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Former service rep now gives advice

Mar 23, 2014 @ 12:01 am

By Liz Skinner

year one, year 1, advice, adviser
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April Peterson: "You really impact other people's lives." (Jack Plunkett)

April Peterson knows she still has a lot to learn, but last week, she was promoted at USAA and now will be providing limited retirement advice directly to clients.

In her previous role, Ms. Peterson, 24, was an investment service representative with the United States Automobile Association of San Antonio and spent much of her days answering calls from members. USAA sells financial products and other services to U.S. military personnel.

For those thinking about retirement, Ms. Peterson guides them to a calculator showing an approximate amount they should be saving regularly.

“Once they see that retirement calculator, everyone gets really nervous,” she said.

(Follow April's progress:

MEAGER SAVINGS

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Ms. Peterson is amazed at how many people in their 40s and 50s want to retire in 15 years but have only about $3,000 saved.

Some of them have had to pull money out of retirement accounts to pay for their children's education, and others have had to spend down their savings to help their parents, she said.

Ms. Peterson wishes she could “hold a financial seminar at a high school every week” so more people would be educated about their finances.

In her new position, callers are passed to her for advice on retirement savings plans. Demand for these services is growing so quickly that managers at USAA had asked certain employees if they were interested in the opportunity.

Ms. Peterson planned to sit for the July certified financial planner exam, but now that it's moving to a computer-based format in November, she's thinking she'll wait until then.

She likes the idea of immediately finding out her scores, even though they would be preliminary and not verified for one to two weeks. Currently, test takers must wait about five weeks to know if they have passed the CFP exam.

Ms. Peterson said the financial advice business so far “is a little bit stressful,” but she would recommend it to friends and family members.

“Not only do you get to learn about your own personal goals and success, but you really impact other people's lives,” she said.

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