My Career Path: Featuring Joseph Stemmle, CFP®

Next Generation Planner: January 2021


Joseph Stemmle, CFP®
2021 President, FPA NexGen
Financial Adviser, Riverstone Wealth Advisory Group

When he was growing up, Joseph “Joey” Stemmle, CFP®, liked the idea of being a lawyer, a veterinarian or a teacher. He liked arguing, he liked animals and he liked teaching.

“Growing up, I was always kind of fascinated with learning. Now, I teach at VCU. So I get to do some of that at a high level, which is fun.”

But the family business called, so he had to answer.

“My first official job was for my family’s plumbing business. But my first real job outside of that was actually working at an animal boarding facility where I got to spend time with animals—walk with them, play with them, things like that.”

Finance Lessons from Mom

“My mom always said, when I was young, ‘You save early, and you save often.’

She had us make budgets and I was fascinated with the concept of budgeting and savings and money. The first savings account I ever opened up was at a bank at the local grocery store. I liked to go grocery shopping with my mom because I could go to the bank and get a deposit slip and see how much money I had.

I was fascinated at a younger age with the whole concept of saving money and I didn’t know then that it was a job you could do—I didn’t hear about financial planning. I remember when I was a teenager, my mom let me use some of my money from savings to buy an American Funds mutual fund. I could see my money going up and down, and I started to learn the concepts of saving and investing. I remember one of the biggest holdings was Coca Cola—and I was a kid who liked soda—so being able to buy a fund that had Coca Cola as one of the top holdings was a new cool game.”

The Pivotal Pizza Party

Getting that experience with investing made Joey want to go to college. He chose Virginia Commonwealth University, where he started in the business school, at first majoring in finance.

But then there was a pivotal pizza party.

“There was a new finance club starting up, and if you showed up to it, you got free pizza. I was like all in there—that’s how they get you in college is the free pizza.”

It was a meeting of the VCU chapter of the Financial Planning Association.

“We learned a little bit about financial planning, and I thought, ‘This sounds more like the finance I want to do.’ You’re talking about investing, but then you’re talking about budgeting and savings and things like that. I got involved with the student chapter, which had just started, and then my sophomore year, I got an internship at UBS. I started working there and I enjoyed it. It definitely was something I wanted to do.”

In his junior year at VCU, Joey participated in the Financial Planning Challenge at the FPA Annual Conference. His team placed third in the nation.

“That whole process made me realize this is it for me.”

An internship his junior year at Ameriprise Financial, which he got through connections he made through FPA, led to his current position. Ameriprise hired him right out of college and has promoted him several times during his tenure.

Prioritizing Community

If you’ve met Joey, you know he’s busy. He volunteers with FPA through several avenues, including the PridePlanners Knowledge Circle and NexGen, but he also gives back to his local community. How does he have the time?

“From a technology perspective, Asana and Google Calendar run my life. Google Calendar, of course, being for your schedules and meetings, then Asana is a task manager. Those two things just help me so much.”

What he loves most about volunteering is the people he meets.

“In many of the groups I’m part of, I’m surrounded by people who are strong leaders and who help out, so it’s not like I’m like carrying the team on my back. I have really great people who oftentimes complement my weaknesses—and I hope my strengths complement their weaknesses.

Over time, I’ve been taught by really good leaders. They showed me how you actually lead, how you balance your time and how to enjoy what I do and the impact that I make.

You make time for your priorities, and giving back to the community is a priority for me. I come from pretty humble beginnings and I’ve tried to use my platform as much as I can to educate people and give back. I have fun doing what I do. I find a pretty good balance in life.

I also like to travel. In 2019, I went to 12 countries and 16 states. Of course, 2020 was different, but my goal is to get to all 50 states.”

On Volunteer Opportunities

One of the most impactful volunteer opportunities for Joey is one called the Alumni Charity Challenge, which is a food drive.

“I love it because of the impact and the collaboration, and the competition involved. We started this about eight years ago with five schools and we collected about 3,000 pounds for the local food bank here in Richmond [Va.].

The concept was, ‘Let’s get together and set up tents and boxes for people to drop food off.’

Another reason I love the Alumni Charity Challenge is because it combines three things I love—volunteering, competition and drinking socially.

We’ve now grown it over the last eight years. We started with five schools and in the last two years, we’ve had about 38 or 40 schools. Basically, schools [colleges and universities] have to have a Richmond alumni chapter. Of course, VCU participated, but we have schools like University of Michigan and University of Georgia and University of Alabama—from all across the country.

I also recently had a CFP Board mentee, whom I’ve been working with to study the materials and resources, and he actually let me know last week he passed the exam. That meant a lot to me. It was a really cool feeling to help somebody get past that huge milestone.”

His Friends Call Him the Snack King

If it wasn’t for Joey, FPA staff might go hungry at in-person events. The Snack King provides staff with candy, chips and other treats. He says “Snack King” is how Alexandra Davis, the 2021 FPA NexGen chair, has him saved in her phone.

“And I am. I love snacking. It’s one of my favorite things. I have such a sweet tooth and I love salty snacks, and I love sharing my snacks with people.”

What He Hopes to Accomplish as 2021 NexGen President

As the 2021 FPA NexGen President, Joey hopes to continue to provide community, education, career development and advocacy.

“Especially during these times, the need for and importance of connection is even higher, and we have to adapt to our current times. We certainly aren’t going to be slowing down or stopping. We need to continue to support our NexGen members. We hope that NexGen continues to be where people find their tribe, their home and their community. We want it to be the place where people can learn and grow and be like our extended family.

People have had internships and jobs canceled, or plans changed because of COVID-19, and we want to continue to have NexGen be a resource to all who are entering financial planning. We want to continue to grow as a community and continue to provide these value adds for our members.

I’m really excited about building off of and expanding those in 2021 and I’m really excited about our strong leadership team.

I think the student chapters are a great starting place to get people engaged and active and then to be able to build that knowledge over the long term. When I look at NexGen, all leaders either helped start or were instrumental in starting FPA student chapters. We’ve all seen how they’ve gone on to become involved with FPA and give back and get a lot out of it.

We need to start providing more resources to students and getting them engaged. I’m hoping that if we build a pipeline, we’ll have these really active, involved students who, when they graduate, move into NexGen and FPA, as a whole.”

His Advice to People New to the Profession

The biggest piece of advice is to network, he said.

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You might be in school, or you might just be getting launched in one particular area of financial planning. Reach out to people working in different areas as you—just to learn what they do, how they get compensated, and [to learn] about their day-to-day life. I think that’s so important as you build your network. I think the biggest disconnect people have is keeping in touch with people in [their] network.

So if someone provides a great resource for me, that shouldn’t be the end of it. Reach out in a couple of months and check in. Let them know how everything’s going. Ask questions to reconnect because that’s the whole purpose of networking.

Also, utilize the resources out there. There are so many great resources like FPA Connect and FPA Activate. There are so many great people who want the next generation to succeed and organizations like FPA that provide that community—so utilize them.

Don’t be afraid to keep the door open for people who follow you. I’ve had so many people who have opened the doors for me and I try to make it a priority to do the same for people coming in behind me.

Just because you’re five years into your career doesn’t mean you can’t provide value to other people. Never let your age or experience hold you back. The key to networking isn’t necessarily what someone can do for you, but what you can do for them. You should try to provide that value to people. Even someone who’s 30 years into their career can learn something from someone who’s only one or two years out of college.”