Camille started on a traditional career path within the financial planning world. She passed her CFP(R) Exam, joined the Yeske Buie Residency program, but knew she was looking for something different. She wanted to help other Millennials with their finances and realized that in the traditional firm she wouldn’t be able to do that for the majority of her job. Then, she stumbled upon a job description for a financial wellness coach with The ABD Team. She knew quickly, this was the job she’d been looking for.
So many planners in the profession feel a little bit stuck either providing financial planning, or providing 401(k) services, or focusing exclusively on investment management. Camille is thrilled to be part of a new movement of financial coaches who are able to help empower employees through financial education, encouragement, and guidance. She’s now working to help launch a new offering that expands the financial coaching program to continue to meet the needs of their participants.
Camille’s story is perfect for anyone who has ever felt that the traditional career of an advisor doesn’t quite meet the type of client relationships they want to have, or the kind of financial guidance they want to be giving. If you’ve ever wondered about what it’s like to be a financial coach, or to focus on financial wellness – tune in now!
[tweet_box design=”box_10″ url=”https://buff.ly/2DuXBXT” float=”none” excerpt=”If we can start empowering young people to stop thinking of this as a taboo – to come with their questions, and get comfortable…I think we can create some great relationships and encourage people to get help. -Camille Bouvet, CFP® on #YAFPNW e137″]If we can start empowering young people to stop thinking of this as a taboo – to come with their questions, and get comfortable…I think we can create some great relationships and encourage people to get help. -Camille Bouvet, CFP® on #YAFPNW[/tweet_box]
Hannah: Well, thanks for joining us today, Camille.
Camille: Thank you for having me, Hannah. I’m really excited to be here.
Hannah: Your title is a financial wellness specialist. Can you tell me what is financial wellness, and what is a financial wellness specialist specifically?
Camille: Let’s start with financial wellness because I think that, that will inform the title of financial wellness specialist. I think financial wellness has become a buzzword over the past several years, and we’ve had a lot of talks among our team about how are we defining financial wellness. I think really how I define it in my terms would be financial wellness is a state of having a healthy relationship with money. A financial well person tends to be someone who spends within their means as adequate protection for the unexpected and is consistently saving for their future while minimizing debt. I know that’s a mouthful right there, but really it’s gonna look and feel different for everyone, but I think it hinges on that idea of having a healthy relationship with your money.
Hannah: In your role, how does that differ between clients?
Camille: Everyone is gonna define their financial wellness or everyone’s financial wellness is gonna look different. For example, some people don’t mind having different loans out, or they have a better relationship with debt than another person would. Some people are really comfortable with a one month emergency fund, and some people need that six-month buffer there in case anything happens.
Camille: On our team, we try not to prescribe what financial wellness is going to look like, but we just wanna describe what a feeling should be. Money shouldn’t drive you up a wall. Your relationship with money should be healthy and that you feel confident about your decisions for the future, and you can plan for them. Does that give you an idea?
Hannah: Yeah, absolutely.
Camille: With that mind, that kind of definition or description of financial wellness, I think my role is really a lot of fun because my intention is to help people get to that point when they feel financially well. The reason why financial wellness is evolving in the workplace, just to give you some background, there’s been a lot of research done recently about why is this financial wellness thing creeping up in the workplace? Why are employers responsible? I think employees are starting to expect more and more of this kind of benefit from their employer and employers know that, so they’re willing to explore.
Camille: I mean, let’s talk about why does financial wellness start in the workplace? I know there’s one study that came out recently that revealed 80% of people are looking to their employer for this kind of support and 58% of employees are more likely to stay with their employer if they had access to more financial help. The case has been made for sure. On top of that, there’s a lot of research that has been done on how when there’s a lack of financial wellness in an employee population, it can really affect that organization’s workforce.
