To Trudy Turner, CFP®, financial planning is not just her profession, it’s her calling. When she is not working with clients as a Senior Wealth Manager at United Capital, Trudy can be found teaching, mentoring, and counseling students, young practitioners, and career changers to accelerate their success in the financial planning profession. On top of all that she’s accomplished in her own career, Trudy has also served as the 2006 President of the Dallas Fort Worth Chapter of the FPA and on numerous national FPA committees. She’s also one of three co-founders of the FPA Diversity Committee.
I had been wanting to sit down with Trudy Turner for a long time, and I was so excited to finally connect with her at the FPA Annual Conference. In this interview, she shared such valuable information on the financial planning world — not only of the history of the profession but also where it’s headed. Trudy offered up some serious guidance (and a few of her mantras) for NexGen planners, as well as what she has come to learn through her experience in the financial planning profession.
Navigating toward a financial planning career path
Trudy is a self-proclaimed “career changer,” and shared that she switched from engineering to business to finance before ultimately “settling down.” As she focused more on finance, she decided to chart her course to become a CPA because, as she put it, “CPA is the language of business.”
However, she saw the error of her ways when she was inspired by the Institute of Certified Financial Planners™, which held their annual conference in Dallas while she was still a tax accountant. The conference lit a spark deep inside of her and Trudy knew from that point on that working towards a Certified Financial Planner™ designation was her ultimate goal.
(Fun fact: the Institute of Certified Financial Planners™ merged with International Association for Financial Planning in 2000, thereby creating the FPA!)
Mantras for success
After shifting into the financial planning profession, Trudy thoroughly vetted the companies she applied for. Her first position is where she heard the “mantras” that would guide her success throughout her career. The first one, she shared, was: “If your revenue is based on assets under management, you will be overpaid when the market is good and you will be underpaid when the market is bad.” This gem of information stuck out to her and is something Trudy carries with her to this day.
She also gained a second mantra during her first position within a firm: “if you're an expert in something and you know it really well, someone paying you potentially by the hour isn't a good reflection of all of that time and expertise that you've grown to accumulate. If you're ignorant to something and you have to spend a lot of time to find the answer, you're overcharging a client for your ignorance.” That’s a pretty great point, don’t you think?
It was also during this time that Trudy began “testing” out the type of career she wanted to have within the profession. If you’re in a position where you’re not sure which path to follow, Trudy shared that you should always listen within first and foremost. Knowing what you do not want to do is almost as important — if not more important than — knowing what you want to do. For example, Trudy knew she wasn’t into what Wall Street had to offer, which continuously led her to look for more. Eventually, that inner knowing led her to her successful financial planning career.
Do it now, not someday
Another theme that came up during our talk was the importance of not waiting for “some day.” Trudy’s parents were first-generation African American college graduates who often sacrificed things so she and her brother could have the education her parents desired. They pushed the other things to the back burner with a “Someday, we’ll do that” thought process.
Trudy says this comes up a lot with her financial planning clients, who often push their desires off until later in life as well. She has worked with many clients who continuously think they have to wait to live out their dreams. When she knows she has a client who is physically, mentally, and financially able to do something they have been wanting to do, instead of putting it off for years, she encourages them to go out and do it.
Of course, Trudy explained, this is changing for the next generation of clients. Retirement isn't as “guaranteed” for this generation as it was for generations prior. Being financially responsible, growing your career, saving money, and achieving your goals also aren’t as easy anymore.
This is where Trudy’s idea of providing financial planning services to help the masses comes in. There are still people out there with the misconception that financial planning and wealth management only serve the wealthiest in the world. She shared how exciting is to think of the next generation of financial planners getting started in the profession, and how they are thinking outside of the box so they can serve more people — not just the most privileged.
Of course, this is part of why Trudy is so passionate about diversity, inclusion, and representation — not just in the work we do, but in the profession itself.
Diversity & Inclusion
Trudy’s passion is clear in all of the work she has done for diversity inclusion. She is a co-founder of the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative in the FPA and she, along with her counterparts Lee Baker and Ed Gjertsen, spearheaded the first diversity initiative, which is now the standing committee.
Even with all of the work done, there is still more to do, Trudy said. “There's also so many things that aren’t being done in regards to diversity inclusion. Lots of times we focus on what we see or what we know of certain diversity topics. And there's so many other topics that we lose sight of because we're just focusing on some of the few.”
Within large associations like FPA, or even in firms or large agencies, Trudy wanted to make one point very clear: it is possible to make big changes as individuals. Instead of waiting on large groups to form or big organizations to change, we can start within. Trudy asked a great question: “What could you be doing just individually to make a change?”
This is such a great point! If we expect large changes to happen when it comes to diversity, why wait around for others to start the change?
The next generation of financial planners
When I asked Trudy what bits of information she wanted to leave for the next generation of financial planners, she immediately blew me away with her response.
She said that it is absolutely critical that, as a profession, the current financial planners spread awareness. Once other people are aware it exists, then current financial planners should expose the new generation to how great this work can be. Once they have been both made aware of the profession and exposed to it, they need to have the opportunity to be part of it.This really stuck out to me because it makes so much sense — people won’t chase after a dream if they don’t know it exists.
Trudy left us with this final nugget of wisdom: “First there's awareness, then there's exposure, and thirdly there's the opportunity. And that's how we make this profession better.”
What You’ll Learn:
- The passion behind Trudy Turner’s career as a financial planner
- The sometimes-winding road to a financial planning career
- Why and how to switch career paths
- The power of taking action in your life NOW instead of someday
- Why human interaction is a vital component of financial planning
- Why it is possible to serve the masses with financial planning
- How putting yourself in an uncomfortable position leads directly to growth
- The amount of work left to do in diversity and inclusion in the profession
- How the next generation can step into financial planning
In this episode of YAFPNW, I talked to Trudy Turner, CFP® about:
Trudy is an absolute wealth of information for the financial planning profession, you’ll definitely want to keep up with her journey. The knowledge she shares and the beliefs she lives by are truly inspirational. You can follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter.