Cal State Fullerton finance grads are at the forefront of the Orange County financial sector providing wealth management and planning advice to residents in every stage of the lifecycle, from career entry to retirement.
Modern Wealth Design (on Instagram at @modernwealthdesign) an Irvine-based financial planning firm, was established by two Titan grads. For more on the startup and its impact, and how you can get started in financial planning as a life skill or career path, we turn to Nicole Lujan ’16 (finance), founding partner and financial planner:
In a nutshell, what is the story of Modern Wealth Design?
I always knew I wanted to have my own business, help people and work with numbers. By taking numerous business courses at CSUF, the financial planning track made me realize that being a financial planner was my dream career. I started working closely with fellow finance alumnus Adam Carr ’10 (founding partner and financial planner) back in 2015, and we created our own financial planning practice, Modern Wealth Design. Since then, we have hired several staff members and added a junior financial planner, also a Titan finance grad, Hannah Sullivan ’19. Every day is different, and it never feels like work!
How did the Personal Financial Planning Program at Cal State Fullerton’s business college help prepare you for a career?
CSUF helped me prepare with the amazing financial planning track. Donald Crane was one professor who motivated me. He had his own practice and shared real-life stories and client cases. We also had to build a financial plan that prepared us for the job as a financial planner. There was another business course I took that improved our résumé and cover-letter writing skills. This encouraged me to start applying for jobs in the financial field; from this, I got my first internship as a financial advisor trainee.
What is a “day in the life” as partner and financial planner at Modern Wealth Design?
Most of my time is spent interacting with clients. It’s all about building relationships and building trust. Then, we explore their unique financial situation and create a plan that will increase their likelihood of financial success. The rest of my time is spent with my team. We run client scenarios, prep for meetings, follow up with clients and analyze accounts. The best part about being a financial planner is that no day is the same. Every client has a unique set of goals and concerns, and our team works together to bring creative solutions to the table.
If you could give one piece of financial advice to today’s young professionals, what would it be?
Save and to save early! Many people think they don’t need to save for retirement yet because it’s too far away; or they think they have a long time until they need to start thinking about it, but you are actually better off starting early. Timing is everything. There have been many times when we hear our clients say, “We should have done this sooner!” Also, reach out for help if you don’t know where to start. There are many small things we can do to improve your financial future that you may not be aware of.
Why should fellow Titans consider financial planning as a career path?
Being a financial planner has so much to offer. The income can be very rewarding, especially if you’re willing to work hard for it. This career offers a level of independence that many jobs can’t. We run our own business, set our own schedules and run our practice the way we want. However, the best part of the job is the impact we leave on our clients. There have been several times where clients have shed tears of joy in our office because of our help. We have helped a wide range of clients in the past, from young professionals trying to buy their first home to clients about to retire after working for more than 30 years. Our clients feel like family, and the great feedback we hear from them goes on and on. I can’t think of another job that offers this kind of reward!
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