think that’s a really, really cool model for people to be following.

Emily: Yeah, thank you. I appreciate it. We had a few employees and just friends in general that use the XY planning network to start their own business. And so, I was able to kind of see them grow, and see them learn, and take the entrepreneurial route, which was a way that I was able to decide not the right fit for me. Really interesting route, but not necessarily the best use of my skills like I alluded to before.

Hannah: So, as a consultant, you have such an interesting role. So, you’re focus in your day-to-day now isn’t in client meetings. How do we do that better? But you get to see a broader perspective of the profession, and kind of what’s happening.

Hannah: So, I’m curious, what are the trends, or what are the things that you’re seeing right now within the financial planning profession?

Emily: Ooh, good question. So, just from work with members so far, I’ve seen a lot of what we call solo-preneurs. So, people that went out there with maybe the purpose of building a lifestyle practice where they can maybe replace or duplicate a previous salary, live a fun, fulfilled life, spending time with family, and I’m actually seeing them shift into hiring virtual paraplanners, interns from various CFP programs, and actually starting to staff out a little bit, which wasn’t really their initial goal. So, year two, year three, year four of their business. And I think that that’s true speaking across the industry at large is really looking to those green kids right out of college, or maybe the people that can’t afford to move and don’t want to move, and allowing them to live their great life through virtual work.

Emily: So, I think that that’s true for client meetings, it’s true for the webinars I hold, it’s true for my coaching calls. Just the way that people are leveraging technology is just changing I think the face of what interactions with clients look like.

Hannah: I know one of the sessions here at FPA was talking about innovation and how it’s … We’ve talked about the growth imperative, and now they’re saying that it’s an innovation imperative that we have as financial planning firms. And one of their big points was how are we integrating technology and these virtual elements into our firms? And if we want to stay relevant as firms, as professionals, we need to start engaging with this and figuring this out.

Emily: Yeah, definitely. And I’ve seen it kind of take off as far as technology integration at my firm as well as what our members are doing. And it’s really great because I think it just comes down to the fact that when you’re able to hold a virtual meeting efficiently, transparently, you allow them to spend time with their families, you allow them to spend time doing what they love. Commuting and things like that are kind of going by the wayside. And so, it is interesting to see how people are leveraging tech, and of course the exhibit hall at conferences is such a great way to get involved kind of in that FinTech space. You can see demos and really decide if that’s right for you.

Hannah: And so, as you look at the members, obviously the members that you’re working with, and the larger landscape of financial planning, what are some of the key issues that you see that we need to figure out?

Emily: Oh, interesting. Key issues as far as what tech could solve, or just-

Hannah: Just in general. And I think a lot of it it could be career paths, it could be anything.

Emily: Yeah, I think, to be honest, I think career paths would be part of it. And I think CFP programs are definitely doing their job of encouraging students to pursue various things. What happens is when they get in a firm, most of them have applied to the same type of position, paraplanner, some sort of associate position.

Emily: And then, all of a sudden you’re kind of in this camp of 10 other people around you that are doing the same exact job, but one person might have strengths in marketing, one person might have strengths in IT, one person might have strengths in recruiting and HR. And so, I think looking beyond just the surface level of this is why we hired them and saying, well, what are they really good at, and how can we leverage that for the firm?

Emily: And a great example of that is I used to recruit with my prior firm. I loved it. I went to UGA, and Texas Tech, and Virginia Tech, and that inspired me every day. So, making sure that you’re just in touch with what you’re younger planners want, and just maybe putting the assumptions aside, and not assuming that they want to be just like you, or they want to take your path. And just kind of opening up that for conversation.

Hannah: Talking to the young planners who are listening to this who may have different passions. I remember when I started, I wasn’t even … I mean, not to be weird about this, but I didn’t even know if it was okay for me to be interested in other things. And what would be your advice to them as they’re kind of exploring, and how can a young planner advocate for themselves when maybe they want to stay in the traditional path and add in some other things, or maybe they want to explore an untraditional path.

