Personal crisis leads to career

Desire to help take care of family's financial planning guiding light for April Peterson; signed on with USAA

Jun 9, 2013 @ 12:01 am

By Andrew Osterland

April Peterson had a very good reason for enrolling in the master’s degree program in personal financial planning at Texas Tech University two years ago. She wanted to take care of her family.

“My mother was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago,” said Ms. Peterson, who did not have a relationship with her father growing up. “As we looked into her estate-planning issues, I realized I had no idea what we were dealing with. My getting into the financial planning program was a lot about learning how to take care of my own family.”

Ms. Peterson is well on her way to that goal. Her family came out to Lubbock, Texas, this month for her graduation, and the 23-year-old is about to start a job as an investment service representative with the United Services Automobile Association back home in Houston. USAA provides a wide range of financial products and services to military families.

“I’ll be doing one-on-ones with clients over the phone to help with investments,” said Ms. Peterson, who previously worked with USAA clients on financial plans as an intern while at Texas Tech. She plans to take her certified financial planner exam in November. “I’m expecting to gain a lot of knowledge and experience with this job.”

Ms. Peterson also wants to gain a broader understanding of insurance products. “Insurance is not very highly valued in my community but I think it’s extremely important,” she said. “I want to help my community become more knowledgeable about insurance and financial planning.”

ACTED AS COUNSELOR

She has already been involved in community service in Lubbock as co-president of a program offering financial counseling services to people through the university’s financial planning department.

Ms. Peterson eventually wants to be involved in comprehensive financial planning with clients and is a firm believer in the value of regular in-person meetings with clients.

“I believe people should have face-to-face meetings with their advisers for anything that significantly changes their life planning,” she said. “I think most of my colleagues and peers think that, too. It’s the high schoolers who want everything done through technology.”

Ms. Peterson plans to stay in Houston with USAA, in part to be close to her mother. Down the road, however, she wants to explore more-entrepreneurial possibilities. “I eventually want to look at opportunities at smaller firms, or having a lead- adviser role somewhere,” she said.

In whatever time she can find between working at USAA and the three to four hours a day she intends to devote to studying for the CFP exam, she plans to be active doing work with her community church.

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