Winding road to advice

Jun 29, 2014 @ 12:01 am

By Darla Mercado

Amanda Moore, a resident in financial planning at Cornerstone Wealth Advisors, is well on her way to a career as a financial adviser.

She's found that the right career path isn't always the most direct one, describing the discovery process as “a long road that ended with financial planning.”

“I knew I wanted to do something where I could interact with people and help them,” recalled Ms. Moore, 23, a May 2014 graduate from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She graduated with a degree in finance and a specialization in the certified financial planner education program.

Over the years, she explored options as varied as being a special education teacher or a doctor. It wasn't until her sophomore year that Ms. Moore finally decided on a career.

“I was telling my academic adviser about how I was a budgeting kind of person — I thought 401(k) accounts were neat,” Ms. Moore said. “She suggested I try financial planning.”

LESS STRESS

In many respects, financial planning addresses Ms. Moore's desire to help others. “I feel like it's everything I've wanted to do combined in one,” she said. “You help people with their money, accomplish goals and make their lives a little less stressful.”

There was a price to pay for that shift, however: The then-sophomore needed to tack on an extra year of school in order to take the appropriate classes to meet the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc.'s requirements. It was a fair trade-off for Ms. Moore.

“Everyone thinks sticking around for a fifth year isn't necessarily a good thing,” she said. “I could've done four years and ended up doing something I didn't like, or do five years and do something I'm passionate about.”

These days, Ms. Moore is closing in on her first month at Cornerstone Wealth Advisors, which is helmed by Jonathan T. Guyton — well known in financial planning circles for his research on retirement income withdrawal strategies. The move to Minnesota from Ms. Moore's stomping grounds in northern Virginia was a life-changing event in itself.

On the very first day of her three-year residency with the firm, she was able to sit in on a client meeting, a rarity in an industry where budding advisers typically work behind the scenes.

“Sitting in on the meetings and seeing how advisers use different techniques helps me better understand everything,” Ms. Moore said. The range of her work spans from paperwork, making trades and taking notes at client meetings to compiling tax projections.

Looking to the future, it's hard to figure out where Ms. Moore will end up once her three years are over at Cornerstone, but she envisions herself teaching others about personal finance.

dmercado@investmentnews.com Twitter: @darla_mercado

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