The Industry Leaders talks with Jeffery Jeter, the Director of Financial Planning Services at Heritage Investors, about his fascinating journey to becoming a certified financial planner after starting as a fighter pilot.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
That's an interesting path. I began as a fighter pilot, including combat missions in the army. From there, I went into the medical industry making pharmaceutical sales, where I hung around for about eight years. After that, I began selling industrial equipment before making my way into the financial industry via the world of insurance. I then became an advisor and began working on my Certified Financial Planner™ designation. When a colleague found out I was working to become a CFP®, he invited me out for coffee, and I've been following him ever since. He is our CEO, Justin Goodbread.
What kind of work does your role involve?
There are several facets to my role. I do most of the personal financial planning for our clients. The majority of our clientele are small business owners. Therefore, there's a lot of overlap between personal financial planning and the efficient operation of their businesses. Additionally, I help people with investment management, efficient cash flow, retirement and estate planning, and risk protection. But beyond that, I have a team that I manage. The team is made up of a paraplanner, portfolio managers, and remote advisors. Finally, I also act as a sales director, matching client needs to our valued services.
What gets you excited about your industry?
I love the fact that every client is a different puzzle. Each individual has different fears, goals, and dreams. I love getting to learn about clients and putting together a custom plan to help them achieve their goals. Every plan is completely individualised. To me, that's the coolest part of my industry. There is no day that is like the day before.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
I've got a couple of really good pieces of advice. First, as a trusted advisor, the best thing you can do is shut up and listen. You've got two ears and one mouth and you should use them proportionately. It's very easy, in an advisory role, to do all the talking. But I find that I'm able to provide a lot more value to my clients by listening. Next, if you don't value your time, no one else will. Set limits on your time, leaving room for faith, family, fun, and meeting your commitments and obligations.
What's the best way to support aspiring leaders in your field?
I do a lot of networking. At these events, I encounter a lot of advisors, insurance agents, and financial professionals. So the one thing I always want to do is offer any kind of help I can. I usually begin conversations at networking events by asking, "What can I do to help you?". If there's anything I'm able to do, I take them down that path. If they're new to the industry, I share my path with them. I try to share the mistakes I've made and the pitfalls they should avoid while also helping them set some goals.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
Primarily with podcasts. But I've got a team around me, and we all value continuous learning. The great thing is that we each have different affinities for learning. So we are able to bounce things off of each other based on that. I've got a guy that loves to spend time watching the daily market fluctuations. I've got an inspirational leader who's great at team development and operational efficiency. And I love to listen to podcasts about tax strategies, personal planning, and even insurance. We're all learning, and we just share the knowledge we've gained with one another.
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
The exam to become a CFP®. I have two bachelor's degrees and graduated with honours. I've always been a good test taker and have always been confident when going into exams. So, when I failed the CFP® exam, I immediately signed up for the next testing cycle. I did what I've always done to prepare, but harder. I failed again. That time, it hurt. So I asked for help in the form of a test prep course. It gave me some insight into the nature of the exam and I was able to complete it successfully on the third attempt.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
I suppose I'd try to find out who lost the lottery ticket. If I could locate the owner, I'd return it. If I couldn't find the owner, I'd cash that baby in and try to do some good with it!
I would try to put my family in a great financial position and make things a little more comfortable for friends and family that don't live under my roof. A large portion of it would go to the Church and charities.
How do you define failure?
I believe the only time we fail is when we stop trying. Until you stop trying, you haven't failed; you’re just learning. The analogy that comes to mind is how many of Edison's light bulbs didn't work. The only reason he didn't fail is that he didn't stop trying.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
Integrity comes to mind. I think the majority of the people in this industry are those with high integrity. But there are some who prey on people, making poor recommendations and soliciting products that don't have the client's best interests at heart. Instead, they make suggestions that benefit their own interests. This has kind of rubbed off on people, giving a negative view of the industry. I'd like to see the entire industry held to the same fiduciary standards that I, as a CFP®, am held to.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
This is an easy one! We produce a podcast at Heritage called Financially Simple. If you're a small business owner, you should definitely be listening. Primarily, it is hosted by our founder, Justin Goodbread, CFP®, CEPA®, CVGA®. He educates listeners through either a monologue or via interviews with some of the biggest financial names in the country. Through that sharing of information, we all have a single-minded approach. We give away almost everything we do for people on this free podcast.
How should people connect with you?
People can connect with me on my LinkedIn account, Jeffrey Jeter, CFP®, CEPA®, ChFP®, CEP®, at HeritageInvestor.com, or at FinanciallySimple.com.
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