Camille: We know that financial stress increases absenteeism at work. People who are financially stress are distracted, they’re dealing with money problem while they’re at work. There really is a lot at stake for employers here, and if they can increase financial wellness among their employees, it’s gonna make for a happier population. It’s gonna increase retention, it’s gonna help with recruiting. Ultimately, it’s gonna increase the employer’s bottom line. That’s where we stand and where we feel confident and that providing financial wellness services for our clients and prospects is really a value add.
Hannah: You don’t work for a traditional financial planning firm. Tell me more about the company that you work for?
Camille: Yeah. It’s pretty interesting. The company I work for right now is called ABD and we are a financial and insurance consulting firm. My team specifically are about 15 people deep. We’re the retirement services practice group. We help companies and organizations design and manage their 401(k) plans. We’re fiduciaries investment professionals in that sense. One of the components of being a team that’s a 401(k) adviser consultant is that we provide education and financial wellness services in conjunction with that. They really needed someone on the team who could focus solely on the education and financial wellness aspect and that’s where my role came in.
Hannah: It’s so fascinating. There’s a whole team that’s here. It’s the 401(k) like the investment side of it, but then you’re the wellness side of it as well.
Camille: Yeah. There’s a lot of crossover. I’ve learned so much about 401(k) plans since I’ve been here. Stuff that has to do with the IRS and ERISA which has been fascinating. One of the main things I do in my role is I do 401(k) presentations for our clients so that would look like I’d go onsite to these companies and one of the great things about being in the Bay Area is that we get to work with some really cool innovative companies. It’s funny. I was looking through my phone, cleaning out my apps and I think I counted 10 of the apps on my phone are also our clients.
Camille: That just goes to show that we’re really focused on this hub in the Bay Area, this awesome tech company even. To be able to work with their employees has just been a fascinating experience. We’ll go onsite to Spotify or Twitter or Airbnb, and they’ll set up a room for employees, and we’ll do a presentation on their 401(k) plan. We’ll talk to them about how can you go about creating the ideal portfolio depending on your situation.
Camille: Of course, we cover pre-tax versus Roth and all the nitty-gritty things of the 401(k) plan. That’s the basic 401(k) presentation model, but what we’re starting to see is that there’s this demand for more than just a 401(k) plan. Employers are asking about, “What else can we come onsite and present about?” That’s where we started to create a whole library of presentations and workshops on different financial wellness topics. For example, saving for college is a big, repaying student loans. If the company has a stock option plan, we’ll do a presentation on that. Anything you can think of in the financial planning, financial wellness realm, we can talk about it.
Camille: That’s been a really fun experience, and we’re just starting to see that expand even more. That’s one piece is doing the 401(k) presentations. Then also when I’m in their office, I’m creating a lot of content and then delivering that content. Then my favorite parts of what I do is we engage in one-on-one consultations or one-on-one financial coaching. The way it might look is our client will say, “Hey, we really want you to come onsite and meet with our employees individually, answer their questions, help them think about goals, follow-up with them.” We’ll say, “Great. We’ll go on there.” I will meet back-to-back with employees for as many hours as I can that day.
Camille: Those are truly the most impactful sessions, I think because I’m sitting there with them. They’re being totally vulnerable about their situation. This is sometimes the first time they’ve talked to anyone about their finances. A lot of them are young earlier career, and they really just need to get a grip on are they doing okay? Should they be doing anything different? Those are some really great conversations that we have. That’s my favorite part. That’s where I truly feel I’m flexing the CFP muscles if you will.
Camille: In hindsight, maybe at an IRA with an AUM model, maybe I was helping five to 10 millennials per year, and we were doing great work for them as well, but now I feel like I am just touching so many more lives and to be in this industry and one of the deep desires I’ve always had when I started on this CFP journey, how can I help people who can’t afford this traditional business model, who can’t meet these minimums? How can we deliver this to the masses? I feel like to the extent that I can, I’m doing that. I’m helping people who don’t have access to a financial planner. That has been deeply satisfying.
