Two years ago today Duke and I were married. I’ve been thinking all day what I can say that won’t sound trite. And I didn’t come up with anything. All I can say is I fell very very lucky and I can’t image being happier. So I guess I’ll be trite anyway. I wouldn’t have believed it but 🙂 Your dreams can come true it can happen to you!
Last April I wrote a entry on my Sun Blog about why I like to Blog. I want to add two things to that list based on my experience changing jobs and beginning to explore ways to get financial planning experience.
Blogging is a great way to reflect who you are to potential employers. When I first sent my resume to Intuit I also put the resume on my blog. In my cover letter I mentioned my blog. I know that the blog is not why I was hired but I know that my new boss read the blog and I think it helped me market myself. I should note though that the purpose of the blog is not to market myself but because my blog reflects who I am it does in fact become a marketing tool.
Blogging helps you implement learn – teach – learn. I am a great believer in informational interviews. My daughters get sick of me urging them to set up informational interviews with people who work in the fields they are interested in. I’ve done a few informational interviews lately and I think blogging about them has been a great way to crystallize my learning. Intuit talks about the idea of learn teach learn that is what blogging facilitates. First I learn something. Then I blog about it and as a result I learn more.
When I looked for a definition of the word scalable I discovered it is a buzz word that hasn’t made it into the mainstream dictionaries. The webopedia definition says that scalable refers to how well a hardware or software system reacts to increased demands.
I was in a meeting the other day where scalability came up. I’m sure you’ve had those kinds of conversations. One person told their scalability story and then the next person had a better one and so on. I mentioned the Vatican web site’s need to be scalable when the Pope died (Sun systems helped with that). Someone else mentioned Visa’s need to be scalable at Christmas time but my favorite was the Intuit person who told us the very large number of income tax returns that Intuit’s TurboTax for the Web filed in the 36 hours before the filing deadline. The number of returns filed per minute was staggering. And as she said just imagine the consequences if the system had not been able to handle the load. I doubt that the IRS would have been very forgiving for late filings if the reason had been Intuit’s system failed. Luckily Intuit’s system is highly scalable and very reliable.
So I’d love to hear some other scalability stories. I bet there are some good ones out there.
I’ve talked about the Application Service Provider (ASP) model in a previous post. When I say ASP model I mean not running the application or keeping my data on my computer but instead letting the application company host the application so that all I have to do it access the application and my data through a browser. As I said I really like the advantages of storing my data on the web. I don’t have to do backups and it is accessible. In a recent posting John Montgomery of Microsoft talked about why we continue to use ASP applications when the user interfaces and functionality aren’t as good as those for the applications hosted on our own machines. I think his reasons are valid although I never think about the technology catching up. For me the advantage of being able to access my data from any browser and having someone else host my application so that I don’t have to be a system administrator is incentive enough. And in a lot of cases I think the applications are as good or better.
I mentioned Plaxo in my earlier post. I recently sent out an update with my new email address and phone number to everyone in my address book. It has been so much fun to get updates from all my friends and catch up on what they are up to. Plaxo provides functionality that I’ve never had on a locally based application.
Another ASP based application that I have been very impressed with in the short time that I have been aware of it is Right Now. It is customer support software that is used by Intuit for Quicken Medical Expense Manager and for Quicken Rental Property Manager. Right Now provides an easy way to manage and update common questions and answers and the customer support user interface.
Another very successful ASP model software package is QuickBooks Online Edition. In this case although the functionality is less than the desktop version I suspect that the quality of the application, the fact that the user doesn’t have to administer his or her system, and the ability to access the application from anywhere have led to the success of the product. I should note that although I work at Intuit I don’t work in the QuickBooks organization and my observations are very much those of an outsider.
Bottom line is that while some applications are still better on the desktop than being run through a browser there are many other applications that I would much rather run through the web.
I had a great weekend. Friends of ours have a second home up in the gold country and they invited Duke and I to spend the weekend with them. Friday night we took the scenic route up to Sacramento along the delta. We stopped at Isleton for dinner at the River’s Edge Cafe. We had a great home made lunch there a few months ago and the home made pasta we had Friday night was also delicious.
On Saturday we all went to the Empire Gold Mine. It is a state park now but it is the site of the oldest, largest, and richest gold mine in California. We toured the house and explored several of the old mine buildings including the black smith shop and the room containing a scale model of the more than 300 miles of tunnels in the mine. I’m always fascinated by these kinds of places where you can get a real sense of the technology and the history.
Saturday night after dinner we all sat on the back deck and enjoyed looking at the stars through Ray’s telescope. I got to see Jupiter and four of its moon. It was very cool. It was a very relaxing wonderful weekend.
I subscribe to 164 feeds in Bloglines. It is almost impossible to read all of them and stay current so I have created my A1 list that I always enjoy reading and always read first before any other blogs. There are 11 blogs on my A1 list. One of the blogs on my A1 list is Speak up by Richard Edelman. Edelman is president of the world’s largest independent public relations firm. He only posts occasionally but his posts are always thought provoking and he is such a good communicator that you can understand why he is as successful as he is.
