November 2, 2020

Colleen Carcone has a passion for helping others. Whether that is at her day job as an Income Tax and Estate Planner or as a professor at California Lutheran University. 

Her biggest influences growing up were her parents. Her mother was a nurse. She turned her passion for nursing into a career in the healthcare industry by going back to college to earn her degrees. Her father owned a restaurant. Carcone watched him work and grind to create a successful business, watching the level of work needed to create it. “It instilled my hard work values which I think is where I get having so many different jobs right now,” said Carcone. Not only is she a financial planner and professor, but she has also written a textbook.

Carcone’s Two Passions 

Carcone’s day job is helping higher network clients, in particular educators, by working directly with them for their financial plans. Her niches are income tax and estate planning. “I have worked with professors at some of the most elite institutions, I’ve worked with physicians and very well known names. My job is to be able to help folks understand this tiny niche, their every life and to make it easier for them, that is really what gets me out of bed in the morning,” Carcone said.

Colleen Carcone Quote

Her other passion is helping students as their professor. “I help the students understand their objectives, whether it’s a student in the classroom or through our education initiatives in a program teaching certain topics to our advisors. I get so excited when I hear someone repeating something they heard me say,” said Carcone. When a student understands the material or talks about a situation they used it with a client, it means Carcone has reached her goal of teaching. That is the moment that makes teaching a fulfilling job.

Modern Family in the Classroom 

Carcone teaches Principles of Estate Planning for the MBA program at California Lutheran University. She likes to use case studies in her teaching experience to help study and practice concepts, making it easier for students to remember when they work with a client. 

In particular, she liked to use examples from the popular TV show, Modern Family. “It has every estate planning situation you could ever think of from divorced couples to same-sex couples to adoption.” By using these examples they explore real-life planning situations including death and taxes. It is important for clients to think about what should happen to their assets why they pass but can be difficult to talk about, she said.

Colleen Carcone Quote (1)

“If I can make it fun in the classroom and help folks to start thinking about this and talk about it with their clients it’s going to help them become a better planner. We need to be able to help our clients think about their estate plan,” said Carcone. “Whatever your passion is, it is what we as financial planners have the responsibility and passion of being able to help plan for.”

Qualities For a Good Professor

Carcone believes in bringing topics to the classroom in creative ways to help make topics stick for students. It is something she takes to the core of her teaching. “You have to understand that this teeny, tiny area of the world is probably the only thing that I know inside and out. I have to figure out a way to make something that gets really complicated quickly, easy to understand,” said Carcone. She uses repetition of stories and breaks down the subjects to be simple and easy to understand when teaching. 

Another aspect of teaching that she believes is important is to check on the students especially if someone looks confused. It’s important for students to feel comfortable asking questions she explained. To do this Carcone likes to acknowledge that concepts can be difficult to grasp and understand when first learned.

Qualities For a Good Student

“The reason you are a student in a class is to learn something new. If it wasn’t new, and you already knew the information, you wouldn’t take the course,” said Carcone. She believes it is important for students to ask questions, be inquisitive, and soak up the information. What’s more, in order to do this, it’s important for them to identify and understand how they learn. Is it auditory? Visual? This can enhance students learning and make it easier for them to do so.  

Tina Turner Doesn’t Have to Sing

The professor that influenced and inspired Carcone the most was from law school, in her fundamentals of contracts class. It was in this class the professor shared the story of Tina Turner signing contracts and singing. The overall lesson being, “You can’t make her sing.” In a twist of fate, years later Carcone ran into her professor at a Tina Turner concert!

This seemingly short story has stayed with Carcone her whole life, proving the power that stories can have on students in the classroom. She enjoyed the classes so much it influenced her teaching style in the classroom. She too likes to share stories with her students when teaching new concepts. Carcone also likes to simplify to make it easy to understand, be relatable and approachable to her students, and ultimately, wants to help them in their careers. 

Cooking and Beach Walks

In her free time, Carcone enjoys trying new recipes and going-off script to create a new dish. After spending hours of the day working on her laptop, she enjoys having some downtime and being creative. She also enjoys walking along the beach/ waterfront every day in Boston. She treasures this time to reflect on being grateful and thankful.  

About the Interviewee:

Colleen Carcone

Colleen Carcone J.D., CFP®,  is a professor at California Lutheran University, as well as an Income Tax and Estate Planner, and author. 

Colleen is a tax attorney with more than twenty years of experience who has escaped practicing law and now works in-house for a financial services company partnering with high-net-worth individuals. Colleen has been teaching estate planning and income tax planning for various programs for twelve years. An estate planning expert, Colleen co-authored Principles of Estate Planning, the third edition of which was published in 2018 and has been quoted in many articles.

Colleen has served as a Director of Wealth Planning Strategies for TIAA for more than 13 years, where she has been serving the firm’s high-net-worth families with specialized advice and sophisticated financial, income tax, and estate planning strategies.

IMG_5784About the Author:

Rosie Baker is an undergraduate student at California Lutheran University, graduating in May 2021. She is studying Communication with an emphasis in PR and Advertising and has a minor in Creative Writing. In July 2020, she published her first book, Mirrors & Windows: Unlocking a New Framework to Envision Your Success, with New Degree Press.