Hannah: A lot of the population in America has 401(k) plans through their work, and that’s one way that we can reach them with financial planning.
Hannah: When you’re meeting with … Do you call them clients or what do you refer to them as?
Camille: Clients in my job don’t mean individuals and household, they mean companies and organizations, so employees of our clients. We typically refer to them as participants because they’re participants in the 401(k) plan.
Hannah: When you’re meeting participants and doing the one-on-one coaching, what are the topics? Are you doing budgeting things? What are the questions or what are they coming prepared with to talk to you about?
Camille: Really, I’ve heard it all. I think that’s because I’ve met with people who are fresh out of college and they have their question and then I meet with people who are like I am getting ready to retire in the next year. What should I be doing? Do I have enough? Those are definitely harder questions to answer. Everything in between, I’ve heard. Kids, divorces, inheritance, all of it, but I would say the main question that we get am I saving enough in my 401(k)? Am I doing the right thing? Do these investments make sense for my time horizon?
Camille: Also, I work somewhere else before and I’ve got a plan now, what should I do with it? Should I roll it over? Should I leave it there? Should I do an IRA? Those questions we get quite a bit. In my head I’ve got my stock answers, so just doing more reps of those has helped me be able to think on my feet and be like, “Okay. I’ve got the answer for this.” Then a lot of the skills that we work on as financial planners, those soft skills like active listening and not being nonjudgmental and reflecting what they say, we’re still doing a lot of that. That’s where I feel like my skills from working at an IRA and being in those situations are still applicable in this role.
Hannah: When you get these questions, “am I saving enough for retirement”, are you just looking at it right there? Are you going back and putting into a software and bringing them back projections? What does that look like for you? How do you answer that question for them?
Camille: As of now, I’ve been here for almost a little over a year. We’ve sent out a pre-questionnaire for anyone who signs up and have access to this questionnaire, and we encourage them to fill it out. That’s just to give me some basic information on them. It’s all confidential and just it allows us to not spend because our time is limited. It allows us to spend the bulk of our time answering questions, given that I already have a sense of, okay, how much credit card do they have? Do they have student loans? Do they own a house? What does their budget look like?
Camille: The more that the participant can give me in terms of information, the more use that will get out of the meeting. I encourage them to fill that out. One thing that we are … We’re going to be expanding this quite a bit over the next year. I’ve created a business plan that outlines a more structured coaching process and this is going to have more structured process for going about these meetings. One of the things that we are going to implement is a follow-up deliverable or multiple follow-up deliverables and that will be using a financial planning software or something like that in order to collaborate with the people that I’m coaching.
Camille: It’s not just going to be come on in, let’s talk about it and let’s follow up over the phone. Those components will still be there but we are going to start giving people these handy deliverables whether that’s here’s a net worth statement. Here’s the goals that you listed and these are the action items that you wanna take in order to get there or we’re still brainstorming what would be the best deliverables. What do people want? What would be the most time effective? There’s a lot of thinking going into this right now, but I think that it’s just gonna propel this coaching service even further.
Hannah: Right now, do the participants pay for this or does the employer, the client the one who’s paying for you to be there and to provide the service for their employees?
Camille: Right now we offer it as an employer paid service and that will be for when I go onsite to a client and I meet with a number of people. The employer is paying for that and one of the new elements of our financial coaching 2.0 is going to be … What I found is that when I meet with people sometimes they say, “Are you gonna come back onsite or can I reach out to you in two weeks when I’ve got this done? I wanna update you?” We weren’t really set up that way so now we’re gonna be offering follow-up coaching sessions so biweekly or monthly and that will be employee paid. If they wanna continue on and have more frequent meetings they will be paying for that, and we think it’s pretty cost effective. It’s not anything that I think would be prohibitive for people to do.
Hannah: Can you share those price points with us or is that still to be determined?
