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Becoming a Financial Advisor and Creating Route 65 Financial

Becoming a Financial Advisor and Creating Route 65 Financial

April 18, 2024

When people learn that I have a background in engineering, they often ask how I got to become a Financial Advisor. My website bio jokingly mentions that it’s because I can hold a conversation without looking at my shoes, but it turns out that the story is much longer than that. 

The Beginning:

I grew up in Northern New Jersey, where my dad owned a deli and a restaurant. I started helping out there when I was about twelve or thirteen years old. That’s when I quickly learned what hard work really was. Although, at the same time, I also learned what freedom is when you have your own business. When I was about sixteen years old, I read a book about stock market investing. I liked the idea of putting my hard-earned money to work, so I had told my dad that I wanted to invest. It turned out that I already had an account that was set up for minors, and he said he would call the broker and the direct stock picks. I later chose 2 stocks I liked, and he placed the orders. I’d love to tell you that it was a raging success, but one of them was a dud, and the other was a chip manufacturer that did pretty well in the long run.  That was my first introduction to investing, and even though I wasn’t a millionaire from my first two trades, I was hooked.

This was also the time I fell in love with cars, literally anything with a motor. I wanted to study engineering, but I was warned time and time again that since my math skills were considered about average, that I would fail miserably at it. Those comments showed me that I had to prove everyone wrong. So, I studied engineering technically because I felt the need to show the world what I could do. It was hard, probably one of the hardest things I have ever done.  Calculus was one of the toughest courses I had to deal with early on, and I had 5 semesters ahead of me. I was determined that I would master that class as it was foundational to everything in engineering. In retrospect, it’s a good thing that I did. It was in that class that I met a beautiful girl whose smile could light up the whole room. She needed some help with the homework and naturally I couldn’t refuse. Little did I know that 6 years later we would be married.

The Path to Freedom:

So, after all the trials and tribulations of school, I got a job working at Bechtel in the naval nuclear program. It was a very regimented place. I learned a lot about the rules and standards of engineering, but I felt like I needed more challenges. I found a job nearby with Siemens Westinghouse Fuel Cell Division. The technology was interesting and new but based on older principles that had been around for a while. The problem was that none of these companies had a real commercial product, and they were all losing money. I learned firsthand what it meant to be in a place that wasn’t profitable. You could constantly be producing your best work, but the pool for rewards was limited. As the old saying goes, “You can’t get blood from a stone”. I knew I needed to go down a different career path. From what I had observed from my father’s business, it reminded me of the freedom and rewards of having your own business.

During this time, I was reading a lot of personal finance books, so I started taking some classes towards an MBA. I thought that perhaps I could use what I learned to get out of engineering.  While I was taking classes, I was approached about a part-time opportunity where I could learn how to be an advisor. The company was willing to sponsor me for licenses, all I had to complete was the training and pass the exams. Again, I was hooked. 

Becoming a Financial Advisor:

October of 2004, I passed the Series 6 and 63. Some of my first clients were friends, family, and co-workers, who recognized how much I had learned and grew in the area of personal finance. I am proud to say that years later, many of them are my long-term clients. 

What I learned I love most about this business is problem solving. We are all faced with financial situations, saving for your first house, planning for retirement, planning for disaster, and health care as we age. These financial milestones all force us to deal with complex rules for what can seem like simple decisions. As individuals we tend to compound a list of problems into a bigger list.  What I love about what I do is that I can apply my problem-solving skills to separating those problems, solving them, and providing simple and clear solutions.

One of the most valuable things I learned from Engineering was the difference between Efficiency and Effectiveness. Efficiency measures optimal output given an input in a very theoretical way.  Effectiveness measures how good your solution solves a particular problem.  Just because a solution is efficient doesn’t necessarily mean it’s effective. People are the same way. Many times, people are looking for the most efficient solution, when considering how complicated life can be, they should be searching for the most effective one. 

My Reason Why:

Over the years, specific client situations are what caused me to take action to develop my expertise in different ways. Many years ago, my father in-law had a Medicare issue related to his coverage. The expenses he started incurring didn’t make sense. As usual, I felt compelled to get to the bottom of it and try to understand what was going on and it forced me to gain an understanding of retirement health care options. It was an example of chasing efficiency over effectiveness.  It was a valuable lesson that I still apply with clients aging into Medicare to this day.

As we finish out this month, let us recognize the progress made in empowering women in finance while acknowledging the work that still lies ahead. By fostering a supportive environment that encourages women to participate fully in financial markets, we can create a more inclusive and equitable future for all.

The other part of this career that is enjoyable is when I am helping clients achieve their dreams.  Through the clients that I have worked with, I have seen them retire time and time again. I get to feel a little of that excitement that they feel, and its incredibility rewarding to have been a part of the process for a successful transition into the next phase of their life. 

Make no mistake, there are tough times too. Dealing with loss, either personal or financial, is a part of this job as well. I work really hard to be sure we can be a rock for our clients that are having a hard time or having their worst day. Being able to help clients’ deal with wide range of issues from death to divorce, and even dementia, means that we have to be well versed in how to meet the needs of our clients.

To learn how my experience has been incorporated into Route 65 Financial and our services that we provide, visit