There are many roads you could take to become a financial professional and my road was one that didn’t necessarily seem like the natural path to take. From a very non-privileged upbringing to enlistment in the Navy after high school, to a self-funded college education, I pursued the path that I felt made sense for me. It’s made me who I am and has enabled me to build a financial advisement practice that serves hard-working people who want to build a better future for themselves. Like I did.
This episode briefly outlines my story. I think it’s important for you to know who I am if you’re going to listen to this podcast and take my experience and insights seriously. So I invite you to listen to how I moved from childhood into adulthood and set my sights on the career of my dreams.
Outline of This Episode
- [0:22] My history: Why should you listen to anything I say?
- [2:30] My enlistment in the U.S. Navy – boarding suspicious ships to investigate
- [5:11] The pitch from Charles Schwab: More money in less hours – and the biggest mistake
- [6:08] The three things needed to be a financial advisor in the western world
- [7:50] Pitching my professor with an idea to build an investment strategy for my own firm
- [9:07] After graduation: my naive assumptions but success nonetheless
You don’t have to come from money to get into the financial industry
I was born to a Persian immigrant father and an American mother. My sister and I lived with them until they divorced when I was three years old. When I was five years old my parents were no longer in a position to raise us, so my grandparents took us in and eventually adopted us. It was a childhood full of confusing, mixed emotions.
I tell you that so that you can understand that I know what it’s like to be from less-than-advantageous circumstances. It’s not the kind of childhood you’d expect a financial professional to come from. But it’s possible. Especially if you have help along the way – which I did, and which I want to be for others through my financial advisement practice.
My start as a financial professional was not all I imagined it would be
When I graduated from college I worked as a Junior Partner in a small financial firm. The firm was well established and had a large book of business, but as the junior member of the team, it was my responsibility to do a lot of cold calling to drum up new business. It was a difficult way to start out in the industry. When 2008 came and the financial crash occurred, that firm dissolved and I was left without much to show for my time there.
I eventually wound up at Charles Schwab, selling products to existing customers. The pitch they made to me was that I’d make more money working fewer hours, but it turned out that there were other aspects of the job that made it more difficult than I imagined. Charles Schwab is heavily oriented toward sales and I discovered I’m not that good at sales. So it wasn’t the best fit for me. That’s when it dawned on me that I’d have to develop a very particular skillset to thrive as a financial professional.
I focused my studies at UCLA Anderson on investment management and finance
After working for Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, and Charles Schwab – where I learned a lot about the retail side of the financial industry, including cold calling, selling, and building my own book of business, I realized that in order to succeed as a financial professional, a person needs at least one of 3 things…
1 – become great at sales (that definitely wasn’t me)
2 – have a very strong financial skillset (I didn’t have this at that time)
3 – be well connected with influential people who have money (I didn’t have this)
I felt that my advantage would be found by becoming well-versed in financial knowledge and developing a financial skillset, so I went back to school. That’s when I started my studies at UCLA Anderson and backtested investment strategies that I would eventually use to start my own practice – Bull Oak Capital. I graduated from UCLA and received the J. Fred Weston Finance Award – and was named a GAP Fellow, meaning I graduated in the top 5% of program thesis participants.
I was a bit naive when I started my financial advisement firm
After graduating from UCLA, I moved with my wife to the San Diego area to start my own financial advisement firm. I admit that I was very naive about how things would go in the San Diego area. I assumed that because of my education, my firm would be a raging success right off the bat. The problem with that assumption was that I had no network in the San Diego area. As a result, it took a year or two to gain momentum.
But it was well worth the risk of starting my own firm. Now, the work I do is very fulfilling to me and instrumental in helping people attain their dreams. In my practice, I focus solely on investment planning and management. I work with clients I truly enjoy spending time with and I get to help individuals achieve their life-long goals. It’s a life I love and work I enjoy.
Resources & People Mentioned
- My Whitepaper on The Use of Risk Contribution Analysis and Value Investing to Outperform Global Benchmarks
Connect With Ryan A. Hughes and Bull Oak Capital
- Podcast (at) BullOakCapital.com