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What The Marine Corps Taught Me About Financial Planning

Alex LaRosa, CFP®

Alex LaRosa, CFP®

Investment Advisor Representative

April 29, 2021

Before I joined Blue Bell Wealth Management to pursue my passion of helping people plan for their financial future, I was on a totally different path. Between the years of 2011-2015, I was serving in the United States Marine Corps as a combat engineer. While those four years and two tours seem like an eternity ago, I still find myself bringing some of the skills that I learned to my career as a financial planner. So, in the final week of financial literacy month, I wanted to share with you some of the things that not only have helped me as a CFP® Professional, but I believe anyone can apply to their own financial lives. I apologize in advance for any military jargon, but it is only natural.  

  1. Discipline  

No surprise here! To be successful in the military, or anything for that matter, discipline is a requirement. Discipline to me, is making the hard choices day in and day out to ensure you are accomplishing your mission (or is this case your financial goals). It takes discipline to get up at 5 am and run 6 miles just like it takes discipline to save 15% of your income every single year.  

Some of the most successful clients I have worked with have demonstrated some form of discipline in their financial lives. Besides the obvious things like sticking to a budget, saving, and investing it also takes a certain form of discipline to ask for help when you need it.  

2. Attention to detail  

Throughout bootcamp, the saying “attention to detail” was engrained in us all. Everything from the way we marched, to the way we ate, even the specific folds needed to make our beds in the morning were watched and graded. While it seemed like a silly thing to worry about in the moment, we began to see the big picture as time went on. It is the attention to the little things that add up to accomplishing the big goals.  

If you can apply this detail to your finances, you will no doubt find success. Pay attention to minor things like spending habits, savings, and asset allocation. Continue to do the little things right and the big milestones for your goals will come.  

3.Problem Solving 

Every mission that I was a part of required an immense amount of planning. Hours of walk-throughs and dry runs until you knew your job and everyone else’s like the back of your hand. And every time nothing went according to plan, and we needed to adapt.  

I see this time and time again when it comes to financial planning. We can spend days, even weeks putting a plan on paper and have the fates chart a different path (sort of like the COVID-19 pandemic). Being successful financially requires the ability to adapt because the only thing that we can expect is the unexpected.  

I think this is one of the reasons I fell in love with financial planning. Because all it is at the end of the day is problem-solving and learning to adapt on the fly.  

4. Calculate and Understand Risk 

I probably do not need to go into too much detail here about the risks associated with being in the Marines. But almost every decision we made was a calculated risk. The same thing is true for everyday life, especially financial planning. 

Certain risks need to be taken to be successful, but they need to be calculated and fit your personal financial situation. Whether it is investing in the stock market, starting your own business, or even having children. Understanding risk can go a long way.   

5. Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful) 

Faithfulness and loyalty are the bedrock on the Marine Corps values. Hence, why it’s saying is Semper Fi. However, it is more than just a slogan for Marines, it is a way of life. Faithfulness to your Platoon, to the Corps, and to your Country.  

I believe that when it comes to being a financial advisor, loyalty to your client is non-negotiable. Which is why I am grateful to be part of a firm in Blue Bell PWM who shares that same value as a true fiduciary. 

When you are looking for financial advice, it is imperative that you find someone who will put you and your best interest ahead of their own. Look for an advisor who acts as a true fiduciary 100% of the time.  

Conclusion  

I am thankful to be doing what I love, helping clients solve their financial problems, but I would not be here today without the lessons I learned from the Marines. I believe that anyone can apply these skills to their everyday and financial lives. If you would like to speak with me about planning for your future, you can schedule a call using my calendar. Semper Fi! 

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What The Marine Corps Taught Me About Financial Planning

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