Emily: Sure. So, I would say find a person to talk to. And I know that that’s broad, but it could be maybe a mentor within your firm, a mentor within the industry really. Conferences are great places to connect with those people. I’m a mentor for two students during this conference. So, I would say just find someone who can hear you out, because you’re right, you might not know. You might not know if it is the right path, or it isn’t the right path, and you maybe haven’t explored just varieties of interests and things like that. So, give yourself space to do that. It could be with your direct boss in an annual review. It could be with a peer who maybe pursued that, and now you’re interested in doing the same. Voice it, because once you voice it, you’re going to be more true to yourself I think at that point of trying to achieve whatever your vision I think looks like for yourself.

Hannah: Like you’re saying, once you start saying it, not that you don’t believe it, but I found out myself that once I start saying things, I start working more towards it, and I start embracing it even more than when things are hidden.

Emily: Yeah. I had a really lovely mentor who kind of said to me maybe about a year ago, “Well, you’re really good at XYZ,” which happened to be for me organizing, and teaching, and training the next generation of planners. And so, it was interesting when she was saying those things. I was like, well, how can I do that and do that well? And if I was always going to be a lead planner, I felt like that would be maybe a small subset of my job, but it wouldn’t be the primary focus.

Emily: So, just start to talk about it. Ask people, “What do you think I’m good at? What do you think is a strength of mine?” And let them tell you, and then you can kind of use that to navigate the different paths as well.

Hannah: In this consultant role, as you’re working with all of these firms, one of the things that you had said is that you are doing a lot of helping people price their services. So tell me, what factors into that as we go and price the services of financial planning?

Emily: Yeah, definitely. I never knew there were so many ways to price your services until very recently. I thought everyone kind of did that traditional one-time financial plan fee, which you usually see three to $5,000, and then of course a lot of fee only RAs doing that AUM type relationship. I thought that that was normal. That’s not necessarily the case.

Emily: A lot of people you’ll see are doing the monthly retainer fee, right? That could be anywhere between a hundred dollars to $500 a month. Lot of complexity calcs go into that to determine an accurate pricing, but things like where are they located? Are they in a big market? Are they in a small market? What’s the competition like in that area? Are there a hundred fee only planners, or are they the only one? Have they been in the financial industry for 30 years, or are they maybe new and they came from maybe a subset like sales? So, those things go into it. Designations, credentials of course. What’s your experience? Are you a wonderful tax planner? You’re a CPA? Maybe your price reflects that. So, lot of different factors that go into it, and it’s really interesting to see people pricing their services.

Emily: And I honestly say this all the time on my coaching calls, people tend to underprice just in general because we are a helping profession, right? So, I actually hear the term a lot. Well, it’s pro bono. I want to help these people, and I’m like you’re also trying to run a successful business. So, I think that a trend there is we’re slowly seeing prices starting to creep up, and actually meet kind of where fee only RAs have been for quite a few years.

Emily: So, it’s nice to see independent shops getting to a place where they’re comfortable in their pricing, and consumers are starting to hear about it, right? They’re starting to know what fee only planning is. I know the CFP board did some sort of consumer advocacy work that has really helped. So, it’ll be an interesting to kind of see maybe where we are in 10 years from now.

Hannah: So, do you see, you know, we talked a little bit about the lifestyle practice versus really building up an enterprise or a business, and I think the difference between a lifestyle practice and a business. Do you see that the pricing is different between those?

Emily: That’s a good question. So, I would say as far as, and maybe just some clarity here, so a lifestyle practice I’d already talked about. There’s kind of something called a boutique firm, which is maybe a little bit of both, right? So, you’re starting to hire out some staff, but maybe you don’t have the goal to reach 20 employees and become this true enterprise firm. A lot of fee only RAs are enterprise type firms. So, that’s kind of the scale I would say. Most of XY’s members, and just most of the people I talk to in general fall more in that lifestyle or boutique firm. I don’t know the percentage, but very few are trying to grow into that great big enterprise scale.

Emily: So, I don’t know if I can answer the question just by nature of not talking to that many people within that enterprise firm space. But I would say if anything, it just comes down to confidence at the end of the day. How confident are they in their value prop? How confident are they that they can deliver something amazing to the client? And that’s kind of where it stems from. Not so much firm size, but really just looking at that firm owner and seeing where they land on that scale.

Hannah: So, the pricing is just so interesting. Do you see … I know that you see kind of the traditional AUM, the retainer, the monthly retainer, one time planning fees. Are you seeing anything else emerging kind of on the cutting edge in the pricing space?

