When Chantel Bonneau graduated from UCLA, she had job interviews lined up after her family vacation. Crisis struck when her return flight home was canceled due to a volcano eruption and she had to cancel her interviews. Fast forward 10 years, her journey has led to an incredible career in wealth management and a Top Women in Business nomination from the Los Angeles Business Journal. Today’s conversation includes networking to get a job and what employers are looking for in candidates.
- How Chantel’s Career Thrives During Recessions (2008, 2020)
- Chantel’s Experience Looking for a Job
- How Chantel Utilized her Existing Network to Receive Multiple Job Offers
- What Chantel Wish She Knew Before Job Searching
- So…..What Is a Mutual Fund?
- Don’t Leave Free Money on the Table
- A Day in the Life at Northwestern Mutual
- Chantel’s Five Steps to Financial Health
- The Biggest Myths of Getting a Job at Northwestern Mutual
- How the Different Genders Apply for Jobs and Transferring Skills
- The Most Common Mistakes When Financial Planning
- How to Get In Contact with Chantel
Editor’s Note: We provide a transcript of each episode to make it easy to search and read. Since robots are not ready to take over the world yet, the artificial intelligence isn’t perfect. There may be some typos in the automated transcript.
Chantel Bonneau: [00:00:00] In 2010 there was the Icelandic volcano. And, um, and I was actually in Europe during that. So I got stuck in Europe with my family and I had interviews lined up the entire week that I was supposed to be back and we were, we were stuck in Europe. What are you going to do? And, um, I remember being so stressed thinking, Oh my gosh, I need medical insurance. I need a job. These companies have a million people lined up for jobs and I have to tell them that I can’t make it. So it was definitely a stressful time.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:00:31] From Vyten Career Coaching. It’s How I Got Here. A show about business leaders, their resilience, and the stories behind their career moves. I’m Vincent Phamvan, and I’ve interviewed thousands of job candidates over the years in both recruiting and as a former corporate executive.
Now I’m on a mission to help you take the next step in your career. A corporate job opening attracts an average of 250 resumes and just one person is going to get hired. It wasn’t all that long ago that I was nervous and frustrated by my job search, but it doesn’t have to be this way. You can navigate your career with confidence, spend everyday learning, and drive to better yourself. You can be excited about the future.
And on today’s show, we meet Chantel Bonneau, a wealth management advisor at Northwestern Mutual, author of Finding Your Financial Type, and a Top Women in Business nominee by the Los Angeles Business Journal. Chantel and I met about 10 years ago at UCLA. When Chantel was seven or eight years old, she convinced her mother that they needed to sell snacks at her brother’s baseball games.
The reason: she realized there was a captive audience there. In fifth grade, she convinced her teacher that the classroom should have a monetary system in place to modify student behavior. In enough words. Chantel was the classmate who, when fundraisers came around, she always sold the most magazines, wrapping papers, candy bars, whatever the fundraiser was.
She was raised for a career in business and finance, but we’ll get back to that in a second. I feel like I can’t be the only one sitting around right now during a pandemic wondering, daydreaming, really, about where my next trip was going to be. I’m getting a little bit stir crazy with the stay at home orders, so I wanted to ask Chantel where she’s going to go after the pandemic’s over.
Chantel Bonneau: [00:02:23] Oh my gosh. If I could go anywhere, I would go to Italy. Again, not maybe right now, but generally speaking, I went to Italy for my honeymoon and it’s just such a beautiful place. I feel like people have a great attitude. It’s relaxing. Not that I don’t love the hustle, obviously in the industry that I picked and in America, I appreciate entrepreneurs and people that are working really hard, but it’s nice every once in a while to take a step back and enjoy, you know, Tuscany for all the reasons that everyone who’s ever been there does.
So maybe I would do that. Um, if not, any city I go to, I love going for a run in the city because you get to really see things and usually in the morning, no one’s around. So wherever I am, that’s something I would usually be doing.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:03:08] I’ve never been to Italy, but my wife and I have it on our bucket list.
