Originally published on March 5th, 2021
TL;DR - The younger generation has been neglected by the financial industry for years. I built Piertree Planning to exclusively serve millennials because we face financial problems other generations haven’t experienced. I have a passion for helping people and I don’t know any better way to fulfill that passion than to share my knowledge within personal finance in a relatable and empathetic way that many older advisors aren’t able to do.
I grew up as the “quiet kid” and never really took any risks. Always did what I was supposed to, never acted out, and just kept my head down and worked. No matter what it was, all I knew how to do was give it my full effort and try and be the best at it. School, sports, video games, you name it - I wanted to be the best.
This attitude has helped tremendously in many different areas of my life, but I felt like I needed something else.
Four years ago I wanted to change that label of playing it safe and grow as a person. Rather than staying in my hometown during summer 2017 and working a typical summer job before going back to school for my senior year - I packed my bags, loaded up my Jeep, and started the 24 hour drive down to Miami.
I had no clue what I was in for but that summer ended up being a four month span that changed the trajectory of my career path forever.
. . . .
Discovering A Passion
If you haven’t been to Miami during the summer, it usually rains at 11 am for a few minutes and then the humidity sticks to the 105° air for the rest of the afternoon.
What better place to take a door to door sales job?
Knocking on thousands of doors and walking 5+ miles a day only to get doors slammed in my face, guns pulled on me, and everything in between while trying to avoid heat exhaustion was a wildly humbling experience.
At the time I started, I didn’t even know what sales really was. I always thought of sleazy used car salesmen that try to trick people into buying things, which is how I think most people view sales.
However, I had a great manager that trained me the “right” way and I viewed sales in a completely different light after that. I viewed it as building relationships and building trust.
I fell in love with it. I loved the ability to control my income and I loved the competition with myself trying to improve my pitch and sales process at every door I knocked on. The feeling after closing a sale was like an addict finding their next fix. I couldn’t get enough of it.
I’ll never forget the first day I got back to school after that summer. We were moving into our apartment and I got a call from a Miami number so I answered it and ended up closing a sale while being half way across the country. I felt like I was on top of the world. I could sell anything to anyone.
. . . .
Fast forward a couple months, I needed to figure out what I was going to do after I graduated. I had a newfound passion for sales and I loved money (I was a finance and marketing major). So I sat on our futon and Googled “financial sales jobs”. Of course I stumbled upon the career of a financial advisor fairly quick so I went down that rabbit hole of learning what a financial advisor does, what it takes to be one, everything like that.
One of the first articles I read was from Jeff Rose titled, So You Want My Job: Financial Planner, and fell in love with the story. I dove deeper into Jeff’s journey and knew this was what I wanted to do.
I eagerly applied to all the big names like Edward Jones, Raymond James, etc. hoping for an opportunity. Little did I know that being from small-town Kansas was going to kill those chances real quick. Since I didn’t have a network of rich friends that live at the country club and didn't have prior experience, those large financial advising firms didn’t see any value I could bring to the table.
I was devastated. I couldn’t believe that my drive and passion didn’t connect with them. I was prepared to knock all the doors for Edward Jones or dial 100 numbers a day for other firms. I was ready to work and being turned down repeatedly left a bad taste in my mouth.
I thought to myself “what is it about this job that I can’t do?” All I knew from growing up and playing sports was to work and learn and get better. I didn’t understand how these firms wouldn’t let me apply that same approach to being a financial advisor.
Something felt “elitist” when I was talking with these firms and come to find out, that’s how a lot of the financial industry is. They treat clients that way, only work with people who have massive bank accounts, the whole nine yards.
. . . .
So I took things into my own hands and was going to figure out another way to break into the industry. Rather than trying to join a firm and working with pre-retirees, I decided I was going to start my own firm to exclusively work with the millennial generation.
It didn’t make sense to me that a majority of the financial industry only worked with wealthy pre-retirees. How are millennials supposed to get to the point where we have money if nobody’s helping us get there…?
Next, I did the only thing I knew how to do: work, learn, and get better.
Outside of my 9-5 job, I spent every minute of my free time researching what I needed to do to start my own business. Once I figured out the licenses and education I needed, I got straight to work and spent the next 2 years studying and learning everything I possibly could.
Deep down, I knew I was making the right decision because I loved too many pieces of business to simply join another firm and be an employee. I’m obsessed with marketing, I enjoy customer service, I love building processes, and I had a passion for sales and helping people. Starting my own firm seemed like the only logical choice for me.
. . . .
Once I’d completed the licensing and education and saved enough money to cover over a year of business expenses, I quit my job and took the leap.
It was one of the scariest decisions of my life. I was leaving a fairly cushy job to do something that had no guaranteed income.
Self doubt is something that I struggle with from time to time and walking into an industry that felt cutthroat and unforgiving to new advisors was tough. In fact, it’s estimated that the success rate of a financial advisor is only 12%...
Whenever I get down on myself or it feels like things are too tough to handle, I always fall back to my favorite quote from my favorite movie, “If you want something, go get it. Period.”
Now that it’s been a little over seven months since I first started, I can see things starting to fall into place.
It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences but one thing I wasn’t prepared for is how rewarding it feels working with my clients and it’s a feeling that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
A big reason that I love working with millennials is that I would rather help a client design their financial future than try and fix a script that’s already been written.
Most of the time clients come to me with a blank slate. Their whole financial future ahead of them. That’s something that wouldn’t have been possible if I joined a firm and worked with retirees.
I have a passion for helping people and working with millennials to create confidence and take the guesswork out of their finances is something I plan to do for the rest of my life. There’s something special about seeing someone gain confidence with their money and reaching their goals with a plan we’ve built together.
. . . .
Sometimes the things you fear the most lead you to places you’ve always dreamed of.
The risk and uncertainty of starting a business can be paralyzing. You never know what’s going to happen and there’s a large chance you’ll fail.
But there’s also the opportunity to succeed and live out your dreams.
It all comes down to the work you’re willing to put in and the sacrifices you’re willing to make - just like personal finance. If you want to reach financial freedom, you might have to sacrifice some luxuries for a period of time and put in the work to save and invest consistently.
Nothing worth having comes easy. Whether it be starting a business, following a passion, achieving financial freedom, or living a healthy lifestyle - there’s always going to be challenges to overcome.
Whatever you’re trying to accomplish, it always comes back to the questions of “how bad do you want it?” and "what's the worst that can happen?"