My background is somewhat unique for a financial advisor. In high school, I was always very interested in science and math. I attended Texas A&M and earned a degree in nuclear engineering. That led to a 10-year career as a project manager in the nuclear industry, working on initiatives such as plant licensing, quality control for nuclear fuel assemblies, and sales of nuclear fuel components.
My company was acquired by another company in the industry, and I thought it was a good time to consider my options. I could have continued in many different positions in the nuclear field but decided I wanted to explore a new, more entrepreneurial path. I entered the MBA program at the University of Dallas, which I found appealing since many of their courses were taught by adjunct professors with professional expertise. It was a dual-track program, where I could study for a degree in finance while also taking courses in preparation for the Certified Financial Professional exam.
After graduating with my MBA, I passed the CFP exam and was ready to begin my financial-services career. I spent four years with the Principal Financial Group and 11 years with Lincoln/Sagemark Consulting. I then decided to establish my own independent firm and founded Rhodes Financial Group in 2010, where we focus on comprehensive financial planning for individuals and business owners.
Throughout my financial-services career, I have believed in the importance of continuing education and giving back to others in our field. I have been an active member of the Financial Planning Association and served on the board of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter. That has been invaluable in networking and sharing ideas and best practices with my peers.
I also had the opportunity to begin teaching at the University of North Texas in the finance department in the late 1990s. I taught a senior-level financial-planning course there. After doing that for several years, I was given the chance to teach in the university’s Professional Development Institute CFP program that prepares students to sit for the CFP exam. I began in 2000 by teaching the insurance class for a couple of years, then the capstone cases class until 2011.
I found that in the PDI CFP program about half the students were not interested in getting into the business. My students, other than the financial-services professionals seeking to obtain the CFP designation, included doctors, small-business owners, attorneys, and retirees. They wanted to learn the information for themselves to help them manage their own financial situation. As one older student put it, “I am not sure I am always being served well by my advisors, so I want the knowledge to better evaluate their advice.”
It was especially rewarding to teach the case studies and principles of the CFP program to the students who wanted to enter our industry. I believe there was great value in the excellent course material I was able to present, and also in sharing the cornerstone principles of fiduciary and client-care responsibilities of a Certified Financial Planner professional.
Teaching these courses also helped me stay sharp on all aspects of financial planning, as the students would always ask insightful and often difficult questions. I either had to know the answer on the spot or be able to research the correct answer very quickly. I believe it also adds to your credibility as an advisor for clients to know that a highly respected university has employed you to provide instruction and knowledge to its financial-planning students.
Disclosure: David L. Rhodes is a registered representative of Cetera Advisor Networks LLC. Securities and advisory services offered through Cetera Advisor Networks LLC (doing insurance business in CA as CFGAN Insurance Agency LLC). Member FINRA/SIPC, a broker-dealer and a registered investment advisor. Cetera is under separate ownership from any other named entity. Cetera Advisor Networks, its affiliates, and Rhodes Financial Group do not give tax or legal advice. You should consult an experienced professional regarding the tax and/or legal consequences of a specific transaction.
Certified Financial Planner and CFP are trademarks or registered trademarks of The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc.
Photography by Mark Sykes
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