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Meet Jillian Nel of Legacy Asset Management

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jillian Nel.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jillian. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I am a native Houstonian, born and raised just behind Highland Village. Growing up, I loathed the heat and couldn’t wait to get out of Texas to expand my horizons. Yet upon graduation from college, the only real network I had to get a decent job, was of course in my hometown, and coming home couldn’t have been a better decision. Upon return to Houston and thru a close family friend I fell into a financial services administrative role.

In this role, I quickly realized that I had a knack for the business, somewhat to my initial surprise. Being a Finance person was never a dream of mine, as women are not generally pushed into the finance arena. I graduated college with a marketing degree as I always assumed if I was to be a businesswoman, it would be in a creative role. In fact, if you went back and told my 22-year-old self what I am doing today, she might faint.

I quickly grew in my role, passed the important SEC exams like the series 7, 65 and got licensed with the Texas Department of Insurance. In 2010, I made the next best decision after coming home, I decided to pursue the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERtm, aka CFP® designation. I enrolled in the Rice University CFP® certificate program at the Glasscock School for Continuing Studies.

Upon graduation from the program 10 months later, I sat for the CFP® exam and passed. In the class, one of my instructors was Joe Birkofer, another CFP® practitioner and a principal with Legacy Asset Management, a local wealth management & financial planning firm. I like what Joe had to say in class and felt he would be a great mentor.

So upon graduation, I emailed him and basically said, “Hey Joe – I think you should hire me”. The rest is somewhat obvious history as he did, and this past December, 6 years after being hired, I became a partner in the firm. In 2012, after graduating from the Rice program and receiving the CFP® marks, I was asked and hired to be an instructor for the program. I had done well enough in the class that the Academic Director, Kathy Oakley, had confidence in my abilities to teach. Teaching at Rice is a great joy of mine, probably one of the most rewarding roles that I currently have.

Kathy continued to have confidence in me when she decided to retire after many years running the program this past January. In her place, she recommended that I take over as director of the program and Rice administration approved. So, at this point, I am blessed in many ways – to have my practice with the support of great partners at Legacy & to direct & teach a well renowned professional program with the continuing studies school at Rice University.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Oh my! What a journey it has been. When I enrolled in the Rice program, I was a full time working mom. The sacrifices I had to make were many, but I had great support from my husband and family. This balancing act continues to this day as me and my roles have expanded tremendously. But again, support of others is what holds things together.

I did also initially struggle with my value proposition. I think this is something a lot of women struggle with unfortunately despite having all the tools and expertise necessary. Men have an easier time feeling confident about themselves in business and I think women sometimes don’t give themselves enough credit.

This was the main reason why I decided to pursue the CFP® designation. I didn’t think I was equipped to provide to clients what I felt they needed nor did I think I had any real credibility. Yet even after completing advanced education and moving into the role of a financial planner, I continued to struggle with feeling confident.

I have learned over the last few years to trust myself, believe in who I am and what I do. I try to continually grow in knowledge, explore new and creative ways to serve clients and students and think this contributes tremendously to believing in myself and the many roles I fill.

Please tell us about Legacy Asset Management.
I am a Principal and the Director of Financial Planning for Legacy Asset Management. We are a wealth management firm specializing in money management, financial planning, risk management & corporate retirement plans. We are an ensemble firm, each partner concentrates on a different aspect of the business and as such many minds work together for each client. I am very proud of this structure as each client is served with greater expertise.

Clients are clients of the firm, they are not segregated as a client of the advisor who had initial contact. And clients do utilize each of us for different aspects of their financial life and due to that, get specialists on each topic. My area of expertise is comprehensive financial planning and insurance-based risk management. I have also an emphasis on planning for women and for divorce. I have found a lot of success in planning for women.

Many of my female clients have said they feel so good about the future as together we have put a plan into place that makes sense for their lifestyle and they understand the reasoning behind the recommendations. I take the time to really listen to needs, concerns and fears and then communicate the reasons behind any recommendations made, their intended outcome and any possible hiccups along the way.

My goal in every planning scenario is to reduce the fear of the unknown and replace it with a clear view of the future and a path to success.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I think challenging times and making mistakes contribute greatly to the success and growth of character. I have made a lot of mistakes but believe they are why I am here – so I can’t say I would have done anything differently.

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