Why being a financial adviser is like being a swan on a pond

Wealth Matters

Rawson Gulick, CFP, is a certified financial planner practitioner at Willow Creek Wealth Management (www.willowcreekwealth.com or 707-829-1146).

Earlier this month, our Willow Creek team was thrilled to have been voted one of North Bay Business Journal’s Best Places to Work in 2021.

As a newer member of the team, I have been so grateful to work with such seasoned advisers, especially following a decision I made a few years ago to take my career in a fresh direction.

In 2019, my career path took an interesting turn and one that I could never have envisioned.

After 20 years working in financial services with huge institutions, I felt strongly that I wanted a more personally fulfilling career where my values would be aligned with my work.

This was when I discovered the role of wealth adviser, and I realized that what I wanted to do was to bring my insights from working with giant institutions to help individuals and families better shape their financial well-being, their lives, and their world.

To that end, I earned my certified financial planner (CFP) designation and joined the Willow Creek Wealth Management team.

We sometimes joke that the role of a wealth adviser can be explained perfectly by the analogy of the swan swimming in a pond.

While all you see is the graceful swan gliding effortlessly across the water, what you can't see is the swan's powerful legs and webbed feet propelling the bird forward. I love this metaphor in thinking about expertise and excellence, that people who are great at what they do make it look easy.

I think for so many people, the value of a good wealth adviser is hidden beneath the surface, and it’s so much more than investment management.

What you do see is the adviser crafting financial plans for clients or helping them build their portfolio; what you can’t see is the wealth adviser figuring out how to navigate family disagreements before they become fights or helping to prepare someone for the loss of their spouse.

While it's essential for a good wealth adviser to understand markets, financial planning, and the intricacies of portfolio management, it's the softer skills that can be invaluable to the client.

Every client deserves an adviser they trust. Every client deserves an adviser who understands their big dreams and goals for living a fulfilling life. And every client deserves an adviser who wants to help them build a legacy they are proud of.

In the same vein, everyone deserves to have a fulfilling career, to work with people they respect, and to feel supported by their employer.

After the challenging few years we’ve all had, I want to remind everyone that life is too short to stay in a job you hate. I am living proof that a change like this can open up your life in ways you can’t imagine.

I spent the first half of my career learning the nuts and bolts of financial services, and I am so grateful to be able to spend the second half of my career pursuing my passions: advocating for women in investing, environmental sustainability, and helping my clients reach their goals, both financially and personally.

So...what kind of career do you want? What are your hopes and dreams for your work-life? When you retire someday, what do you want your legacy to be?

These same questions, posed slightly differently, are ones I use to help clients distill their big-picture values, and it’s no less important to construct a vision for your career.

A few years ago, I asked myself these questions, and what I found was that I had a deep need to align my values with my career. And in doing so, I helped construct a path for myself, which led me to a career I love.

This may be my favorite thing about my role as a wealth adviser, that embarking on what you imagine will be a straightforward discussion of finances very often empowers clients to envision ways to make more joyful big-picture decisions about their money and their life.

When I host Women’s Circles, we discuss money, of course – but the larger conversation encompasses how to build community, connection, and understanding.

When I design a sustainable investment portfolio for clients, I can help them discover our deeper shared values of human well-being and environmental sustainability.

Like the swan swimming elegantly on the water, a closer look reveals much more complex processes that will help you move forward.

This career has helped me become happier and healthier than I have ever been, and I encourage you to build a career path toward your own version of the “Best Places to Work,” whatever that looks like for you, for 2022 and beyond.

Wealth Matters

Rawson Gulick, CFP, is a certified financial planner practitioner at Willow Creek Wealth Management (www.willowcreekwealth.com or 707-829-1146).

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