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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
While I’ve been an investment professional for more than 10 years, I first became heavily involved with investments when I was 9 years old. Allow me to explain.
At that time, my parents bought me a thick manual which listed all the stocks on the New York Stock Exchange. Already a numbers nerd, I spent hours poring over those pages, learning about the high, low, percentage change, and the fascinating P-E ratio.
Next, I borrowed a book from the Petit Park Library in Los Angeles which offered instruction on how to make millions selling stocks short. After passionately pleading with my parents to open a brokerage account and follow this plan towards riches, I realized my dream would have to wait. First of all, they didn’t understand what I was preaching. Secondly, my father was a teacher at a small private school, and my mother was a stay-at-home mom herding 5 kids around. There was no money for this kind of silliness.
As I grew older, my focus drifted toward more practical things.
In high school, I was the captain of the football team and I worked evenings and weekends at the local grocery store. My hard work and hustle were rewarded with a promotion to being a cashier at age 17, long before my older co-workers. I kept this job all the way through college, working nights, weekends, and holidays, eventually graduating with zero debt. My one indulgence was spending at the local Tower Records store in Panorama City.
My first job out of college was at a major aerospace company in the San Fernando Valley. Back in the 80’s, this was a fantastic opportunity. Two years into my new career, I was working in a role where it was my responsibility to make sure our subcontractors got paid. These were small companies, struggling to make ends meet. Typically, when we got paid by the government, we would use those funds to pay our subs.
Unfortunately, there was a point where I was told to “hold” these funds for up to 90-120 days, Plus, I was instructed to tell the subcontractors that we hadn’t gotten paid. I had to lie. I was not comfortable with this at all. After playing the game for a couple of months, I no longer felt I could continue. I resigned. This meant I had to find work…after I had just become married and we had no money in savings.
But I got lucky. One of my coworker’s wives was an Enrolled Agent, a person licensed by the IRS to prepare tax returns and represent taxpayers. What I found fascinating was that this profession involved daily contact with other people, face-to-face. This would allow me to enjoy the energy of working with people while tapping my number nerd strengths.
I quickly signed up for the 2-day, 4-part IRS Enrolled Agent test, then crammed and passed. I let others know what I was doing, and in 1990, and a new career was born.
It was a struggle in the early years. I didn’t have enough clients to make ends meet, so I reclaimed my old grocery job in addition to working for a CPA and handling a small bookkeeping job. But I loved what I was doing, and gradually, my business grew.
Over time though, the calling I felt in my early youth regarding investment strategy was still gnawing at the back of my mind. This restlessness merged with my role as a tax preparer where I continuously saw my clients receiving poor advice from their investment advisors who also offered inappropriate products, high commissions and poor communication.
I knew I could do a better job for them.
In 2012, I made the bold decision to transition into a new career focused as a financial advisor. It was a real leap of faith. After all, I had a secure, stable tax preparation practice. Nonetheless, the intersection of my skill sets worked out perfectly. Taxes are arguably the biggest drain on retirement, and few advisors could match my expertise.
Put simply, this was the best move I ever made. I truly enjoy engaging in financial planning. For one thing, it’s proactive, whereas taxes are almost always reactive. I draw great satisfaction from building a strategy where clients create a secure retirement.
So now I have come full circle. I coach football at the local high school. I crunch numbers in a fun way. And I wake up every day eager to help people achieve their dreams.
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