In today’s landscape, many people enjoy more than one career, either because their interests change or they find another passion. While I didn’t know financial planning would be my passion early on in my life, I’m glad I eventually found my way down this path.
I have read biographies of other advisors who knew they wanted to work with money ever since they were little and how they always knew they were going to work in finance. That wasn’t me. When I was growing up I wanted to be an FBI or a DEA agent (or a CIA operative, of course). My path to the finance world ended up being a bit more roundabout than most.
Having grown up in a military family, I enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard after high school and was stationed in Key West, Florida. I felt lucky to be there, as I had always dreamed about living in Florida since visiting my grandparents there as a child. I also got the opportunity to pursue law enforcement; after a few promotions I was leading a team responsible for counter-drug operations throughout the Caribbean. We would board other ships looking for illegal drugs and worked closely with other organizations like the DEA. While I loved it at first and felt like I was doing what I always wanted to as a kid, I slowly began to feel unsatisfied. I had an ever-growing entrepreneurial spirit and began to desire something more. I knew deep down that I wanted to have my own business someday, one that allowed me to more directly help people and grow more in knowledge and as a person.
As time went on I also found myself becoming more and more fascinated by finance and investing. It’s one of those subjects that has a little bit of mystique around it; only few understand it well, but many wish they did. I distinctly remember being young and observing both my grandfather and father watching the finance channels on mute just to follow the stock tickers at the bottom of the screen. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I was always curious to know what those letters and numbers meant, and as time passed and my interest kept growing, I knew that I wanted to be one of the ones who understood it.
With the desire to pursue my interest in business and finance, I left the military and law enforcement behind and majored in economics at Temple University, which would serve as my first step into the financial world. After my first finance class I was hooked, and my interest only kept growing stronger. It didn’t take very long before I realized that becoming a financial advisor was the path I was looking for.
Starting My Career
After returning home from Temple, I was hired by Edward Jones Investments, a national brokerage firm, in 2008. To say I was excited was an understatement; being an advisor was my dream job coming out of college and positions were very scarce because of the recession. If you have ever watched The Pursuit of Happyness and remember the ending, I felt a lot like Will Smith’s character did when he got hired, I was ecstatic! Coincidentally, right before this I also interviewed for an intelligence position at the CIA, fulfilling another part of my childhood dreams, but ultimately declined as I already had my heart set on becoming a financial advisor. I started advising clients in 2009 after an intensive training program, and while I quickly discovered I was in the right industry and loved the job, I knew I wanted to fulfill a different role as an advisor.
After many successful years at Edward Jones, my entrepreneurial drive wouldn’t let me sit still and I decided to transition to independence, allowing me to serve my clients with fewer conflicts of interest and less corporate pressure. I joined broker-dealer LPL Financial and got the opportunity to fulfill yet another dream, becoming a business owner and founding my own firm, Vision Wealth Advisors, in 2011.
I founded the firm because I wanted to offer a higher standard of objective advice and personal attention that I felt was lacking in the industry. I chose the company name because my vision was a firm dedicated to practicing evidence-based investing and providing a more tailored, personalized experience for clients to help guide them throughout retirement. I wanted to show clients how investing really works and how important it is to put a solid financial plan in place.
The Triumphs and Hurdles
There are challenges that come with this career. The first few years were not easy; I remember being a new advisor and going through neighborhoods knocking on doors to find clients. People thought I was either running for office or that I was with the FBI, but the hard work eventually paid off. Today the challenges are a little different; sometimes I am so focused on working with my clients, it can be difficult finding the time to work on the business side of things, such as prospecting and marketing. It’s also very different from what I did in the military; there’s much less excitement since there’s no bad guys to chase down and about the most adventure I have during the day is going to the mailbox. I still wouldn’t change it for the world. I love what I do and I love being able to help others and have such an impact on their lives.
I really can’t imagine having any other career now, and I’ve never looked back for a moment. It’s incredibly fulfilling when, with a client, we put all the pieces together, check off the boxes, and they can relax and feel comfortable knowing that we are looking out for them. The best part is when a client tells you how much you’ve helped them and what a difference you’ve made for them and their family. There’s many different jobs perks out there, but I can’t think of any better one than that.
Ultimately, I’m now driven by the desire to grow and to help more people get on track financially. I’ve been fortunate and blessed in my life to be able to fulfill many of my dreams, and now I’m living one, the privilege to own a firm dedicated to helping others.
Taking the Next Step
I am always open to meet new people and see how I may be able to help. Whether you’ve already started planning for the future or have yet to put strategies in place, I encourage you to reach out to me today for a free consultation to see how I may be able to help you. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my office at (570) 524-0120.
Justin Buttrick is a financial advisor and the founder of Vision Wealth Advisors, an independent financial services firm. With more than 10 years of experience and the Accredited Asset Management Specialist® credential, he uses his knowledge to help his clients make smart financial decisions. Learn more about Justin by connecting with him on LinkedIn or emailing email@example.com.