Kami Niebank is a Deputy Chief Compliance Officer at California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), where she works on investment and ethics compliance. Before she joined CalPERS, she worked in the private sector in the financial services industry for ten years and has been at CalPERS for 25 years. Her 25 years at CalPERS include “7 years in compliance, before that I spent ten years in investment office operations and back office, and remaining time strategy planning and internal consulting role.” Her favorite part of being a Deputy Chief Compliance Officer at CalPERS is, “I get to be in an advisory role, and I get to help people. I help individuals focus and understand the rules and how they apply to them to stay compliant.”

Niebank was working investments while she was studying at CLU, and “I wanted to strengthen my investment knowledge and have a broader background, and I wanted to converse with others about different asset classes.” California Lutheran University provided much depth in the financial services industry, and the courses were accessible online. The courses “exceeded my expectations and were top-notch.” Her favorite part of the program has various topics, from law and ethics to financial planning courses. Also, there was diversity in the program, from students with no experience to professionals with their practice. Having various people with different experience levels allowed her to broaden her knowledge in the industry.

The most significant influence in her career was a former manager, Chief Operating Investment Officer with a private sector background. “She was very knowledgeable and had experience working for a big asset manager. At the time and today, there are not many women in senior roles in investments. I learned a lot from having her come in and be a role model. She was very personable and approachable. She interacted with everyone and had a clear vision that she would not hesitate to roll up her sleeves and do the work with you. She gave me the confidence to be myself and capitalize on my strengths.”

The most significant trend in the financial planning industry is the emergence of robo-advisors. Many advisors feared that automated systems would replace them. “I have not seen that happen, and knowledgeable planners are always needed. Many changes are happening in the markets, so people do not want to go on an online chat. CFPs must be on the top of the markets and know their clients to build relationships.”

Niebank sees herself retiring from her job in the next 5-10 years and doing something more fun. Start a passion project like “teaching yoga on the beach.”

The advice Niebank offers to students pursuing their career in financial planning is that “CLU is a wonderful program. Make the time to learn the content and build your network because the program brings together a variety of individuals with skills and experiences that you can learn from and leverage in the future. Build those relationships and stay in contact with the people you network with within the program.”

In addition, “out the financial planning industry, there are many topics in the program, such as investments, economics, law, and planning. The program helped me broaden my knowledge, and I use the topics that include advisory services, interpreting laws and rules, and understanding investments in my day job.


About the Author: 

Rafael Nieves Rios is a graduate student at California Lutheran University, graduating in 2024. He is studying for an MBA in Financial Planning.