FILLING THE VOID
About 10 years ago I had the desire to get an MBA and advance my business knowledge and skills. Being the pragmatist that I am, I knew I could not really afford it at the time. So, I waited. I worked, gaining a lot of invaluable on-the-job experience. A couple years went by and I decided I was going to do something, now it was a decision of CFP® or MBA. At the time, the company paid for advanced designations but not degrees. What does the pragmatist do? The more applicable and cost-effective decision – the CFP® journey began. Even though I had a solid 5 years of experience when I began studying, I was surprised by how challenging the material was. So, I worked, studied, and spent time with my family. I was grounded – in the best way possible. March of 2015 the big day came where you must sit for a proctored comprehensive exam on all the material you have covered since the start (2.5 years earlier in my case). Talk about tension! The testing facilities are highly monitored, and the layout does not help your test anxiety. I sweated bullets for 8 hours and clicked submit. My heart was jumping out of my chest when I opened one eye to see “Congratulations, you have met the requirements of the CFP® board exam.” I nearly danced out of there and the monitor asked me to quiet down to not disturb the other students. I quickly complied and got out of there. Well, as the months went by after, I was relieved but also felt somewhat of a void. I mean, I just spent 2.5 years working on stuff when I got home and after my young boy was asleep at night. So, I got a couple more designations (yes, the company paid for those too). A couple more years went by, less of a void and more of a renewed desire to pursue the MBA. I figured, if I’m stilling thinking about it now, I should go for it. I began classes in the fall of 2018. I started with just one course at a time, wanting to take my time to slow down and enjoy the subject matter.
USING MY TIME WISELY WITH COVID
So as of Spring 2020, I was exactly halfway through. Covid hit, vacations were cancelled for the summer and I felt that void again (I know what you are thinking now – “geez this guy is boring, doesn’t he have any hobbies?” – you may be right but will be pleased to know I’ve completed 1 watercolor painting at my wife’s request). So instead of my summer vacation plans, I decided to take 2 courses. The void was filled. I became the maniacal, over-caffeinated, Type-A guy that I probably am at heart. Wake up, do MBA stuff, exercise, go to work, have my brown-bag lunch (thank you MJ), study over lunch, work, go home, hang out with my son, dinner, more MBA and bed. Eight weeks went by quickly, though. One of the courses was a grad-level Investment course and a lot of the CFP® memories came back. In all honestly, the only time I have calculated a bond duration is in the CFP® or MBA courses. Never have I done that in practice. Why? Because we use software that does a lot of the analysis for us. We still need to have to know what to do with the data, but rarely do we need to calculate the intrinsic value of a stock or the yield-to-maturity on a bond. Although the knowledge is not always used in a practical way, it has enriched our understanding of capital markets. In fact, the MBA coursework has been very advantageous to broaden my perspective and work on our business, not just in our business.
WIN WIN WIN
By making our practice more efficient, we are better able to provide efficient and value-added services to our clients. Operationally, this is very important to ensure we are following a process when it comes to financial planning, investment planning or other aspects of our practice. Being a great advisor is paramount. But a close second is running a good business that provides financial planning services. I hope to provide the very best for our clients and my team. We want each and every one of our clients to succeed. I want each and every team member to thrive and find balance in their lives. And for me? Well, when clients are happy, the team is happy, the family is happy, I am happy… and thinking about taking up an actual hobby someday.