What's a nice girl like you doing in a job like this?
You might expect someone to ask that question of a woman who works in construction, engineering, or some other predominantly male industry. But, as a financial planner, I actually am on the receiving end of comments like that quite often. Or else, people think finance, then Wall Street, then Bernie Madoff or the “1-percenters” who are all “crooks.”
To those people I say: shift your paradigm. Consider that understanding your financial position, whatever it may be, is empowering and affords you the opportunity to be in control, help enhance your savings, and prepare for your future. All you need are the tools—focus, people with integrity (regardless of gender), and patience—to make it happen.
My name is Annie Mussoni Morrison. I have been studying and working in economics and finance since I was 15, beginning with my sophomore high school economics class in Worcester, Mass. I tell everyone I owe my career to Mr. Koki, the teacher of that class, who never strayed from the subject at hand and was engaging enough to keep me on task.
I went on to earn a BA in economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in three and a half years, graduating in 1990. As Then, as now, college graduates faced a bleak job market, particularly in the Boston area where I lived. My solution? Take a two-week drive to Los Angeles, where I found a job in mortgage lending, built a life, and stayed for 18 years.
During my 20-plus year career, I certainly have found fulfillment in my professional life, whether it was as an investment banker in commercial real estate, finding institutional investors to finance a low-income school, a mall, or a hotel in Las Vegas, or helping families pay off debt or finance a car or their children's education—all the while helping them save for retirement.
But there is a cost to everything. Mine was realizing that, while I may have been earning a nice living, I was missing out on personal growth. My father and I had many discussions about life and values, and during one of them he taught me a precious lesson. He said, “Annie, you are always going to work, so make sure you make memories along the way.”
He died when I was 25, and I went back to school, attending UCLA to earn a Professional Designation in Personal Financial Planning. By switching my career to work with people instead of corporations, I found time for a personal life. I met my husband, Jeff, and seven years ago we relocated from Los Angeles to Baltimore to purchase a home closer to family in Massachusetts and Virginia. Together, we are raising our two young children, in Reisterstown.
Professionally, I have advised professors, teachers, research and rocket scientists, doctors, maintenance workers, public employees, business owners, you name it. My goal is always to put my clients first, making sure they understand what is happening as they save, invest, and provide for themselves and their family. I try to explain that each family is dynamic, that there is no boilerplate strategy. If there were, my job would be a whole lot easier but a lot less interesting.
Twenty-odd years after Mr. Koki's class, I still think taxes, investments, insurance, analysis, and estate planning are all fun. Seriously. Just think about it: each year we earn money, pay taxes, save at the bank, spend at the store, insure our homes and cars, review our statements, and, yes, ultimately die. (Sorry, I speak plainly. It's kind of my thing.)
Like it or not, each and every one of us is a financial planner. The hard part is to keep our finances organized and live within our means—and, of course, stay interested.
I am thrilled to be the newest Baltimore's Child columnist and look forward to providing you ideas to help maintain and grow your personal wealth.
Thank you for affording me the opportunity to have fun and write about what I enjoy. And if there's a topic you'd like me to cover, let me know. I'll try to make “cents” of it the best I can. BC
Annie Morrison is an independent advisor representative with and securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, a Registered Investment Advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC. Zuma Financial Advisors in located in Reisterstown, MD.. Email her, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (443) 468-3280.
The opinions expressed in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.