Making a difference every day

Dec 15, 2013 @ 12:01 am

By Liz Skinner

Four weeks ago, April Peterson finally said goodbye to the classroom and took her first call from members of USAA, which sells financial and other services to those in the U.S. military.

She has worked for the United States Automobile Association of San Antonio for four months, but Ms. Peterson spent the first several months preparing for and taking the Series 7 and Series 63 examinations. Having passed those tests, she's now an investment services representative helping members transfer money, get ready for retirement or, in some cases, prepare financially to be deployed overseas.

Ms. Peterson, 24, received a call a couple weeks ago from a soldier in Afghanistan who wanted to check on her investments.

“I could hear all this stuff in the background, and I got the greatest feeling to know that I could help impact the life of that member who is over there and can't check on what's going on,” Ms. Peterson said. “But she's counting on us to get everything done for her.”

Another call also highlighted the importance of her role. During the course of a conversation with a member who wanted to transfer funds because he needed cash, Ms. Peterson discussed emergency planning and his retirement plan, and discovered he needed new homeowners' insurance. She sent him to the appropriate firm representatives who could help him with the financial products he needed.

“It was an unbelievable call and showed me how a 15-minute phone call can really make a difference in somebody's life,” she said.

At first, it was difficult for Ms. Peterson to try to build a relationship with callers over the phone, but after a couple of weeks, she got the hang of it and became better at asking open-ended questions.

“It was hard because I can't see this member, and they can't see my expressions,” Ms. Peterson said. “But you'd be surprised how the change in your voice a little bit can show the biggest amount of compassion.”

Next on her list: cracking open the certified financial planner exam materials that she will try to master before the March test. Attaining the CFP designation is a key part of her strategy toward becoming a wealth manager.

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