The LearnLux Certified Financial Planner™️ team is growing fast! We are proud to welcome Mamie Wheaton, CFPⓇ on our mission to bring financial guidance to the modern workplace.
To get to know our newest expert, Rebecca Liebman, CEO of LearnLux sat down with Mamie to talk about her career so far, why she chose LearnLux, the financial advice she'd give her 16-year-old self, and the most unusual thing on her desk right now.
Prefer to watch the interview? Click below to launch the video, or read on for the full Q&A.
How did you first become passionate about helping people with their personal finances?
Mamie: I'm very excited to be on the team. I really became passionate about helping people with personal finances when I started in the industry around 2008. I was new to finance. I was fresh out of college. And I started at a very large mutual fund company during the crash of 2008 - 2009. I really saw how people who weren't properly allocated or didn't have a good handle on their finances were hit pretty hard.
They didn't have enough information to make informed decisions about whether they should be staying in their retirement plans or selling off. I thought that if there was proper education around teaching people how to diversify and how to budget properly, that they would be in a better situation in the long run.
Rebecca: Absolutely. We're so passionate about making sure people have a plan. So many of the same things that you saw in 2008 happened this year with COVID, where everyone's financial vulnerabilities were exposed, and people realize that they didn't have a plan in place for a rainy day.
Mamie: Oh my gosh, a hundred percent. That is a perfect example of what happened kind of around March, April of this year. Everything happened very fast. There wasn't a lot of time to react or to think about what you should be doing, the steps you should be taking, or finding someone to talk to. It's really important to have that plan in place and prepare so that when something like 2008 or COVID happens you have an idea of how you should be approaching it.
You're not just a financial advisor, you're a Certified Financial Planner™️. Can you tell everyone what that actually means?
Mamie: You're absolutely right. It's very easy to hear the term financial advisor and not be sure if some advisors have more credentials than another. Being a Certified Financial Planner™️ ultimately means I'm bound by a responsibility to always make recommendations in the best interest of the client.
In order to obtain my Certified Financial Planner designation, I went through about a year of classes and studies and case studies. Then I had to take a final exam. In addition, in order to use your Certified Financial Planner marks, you have to be in the industry for multiple years. You have to have experience under your belt. I can't just take the test and go straight out without having any previous work experience in the financial industry. I obtained my designation about six years into my financial services career.
Tell us about your career so far and the path that brought you to LearnLux.
Mamie: I've been in the financial services industry for 12 years now. I have worked at a big mutual fund company doing mostly investment-based finance. I've also worked for a smaller, more holistic budget-based financial planning company. Both of those set me up very nicely for where I was previously. I was out on my own working with individual clients. I was able to kind of combine the best of both of those worlds. And now I'm at LearnLux.
Why did you chose LearnLux for the next step of your career?
Mamie: I really love the LearnLux mission. I truly believe that everyone deserves access to a Certified Financial Planner™️. They should be able to understand their company benefits and be able to take advantage of those company benefits - those are key pillars to having a good financial foundation. I'm really excited to be a part of this growing trend in employer wellness. I love that employers have really started to see the importance in talking about [financial wellbeing] and in giving this as a benefit to their employees.
What's something unusual or interesting on your desk right now?
Mamie: In true 2020 fashion, my desk is actually my kitchen table, so I've got a pretty interesting setup. I also have my mask, and I would say probably one of the more interesting things on my desk / kitchen table is my Christmas cactus. I found this little guy about a week ago and brought him home with me. I've been very into plants in 2020. I have a lot of plants now around my house.
If you could go back in time and meet with your 16 year old self, what's one piece of financial guidance that you would share?
Mamie: Oh my gosh, this is one of my absolute favorite questions. It's start a Roth IRA. I had my first W2 paying job at 14. One of my biggest regrets is not taking any of that money that I saved throughout high school and college and putting it into a Roth IRA.
Even if it's $300, it just gives you such a good head start. Just as an extra tidbit, if you're someone reading who has a 15-16 year old, you can contribute on their behalf. So, if they make a $1000 working a summer job as a lifeguard and you want them to be able to keep that and spend it or save it how they want to, you can actually put some money in a Roth IRA for them if you're able to. It's just a nice way to start off your child's future on the right foot.
If you could have dinner with one person living or dead, who would you choose and why?
Mamie: That's easy. Anthony Bourdain, hands down. I love Anthony Bourdain. I loved his show. I just loved how he appreciated all other cultures and really brought people together through food. I love the way that he was able to interact with, with anyone, whether he spoke their language or didn't speak their language. I just thought he was just an incredible person. He would hands down be the person I would love to just sit down with.
What is one big financial goal that you're saving for right now?
Mamie: A home purchase. My current lease is going to be up in the next few months, and that I think that's going to be the next logical step. Interest rates are currently low and I love Phoenix and want to stay here.
Fill in the blank. "To me, money is_______. "
Mamie: To me, money is variable. I really believe that money comes and money goes. That sentiment may sound a little weird coming from a Certified Financial Planner™️, but I do believe that it's a reality for many Americans, and actually a reality that many unexpectedly faced in 2020.
As a CFPⓇ, part of my job is to help you plan for those unexpected expenses. We want to help you take advantage of your benefits. We want to help you save for your goals, but stuff happens. That emergency fund that you've worked hard to have may drain. There may be a time where you have to put money on a credit card that has a balance you can't pay off right away.
I think that my job as a planner is to help you prepare, but also to help you move forward from any unexpected expenses or unexpected bumps in the road. Just know that it will be okay and, and you'll be able to build back up again.
What is one goal that you have for your career at LearnLux?
Mamie: To meet with as many individuals at as many companies as possible. I would love it if every American or every person at any company knew how to take advantage of all of their benefits. I think people leave a lot of money / benefits on the table every year when they don't necessarily know what they should be doing to save for retirement or how to take advantage of benefits that their company offers.
Even outside of company benefits, I just really look forward to helping educate people on things that they can do in their own everyday personal life to make their financial situation better, whether it's saving more or just breathing easier.