When I thought about my first career after graduate school, I often pictured working at a large broker-dealer. And, to be honest, I didn’t really like that thought. I wasn’t a fan of getting paid commissions based on which funds I recommended to my clients. When I heard other financial advisors bragging about making a 5% commission on a fund they had sold, it never sat well with me. Some advisors are more concerned about the commission they can collect than how they can help their clients.
This unease is why I was drawn more to firms that charged clients a certain percentage fee of assets under management (AUM) as opposed to getting paid commissions. Firms that charge a percent of AUM have fewer conflicts of interest. They aren’t tempted to recommend one fund over another based on how it might benefit them (instead of the client) financially. I always wanted to either start my own firm or be part of an independent firm that based its financial advice solely on what’s in the client’s best interests.
I was told numerous times that it would be extremely difficult to start my career at an independent firm and that I should focus on the large broker-dealers instead. Nevertheless, I applied to a few independent firms. Most of them repeated what I’d already been told; independent firms are looking for established advisors, not people just out of school. So, I came up with a new plan to start at a broker-dealer and eventually move to an independent firm where I could serve clients without charging commissions. I began by asking family, friends, and professors to make introductions to potential employers. I had a couple of opportunities to work at large insurance firms, but they weren’t exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to help people meet their financial goals, not solely sell insurance. This led me to actively seek the advice of my connections on LinkedIn who worked in the financial services industry. I asked them, “Where is the best place to start my career?” The first connection I reached out to was David Clayman.
I was connected to Dave through an Eagle Scout group, so I already knew he shared my passion for helping people. I also noticed he was the founder of a firm called Twelve Points Wealth Management. Although I had never heard of the firm, the firm’s name clicked with me right away. As a fellow Eagle Scout, Dave and his partners had founded Twelve Points based on the twelve points of the Scout Law. Along with the Scout Oath, the Scout Law is something that is ingrained in all Boy Scouts at an early age: a Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.
As Scouts, we recited this law every time at each weekly meeting. They weren’t just words to memorize; a Scout is always striving to live by these principles and help others at all times. Before I even met him in person, I knew Dave exemplified the Scout Law because he had achieved the rank of Eagle, the highest honor in Scouting. There aren’t many existing titles you can attain that describe what kind of person you are. Eagle is earned over many years of Scouting and completed with an extensive leadership project that benefits the community. Achieving the rank of Eagle is an enormous accomplishment, especially because it is earned before adulthood. Although achieved as a Boy Scout, being an Eagle Scout does not stop once you turn 18. As Eagle Scouts, we represent all Eagles past, present, and future. All Eagles must embody the Scout Law and live everyday by seeing what can be done to help other people.
Since Dave and I already had something in common and he was in the financial services industry, I decided to contact him and ask his advice on where to start my career. He replied the next day, saying, “I would love to have a meeting to provide advice but also to discuss whether you have any interest in interviewing to become part of our team/family as well.” I was floored. I hadn’t expected to get a reply inviting me to come in and have an interview; I’d only asked for advice. After the shock wore off, I noticed something in what Dave said. He called his team a family; this is what I wanted in the long term, but I didn’t expect to find it right out of school. Within a week, I met Dave and the Twelve Points family in person and knew at once that I wanted to work there. I saw the passion that everyone there had for helping people, which is the most important thing to me. Thankfully, Dave and the Twelve Points team felt the same way about me and made me an offer.
Despite having other options or pursuing opportunities at larger firms, I decided to follow my gut. Even though they weren’t all Scouts, the entire Twelve Points family has the ideals I share with Dave as an Eagle Scout. The firm’s motto is “A family helping families,” and it rings true. We help each other grow like a family, we have meals together like a family, and, of course, we tease each other like a family. I have been with Twelve Points for a few months now and I couldn’t be happier. I love working with everyone on the team and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Dave likes to say that our business cards are black because it is the last job we’ll ever have. I hope to do what very few people have accomplished in life: work with the same company for my entire career.