I’m often asked, as I’m sure many others are as well, why I chose to do what I do for a living. The question itself feels cliché, and I absolutely cringe when I hear it. I know there are some people that, when asked this question, have a very profound, clear-cut answer just waiting to be unleashed, but I think for many of us it’s more difficult to think back to what led us to the path we’re on and to then make that sound meaningful to the person asking the question.
As I begin my twentieth year in this career and think back to the thought process that led me to the field, it seems far too simplistic. I was good at math and I liked dealing with money. With those two things in mind, I decided to major in accounting to become a CPA, later decided that accounting was too boring, switched to personal financial planning, and here I am. Inspiring, isn’t it? I wasn’t the child that knew exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I could have chosen a few dozen different career paths, but fate, or something like it, brought me to where I am.
Now, I don’t tell you all this to imply that I don’t have passion for my work—quite the opposite! I tell you this because I think maybe the better question to ask is not what led us to our career, but what keeps us showing up every day? I haven’t sacrificed twenty years of my life for math and money, though I still enjoy dealing with both of those things. I get up every day and go to work for my clients because of the impact we can have on their lives. And for everything that went wrong in 2020, it may have been one of the best years yet for demonstrating just how profound that impact can be.
I’ve spent much of my personal and professional life more or less sheltered from the harsh reality that tomorrow is not promised to anyone. Even though we spend many of our days preaching that very idea and the need to be prepared for all that life can throw at you, I had never lost anyone that wasn’t supposed to die, personally or professionally, until very recently. People lived long happy lives and passed away at a ripe old age, just the way they’re supposed to. Until recently. Though blessed with good fortune for most of my life and career, over the past two years I’ve lost five clients and my amazing wife. I can now see, dealing with it personally and observing the struggles of the loved ones my clients left behind, the impact that we can have when things are done right. The pain involved with losing a spouse, significant other, or close family member can be tremendous. It hurts in ways I never could have imagined without experiencing it firsthand. Having someone there to help you prepare for such an event, and perhaps just as importantly, having that person there after such an event to help handle the financial aspects, can provide great comfort to those dependents left behind and allow them to direct their time and focus to far more important aspects of the loss.
Thankfully, there are far happier moments that we get to celebrate with our clients as well. As CFP® professionals, our job is to help clients financially plan for and achieve some of the most significant moments in their life: retirement, providing for their children’s education, paying for a child’s wedding, buying their first home, dream home, or vacation home, or perhaps starting a business. When you are just starting out in your career, you can’t comprehend what it will feel like to be a small part of helping others achieve those milestones along the way. But as you work with your clients throughout the years, planning and strategizing and building relationships with them, it becomes far more meaningful.
As Mr. Miyagi once said, “Whole life has balance.” It’s important for us to help clients remember that while planning for tomorrow, we should not forget about living for today. Nothing is promised, and how you think your life will go is often not the way it does go. There are other events we deal with and difficult conversations we have with our clients along the journey, but all these moments, both good and bad, and our ability to impact them through our planning and guidance, is what has kept me in this business for the past twenty years. And that is far more important and interesting to me than why I got into it in the first place.
Are You Ready For A Different Financial Future?
I’d love to meet you, get to know you, and hear about your goals, your worries, and the opportunities and challenges you face in your financial life. If you’re ready to see what financial planning can do for you, reach out to me at (248) 220-4321 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an introductory meeting.
Justin Williamson is a Senior Partner and Co-Owner of Center for Wealth Management, an independent, fee-based wealth management company in Troy, MI. Justin has been serving clients in the financial services industry since 2001. He spends his days helping his clients achieve their financial goals and make the best decisions for their families so they can spend time on what they love and experience financial confidence. Justin is known for his dedication, integrity, personal touch, and ability to simplify complex issues. Justin specializes in serving engineers and other professionals who are close to retirement or recently retired, helping them maximize their benefits and create a retirement plan they can rely on. He is a seasoned public speaker, presenting at numerous corporate events each year on retirement planning, Medicare, Social Security, and other financial topics. Justin has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration majoring in Personal Financial Planning from Central Michigan University and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® / CFP® professional.
Outside of work, Justin enjoys spending time with his family. He lost his wife of eighteen years, Heather, to brain cancer in 2020. He and his son, Carter, and twin daughters, Jaden and Kelsey work to honor her and make her proud each day. You can often find him coaching baseball, softball, and basketball, and spending time with his family at their cabin at Higgins Lake. Learn more about Justin by connecting with him on LinkedIn.