In September 1978, I opened the doors to my tax practice in my garage at home. While being a little far removed from a “Tax Expert”, I could spell T-A-X forward and backward and there was an intense desire to excel and make a difference in people’s lives. That intensity drove me to learn by constant reading and study to really become a skilled professional that could help people, studying and passing my Enrolled Agent’s exam administered by IRS.
As the years passed, I found that a strange thing was happening. While a confirmed Introvert, I discovered I really enjoyed working with people and reached the place I wanted to work with them throughout the year and involve myself with more of their lives than just taxes. This led me to pursue Certification as a Financial Planner (CFP®). Wow! Much tougher than I envisioned, but dogged pursuit produced results and I moved into the new world of helping people in all kinds of financial matters.
As the firm grew and matured, I realized there was more than I could do alone, so as circumstances evolved in 2007, I began to consider the career path of my daughter. She was smart, (two Masters Degrees), caring and accomplished in her own field and while somewhat dubious as to the relationship between counseling and financial planning, agreed to join me for a 5 year trial run. That time soon passed and because “Dad is always right”, she studied and passed her Certification as a Financial Planner ™ in short time, feeling it was where she belonged. Now I can confidently say that she is exceptionally mature in the field, having absorbed much more than I ever knew and is ever carrying more of the planning load.
In 2012, I re-discovered Sherryle, my youngest. Even though Sherryle had worked with me on and off for most of 30 years, I think she had a certain mindset of, “I don’t want to be on the front lines or work that hard to be a professional. I’m just a Mom”, attitude. I convinced her that with her many years of experience and fighting in the trenches with me, she was already quite accomplished, just not recognized. So, with great reservation, she began the arduous process of studying for the Enrolled Agents Exam and passed on the first try! So, she has risen to become the primary tax preparer and expert, with me joining in and accessing my memory bank on the more complex and arcane returns.
All that to say, I have now managed to work myself into a wonderful situation whereby Shelby carries the primary Financial Planning work, Sherryle does most of the tax work, so what is left for me to do?
Most would say “Retire”, but here’s what I’ve discovered. I began this journey with a destination in mind, but I reached that a while back. I have begun to realize the real goal for me is to Enjoy the Journey.
While always interested and involved in the investment world, I now have the freedom to immerse myself in charts and graphs, company conference calls and reports. In addition, there is the greater Economy to try to understand and all of its implications on investments. And so, this has become my world. I discipline myself, due to grave risk of injury by wife Sugar, to take off 10 days to 2 weeks during each holiday and maybe a few extra along the way, but even then, in today’s mobile world, I am able to keep abreast of changing economic conditions.
The accomplishment of Robert Marchand, who rode a bicycle for 14 miles in 1 hour at the age of 105 is on my mind as I write. To me it says the main objective is to Keep Moving. And so I shall, as long as it is fun. I’ve insisted the Team always be on alert as to any abnormal actions or indications on my part to protect our clients from harm by any possible ineptitude…but they tell me all is well at the moment.
I have been on a journey of discovery over the course of my career…better make that careers, plural. Most of our clients already know that I did not start out working with John (Dad), but as a licensed Family Therapist, Counselor, & Social Worker in California. After a number of years in that field, I began to think “What’s Next?” I eventually figured out that I actually wanted to return to graduate school, this time pursing an MBA, to expand my knowledge base from counseling and psychology to the business world. Toward the completion of this graduate program, I began to realize that I was ready to return “home” to Texas.
I first found my way to the DFW area working in a Hospice company where I learned a great deal about end of life care and the amazing people who provide that care. A few years later (2007) I eventually landed back in my hometown of Lubbock, and to my surprise, discovered a new career as a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner with the added joy of working with my father.
Now after enough years as a CFP® that I am feeling confident in my own experience and level of understanding, I am once again asking “What’s Next?”. I have absolutely loved this work with our amazing clients (friends), & feel like my work has a purpose beyond addressing immediate needs. As I have been reflecting on my experiences thus far, I began to identify areas where I want to pursue more research, education and training.
I am particularly drawn to addressing the unique needs that arise in a woman’s life. In particular, I enjoy working with women to manage life’s transitions, identifying and achieving the goals that give their lives meaning and a sense of purpose, in the context of the Financial Planning relationship. This is not to say I don’t work with men or couples as we all have goals and needs and transitions to handle as well. But I think there is more I can learn to be even more effective in assisting women to handle their financial lives and needs, which often arise in very difficult situations, such as death, divorce, etc.