Camille: It’s still behind the scenes right now. I don’t wanna throw out numbers until it’s gone through approval, but it’s similar in the sense that it will be a subscription like you pay if you’re a monthly member. You’ll be a monthly subscriber and as soon as you wanna quit, or end the coaching relationship there’s no strings attached. You just end. We’re still working on that stuff, but really excited to move forward with it.
Hannah: When you go onsite I’m just assuming eight hours onsite with an employer, how many participants are you talking to?
Camille: I generally want a minimum of 20 minutes which each employee so that’s three people an hour. If I’m there for eight hours then I’m meeting with 24 people. There’s probably usually a break in there for lunch. Anywhere from 15 to 24 people, I’ll meet with in a day.
Hannah: One of the interesting things that’s coming to mind is this idea of what is financial planning. I mean, I know in my firm, I had this huge long drawn out process that I take clients through, but would you say you’re doing financial planning in the 20 minutes that you’re sitting across the table from them?
Camille: I can’t say that I’m doing financial planning just because of the scope of the engagement that we’re doing. We are doing a lot of the stuff in the sense that we’re defining this engagement that we have. We are gathering information. We’re meeting. We’re discovering. We’re analyzing the information, but just because I was on the … When I worked at an IRA and I knew what really financial planning was, it’s a life-long relationship. It is very, very, very specific to what the standards are.
Camille: I think coaching is a little different. I don’t engage these people on an AUM model. There’s nothing like that. It is embedded in the services that their employer is paying for so I wish I had a better answer to that but just because I wanna … I’m going to err on the side of caution for compliance reasons and say that we’re not doing financial planning, but financial coaching I think is a different … It’s a body of its own that’s still being explored and regulated, but I think that for a lot of people who don’t have access to financial planning, because it’s cost prohibitive or whatever the reason is.
Camille: This may be very well feel like financial planning for them and that’s great. If I can provide that at a fraction of the cost and then can walk away feeling as good as they do after walking away from a traditional financial planner then that’s a win in my book.
Hannah: One of mentors told me a long time ago that not everybody is ready for a financial planning.
Hannah: All these things that you’re talking about with working for these participants and it’s like you’re really meeting them right where they’re at where they might not be ready to meet a financial planner, but you’re getting them one step closer to that?
Camille: Right. I will say this. I’ve met with a lot of people who are close to retirement and they want … I don’t have their information or anything yet. They walk in. They say, “Tell me if I can retire in the next two years?” I will say, “I appreciate you coming to me and meeting and talking about this, however, I don’t have enough information and we’re not set up for me to be able to give you that answer. I really want, but what I would recommend is that you go on to the CFP website, search in your zip code and pull up a list of certified financial planners that are fee-only, and engage with them.”
Camille: They’ve always said, “I’m interested in working with a financial planner.” I say, “This is the perfect time in your life to do that. You are getting ready for retirement. We wanna make sure you have the retirement that you desire so go and interview financial planners and find a good fit.” Sometimes I’ll follow up with referrals if they want that, but I do encourage them … I draw the line. I say, “I’m not set up to do that kind of planning with you, but there are some really amazing people out there, and different business models that might cater to you, so please go and explore that.” I’ve had people report back and say, “Yeah, I found a fit. Thank you for guiding me that way,” even though I wasn’t able to be the one to give them that answer.
Hannah: Now, you have your CFP?
Camille: I do.
Hannah: You’ve had a traditional career path for a financial planner before you went into the financial wellness, so can you tell us more of your background? How did you get here?
Camille: Yeah. I’d love to share. My background, I currently live in San Francisco. I’m originally from the East Coast. I would say my journey becoming a CFP started at Virginia Tech. I was fortunate enough to enroll in their CFP certification education track which I fell in love with as soon as I saw the curriculum. I just knew it was a good fit. I graduated from Virginia Tech in 2015, and I went to join, I think it was the second class of financial planning residents at Yeske Buie in San Francisco for that summer.
Camille: It was a big leap of faith because I had never been to San Francisco. I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t really know what my long-term career path would look like, but what I knew was that I was joining an amazing reputable firm with extraordinary people. For listeners who aren’t familiar with the residency program, it’s actually a temporary position so when I came on, it was understood on both sides of the table that this would be two to three-year commitment.
Camille: I think a lot of people would run the other way with a temporary assignment, but especially moving 3,000 miles away. I really saw this as a wonderful opportunity because it allowed me to be a sponge. It allowed me to learn from and work with fantastic people. I was able to earn the CFP designation. I was able to test out whether I even like San Francisco.
Camille: I think I started to take notice that there was this emergence of young planners that are doing wonderful work either at an established firm or who have started their own firm like you Hannah. For a long time I thought I would take either of these paths. That’s just what it looked like was gonna happen but what I stumbled upon is different but I found to be very fulfilling. If I trace back to how I got here, I think the seed was planted during my first year at Yeske Buie.
Camille: I remember getting in this discussion with my colleagues about how to quench this desire we have to help millennials or, quote-unquote, “serve the masses” or just figuring out the business model that would help people that we wanna help. We were talking about being surrounded by all these millennials working at these giant tech companies, becoming overnight millionaires and we’re just, “How can we serve them?” Anyways, along those lines, I remember saying something like, “Gee, I wish there was a position where I could be like an in-house financial planner for one of these giant tech companies.”
Camille: By the way, Google actually does have at least one in-house financial planner. They’re ahead of the curve, no surprise there. Anyway, I just was like there’s got to be a role like that. Maybe a consultant who works with them. I don’t know what it look like, but I feel like there should be something like that. Anyway, in hindsight, I think what I’m doing is to an extent that consulting role for these companies. Knowing that, it’s been very fulfilling.
Camille: Anyway, fast forward two-ish years with my residency at Yeske Buie coming to an end, and I might be going against the grain when I say this, I didn’t feel energized by the idea of joining another IRA firm as an associate and I knew that I needed more experience before even thinking of starting my own firm. Here I was unsure of what to do and I started to think outside the box. I had to ask myself how could I still be a CFP, but work with my generation? I knew what I didn’t want, but I didn’t really know what the answer to that question was. I didn’t know what it would look like.
Camille: I looked around, I looked around and I finally stumbled upon this job description of a financial wellness specialist. I was intrigued. This firm was looking for someone with a strong CFP background who could lead financial wellness and financial coaching for their clients, and by clients it’s companies and organizations, not individual and households. That’s how I got here, and I remember when I interviewed, I had that feeling in your gut that this was right.
Camille: That’s exactly how I felt when I walked out. I was like this is what I have been searching for all along. Unfortunately, it worked out so I got to come here. What I get to do now is I deliver onsite education for employees on a variety of financial topics, I do the one-on-one coaching and that’s what I really feel like I’m making the biggest impact. I just feel very grateful to have landed in this position but let me tell you, it was scary for a while. It was scary to be young and in a big city far from home and not know what I really wanted, feeling that stuck, feeling not really knowing how to climb out of that hole, but with a lot of patience and a lot of just faith I think, I was able to ultimately land here and just feeling very satisfied and fulfilled through it all.
Hannah: I love that you were walking into, and embracing that uncertainty within your career path of knowing that you don’t have to have your whole career. You didn’t put that pressure on yourself that your first job had to be your permanent job or that you had to fall into the exact right situation, and I think that’s … I know for myself I’m really good at putting pressure on myself for finding jobs. I think that’s a really neat way of approaching your career and figuring out what’s next.
Camille: Yeah, and it is scary but for anyone who’s feeling that way, I would just say hang on, be patient. The dream job might not be right in front of you right now but just keep your eyes open, tap into anything that at a minimum is exciting you. Just explore it further if you stumble upon someone in a networking event or even in LinkedIn that has a job that seems like, “Oh my god. I want that job. Talk to them, reach out.” The worse they can say is they might not respond or they might say no, but at least you’re putting one foot forward, so just be flexible, hang in there and be patient.