How Chantel’s Career Thrives During Recessions (2008, 2020)
Maybe we’ll go there next. The thing Chantel and I do both have in common though is that we both graduated from college during a recession. On September 15th, 2008, Lehman Brothers filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. On that very same day, Bank of America also announced that it would purchase Merrill Lynch for $50 billion.
Over the next 12 months, the financial system was in ruins and the unemployment rate in the US doubled with nearly 16 million people unemployed. What a great time for both of us to find a job. Chantel was one of my classmates who I remember not only survived during these difficult times, but over the next 10 years she thrived and came out stronger than ever.
I wanted to catch up with Chantel to understand the story behind her career move and what job seekers in 2020 could learn from the experience.
Chantel Bonneau: [00:04:07] There’s a few important lessons that I’ve learned that I’m still learning. One of them is that experience, and, how you navigate through things is really important.
It’s easy to read about things or make assumptions, but, um, specifically in my industry, starting back during the last recession that we had, I think that gave me some real perspective as to what people feel going through those things, how people react, how challenging it is, and those experiences helped me when the market is good and when things are good to coach people appropriately versus being, you know, a Fairweather adviser.
So I think that’s an important one. Another big lesson that I’ve learned is, um, rejection is part of a deal, right? You have to put yourself out there and reach out to people if you’re in any form of business development. There are going to be people that are going to say no or [00:05:00] don’t need your services or what you have to offer, and that’s okay, right?
If you put out a really great product and you work very hard, you’re going to attract the people that need your services and align with you and which you can help them with. So not taking things too personally, I think is really helpful. If you know you’re doing a good job and the last lesson is it makes it so much easier to go to work every day if you truly enjoy what you do.
And, um, most of my clients and the people that interact with me know that this is my thing, right? For lack of a better term, it’s not an accident, right? That this is what I do with my life. Working in the financial space. And people really appreciate that, but I really, really care about it. And, um, we all need a job, right?
And we need to earn a living. But if you have the opportunity to do that, doing something that you’re really passionate about and that you can do, um, 110%, you don’t mind putting in the extra hours and time. I think it makes it a little bit more enjoyable.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:06:00] I completely agree. Especially with the second one. In terms of facing rejection, you know, a lot of times in life, and in business especially, it’s kind of like baseball, like batting you bat 300 that’s great. But it still…
Chantel Bonneau: [00:06:14] You’re a winner.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:06:16] …yeah, you’re a winner, but it still means that 70% of the time your, failure is not the right word,. but when you have that as an expectation, going in there, taking risks, and putting yourself out there, finding jobs can be really frustrating or job searches are really frustrating in general.
Chantel’s Experience Looking for a Job
I mean, you and I both went through a job search during really tough times. And, I mean, we’re seeing a lot of the same types of things now. Companies freezing hiring positions, uh, canceling internship programs. So back then, tell me about your experience looking for a job.
Chantel Bonneau: [00:06:52] It was a scary time. I mean, I went into college thinking about certain companies, imagining companies that I might interview with or intern at or work at one day that did not exist when I left school. I mean, that’s a crazy concept to think about in a real, staple institutional company. So that was challenging. It was challenging because so many companies were in a place of uncertainty that they were not hiring, um, at the same level.
I was even rethinking certain angles in the financial space that I wanted to work in, and I honestly believe that had I graduated two or three years earlier, I would have ended up in a different part of the financial field and then had to make a transition as the world really changed. So it was scary for those reasons.
On top of that. I was a college cheerleader, so we traveled around for all of the games and had practice at night. So that made it very challenging to actually attend any of the traditional recruiting events that so many of my, um, you know, people that we went to school with got to attend. So I had to work extra hard to try and find ways to get noticed and get interviews, um, if I wasn’t able to attend the recruiting events.
So that was, that was pretty challenging. And, um, to top it all off, I remember in 2010 there was the Icelandic volcano. I don’t know if you remember that. Um, and I was actually in Europe during that. So I got stuck in Europe with my family and I had interviews lined up the entire week that I was supposed to be back and we were, we were stuck in Europe.
