By Phil Adams, Mathis Wealth Investment Advisor Representative
Sometimes, people I meet during my work as a financial advisor learn that I am a retired firefighter. Often, I get a funny look, followed by the question, “Wow, that’s quite a jump from firefighting. What made you want to go into the financial service business?”
I understand their curiosity. After all, the two careers might not seem to have a lot in common at first glance. But as I see it, there are several qualities that a good firefighter shares with a reliable financial advisor.
Trust, being the foremost. Those who need your help must trust you and your abilities. Second, as a firefighter or advisor, one of the first things you must learn is to always remain calm and avoid panic. I can tell you when you’re responding to an emergency call and everything and everyone is in chaos, you realize that it is your job not only to gain control of the situation, but also to protect the lives of anyone in the vicinity. It can lead to some elevated adrenalin levels and yet, if you allow your emotions to control your actions at a fire scene, the results are typically not going to be good. In fact, they can be deadly. Instead, you have to remember your training, rely on your equipment, and your team members, and do the job the right way. This is the very much the same in the financial advisor business, there are many situations where the calm and reasoned response to panic and emotion can save people from making devastating financial decisions.
Guess what? There are a lot of emotions involved with investing. And if you allow your emotions to make your investing decisions for you, the results are not going to be good, a majority of the time. When the markets are going up, down, and sideways, and people’s retirement funds, or college education funds, or money invested for some other important purpose is involved, it is important to have a plan ahead of time and to stick with it, this takes the emotion out of the equation. It is vital to remain calm and observant, to remember your training, to trust your research and your team and to do the job the right way.
Next, one of the things I appreciate most from my time as a firefighter is the tremendous support and benefit provided by the pensions and other benefits for longtime firefighters. Many of us don’t realize how fortunate we are to have the benefit of the financial security that a pension provides. These benefits were provided by the efforts of farsighted leaders decades ago who were determined to see that those who served our communities for years would be able to earn a level of financial security. As a financial advisor, I’m privileged to help people get the most from their pensions, benefits and other sources of retirement income, and I think that my time as a firefighter and a recipient of some of those same benefits has made me all the more appreciative and conscientious.
Finally, I think it comes back to service. As a firefighter, I always believed that my core job was to serve the people of my community by helping them stay safe. As a financial advisor, it’s the same thing: I want to provide service to people by helping them make wise choices with their investments and in planning for the future. The fast-moving financial markets of today can be confusing and even intimidating, but if I can put my training and knowledge to work by guiding someone toward a more secure retirement, toward funding a child’s or grandchild’s education, or some other valuable goal, then I get a great deal of satisfaction from providing that service to others.