Hannah: Do you see other CFPs in your roles, in other places around in that role?
Camille: Yeah. There’s actually two other CFPs on a retirement services team which is really cool. This is my view how financial wellness roles with CFP have evolved. We talked about the 401(k) and how that is so prevalent right now. I mean, there’s $5 trillion that are in 401(k) right now. I think these roles started when … The 401(k) is about 40 years old. It was introduced in 1980, and really no one expected it to blow up this big because it was section 401, letter K of internal revenue code. It wasn’t meant to be this replacement of defined benefit plans, but that’s what happened. Companies like Fidelity and Schwab, Vanguard, they all blew up because of this sudden wealth of 401(k) plans.
Camille: With that came the need to have educators. Fidelity has a fleet of education people who will go out to all the plans that are with Fidelity. If a client says our employees really want to learn about this 401(k), can you send someone onsite? They will often times do that. These people will travel all around the country. There are a lot of regionally based territories as well. What I see is that several years ago there weren’t many … They didn’t have to have a CFP designation or it wasn’t big, but what I’m seeing now is that the Fidelity’s, and Schwab’s, and Vanguard’s, their presentations are not just 401(k) anymore.
Camille: They’re expanding into financial wellness. They are presenting on just a variety of financial topics so a lot of the job descriptions are asking for CFP designation on top of just the FINRA licensing. That’s one area of growth that I’ve seen which is really exciting because Fidelity and Schwab, those companies aren’t going anywhere. If anything, they’re just expanding their fleet of CFP education professionals. I just encourage people who are interested in that, keep your eyes open. They’re huge and they have a lot of positions.
Camille: Also, I think in the nonprofit world, interestingly enough, there are … For example, the YMCA has their own internal retirement plan specialists and these people travel all over the country and they present and work with YMCA branches because they have unique retirement plans. They have two different retirement plans so that’s really interesting and some of their people I think have CFPs or they have a similar designation, but other nonprofit organizations like the Colorado university system has their own fleet of education people that go to the different universities and talk to the employees about their retirement plans which is really interesting to see that growth there.
Camille: You have insurance companies so Prudential and MassMutual are now rolling out huge financial wellness programs. Most of the time they do it at no cost for their clients. They’re doing all the education, all the curriculum, all the presentations and they bring people onsite to companies and they drive them through workshops. That’s been another area of growth.
Camille: I’m also seeing some larger IRAs and both management firms starting to offer financial wellness as a side offering. If there’s an IRA that is managing a 401(k) plan for a company, they’ll also say, “Hey, we can do financial wellness and financial coaching for you as well.” Those larger IRAs are hiring people, some of the titles like financial coach and they’ll have a CFP. Those people work directly with the employees of those client companies. It’s really cool to see that. I could go on about this, but I’m not gonna harp on it. I’m just gonna share one last really interesting thing I’m seeing.
Camille: There is a new community space, it’s called Next Door. It’s sponsored by State Farm. I know that doesn’t great. It’s sponsored by insurance, but they’ve opened one location in Chicago and the way that they’re branding this is that it’s a community space where anyone could ask questions about finances and insurance and get some answers. It’s a spot to hangout, take classes, talk with financial coaches and fuel up on great local coffee.
Camille: On this website, they have coaching, they have classes where they invite local speakers to come in and do these free classes in those community. It’s like I’ve never seen something like that before. Of course, it’s backed by State Farm so we’ll see how that transpires, but I just thought it was so cool that they’re really aiming to take out the taboo of talking about your finances like, “Come on in, relax. Get comfortable. Let’s talk. Let’s figure out what your goals are.” They say you can walk out of this place with a plan. I mean, how cool is that and it’s all free.