Emily: That’s a good question. I would still argue that that retainer fee is on the cutting edge to be honest with you. I wouldn’t say anything else really comes to mind off the top of my head. But with that retainer fee, you’re seeing a whole different subset of the population being served by financial planners which is really lovely. So, I think that’s kind of what I meant by my comment let’s see where we are in 10 years because I think that that’s definitely a trend that will continue.

Emily: I know Alan references I think it’s Blue Ocean Strategy as a book, and there’s this big wide blue ocean which is where a lot of our members are serving, and a lot of financial planners are serving. And then, there’s this red ocean that kind of the ultra high net worth or high net worth really heavily fished, really heavily served. But just look right beyond that, see the big blue ocean, that’s where our members are really focusing which we I think term mass affluent. You’ve heard things like that before.

Hannah: The Henrys.

Emily: The Henrys, the higher earner not yet rich, or not rich yet. Either way. And really starting to serve young professionals honestly like us, and what that looks like has been really interesting.

Hannah: So, the other part of your job, you have the pricing, you’re talking about the processes and delivery of financial planning. Where are you seeing people get it right on that?

Emily: I’m seeing people get comprehensive financial planning right. A lot of them are CFPs. People know. In today’s world, I think financial advisors know the difference between maybe an AUM relationship where you’re focusing on investment management or investment advice, and actually what comprehensive financial planning looks, which of course includes insurance, and estate, and actually looking at things across the board.

Emily: So, I think that people are getting that right. They know what they need to deliver to their client. They might struggle with how to price it or how to actually deliver it, but they know what that expectation is.

Hannah: As a consultant, and your role as you see such a broad perspective of different practices and how people are running their business. From an operational and a back office financial planning perspective, what is one thing that you see that firms or people started doing that would kind of take them to that next level? What’s that big piece?

Emily: Yeah. So, I know there’s some research on when you hit about 70, 75 clients, you’re considered to be at capacity. Research has shown that again and again. Some people trail up to a hundred, but usually kind of in that range.

Emily: What I see people get right is when they hit 30 clients, they actually hire help. And that help could be a virtual paraplanner, that help could be an intern, that help could be admin or back office. That initial round of help gets them to 75. So, I’m seeing people do that right. Know when to hire. Know what the pain points are. And I always say, right? Elevate and delegate whatever you don’t like doing. And maybe you truly hate paperwork, or you don’t like maybe doing meeting follow up. Hire someone that can help you. Spend your time getting new business. Spend your time on marketing efforts. You will be a happier business owner by delegating that type of work out.

Hannah: One of the big issues that I’ve seen is how do you train new people? So, how do you train that first hire? Both from if you’re the one hiring it, but also if you’re the person walking in in that situation of what’s a reasonable expectation to have if you’ve just been employed by a firm?

Emily: Yeah. That’s a great question. So, every company does this a little bit differently. I know that some have these really robust onboarding processes for their staff. They could last weeks, they could last months. They have training modules, and they’ve really thought it out. Other people say, “Congratulations Hannah. You’re going to shadow me for a month, and we’re going to see where this goes.”

Emily: And so, I would say maybe a little bit in the middle. Being able to adapt to what that new hire needs help with, because not every new hire that comes to you will have the exact same training needs. So, I would say developing a program that keeps in mind where are you getting most of your staff? Are you getting them from CFP programs? And they’re very green, and maybe you need a more robust program. Or are you getting them after they’ve been in the industry for 10 or 20 years, and they’re looking for a little bit of a change?

Emily: And so, I think I’ve seen firms do this really well more often than not because they have a vested interest in that employee succeeding and doing well, right? So, I think that answers your question, but I’m happy to chat about it a little more.

Hannah: No. Well, I think it’s just I was having a conversation last night. Again, this annual conference, they have so many of these great conversations all at the same place. I was talking with some firm owners who have a larger firm, and they’re bringing in these brilliant young planners, and their concern is how do we keep them? How do we maintain them? How do we keep this great talent? How do we make sure they’re not getting bored with their work and training them well? So, it’s a very …

Emily: It’s a great comment. I wouldn’t say question, comment. And the reason being is I would say in general, attracting top talent is not the problem in the industry. It’s retention. And so, the fact that firmer owners are feeling that is totally normal and sounds about right from what I’m hearing as well. I can speak to it a little bit from the standpoint that I think it comes back to what we talked about in the first part of this podcast, which is talk to them. What do they like doing? What will keep them there? If they want to be out doing business development, having them preparing taxes is not going to be their highest and best use, and you will lose them.

