Georgia Hussey was an artist and struggling homeowner in Portland, Ore. when she embarked on her journey to financial life planning. She said she spent much of her twenties constructing installation sculptures and writing fiction and non-fiction, yet working day jobs to support her artistic endeavors. 

Unlike some of her artist friends who had financial securities from their families, “I was making it on my own,” said Hussey. 

She grew tired of the financial struggle and started to research people who worked with money; that’s when she discovered financial life planning. In order to obtain her CFP, Hussey sold her house and went back to school. 

Afterwards she worked for a large firm, but found that it was too product focused. 

“Good people, but the model wasn’t right for the work I wanted to do,” she said. “I went to a smaller RIA looking for the right business model to support my vision.”

The smaller RIA wasn’t an exact fit either, so Hussey founded her own fiduciary named Modernist Financial that caters to Portland entrepreneurs with large illiquid assets. With this clientele, Hussey said she has a business model where she can charge a flat fee until the client’s assets reach a million. 

Modernist Financial is registered as a B-Corp, something Hussey said proves the validity of Modernist Financial's social efforts and builds trust in its pre-dominantly progressive community.

Backgrounds and planning approaches like Hussey’s have been enhancing the financial services industry for a long time now and exemplify the importance work history and diversity. Their unique business takes and strong ties to the communities that they are based in have lead firms to create initiatives that target candidates with various types of backgrounds.

“The profession is evolving. It’s becoming more diverse, more visible and more appealing,” said Michelle Lynch, vice president of Raymond James Network for Women Advisors, in an inaugural issue of the organization’s biannual publication Aspire.

Raymond James has two diversity initiatives: They’ve instituted the Network for Women Advisors and Black Financial Advisors Network. The firm tracks their progress, noting in the 2017 fiscal year, out of 153 participants in its Advisory Mastery Program training, 43 percent were diverse.  

It has also tracked the previous work experience of advisors who transition to its business. Lynch said some non-financial professions come with transferable skills that help its advisors do well.

For example, she mentioned schoolteachers and psychologists stood out among Raymond James’ pool of advisors. Teachers bring an educational approach and psychologists bring an understanding of people’s emotions towards money, said Lynch. is a job board for financial advisors that is partnered with many wirehouses and banks. It has also noticed the types of professions that cross over well. 

Jeff Testerman, the co-founder and managing partner of, said he has noticed that a consultative sales approach (or needs-based selling) does very well in the financial industry. Testerman cited jobs as mortgage loan officers or pharmaceutical sales representatives as common compatible professions.

Both Testerman and Lynch named relationship building ability as a winning transferrable skill. 

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