Empowered to achieve a dream

Raymond James enabled Margaret Folk to become the advisor she always knew she could be.

For many, the benefits – job flexibility, a work/life balance and uncapped earning potential – are what make becoming a financial advisor so attractive. But for Margaret Folk, it goes much deeper than that. Her desire to be an advisor started long before she knew what job flexibility, work/life balance and uncapped earning potential even meant. She was just a kid.

“I lost my father when I was 3 months old, and my parents were not prepared. They were a young couple with a tiny baby, a mortgage and no will. He was the breadwinner, and my mom was working on her bachelor’s degree and waitressing.”

Because Margaret saw how being unprepared impacted her family, she became a child who was very regimented about saving and budgeting. “As a result, people started coming to me for advice on how to save their money, too. So I began to feel like I was naturally someone who loved advising people and loved helping people feel prepared.” That’s why for Margaret, being an advisor is more about helping people than the benefits of the job.

Given her early years and natural inclination to provide financial guidance, one would think Margaret would have become an advisor right out of the career starting gate. This, however, wasn’t the case.

“After college, I worked in the accounting department of a local benefits firm and really climbed the ladder there at a young age. After I earned my MBA, they continued to create new positions for me, but I really got to a point where I was stuck.”

At this point, Margaret began seeing an executive coach, a move that helped her change the course of her career.

“The first question she asked was, ‘What do you want to be?’ And I responded, ‘a financial advisor.’ Then I proceeded to give a thousand reasons why I could not possibly be a financial advisor. But, one year later – after coaching – I started at Raymond James Financial Services.”

And even though working for Raymond James was a new experience for Margaret, working with Raymond James was not.

“I actually started working with a Raymond James advisor, who’s now my branch manager, when I was 19. I was paying my way through college – my mom paid half, I paid half, and I was working a full-time job, and I had all this extra income. I thought, ‘Hey, I need to be smart with my money.’ I have enough of whatever 19-year-old kids love to have when they have extra money. And every couple of years my advisor would say, ‘Hey, Margaret, you’d be really good at this.’ And I would say, ‘No way, too scary.’” Fortunately, with the help of an understanding branch manager and with the training provided by AMP, Margaret was able to conquer her fears.

Because business is much different for a brand new financial advisor than for a seasoned veteran, Margaret’s branch manager thought AMP was imperative for her. And for Margaret, AMP was more than she expected.

“What I think makes AMP unique is that it looks at the advisor as a whole person as opposed to just specifically being focused on sales techniques. Other AMP trainees in my class went through other programs that focused on the numbers and not the advisor holistically. So, I think some of the pieces that were incredibly valuable were just being thoughtful about stress management.”

And those pieces are things that Margaret strongly relates to as a person. “You really need to keep a balance, and if you don’t keep yourself fit, and if you don’t keep yourself strong and healthy, then you’re never going to be able to provide for your family. You’re never going to be able to provide for your clients. You’re just not going to be up to par. So I was so pleasantly surprised to see that those pieces were incorporated into our training program, because that’s so much of who I am and continues to jive with me culturally.”

For Margaret, AMP exceeded her expectations of simply learning the business – and more.

“AMP enabled me to network with advisors of my generation. It’s the fact that I am able to pick up the phone and call someone in Atlanta, LA, New York or Baltimore and know they’re going through the same thing I am and to know them pretty intimately from the time we all spent together at AMP. And because I work in such a small office in Pennsylvania, I don’t really have access culturally to the firm. I just know what goes on in my office. So, it was so great and really imperative for me to meet other people at the home office. It’s these connections that have been important for me.”

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, Certified Financial Planner™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP®(with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.