Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My Emotional Interview

So it should come as no surprise to the “From 0 to one million” faithful that I have been contemplating pursuing a career change. But a pivotal moment in this contemplation happened today. While I have been scanning through open positions at financial firms here in the Chicago area and working with a recruiting firm, one particular role kept popping up that both horrified and delighted me: becoming a personal financial advisor.

Ultimately the idea of being solely responsible for running my own business, from sales and marketing to implementation and everything that comes with financial advising is both daunting and incredibly appetizing to me. Specifically the prospects going from a base salary to solely commission does keep me up at night. But at this point, our household is debt free, we live off one income and save/invest the other and we don’t have kids. So with the encouragement from my wife I applied for a few financial advising positions currently recruited for and today I had a very moving interview.

Let me clarify what I mean by moving: during the interview my eyes welled with tears and I nearly cried in front of the interviewer. Allow me to explain. In context any sales and marketing role requires a ton of effort, a lot of pavement pounding and fortitude like no other. A lot of the conversation in this first interview was to clarify exactly what the firm is looking for in this role. And the point was crystal clear to me that before advising takes place, before getting individuals and families into mutual funds and helping them fight the debt monster, the sales and marketing side would be first and foremost the most crucial element. We talked about the kind of hours that those successful in the role put in. Notably, the interviewer said this (loosely paraphrased), “There’s two things crucial to this role that are entirely countercultural. First we are taught to not talk to strangers. And secondly we are taught not to talk about money. This career brings those taboos together.”

And in that moment I flashed to my own journey through debt, and for that matter with money as a whole. I thought about feeling like a rat on a wheel before I had a financial game plan. I thought about how desperate I felt, feeling unable to ever marry my now wife and buy a house. I then thought about the focus and intensity that we poured into our personal finances over the last four years and how big of a change in position we have had. I thought about the families and individuals that took part in FPU sessions that I facilitated. I thought about the empowerment and feeling of strength that I, and many of my FPU friends have when we finally put together a game plan that works.

And I thought about the early and long hours that I put into my current job. And how much more motivating, freeing and fulfilling it would be to put those hours into work that matters. That I would jump at the chance if presented to me, to go from my day job to my dream job: trying to convince people to live below their means, pay off debt, put the right kinds of insurance in place and implement a solid investing strategy. Yea, I could handle the rejection that comes with cold calling and going to countless networking events, because it would be work that matters to me and a vocation that I could pour my heart and soul into day in and day out.

Wanting to walk in a career like this, and being so certain of it, is one of the many reasons why I welled up with tears during my interview. And in a much more business casual way than I am writing here, I said exactly that to the interviewer. And as I just told my wife about 20 minutes ago, I don’t have to have all of the answers and have everything figured out. Whether with this firm, another, or whether I start my own boutique shop, we are in a strong enough position to allow us to follow our dreams and make our passions a reality. So no, I don’t know if I will get a call back for another round of interviewing or which of the others in the pipeline will pan out, but I do know it’s time to start doing work that matters.

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