In his latest post Edelman discusses the role of PR in the future and how it fits into the way markets are changing and communications is evolving. I especially liked the paragraph which he introduced with a quote from futurist Andrew Zolli, “the consumer must be treated differently, allowed to become part of the
“experience economy.” He believes that capitalism must be humanized”. This is at the heart of what I believe about successful customer support and is part of what I hope to create and deliver at Intuit.
I’m sure you are all dying to know if I made it to work on time today 🙂 Yep, I did. Instead of the hour and 15 minutes it took yesterday it only took 40 minutes today so I was early which I much prefer.
It was quite a productive day and I discovered two more Intuit blogs. I already regularly read the Official Quickbooks Online Weblog. The Rental Property Manager group has also just started a an official blog. Both of these are group blogs. On the Rental Property Manager Blog they are trying out the idea of pointing users to the product forum to make comments. It will be interesting to see how it works. Group blogs like these and the Tom Peters Weblog have a different flavor than individual blogs but I still enjoy reading them. I think they are strongest when the personalities of the individuals and of the team come through.
I’m also going to enjoy reading the blog one of my co-workers has started. Christine Rimer’s blog chronicles the progress in creating a Quicken team blog. These are exciting times. It will be very interesting to see what kind of an impact blogging has.
Today was my first day at Intuit. I did all the usual first day things like spend the day in orientation and have a meeting with my boss. But the day started out horribly. There is nothing like being late to your first day at a new job. I was supposed to meet my boss at 8 before orientation and instead barely got there by 8:30 when orientation started. I just totally misjudged how long it would take. I allowed 45 minutes and it actually took about an hour and 15 minutes. There must have been an accident because traffic was awful. Of course this wasn’t really the end of the world or anything and my boss was very nice about it but I really hate it when I screw up. As I was walking up to the reception area all I could think was don’t let your first words to your new boss on your first day at Intuit be I’m sorry.
I have a meeting tomorrow morning at 8:00 and I’m planning to get there at 7:30!
My last day at Sun was Friday. I start at Intuit tomorrow. My friends at Sun gave me a great send off at the Blue Chalk Cafe in Palo Alto Friday afternoon. Thank you guys so much. I will miss you all very much.
I recently passed the exam to become a certified financial planner. The certification
process has three main requirements. Last year I completed the education requirement
through the UC Santa Cruz Extension program. The second step was passing the exam and the third
step which I still need to complete is the experience Requirement. I have to complete
at least three years of qualifying work experience.
I am starting a new job at Intuit tomorrow which I am very excited about so I am looking for ways to get the experience without changing careers. At some point in the distant future I’d like to become a
fee only planner. But not right now I want to start getting some experience in my
spare time. Being a fee only planner means I would make my money based
based on an hourly rate in contrast to some planner who make their money based on
commissions for the financial products they sell.
Anyway I am trying to figure out ways to get experience. Recently I made an appointment with
one of the instructors I had when I was taking financial planning classes to ask
for his input.
Here are some of the questions I asked him and his answers.
Q: Would you recommend starting out by doing planning for families and friends and would I
need to register as an investment adviser with the state.
A: Doing planning for friends and family can be very difficult. They may not want to share all the relevant information with you. They may not really want advice and they may have unrealistic expectations. As long as you don’t charge for your services you don’t have to register with the state. What most aspiring planners do is form a relationship with an established planner who is willing to let you work under his or her supervision and use his or her registration. The established planner can vouch for the time you spend and can also be your mentor.
Q. Would you recommend the Financial Planning Associations Residency Program?
A. Yes, absolutely. The residency program is an intense week long learning opportunity. You work with teams to do three case studies which include roll playing and getting feedback from experienced and expert planners. It counts for 3 months of work experience. You learn an amazing amount about the practice of financial planning and you make friends for life.
Q I’m thinking about taking the H&R Block Income tax class would you recommend it?
A. Yes if you want to do income tax it is a good class to take and they sometimes offer people jobs.
Q. What other learning opportunities can you suggest?
A. The Bridge the gap track a the FPA annual convention
The National Association of Enrolled Agents
The Chartered Financial Analyst Institute
Q How do I find someone to allow me to work under their supervision?
A. There are multiple ways to do this but you should go into it with a plan in mind. It should be a 50/50 proposition so that the planner you are working with gets as much out of the relationship as you do. You need to identify what you can offer whether it be computer assistance, filing, data entry, marketing or something else. It is worthwhile creating a written business plan so that you have a focused approach to take. Then you can start talking to planners, people you meet at FPA meetings, other students etc. Considering a specialty is a good idea. Possible areas of specialization include things like working with divorced women or providing financial counseling,. Once you have a plan then you just have to get out there and start making yourself known.
Q. Do you have other suggestions?
A. It can be very helpful to create a study group or a group of planners who are going through the same experience. Agree on an approach and a structure for how often you will meet and what you will all contribute. You can bring in speakers, share ideas and learn from each other.