What are you going to do? You can’t take a plane. And I remember being so stressed thinking, Oh my gosh, I need medical insurance. I need a job. These companies have a million people lined up for jobs, and I have to tell them that I can’t make it. So it was definitely a stressful time. And um, and it was really important to stay focused on finding a company I really wanted to learn with.
Because that’s the other component is that when you’re starting your career, you’re learning habits, you’re learning behaviors, your professional network is starting at a company. And that was something I was very clear about is I wanted to be aligned with a company and a culture and an opportunity that was going to set me up for as much success as possible.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:09:04] It sounds like being flexible was really important throughout those times that you were going through.
How Chantel Utilized her Existing Network to Receive Multiple Job Offers
Chantel Bonneau: [00:09:12] Yes. To take opportunities when they come up and work really hard. And, um, I asked everybody I knew if they knew anyone in the financial field. And that was an important thing is I just never knew which connection was gonna make the difference.
And, I just remember trying to think of ways to get in front of people and because of the recession we were in in 2008 and on, it really opened up my eyes to the reality that people not only needed the analytical skills that I had been working on at UCLA but also needed a trusted resource and that was when I really started digging into behavioral finance and what were the different areas where I could have a role that equally analytic in the background but also gave me that human interaction and that’s when I discovered the wealth management field, the financial planning role.
Th was such a needed place. There was a very small amount of people in that field relative to how many potential clients there are out there. It’s still a very under-penetrated field. The quantity of people retiring in that field was tremendous. So, um, so the need is higher and higher and it’s a field that in good times and in bad times in the market and you are equally important.
And that was something that really resonated with me.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:10:36] And I’ve seen so much of the content that you put out where you can tell that you’re passionate about being able to help other people. So, you know, as you are navigating that you fared in a much better place than I did in the first few years out of college.
I went to UCLA making uh, no money in a full time job that I had before UCLA and I ended up graduating and taking a job that paid me half of what I made before I went to UCLA. And I literally felt like it took me years to be able to catch up from what should have been a career accelerator and then ended up being just a horrible environment.
And the key that it took me years to being able to learn afterwards was actually in one sentence that you just said. Which was, I asked everybody in my network if anybody knew of a role that could be a good fit. So tell me a little bit more about that and like, how did that come to be?
Chantel Bonneau: [00:11:30] Yeah. At the time I was, um, I was working at UCLA law school, right.
As a senior in college and just doing clerk work. I mean, I basically filed and shredded paper. It was very exciting. And, um, and I was asking everybody I knew and actually through someone there, connected me to their uncle. And I remember them saying, I don’t even know what he does, but I think it’s at a financial company.
And I said, great. I would love to talk to him. So, um, so she connected me with him and I called him and we had a conversation. And what’s interesting is from that conversation, he was in the financial planning space, and that’s what really opened my eyes up to that role and just the realities of what that job really entailed.
And that just was so attractive to me. And I ended up getting that job offer at his company, which is crazy. I didn’t take it. I ended up taking an offer at a different company. Because if someone I met through meeting this guy, so the point of that story, is sometimes, it’s not always linear, but, um, but asking around, exposed me to different, um, angles in the industry through another friend of mine, um, they actually got a job offer.
At a different company. And, um, and she was in the military also, so she was not able to actually take that role. She had a different path she had to take. And they had asked her if they knew anyone else and she told them about me. So just by asking people ate gave me options, which was really helpful versus being in a position where I had to take whatever came up
Vincent Phamvan: [00:13:04] and we hear time and time again on this podcast, especially when we have recruiters on the show. They get hundreds of resumes per open position and being able to network and get a warm introduction to somebody who works at the company.
It’s just a great way to make sure that your resume gets viewed. These are like the things that I wish I would have known when I would’ve graduated. I probably could have saved myself a lot of frustration and heartache. Um, my wife’s job. The, she got after she graduated from college, literally happened through like the same thing that you’re talking about.
So we have a mutual friend, Rachel Cooper, who went to UCLA. She was in medical school, uh, at a place called Meherry, which is in Nashville. And my wife was looking for a nurse practitioner job. We’re literally like out at a restaurant eating pho and just like hanging out. And she goes, yeah, so what? Like what are you going to do after college?
