26 Jun Traci Richmond, JD, CDFA®
After 10 years practicing law, I wanted to switch to something with more direct impact on people I could relate to. Joining my mother’s financial planning team was a natural fit. She started me at the bottom, as a client service associate, and as I grew in the field I developed a keen appreciation of the relationships she had developed over the years. Some of her clients had been with her for nearly 30 years at that time, planning for and then paying for their children’s education and their own retirement. Now that I’ve taken over the business, it’s a special privilege for me to help those clients’ grown children, as they start their families and begin making education and retirement plans of their own.
Clients have told me they were tempted to put off financial planning because they needed to brace themselves for an intense process. But financial planning doesn’t have to be a big deal. The process is really more about finding a place to start and then just starting. I talk to people all the time who have no idea how much they need to be saving now. That’s actually a great place to start because in the financial planning process we can identify your goals together and then figure out how to get there.
Having money gives you choices. In today’s world retirement doesn’t mean a rocking chair, and careers don’t last a lifetime. People want choices, and good financial preparation can give you the freedom to make those choices. It also can determine the kind of options available when you are weathering unexpected events. A few years ago we had a client who had to retire for health reasons sooner than we had planned. She knew she and her husband had to relocate, and we helped her determine what they could afford. She was able to set her search parameters and within a few months had completed their move. When we had our annual meeting not long ago, she called the new place “a little jewel of a refuge.” I believe the contentment and peace in her voice after such an upheaval was remarkable.* One of the most fulfilling parts of my job is helping my clients navigate the path to achieving their goals. That’s what was missing in my prior career, and it’s why I go to work every day.
My mother’s first career was as a teacher, and educating our clients has always been central to the team at The Meakem Group. I give seminars to retirees, women’s groups, young professionals, and even book clubs. I provide financial counseling to young couples on combining their financial lives. And especially dear to my heart are my seminars and other efforts to promote financial literacy among children and teenagers. Oftentimes schools totally skip this and parents are expected to go it alone when it comes to teaching our children about money. And those parents may have been raised in families where it was taboo to talk about money or the boys got lessons but the girls were left out. How do you teach your own child when you weren’t taught yourself? My goal is to empower parents to raise financially independent children. To get ideas about how to start, click here.
On a Personal Note
When I’m not in the office, Brian and I might be hiking the Billy Goat Trail or planning our dream of hiking the entire Appalachian Trail. During the week I’m likely to be taking one of my three kids to lacrosse, soccer, art or music classes. And on summer weekends we all enjoy water-skiing and boating at Lake Gaston. Giving back is important to me, and I support a number of local charities, including CMR and Leadership Montgomery’s Youth Program, and I sponsor the Montgomery County Regional Spelling Bee. One year our winner made it to the televised rounds of the Scripps National Spelling Bee – we were quite proud!
*This example is hypothetical in nature and used for illustrative purposes only.
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