The power of yes
Julie Singer’s openness to new experiences has colored her life with adventure.
“Trying things in this beautiful, strange world is the only way to find your path.”
In those few words, Julie Singer, AAMS®, CFP®, effortlessly summed up her mantra. The one that inspired her to study abroad in South Korea, Jamaica and Germany. The one that led her to Utrecht, Netherlands, to conduct independent graduate research on microfinance in developing countries, and to serve as a graduate teaching assistant in London for comparative homicide and comparative punishment courses. And eventually, it’s what led her to become a fourth-generation financial advisor. In short, trying things and searching for her path is what has colored Singer’s life with adventure.
Of course, not all of her experiences have been a dream. Her path, like most of ours, has been marked by twists, turns and detours.
Singer’s original plan was to become a U.S. Foreign Service officer.
“I wanted to work in embassies, so I studied French and Swahili,” she said. “I figured I could be an Africanist in the Foreign Service.”
But an autoimmune condition emerged and thwarted her aspiration, helping her discover a new one.
At the time, Singer was working as a data analyst in the nonprofit sector – a position that enabled her to make recommendations, but didn’t give her any control over their implementation.
“One day, my dad called and asked if I wanted to spend a day shadowing him to make sure I wasn’t interested in a financial career.”
One day was all it took.
You can’t outrun your destiny
“I didn’t want to be a financial advisor. Growing up, I didn’t see myself in this industry,” Singer said. “It was men in suits. There were cigars and there was golf, and none of that was me.”
It’s a dichotomy that drove Singer to go in what she considered an opposite direction – a sociology and religious studies degree with a minor in Swahili from Indiana University.
But you can’t avoid your destiny. And it’s clear Singer’s destiny was to lean into her financial background rather than run from it.
After that fateful day shadowing her dad, she realized she could transfer her skills to a job as an advisor. She would still be analyzing quantitative and qualitative data to champion people’s plans. Plus, whereas her analyst position prevented her from implementing recommendations, advising gave her the freedom to bring strategies to life.
Starting in December 2014, Singer focused on pursuing her new career path, and within a few months, she was participating in the Raymond James Advisor Mastery Program (AMP), which allowed her to more seamlessly integrate into her father’s practice, Singer Wealth Advisory of Raymond James.
“The most important thing for me throughout AMP was: I don’t know what I don’t know,” Singer said. “I really wanted to take advantage of the resources at my disposal. When you’ve been in an industry long enough, people aren’t just throwing resources at you. And in that early stage, I wanted to soak up as much as I could and say yes to learning as much as I could.”
For Singer, AMP’s highlights included the opportunity to practice with her peers instead of prospects and speak with Raymond James leaders from different departments. She also treasured her time with her coach, Julie Pressnell. So much so, that when she won free team coaching for a 2018 practice management award – the result of a tool she created to more holistically document prospective clients – she didn’t hesitate to work with Pressnell again.
Singer recently joined AMP in a new capacity – as a mentor for her brother, the latest addition to Singer Wealth Advisory of Raymond James and a current AMP participant.
Merging her passions and profession
Since joining financial services, Singer has managed to merge her passions – championing people, caring for the environment, driving meaningful change – with her profession. She’s specifically focused on sustainable investing, with nearly all of her net new assets in fiscal year 2021 stemming from ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) opportunities.
“Everyone cares about something,” she said, adding Sustainable Investment Forum data indicates investors are interested in ESG at a higher rate than advisors are asking about it. That’s why Singer has made sustainable investing part of her onboarding process, emphasizing that clients don’t have to sacrifice returns to invest in their values.
Another misconception she pointed out: ESG isn’t rooted in politics. People who are religiously conservative, she said, often see themselves as stewards of the planet. Hunters, for another example, want a healthy environment that ensures healthy animal populations.
“Every person has values,” Singer added. “And they shouldn’t have to compromise those to plan for their financial futures. At its core, ESG is an opportunity – regardless of political preferences, age or geography – to connect with clients a little deeper by asking what’s important to them.”
Get lost with Julie
There are waiters and there are doers. Waiters, as you can assume, are those who wait for life to happen to them. Doers take the reigns in search of thrill and fulfillment.
Singer is a fearless doer.
This has been evident throughout her life, including her approach to the pandemic.
While Singer had to be particularly cautious due to her autoimmune condition, she decided to reclaim her sense of adventure as soon as she got vaccinated in summer 2021.
“Whenever I was supposed to be on a trip that was canceled because of the pandemic, I created a road trip to replace it.”
She documented her travels on the Singer Wealth Advisory website, tying each stop – from northern Ohio to Freeport, Maine – to an ESG theme.
At the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, she wrote about how the Cuyahoga River is most known for catching fire at least a dozen times due to pollution. While in Letchworth State Park, she discussed how its founder, William Pryor Letchworth, made the park possible by purchasing over 1,000 acres of land and donating it to the state of New York to preserve as a natural area.
Putting her time where her values are
Living in accordance with your values isn’t just something Singer preaches. It’s something she practices in an array of ways.
In 2016, she became part – and eventual chair – of the United Way of Central Indiana’s Emerging Leaders Society, a community of United Way supporters who are age 40 and below. It’s a role that has allowed her to inspire young professionals’ philanthropy and drive their efforts to eradicate poverty.
Singer deepened her impact by joining United Way’s executive committee in 2020 and helping raise a combined total of $100 million in 2019 and 2020 as community engagement campaign co-chair. She is also a Sustainable Investing Advisory council member as well as part of the John Whittenberger Society, where she works with Indiana University alumni to create scholarship opportunities for current students.
As for how she does it all, Singer says it comes down to carefully managing her time and being open to new experiences.
“You have to try a lot of things to figure out who you are – to figure out what makes you happy and how you can be of service to others.
I have, and I’m really happy with who I am.”
This piece was featured in Aspire Magazine, a biannual publication from the Women Financial Advisors Network. View the latest.
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