State of the...

The hall took some time coming to order. Old friends saying hello, moving without hurrying to their places. The same seats every time, which made it easier to spot those choosing not to attend. 

The speaker waited for good order to be made by the slowly quieting assembly. After all, he had been here the year before. Others like him had made this pilgrimage as well. He was older than most of the audience, quite older in fact, and he knew many before him wished for his job, envied his career, some believed they were better suited to the task at hand than he.

As was his custom before public speeches, he looked down at his shoes, black and polished, lifted with a slight tug his left pant leg and smiled at the glimpse of his black sock. A self-imposed inside joke, remembering the only sartorial advice he had ever bothered with, “wear black shoes, black socks and any suit they match, and you’ll always be fine”. It was true 40 years ago when his career was new, it was still true enough this day.

“Energy, more energy this year” he thought to himself as he cleared his throat, stepped up to the podium and began his address.

The individual I’m describing was not President Biden at the State of the Union address. For all I know the President may not wear socks at all.

Rather the individual was me addressing Fundamentals of Financial Planning this semester at Iowa State University. A task I’ve undertaken in the past and, if asked, will do so again. I’m always pleased to be given the opportunity. I start by relating my own rather weak academic pedigree. I graduated from my high school in the half of the class that made the other half of the classes’ parents proud of them. Also, I’m certain there are at least a couple of Catholic Sister from my time at Dowling spinning in their graves at the thought of Jonathan Glaser lecturing at ISU…. It could be worse; Notre Dame has never called.

I go because I love my profession. Financial Services is, as my friend Greg Gunderson is fond of saying, “a noble profession”. Greg’s father was a financial professional, as were my father and mother. My daughter has followed me, or maybe it was my mother, who blazed the trail she now follows.

Financial Planning is a subset of Financial Services and what I hope to convey is that this is a serious business, so take it seriously, but also love your job. Your clients deserve and need your best- and best-informed efforts. You will find them more interesting than you think. They have their stories of the past and hopes for their future. Their goals are often, not just for themselves, but for their children, grandchildren and their communities. Prepare yourselves now to be their advocate. You are their Social Worker because, yes, even the wealthy need social workers. We just happen to wear suits and ties…. preferable in colors that match black shoes and socks.

Tags: Financial planning, Iowa State University