Emily: And so, I think realizing, yes, it’s so great to have a career track. It provides a lot of clarity and structure to what employees need. However, someone in your firm needs to be asking those questions. It could be HR. It could be their direct manager. When someone takes an interest beyond that of just the outline career path, I think you’ll see higher retention rates.

Hannah: Well, and it’s interesting, too, to acknowledge that perhaps not everybody’s meant to be at the firms, and it’s not right fit. I hear your story, and you worked at a great firm, and there … I don’t want to speak for you, but I can say for myself that I probably wouldn’t have been able … a firm wouldn’t have been able to retain me because that’s not where I wanted to be.

Hannah: So, I think there’s these dual things that firms needed to do more to help retain. But then, we also need to help new planners figure out what it is, and where they want to be in there.

Emily: Yeah. That’s such a good point, yeah. It’s funny, yeah, a firm wouldn’t have been able to retain you, and that’s such a good point. I think giving people a safe space to voice that. So, like I said, whomever it is on the team, be it HR, where they can say, “You know what? This wasn’t a good fit for me because I want to go start my own business and do this.” They need to feel like they can say that without maybe hurting the feelings of those around them, right? So, I think that providing that space is huge. But yeah.

Hannah: What do you see as next for Emily Perdon?

Emily: Yeah. Oh, that’s such a cool question. So, I think just being part of evolving my role. So like I said, we have a lot of coaches on staff, but our team changes all the time as far as we’re growing, we’re recruiting, we’re at conferences, things like that. I would love to just change what my role looks like in the future. I love it now. I think it’s great. I’m helping a lot of members.

Emily: Once I’ve done that reach and I’ve actually communicated to all of our thousand members, then what? What’s next? It could be making sure that we’re using the right technology. That definitely falls into my role. I think I am constantly challenged in my new role, and that’s honestly all I wanted, right? I wanted that growth, that opportunity. Like I said, finding those experiences that might make you nervous and uncomfortable and just jumping in and saying yes, right?

Emily: I’ll give you a really good example. I don’t think Michael will listen to this podcast, so I’m going to go-

Hannah: So you can be real honest now.

Emily: I’m going to be brutally honest. So, Michael comes to the firm maybe monthly, every so often. Actually comes with his whole family sometimes which is really lovely. And my first week on the job he was in town, and he took me out to breakfast just kind of as a we knew each other from our work at FPA back in the DC area. My parents live five minutes from him. It’s like just I feel like he’s been around in my world for a while. And so, he took me out to breakfast, and I kind of chatted about what he wanted to see financial planning look like in 10 years. What kind of impact are we trying to make here? And he was of course very thorough, very honest, very wonderful.

Emily: But if you told me honestly two years ago I was sitting across the table from Michael, and having those really just in depth conversations, those industry changing conversations, I would’ve laughed. I would’ve said, “Oh no. He’s on stage in front of a 1,000 people all the time.”

Emily: And just realizing people like Michael, there’s a lot of examples out there. They are accessible. They are not just the keynote speaker. They will help. They are there to help shape the industry, but also help give you advice. So, if you feel like there’s someone out there that you really respect in the industry, go up and say hi. If they’re doing something you want to be a part of, or an initiative that you want to be a part of, go tell them. The worst case is they say no thank you, and they’ll come up with some polite way to say that of course, but be open to having those conversations.

Hannah: Yeah. And I’ll add onto that is that so many of those people are so excited about bringing in young talent, and finding young talent, and helping encouraging them, and helping them, giving them a platform, or giving them what they need in order to be successful. I always say this to next gen planner is I’m like, “You guys have … there’s so many advocates out there for you. You just have to … they’re not going to know about you unless you speak up, and raise your hand, and know what you’re passionate about, and ask the questions.”

Emily: It’s a really small industry. It’s big but it’s small. An example of that is I’m taking a master’s class right now taught by Dr. Meghaan Lurtz who’s at Kansas State, but also works for Michael Kitces on his blog and does a lot of researching. She was in my office two weeks ago visiting with the team. A KSU professor that knows Michael, works with Michael, but then also has a connection to XY. People know people, right? So, maybe you can’t get immediately to the person that you want to reach, but you can ask around. Say, “Hannah, do you know this person? I would love to meet them. Can you please introduce me?” It goes a long way.

