Listen to podcasts that talk about money, investing, or anything finance related really. The more exposure you can get to financial terms and concepts, especially in the conversational delivery a podcast makes possible, the better equipped you’ll be to tackle your own finances and the more fluent you’ll become in the complex language of finance.
Asa part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Maddie Parker, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ at Parker Financial Group in Overland Park, Kansas. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Education of Mathematics and Master of Science in Education of Mathematics from The University of Kansas. Maddie started her career as a high school math teacher before transitioning to her current CFP® role within Parker Financial Group, working alongside her parents. Maddie and her father, Rodger Parker, are partners in their firm and her mother, Jennifer Parker, serves as the CFO. Their firm is truly a family owned, operated and managed business through and through. Maddie is dedicated to helping younger generations gain financial literacy that is not being taught in all educational institutions.
Thank you so much for doing this with us, Maddie! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Banking/Finance field?
After teaching high school math for 4 years, I began to crave new experiences and knowledge, and was presented with an opportunity to join my Dad in the family business. My father was also a teacher in his youth and found a different path. So, maybe staying true to following in his footsteps, I joined his financial planning firm. After a few years of working in the family business, I again, had an urgency to learn more, so I studied for the Certified Financial Planner certification. Not an easy undertaking while co-partnering a small firm whose livelihood balances on monthly production. I did pass on my first try, a feat in and of itself!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
One project that I’m very excited about is the development of an educational presentation for the Millennial (and younger) generation covering the basics of finance. One of the first things I realized when I started working in the finance industry, was how little my exposure and education had truly been up to that point regarding all things financial. Throughout all my courses in high school and college, not once had I ever been required to take one about finance. So, while I was well versed in numbers and doing calculations needed to compose a financial plan, I was sorely lacking in knowledge of other foundational concepts also required. For example, I had no idea what the S&P 500 was or what the difference was between a mutual fund and an ETF.
Of course, since my new career depended on it, I learned these things and much more. However, it was no easy feat, and not just because the content was vast and often difficult to master. In fact, what I found to be most challenging was finding educational resources that really started at the very bottom of basics. There was always so much assumed pre-requisite knowledge that I found myself constantly having to look up concepts and terms that were being used to define or describe other concepts and terms that I was trying to learn about to begin with. My financial literacy, or lack thereof, became abundantly clear very quickly. Obviously, this was somewhat discouraging for the educational quest I had embarked upon, but what was worse was that it made me feel really dumb.
Fortunately, I was able to persevere through my struggle and eventually learn enough to become great at, and fall in love with, the job that I’m doing. However, I hang on to that feeling I had when trying to learn everything in the beginning because I know that for many young people, like me, their lack of financial education brings these same negative feelings to the surface when trying to deal with their finances. No one likes to feel stupid. So, when trying to be responsible and deal with your finances, it’s hard to get very far if you feel like you know nothing and then additionally feel dumb asking for help.
Very long explanation short, I want to provide an educational resource for these younger generations that will start at the very bottom and explain all the financial concepts that is usually presumed everyone already knows. I think if these individuals can understand that they’re not alone in their struggles and that their lack of financial knowhow isn’t their fault, we can help them build the necessary foundation to move forward and build the financial future that they want.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Parker Financial Group is truly a family owned, operated and managed firm. My dad and I are partners in the firm, my mom is our CFO and both of our admins are the family that we got to choose. We believe and live by the family first rule and incorporate family first into all of our business dealings. We think of our clients as an extended branch of our family tree as well. We welcome our clients with hugs instead of handshakes and usually spend more time at their appointments discussing their lives and family happenings than we do financial matters. Additionally, a large number of our clients are generational, meaning their parents or even grandparents were clients before them. And now, with me on board at the firm, this transcendence can continue on for even more generations to come.
Wall Street and Finance used to be an “all white boys club”. This has changed a lot recently. In your opinion, what caused this change?
Undoubtedly, I believe there are many different things that have contributed to the increased diversity we see today among “the members in the club”. While I certainly can’t speak to all, or even most, of the reasons for this change, I will say that I think a large contributing factor for the increase of females is due to the general women’s movement that’s gained quite a bit of traction in more recent years. Additionally, there’s a sort of movement within this general movement today, which is “Women support other women”. I think there’s strength in numbers here and having the small number of females in the finance industry join forces has led to more female role models and more women taking interest and seeing finance as a viable career option.
Additionally, I think that another result of the general women’s movement is more women in the workforce, which translates to more women with money and in need of a financial advisor. With this growing population of female clients, I think the “all white boys club” has had to accept a growing need for female advisors as well. After being almost entirely left out of the conversation in the past, the mentality women have about money and the way we tend to process information about it can be quite different than it is for men. Working with a female advisor can often mean a female client’s unique goals, needs and views towards their finances can be better understood and thus lead to better, more customized financial plans for the client.
Of course, despite the progress, we still have a lot more work to do to achieve parity. According to this report in CNBC, less than 17 percent of senior positions in investment banks are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support this movement going forward?
