The Day I Decided to Become a Financial Planner

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My dad is an amazing man. He worked as a police officer for most of my life, and I always looked up to him. But he’s just not a money guy. I remember how my mom would send him off to work with one blank check folded in his pocket. When he used it, she’d give him another one. That’s just how it was done in my family. I was actually the only one who even knew where my mom kept all her financial documents.

Finding My New Calling

I didn’t study business in college. I actually avoided the business school like the plague, only taking two basic classes in my entire four years. Yet, seemingly overnight, I was deemed the most capable person in my family to make decisions about the mutual funds (huh?) and limited partnership (what?) in which my mom had invested.

I paid her broker a visit. “I’m so sorry for your loss,” she said, followed quickly by, “don’t worry about any of this, I’ve got it all taken care of. You don’t need to understand any of this.”

I felt like my mom’s broker didn’t want to take the time to help me understand the investments she’d made. I also got the distinct feeling my mom hadn’t understood them either.

Excuse me? I thought. I felt it was my job to understand what was going on. Granted, the sum we were managing wasn’t a fortune, but it was all we had. I felt like my mom’s broker didn’t want to take the time to help me understand the investments she’d made. I also got the distinct feeling my mom probably hadn’t understood them either. This woman clearly had already earned her commission on the sale of the investments, and now that there wasn’t any more new money coming her way, she wasn’t about to waste any of her precious time on me.

I felt so hurt and disgusted. I mean, come on, I was a Phi Beta Kappa college graduate! Surely I could understand what was going on if she would just have taken an hour or so to explain things to me. Yet I signed the paperwork she thrust in front of me, transferring all of our assets to the trust. Only, when I went to withdraw funds a month or so later, we got hit with $1,600 in penalties that apparently could have been avoided if we’d drawn the money out as a death distribution. Ouch.

  • Christina_Sunshine

    Thank you for this well-written and heartfelt article. Due to illness and death, I am caring for my Mom and my Grandma’s affairs, in addition to my own household (I’m 36).

    It has been difficult to make decisions and to feel comfortable in the process. I am very grateful to you for sharing your experience.

  • Danie

    Thank you for sharing your story- it was an incredible read. I am 100 positive, your mom is beaming down on you. God bless.