Hannah: Yeah. And then, when you meet them, do what they say, and then reach back out to them, you know? It’s a continue … Yeah, building the relationships.

Emily: Professors are honestly a great way to do that. If you have an interest in publishing, journal financial planning, I coauthored with one of my professors, Dr. Asebedo. Maybe you’re not a PhD, maybe you’re not a writer and a researcher, but you can reach out to people for speaking opportunities, podcast opportunities, blogs, the whole spectrum, and just getting your name out there early. It matters.

Hannah: Yeah. Well, and it’s we’re shortening the time that it takes to be an exceptional planner. To be a voice. And it’s we have so much work to do as a profession. We need everybody to be chipping in and doing their part, and doing what they could do to help make this this profession great.

Emily: Yeah. And I will just add onto that maybe within your business you don’t find a perfect fit for your skills immediately. Be involved in NextGen, be involved in FPA, some of those professional organizations where you … If you’re a great speaker, go out and speak, right? So, there are ways outside of your day-to-day job to find those opportunities.

Hannah: So, what made you decide to get your master’s?

Emily: Yeah, coming from an undergrad CFP program, it’s not that I would say common to then go and get an advanced degree in any capacity. It came back to that love of teaching and saying, “Well, eventually if I wanted to be a professor, I need to set myself up for success,” which usually means an advanced degree of some sort.

Emily: Kansas State stood out just from the nature of it’s virtual, it allowed me to of course continue working full-time, not relocating, and then the connections from that have been incredible. So, I would say it’s a little bit from the networking perspective, and then the other half was just love of learning. I did the CFP, and I did the EA.

Emily: I actually attended this really cool program at UPenn. Wharton had a client psychology program, which I’m not sure if you’ve heard about, but a few industry movers and shakers spoke there. Dr. Klontz whom I actually just talked to a few minutes ago. That was a great program. And so, you’re seeing these large institutions that are really well known and respected pair up with the CFP board, and start to produce content that’s new, and exciting, and fun. And so, I think just continuing to look for those opportunities is something I’ll of course just keep doing.

Hannah: Just naturally do. That’s just how you’re wired.

Emily: Just naturally, yeah. It was 21 CE credits in three days. Sign me up, right?

Hannah: You could just take the next two years off. No.

Emily: Right. Yeah. So anyways, I think it was just … It felt like the right progression for me. I don’t see myself getting any more credentials necessarily. There is an interest maybe in the registered life planner through the Kinder Institute. So, maybe more to come in part three of our lovely conversation. But yeah, just being a part of conferences is just such a huge value to me. Lifetime of learning, same thing, right?

Hannah: So Emily, as we wrap up, what would be the advice to you as when you were in college? Looking back in time.

Emily: Yeah. So advice to me, probably you don’t have to have it all figured out right away. Like you said, I was at a great firm. It was wonderful, the people were wonderful, the opportunities were wonderful, but for some reason it wasn’t the right fit for me. Now, of course I recruit heavily there as well. I push people there and talk very highly of it because my experience was so wonderful. But I would say you don’t have to have it figured out, and just be honest with yourself. What isn’t working and why? Don’t make excuses, right? At the end of the day, you know in your heart what’s happening, and kind of what you’re most excited about when you wake up every day. Just listen to that, right? Listen to that voice and see where it takes you.

Hannah: The keynote we just listened to, so today we heard from an Alan Page. One of the questions that was posed to him is that we don’t … In our industry, there’s a lot of distrust or mistrust, and it gives us a bad name. And so, one of the questions was how do we regain trust? And it was exactly to what you just said. He just kind of sat there, and he was just like, “Well, be honest.” And I just love that. So, be honest with yourself, be honest with your firm, and yeah.

Emily: Yeah, definitely. I love that comment. I think I read somewhere financial advising was one of the least trusted professions. I think Congress proceeded us, and then we were like right there. So anyways, I think you’re right. Just being honest, being transparent with your clients, with your employees, with your executives of your firm. Just across the board, right? And just continue to push this industry forward.