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Amy Powell

From Data To Dialogue

How Amy Powell Masters The Art of Financial Advising by Listening

Amy Powell, CFA on Women Advisors Making an Impact

Amy Powell knew one thing when she entered the financial services industry - after witnessing her own family’s relationship with money, she wanted to help others avoid emotional struggle or stress related to finances.

She was initially turned off by the sink-or-swim environment touted at the traditional financial advisory firms - where financial advising was more of a sales job, knocking on doors eight hours a day to see what you could get. Rather than a focus on development, it felt more like “throwing 20 people out there and hoping that one comes back halfway decent… I never wanted that environment.” 

Amy Powell, CFA on Women Advisors Making an ImpactThat was, until she realized the career was more about being a good listener - a people person. “To me, the best financial advisors are good listeners,” Amy says. “It's a little counterintuitive: People think of advisors as salespeople who are outgoing and maybe a little bit pushy. But honestly, the people who know how to listen to their clients and understand their needs are really going to be the people who become better advisors.” 

Amy had the technical chops to become a solid financial advisor - she’s a CFA charterholder, and prior to financial advising, she worked for 12 years in research for firms including Transamerica and Raymond James. But her revelation on the need to build her soft skills was inspired by an unlikely source- her physical trainer, who hosts a podcast made for athletes and coaches. 

Amy loves sports - and is an avid follower of Mike Robertson’s The Physical Preparation Podcast. In it, he talks about the importance of building relationships with people - and how that is the foundation of business - to really understand people. “I think he was the one that turned on the light bulb for me- that this is not a finance job, it's a people job, it's a relationship job. And so once I shifted my lens and looked at things that way, then it really just opened up how I work with clients. And honestly, their experience with me is a ton better now that I don't just spit numbers or economic data to people,” Amy says. 

She focuses on making her advice relatable. “I really want clients to understand, here’s what we’re doing and why we’re doing it… If they understand themselves really well and what they want and what their fears are, then it's up to me to figure out the details.” 

On the flip side, a bad advisor might talk about Apple stock for 20 minutes “when you really couldn’t care any less about it. They don’t relate it back to why that’s important to you.” 

Amy stresses the importance of making the conversation fun and something clients look forward to. Clients don’t remember the technical details when they walk out the door from meeting with you - “what they will remember is how they felt during and after the meeting,” she says. And typically, clients are a little intimidated or anxious. “You want to make it an enjoyable experience so they want to come back.” 

Lessons Learned

Amy credits interviewing hundreds of portfolio managers in her research role for teaching her two things: 

  1. The importance of proper construction of a portfolio. “In good times, everyone does well. In the hard times, you start to see the cracks.” 
  2. It’s useless to “chase returns” or “time the market” because “no one gets it right consistently,” she says. 

Today, she uses these lessons to build portfolios centered on client’s goals - what they value and what they want out of life. Providing this clarity relieves the stress and helps her clients become hopeful and more confident about the future. It also helps her explain the value of “sticking to the plan.”  

Amy’s biggest challenge now is time. It’s one of the main reasons, after nine years as an advisor, she made the decision to leave her current firm to launch her own practice, AimWell Financial, in partnership with RFG Advisory. 

She always wanted to start her own business, but waited to find the right place - a firm with great technology, solid processes, more investment options and high quality service. 

“RFG Advisory is really going to help take a lot of things off of my plate so that I can spend more time with my clients. Because at the end of the day, doing paperwork or operations tasks doesn't add a lot of value to clients, but me being able to spend time with them and talk to them, engage with them, is really going to be what moves the needle.”

Removing the Stigma Around Money

People have a fear of talking about money, Amy says. Our society frowns on sharing how much money you earn, what your investments look like, whether you’re on track for retirement or whether you have debt. Regardless of how much money you have, your attitude about money has likely been colored by your own experiences or attitudes of others surrounding money growing up. This can be a huge communication hurdle, Amy says, because “if you don’t talk to anyone, it’s not going to magically fix itself. You have to be open and talk about these things so you can get on the right track.” 

One way to combat the stigma around talking about money is to start introducing personal finance concepts to kids at a young age, Amy advises. Because kids aren’t learning the concepts at school, it’s important to have conversations around money in the home earlier. Kids need to start to understand why mom and dad do the things that they do, and that the card they put on the table “is not just a free card to get anything you want. It actually has concrete consequences to what's on it.” Amy also thinks that establishing a fun starter investment account for kids to invest in something they are excited about can be a cool way to watch how money can grow.


As Amy advances to the next stage in her career, she’s interested in directing her attention to mentoring the next generation of advisors. She strongly believes that the key to success is beyond just studying for a CFP exam, it’s learning some of the softer skills too - which can only be learned through experience. The CFP is not “going to tell you how to handle the client that just started crying in front of you, or the person who calls you in a panic wanting to sell their portfolio because they just don't know what else to do,” Amy says. “Those kinds of things are really something that you need to see live in person, experience it, and have somebody who can help teach you how to respond.”

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About Women Advisors Making an Impact

Vantage Impact knows the importance of diversity in the financial services industry, and that women are vastly underrepresented in the field. To help increase the visibility of women in financial services, we are excited to launch Women Advisors Making an Impact. In this collection of articles, we are spotlighting women financial advisors—their career paths, biggest challenges as women in the field, and ideas for helping grow female representation in the financial services industry. We hope you enjoy their stories as much as we do.