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Stephanie Cox Hulsey on Avoiding Professional Burnout and Overcoming Self-Doubt

With a strong sense of numbers and a passion for the world of finance and wealth management, Stephanie Cox Hulsey excelled in mathematics and calculus classes throughout high school. There was no question where her career was headed. After high school, Stephanie Cox Hulsey started working as a bookkeeper at her uncle’s sporting goods store […]

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Portrait of young cheerful african american businesswoman wearing brown suit smiling and looking at camera
Portrait of young cheerful african american businesswoman wearing brown suit smiling and looking at camera

With a strong sense of numbers and a passion for the world of finance and wealth management, Stephanie Cox Hulsey excelled in mathematics and calculus classes throughout high school. There was no question where her career was headed.

After high school, Stephanie Cox Hulsey started working as a bookkeeper at her uncle’s sporting goods store to save up and pursue higher education. In addition, she worked part time as a waitress and began dabbling in financial investing. She was excited to see how her investments began working for her.

Stephanie Cox Hulsey attended university to become a financial advisor. Throughout her studies, she worked as an intern for several firms, learning from some of the most experienced financial advisors in the industry. After graduation, she worked for a couple of years in New York.

Never wanting to stay far from home, Stephanie Cox Hulsey moved back to Knoxville, Tennessee. She now manages her own private firm and offers quality investment advice and portfolio management services to a wide range of clients.

Why did you choose to become a financial advisor?

While I always knew I would end up working in the financial industry, I wanted to become a financial advisor to really help clients take control of their lives in terms of their finances. We have a major debt problem on our hands and some people just don’t know how to get out of debt because they don’t have the proper knowledge or help they need. My goal starting out in my career was to be relatable and not to shame people for past financial choices and to let clients know that sometimes it is difficult to take control, no matter your financial situation. I take pride in giving people confidence and peace of mind when it comes to their finances.

What surprised you the most when you started your career, what lessons did you learn?

I learned that the industry isn’t all about knowing your numbers. Wealth management and portfolio management are complex fields with a lot of different layers and it’s so much more than just being good with numbers. It has to do with patience, persistence, a lot of long days conducting research and proper analysis, and being a good people person that your clients can rely on so that they can make informed decisions.

What is one piece of advice you would give someone starting in your industry?

I would say to seek out a mentor that you look up to in the industry. They don’t necessarily need to coach you on your career path, but if you have a clear idea of who your role models are and the type of position you want to be in someday, that person can be someone that you really look up to. By looking at this person’s career path, you will also give yourself a goal with what you hope to achieve in your own career and it can give you an idea of what you need to do in order to get to that level.

If you could change anything about your industry what would it be and why?

I think it would be all the paperwork that is still involved, despite the fact that technology is so prominent. It’s just unnecessary at this point. I would change that aspect.

How do you maintain a solid work-life balance?

While it’s so hard to achieve a good work-life balance in the financial industry, I do try to make it a priority. During my work day, I make sure I allow myself a 15 minute coffee break in the morning to either go for a walk, read the newspaper, or even just watch tv if I want. Having the ability to walk away from work even for a short time helps you avoid a burnout. I also avoid eating lunch at my desk as I think it is an unhealthy habit for your mind. In the evening, no matter how busy I am, I make sure that I have at least an hour to myself to do what I choose, whether it’s spending time with my family, exercising, or even just meditating or reading a book. This is vital. If you are overworked and burnt out, you aren’t helpful to anyone or anything.

What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?

I would say it would be overcoming my own inner self-doubt when I started out in my career. There were a lot of aspects I was unprepared for when I first began working in my field and it was so overwhelming. I had to turn off that inner voice telling me I couldn’t do it and stepped it up. I think a lot of people experience that feeling of imposter syndrome when they start work and it takes a lot of strength to overcome that in order to find your confidence.

What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?

Budget, budget, budget! Make sure that you don’t have more money going out of your bank account than going into it. Make sure you set aside the necessities for bills, food, and shelter, and save the rest. More could be accomplished if more people knew how to save, and in order to know how much you can save, you need to know how to create a personalized budget and stick to it.

What does success look like to you?

For me, success looks like helping as many clients successfully manage their finances as possible. It means a lot when I am able to see my clients progress with the solutions I have provided for them. I have helped some clients who had never dreamed of becoming homeowners get out of debt and purchase their first home. To me, that is success.

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