A) Women must take part in, or continue to take part in, supporting other women. Men have always sort of banded together in the work place, making it hard and intimidating for women to encroach on their self-established “territory”. With men supporting one another in this way and usually dominating the job positions at the top, it’s traditionally led women to conclude that they’re not competing with men for a position at the top at all. Instead, the perceived notion is that the competition is other women. I think, now more than ever, it’s pretty clear that this mentality is only beneficial for maintaining the old status quo and letting men monopolize positions of power. With more women supporting one another today than ever before, we’ve seen that raising each other up and collaborating is how we can truly change the equation.
B) I think this is an important subgroup we really need support from in order to propel a significant and lasting impact here. However, real support means real change needs to take place from within and throughout a company. Because the idea of creating more opportunities for women is a change for most companies, it’s really only possible with changing the workplace environment to one that is more inclusive. Any specific efforts made to bring more women into senior positions and leadership roles are useless if companies don’t work to encourage and change the work culture to one where women can actually succeed. Organizations need to break down stereotypes and change the mindsets of its employees, and even more importantly, the mindsets of its leaders.
C) In short, continue the movement of women supporting other women. We’re stronger together and to get the support of society as a whole, it’s going to have to start with the society of women.
You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive things one should do to become more financially literate, what would you say? Can you please give a story or example for each.
1. A credit card should not be used to spend money that you do not have. Credit card companies use very low required “minimum payment” amounts to make it seem appealing for them to take advantage of you. A quick google search will bring up a ton of free calculators that demonstrate the actual cost in interest and time of making just the minimum payment on your credit card balance each month.
2. A Roth IRA is a magical thing. Most likely in your early earning years, you don’t really need the current tax benefits of a traditional IRA. Moreover, you most likely will need, or at least benefit more from, the tax-free nature of the Roth IRA later in life when you actually begin drawing upon it.
3. Compound interest is also a magical thing. The magic ingredient though for what makes compound interest work best is time. Do NOT wait to start saving and investing your money for the future. Believe it or not, WHEN you start saving more often outweighs how much you save. The following example helps make this rather clear…
These four hypothetical investors invest $10,000 a year at 6.5% annual interest rate of return over different periods of their lives:
· Chrissy Teigen invests for her entire working life, from 25 to 65
· Kristen Wig starts just 10 years later, investing from 35 to 65
· Miley Cyrus puts money away for only 10 years at the start of her career from ages 25 to 35.
· Selena Gomez saves from 25 to 65 like Chrissy, but instead of being moderately aggressive with her investment she simply holds cash at 2.25% annual return
4. Listen to podcasts that talk about money, investing, or anything finance related really. The more exposure you can get to financial terms and concepts, especially in the conversational delivery a podcast makes possible, the better equipped you’ll be to tackle your own finances and the more fluent you’ll become in the complex language of finance.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s a funny mentality about seeking out a financial advisor, that is, many people, especially young people, feel the need to put a financial plan together of some sort on their own BEFORE sitting down with a professional. My response to this is, “Would you wait until you got better to go see a doctor?”. It’s okay to need help and even more okay to seek it out.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My parents have made all the successes in my life possible. They instilled in me at a very early age the value of education and hard work. They never handed me the things I wanted but provided me with everything I needed to get the things I wanted on my own. Moreover, they enlightened me to the reality that not all parents have the ability to do this same thing for their kids, and that the luck of my circumstances should not go uncredited to the successes I am able to achieve. I’m proud of the driven, motivated, hard-working, empathetic and compassionate person that I am today, and I know that I am who I am today because of them.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
Nothing hinders achievement and success like feeling inferior and acting without confidence. My biggest weakness, and the thing that holds me back the most in my job, and even just in my life, is my own confidence. I believe this to be very common among women and that it is largely a result of influences and experiences we have growing up as girls in our society. Unfortunately, most feelings of inferiority and lack of confidence come from a lifetime of other people telling us that we can’t or that we aren’t good enough.
There’s a popular belief that we raise our boys to be brave and our girls to be perfect. And it’s this idea of perfection that leads us to question and doubt ourselves, to unconsciously buy into the idea that we’re not in senior positions or male-dominated career fields because we don’t belong there or we’re not good enough. While we’re moving in the right direction toward changing the status quo, the road ahead is still a long one. The bias and discrimination against women is still very relevant and something we will have to continue to face. Throughout this battle though, it’s important to remember that the efforts of others to make women feel inferior are meant to perpetuate the gender gap of the past into the future. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people that will try to take advantage of our own self-doubt and the feeling of inferiority we’re conditioned to consenting to. However, we have the power to control our response to these external stimuli. We don’t have to buy into the judgements or actions of those that want to bring us down or make us feel small. We don’t have to consent to feeling inferior. We decide who we are and what we’re worth, and if we let others make us feel inferior, we’ll never become the women we’re capable of being.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I suppose a movement to make Eleanor Roosevelt’s words (from the question above) heard by women everywhere and of all ages. We can be and accomplish anything we want to when we’re mentally strong enough to know our own self-worth.
Thank you for all of these great insights!