Behind the Scene in Financial Advising–An Externship

Editor’s Note: Brian Beardmore ’14 discusses his recent externship with Greg Charnes ’00.

During my previous two years of enjoying the 4 week long break that the college is so kind to give its non-seniors, I decided to do what I could to ensure that I did nothing productive. I enjoyed my extra time as much as I could before I would get the expected slap in the face given by the ensuing semester. This time, however, I decided to do something that could actually helpful to my future and that was through the participation in an externship.

I spent two days in Newburgh, Indiana (just East of Evansville) shadowing financial advisor Greg Charnes ’00 of Ameriprise Financial. Although the stay was brief, the experience and knowledge that I gained were far more valuable and extensive than I could have hoped for. It gave me a much better idea of what goes on in the day-to-day necessary work, most of it in which clients do not see.

Charnes has quite a bit of clients between his Nashville and Newburgh office locations and frequently meets with his clients to discuss their finances and what to do with them. However, my visit happened to be on a two day period in which he did not have any scheduled meetings. To many people this may sound as if I would not be able to learn much, but he had quite a bit to accomplish despite the lack of meetings.

Much of Charnes’s work comes from the preparation of meetings through research and organizing. The stock value of numerous companies are extensively researched to give Charnes a good idea of where the company is, has been and could look to go in the future. He advises his clients on what stocks to buy and sell, so having quite a bit of knowledge on these companies is crucial. Organizing files for his clients also took up plenty of time. The updating of information was necessary to ensure that surprises are minimized when the meetings happen.

This type of work took up most of the time I was there and I could not be more thankful for what I learned. Not only did I learn a bit more about stocks and how to look at them, I also learned a bit more on how to deal with people. In an economy that has plenty of upward and downward swings, keeping clients at ease and encouraged can be a difficult task. So much of what goes into this job is being able to not only make the clients comfortable, but to build a relationship with them as well. Advisors want their clients to be able to trust them and to not think that they are just trying to make money off of them.

Charnes and his co-workers seem to have the attitude that they are not simply helping people make money; they legitimately enjoy their job and are looking out for others that need financial advice. I am incredibly thankful for the experience that I have and I recommend anyone who might be interested in that field to visit them.