John Thiel is an Assistant Vice President and Advisor at Wealthspire Advisors in the San Rafael Office, where he leads client meeting relationships and other advisors on their client relationships.

His interest in financial planning began when his father was doing well in his business, and he hired a financial advisor. As a result, his father was engaged in the stock market, and he started sharing “that knowledge, excitement with me, which got me learning about the market and trading stocks. We even set up a small E-Trade account, then a TD Ameritrade Account. We would trade stocks and talk about them.” With the exposure to learning about investing and the markets at an early age, Thiel decided to pursue a business degree. As he was “more mature, my parents allowed me to join their financial advisory meetings with their advisor, Kimberly Foss. During the meetings, I learned much about my parent’s financial situation and what this profession could be.” During the meetings, Thiel learned about the financial planning profession and how financial planners guide clients to achieve their financial goals. As a result, he saw the financial planning career as a “potential profession to pursue.” In his senior in college, he interned at Northwestern Mutual as an insurance agent, giving him more significant exposure to the financial services industry. He realized, “I enjoyed the financial services aspect; I love talking to people and helping them solve financial problems. However, I wanted to have more tools at my disposal.”

He started researching different colleges in financial planning, and California Lutheran University was the choice he selected to pursue his degree. CLU provided the eligible courses to take the CFP Exam and was an accredited university to get his MBA; the program offered great instructors that were experts in their respective fields and were available online. Having online classes allowed Thiel to “work during the day and take your courses in the evening so that I did not have to slow down my career trajectory. I was excited to go back to college to start learning again and pursue the path there.” The program gave him more confidence in doing his job and stability in his decision-making.” His decision-making allowed him to best “serve clients, plan for the future, and operate in a financial planning business.”

Near the end of the program, Dr. Chia-Li Chien reached out to invite Thiel to be a part of the Ventura County Lodging Association (VCLA) Pro Bono Project, which partnered with CLU to develop a Request for Proposal (RFP) for investment management services. He had the opportunity to work with a team of students, graduates, and professors to recommend a local financial institution to manage the VCLA’s accounts based on their specific financial needs. After the VCLA project, Thiel co-wrote a paper on the project with Dr. Chia-Li Chien and Assistant Professor Stefan Cosentino called “Forecasting Assessment Revenue: The Case of Ventura County Lodging Association” and presented it at the virtual CFP Conference in 2020.

Thiel’s father was one of the greatest influences in his career because he supported him in pursuing what he loved. Kimberly Foss was encouraging and gave him a perspective on the financial planning business. “When I started in financial services, it gave me something to aim for since she had an RIA and was working fee only. I want to work in a business like this one day, and I did.”

One of the trends in the financial planning industry is more advisors working for Registered Investment Advisors (RIA) firms instead of the traditional brokerage business. In addition, he stated there is a trend in mergers and acquisitions where large firms are continuing to buy small firms. A big trend that is being noticed is the addition of as seen by the CFP® as one of their eight principal knowledge topics. There is “bigger emphasis on the human side of financial planning and behavioral psychology.” Other trends Thiel is excited about are blockchain and AI, he expects AI will supplement as a tool to help advisors better serve their clients. In the next 5-10 years, Thiel plans to continue to work in an RIA and serve clients.

Thiel’s advice to students pursuing their career in financial planning is “set your sight on getting the CFP® in the future because that journey will tell you how this business works and if you want to continue on this path.” Thiel believes earning the CFP® certification opens the door to many opportunities. He also stated, “there are many ways to get into the financial planning business, and it is good to be open to finding the right fit. I recommend staying aware of what’s out there by reading blogs, listening to financial podcasts, and attending conferences.”