Content Provided by Paula Wieck, CLS Investment Research Manager
There is no shortage of reasons why I chose investment management for my profession. These motivating factors began during my childhood, when my desire to help people become financially secure began to take shape. Now, as a portfolio manager, every decision I make, I not only think about the performance and risk, but also how my decisions will affect the very real people behind the assets.
Growing up, my family struggled financially, and the hardships my family faced burned an everlasting impression on my character. I had a roof over my head and food on the table, but we went without quite a bit. We couldn’t afford furniture, so we strategically arranged lawn chairs and card tables around the house so we had something to sit on. Often times we didn’t have a working phone either, as my parents simply couldn’t afford to pay the bill. When I was about eight years old, I remember trying to comfort my mother at an ATM, as she sobbed over our bank account’s negative balance. Ultimately, my parents divorced when I was 12, as their financial situation took its toll on their relationship.
The struggles continued as my mother and I moved into a small apartment. While she took a job earning minimum wage, I did everything I could to contribute. When I became old enough to work at the beginning of high school, I got a job at a near-by coffee shop, often working 40 hours a week to help make ends meet.
I thoroughly enjoyed school, and going to class was never much of a struggle, and miraculously, while working full-time throughout high school, I maintained a 4.0 GPA. My days were long and hard, but somehow, I managed to live off three hours of sleep a night. I took advanced placement classes, which required a lot of time studying outside of school. In a typical day, I would leave the house by 7:00 AM, go to school all day, work at the coffee shop until close (usually around 10:00 or 11:00 PM), and then go home and start my homework (needless to say my coffee addiction started back then!). My hard work paid off though – I managed to save enough money to buy a used car and enroll for college!
My determination continued through college, working two jobs in order to afford tuition and pay my bills. In addition to working at the coffee shop, I took a job at a local gym, training members how to use the exercise equipment. This job was a turning point in my life.
Some of my clients were wealthy, and often talked about how they had created their financial security. One memorable client was a retired gentleman who was a pure joy to train. He lived a life of comfort, but was the warmest, most down-to-earth person I had ever worked with, and he made an ever-lasting impression on me. He would often talk to me about his latest financial investments, stressing the importance of investing early and often.
This intrigued me. I had never had any exposure to investing, but the concept made so much sense! I wanted to learn more… so in the middle of my college career I changed my major from Nutrition Science to Finance and Banking. Although this put a delay in my graduation date, I felt it was necessary – this was what I was meant to do! This was a career where I could help people avoid the mistakes and hardships my family faced.
The bottom line is that when I was growing up there were many times when I wanted to throw in the towel. Almost every memory of pain in my childhood centered on not having enough money. It seemed like I was always fighting an uphill battle. I am now in a position that strives to help people avoid those mistakes my parents made, and the pain they created. I am part of a firm that seeks to help clients set goals, develop action plans, and obtain financial security. I know there are many families in similar financial situations to mine as a child, and I’m grateful to be in a position that can help create a positive financial impact in some of those situations.
Years later here I am – working my dream job as a portfolio manager. CLS has formed a partnership with some of the most talented and respected financial advisors in the nation, and I seek to make positive changes in their financial planning. I may not be a doctor, but I feel like CLS and I are saving lives together. The more people we can reach, the greater chance we have in doing something to improve their quality of life. There you have it. This is why I became a portfolio manager.