Camille: A similar model to that, that I’ve seen is there’s something called the Financial Gym. I think it’s in New York. People can become members like becoming a member of a gym and you walk in, and you can work with, I think they call the trainers, and they’re financial coaches. They will train you into better financial habits and better financial health. I just thought that was so cool.
Camille: We’re starting to see, I think this growth, but in many different avenues. It’s not like this one business model is booming and that’s the way to go. They’re hitting these different avenues but I would just encourage anyone who’s interested in a career in financial wellness or retirement education put those search words in whatever job search engine you use or use LinkedIn and find people with financial wellness titles. Look at what their career path was.
Camille: It’s a wild, wild west right now because we don’t have a governing board such as the CFP board or the SPA is really great for the financial planning world. It unifies the profession. There’s a bunch of next gen chapters that are doing great work and getting people together. I hope to see that one day too with the financial wellness sector. It might be several years, but hopefully we get to that point.
Hannah: I know there’s so many financial advisers out there who are really just focused on investment, but here you talk. I’m just like people want more than just investment advice. They want the planning. New businesses are popping up. I hear that and I’m like I hope everybody listening really pushes into that planning side, and knowing that it could be very well-received.
Camille: We go into this conversation all the time about robo-advisors. I think robo-advisors serve a purpose, but it’s very limited. They can help someone figure out what funds they should invest in their 401(k) based on their age and their time to retirement and all these factors, but when a spouse dies or you have kids or you inherit something. That’s when you wanna pick up the phone or walk into someone’s office and talk. I think there’s always gonna be this need for people to work with, other people who need help. I’m just so fascinated to see that there are these different business models coming out.
Camille: There are these financial wellness programs that are free through the employer. Maybe you’re not working with a financial planner one-on-one on your own, but you’re getting that education at work. That is just so special so I’m just hoping to see other firms really buying into this stuff.
Hannah: I think even for financial planning firms, I mean, there’s quite a few who do provide 401(k) services and it’s look to expand what you’re doing in that space.
Camille: Exactly. Now, that there’s this appetite for more than just 401(k) services, I think it might start becoming the standard for the Prudential’s of the world, for the Fidelity’s, for the Schwab’s, for us. Everyone is gonna have to start ringing that financial wellness to the table and I think it’s a great thing because when I was in high school or middle school, we didn’t get any kind of financial literacy. You really had to go outside the school to get that. You had to either get on the internet and figure out how do I file my taxes or you had to ask your parents.
Camille: Sometimes they’re not great source for that, and it was super taboo. I think it’s gotten better in the school systems now, but it’s still not enough. If we can start empowering young people to stop thinking about this as a taboo and just come with your questions, get comfortable and for planners and coaches and anyone in that kind of position to just remember to be nonjudgmental, and just listen, listen, listen, I think we can create some great relationships and get people to help in the satisfaction that they want.
Hannah: In your year of experience, and I love that you’ve been meeting so many different people, what have you learn this past year that you didn’t before about working with people one-on-one?
Camille: People really are afraid to come off like they don’t know what they’re doing, or they don’t understand the investments that are in the fund. They’re not putting enough away in their 401(k) or they have kids and they haven’t started a 529 plan. They’re really closed off about that and I think that they don’t … They’re maybe intimidated by here I am with this financial adviser. They’re gonna think that I’m totally irresponsible. I’m not doing the right thing.
Camille: That is sometimes a barrier to break down. You never want to sit across from someone and say, “I can tell you’re nervous about it or I can tell that you don’t wanna tell them what they’re feeling, but I’ve learned to meet those people where they are, and listen a lot more than I’m speaking. No matter what it is … ” For example, I met with someone who had a ton of credit card debt like $20,000 of credit card debt, and they were saying, “I’m putting 10% away in my 401(k). I’m only making the minimum payment on the credit card debt.”
