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Julie Penwell

In terms of what helped me transition from the PFP curriculum into my current role as a Paraplanner at Private Ocean, I would say there were three key elements that have helped the most. The first of which would be the multitude of team-based projects we were assigned. We had at least a dozen opportunities to work on various team projects throughout the program. This meant getting to work with each other on varying topics in each course and being adaptable to new team dynamics and responsibilities dependent on the project. In my current role, I am starting to support Advisors in the planning process for their clients. Each client is unique, and therefore each plan is unique in what it requires. Team projects are not always "cookie cutter", and neither are financial plans! Our program taught me to be flexible with what I can work on - and this is something I am doing every day. The second element that has helped me is the various teaching methods used by our instructors. Each course in the PFP program covers a different subject in a financial plan. Our instructors catered their teaching methods to these subjects. For example, in our insurance class the instructor had us debate the pros and cons of various insurance products. This meant being able to defend a particular insurance product by understanding the benefits and any potential drawbacks of implementing it. I appreciated learning exercises like this because it made these subjects memorable and helped me retain that knowledge really well. Financial plans have a lot of moving parts, and there is a lot of information that can be covered in a meeting; making it invaluable to have a strong understanding of this knowledge. I think the final aspect of the PFP program that has helped with my transition is the cohort itself. As the first graduating class from the PFP curriculum, we were a particularly close-knit group, not only with each other but with the instructors and practitioners involved with the program as well - which is something I believe is incredibly unique to both the College of Business at CWU, and the Personal Financial Planning program. As a college student, you are surrounded by a well-structured support system of academic advisors, friends, roommates, faculty, etc. As you transition into a full-time working position, that support group shrinks a bit. Part of my transition out of college has included a move to a brand new city - San Francisco, which has provided me with an incredible opportunity to work with the Private Ocean team in California but has also created some unique challenges in terms of meeting new people and navigating a new city. However, our PFP group still stays in contact with each other, and we even got together for dinner over the holidays. I feel incredibly fortunate to have a group of over a dozen individuals that are also transitioning into their first roles with the financial services industry, that I can reach out to for support and advice. There is a heavily quoted statistic that there are more CFP®'s (Certified Financial Planners) over the age 70, than under 30 - and this is something that becomes really apparent in your first months on the job. So again, this cohort is really meaningful in terms of sharing our challenges and successes with each other in these early stages of our career; and I hope that we continue to support and encourage each other as we progress further.

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