So I continue to attend conferences and trainings that are geared to women’s issues, such as the Invest in Women Conferences, and will pursue some additional specialized training and certifications, as well as continuing my general education in financial planning. One priority that I internalized from Dad is that we must always be in pursuit of knowledge, and so I find myself walking in his footsteps of making a consistent investment of time and resources to continuous learning.
I remember as a very young girl, when my dad (John) started a new adventure in the tax and bookkeeping field. As a family we jumped in behind him and oh my, what a journey it’s been! One vivid memory was when John decided we could do year-end inventory for some of our clients and he also picked up a contract to inventory every single Handy Hut in Lubbock. It was a strange winter break for us kids as Mom and Dad dragged all four of us and our equipment to each location day after day. Dad gave me my first lesson in estimation as he came upon me trying to count an opened box of bubble gum one-by-one. It was hard, dirty work but with much laughter and inside jokes we had such a good time because we were doing it together.
Flash forward to 1986 when Mom and Dad asked me as a young adult to come help out a little as the receptionist for the business. I agreed to what I thought would be a part-time, temporary position, and my life has never been the same. As the year wore on, I transitioned and evolved into whatever position our firm needed at the time: bookkeeper, payroll specialist, sales, and office manager. But for the most part I preferred to stay tucked in the back, behind the scenes, supporting and helping all our leading roles. John would have an idea for a client and he’d turn to me and ask, “Can you do this?” My answer was always, “Sure, I just have no idea how.” Then I’d go figure out a way to make it happen. Rarely did our clients know my name or what I did, and I was perfectly happy to keep it that way.
As is always the case, life continues forward and rarely stays the same. So it was with me, as I was blessed to become the mom of three amazing boys and as is true with many moms, I felt that internal draw to be at home with them as much as possible. I chose to pull back from the office for many years, only staying connected minimally in the office management areas. I found total and complete satisfaction in ‘just’ being a mom. But as I said, life continues on, and in 2008 I found myself back with Dad and now my sister, Shelby, in the family business full time. Thankfully, we brought Karen in as our receptionist, so at least I didn’t have to do that job again.
I again thought I’d be content and satisfied to work behind the scenes. But as I discovered that our practice had grown and changed over the years, so had I. I had always enjoyed what John and I called the treasure hunt of bookkeeping and tax accounting; peeling back the layers of information like an onion fascinated me. So when John approached me with a challenge to not just do the grunt work of a tax return, but to actually step out of the shadows of a supporting role and step into a leading role, get certified and actually prepare our tax returns as an Enrolled Agent, it terrified me. But I decided that as my boys were almost grown and out of the nest that not only was I capable of more, I wanted more.
So here I am now, Certified and satisfied. I have discovered that I actually enjoy interacting with our clients and find great joy in helping them feel safe and secure in their tax situations. But more than anything, I come back to that experience of working alongside my family doing inventory, and find not much has changed. There are new situations that must be figured out and my dad is still here teaching and guiding as my sister and I work together. It is still hard (though not as dirty!) work but with much laughter and inside jokes we still have a good time because we are doing it together.
I was so blessed to have had a wonderful job as a manager for a portrait studio for 25 years but in 2010 it was time for me to move on because of changes in the industry and my employer was ready to retire.
I knew when I was looking for a new job that I wanted to serve people. Once again I was blessed to find employment at The Advisors Group, and a new work family. I was hired to be the receptionist and was excited to have a job that didn’t require retail hours. I had no idea at the time that this job would bring on many new wonderful relationships with not only the staff, but the clients. I truly enjoy engaging with people and getting to know all of you. We really do have the most wonderful clients!
After about a year into my employment we decided to change my title to “Client Concierge”. I hope I live up to that title, which basically involves the idea that I will do anything within my power to help you in any way possible…quite simply whatever you need me to do. Among many other things I am available to make appointments, & convey requests for distributions, etc. but I am also happy to answer any questions that I can. If I don’t know the answer, I will certainly do my best to find it.
We all continue to grow and change and I have developed a better understanding of what it is that we do at The Advisors Group. As a result, I have been given the opportunity for even more responsibility to work as an assistant to Shelby, John and Sherryle. I have gained a tremendous amount of experience in helping to process forms and certain client requests, and it gives me one more way to provide services for our clients.