Camille: It’s very easy for someone to laugh at that. I’d be like, “Are you kidding? How could you be doing that?” I never wanted to make that person feel like he’s been doing totally … You haven’t been helping yourself by doing this so it’s reframing that conversation and doing a lot of the education there without being judgmental, taking out the word should. You should be doing this. Presenting the education and then presenting a scenario where so if you did this, instead of this, the outcome would look like this. Being positive and excited about it.
Camille: I’ve learned more than anything because I’ve had to work so much on the soft skills, the communication piece. I’ve had to do a lot of that this year, that I think my skills have increased there whereas at my previous firm, I wasn’t doing that much talking in the client meetings. There’s a lot more listening and note taking which was great, but I’m actually finally putting those skills into use. A lot of trial and error, but being mindful of where this person is coming from, what their feelings, their anxieties around money and trying to just really make them feel comfortable and welcome, and positive about taking the next steps wherever they are in their situation.
Hannah: That’s such a great lesson I think everybody can take something away from that.
Camille: It’s not easy but it can be learned. It really can be learned.
Hannah: Was there anything that you wish you have known when you first started your journey towards becoming a financial wellness specialist in this area?
Camille: I mentioned how I really love the coaching aspect. I wish that I had created that business plan for the financial coaching as one of my first projects when I got here because now it’s a much more structured involved process and the participants are getting deliverables after we meet and it’s way more closer to planning than it ever has been. I wish that I started that earlier, so that I could have gotten the ball rolling there because I just feel like that segment of this whole financial wellness umbrella, that piece is super in demand and it’s super impactful. I’m just excited to do more and more of it, but I wish I knew a little bit earlier about what the process would look like.
Camille: It took a lot of trial and error, and figuring things out and then finally sitting down. I’m like, “Okay. This is what has worked when doing this coaching consultation. This is what has worked, this is what I think we should do better. These are the resources we need whether that’s financial planning software or some kind of collaboration tool to share with the participants getting that technology down earlier would have been helpful. And because I worked so closely on the 401(k) team, I work with a lot of participants who have questions like nitty-gritty questions about 401(k) plan like about hardship withdrawals or rollovers and really technical stuff.
Camille: I’ve had to learn a lot and it’s been great. I feel like I’m so much more knowledgeable in that aspect but I wish I came in with a little more deep technical knowledge on ERISA and Internal Revenue Code specifically around 401(k) so I could have made a bigger impact. I think that we’re always learning, and I still have so much to learn, but it’s what makes the everyday fun, and coming in, and I’m solving a problem, and learning something new. No regrets there really.
Hannah: Well, and it’s just exciting to see the different career paths and that really helped people with their finances because that’s really the heart of financial planning.
Camille: Especially up here in the Bay Area, there’s so many financial tech, fintech companies out here that are creating amazing tools for people whether that’s a budgeting tool or student loan refinancing tool or just all these things that we have to do in our finances that technology is making easier, more efficient, better. I’m really excited to see those emerge and then integrating that within our financial wellness solutions is really exciting as well.
Camille: For example, a lot of our clients, maybe they have a partnership with SoFi for student loan refinancing. Well, when we go in and do presentations, we’re talking about that exact service, that exact partnership so that we’re integrating their existing benefits with our financial wellness discussion and that’s just giving everyone a holistic idea of all the financial wellness resources that are available to them and how to integrate them into their personal situation.
Hannah: Yeah. Well, is there anything else you wanna be sure to share with the listeners before we end?
Camille: Again, there’s so many paths to this. It’s not just through 401(k) consulting firm or a financial tech company that offers a financial wellness platform. There’s so many avenues into it, so I just would encourage people to do the research, reach out to people who have a role like this if you’re interested, and see if they’ll talk to you and guide you. Be patient. Again, dream job might not be right in front of you, but if you look enough, and you get really in tuned with yourself about what it is you’re looking for, then when that opportunity appears, it’s gonna feel right. You’re gonna know it in your gut.