She goes, Oh, I’m looking for a nurse practitioner job in women’s health. And she goes, Oh, that’s funny. I’m doing a rotation right now in OBGYN, and I think they’re hiring nurses. And literally like the next week she was interviewing and you know, before we knew it, like the job search. Was done, but it’s kind of funny, you know, you mentioned a situation where like you were literally could not go to those traditional networking events.
I think everybody puts so much pressure on those traditional networking events, and yet they’re not looking at, Hey, who do I play racketball with? Who do I work out with? Who do I like literally have movie nights with? And how do I reach out to all those people where that connection can absolutely happen like that.
What’s one thing that you wish you knew when you were starting out your career before you jumped into this great role that you’re, uh, in today and have been in for a decade now? Um, one of the things that you wish you would have known beforehand.
What Chantel Wish She Knew Before Job Searching
Chantel Bonneau: [00:14:44] I wish they would have known on number one, that the world is always about networking, right?
At some point, a lot of jobs and industries boil up to business development. And how important it is to build those relationships. Um, I think I did a good natural job of that. I just think if we’re a little bit more conscious, that’s, that’s really helpful. Um, I also wish that I would’ve known, um, how many people don’t think the way that you think.
I think we assume everyone views things the way that we do. And that was an important lesson for me was that not everybody did grow up in a household that had financial discipline. Specifically, not everyone lives within their means. And that was an assumption I made going into this, that everyone cared about financial planning.
But this was such an obvious, right? And I think people that go into the medical field feel the same way. They’re baffled that people don’t proactively go to the doctor and take care of their, um, of their medical needs. The same thing in the financial world. And. What I quickly learned is that I had to work really hard to really understand people and where they were coming from, and not to have any biases, not in a bad way, but even assumptions that people have a certain level of knowledge or that they know what a mutual fund is.
Right? I’m. Constantly surprised that people, very, very educated people don’t know, even the most fundamental things. And I think the quicker I learned that it allows me to have a little bit more empathy for people and realize that I not only needed to put on the advice hat, but also the educator hat. Um, because so many people have, um, concerns or fear because they feel that they’re undereducated in these areas.
So…..What Is a Mutual Fund?
Vincent Phamvan: [00:16:28] it’s such an intimidating area too, because it, it, there’s all these acronyms. There’s all these words. There’s all these terms that, you know, I just, a lot of the times I just don’t understand. So I mean, starting out of basics, what is a mutual fund?
Chantel Bonneau: [00:16:44] We love our, we love our acronyms in the financial field.
It’s almost laughable. It’s a different language. So a mutual fund, right. Again, it’s so interesting cause people usually have to skip a few steps. Like they have to sign up for a 401k or, um, or make an IRA contribution. And. Because there’s time, it’s timely, right? You have to make choices and they don’t know those basics.
Like what is this actually invested in? Most of the time it is a mutual fund, which specifically is a combination of underlying holdings like stocks or bonds that has some sort of theme, right? So it might be US large-cap growth and mutual funds are interesting tools because they allow a lot of consumers to enter the market when maybe you don’t have millions of dollars to invest and you need proper diversification. So if you want, if you have $1,000 to invest, you’re not going to buy a share of Amazon, right? Um, and a mutual fund allows you to have a more diversified, um, pool.
And one of the ways I always describe it to people is if you walk into Whole Foods with $5, good luck finding all the ingredients that are going to make a meal, right? But you could go to the salad bar and get one little piece of lasagna, right. That had all those ingredients and a mutual fund is basically that salad bar. It has all those underlying ingredients to get you an actual deliverable, usually at a diff, at a lower purchase price.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:18:07] That’s such a common misconception. I feel like a lot of people feel like they need to have $1,000 in a savings account before they can start investing.
Chantel Bonneau: [00:18:17] Yeah, the common misconception that I think a lot of people have in the financial world is that you need a lot of money in order to participate and therefore make a lot of money.
And they forget that the principles really are, um, for most individuals is that you just need to start somewhere and you need to build those habits into your financial life. And, rarely is it going to be a good time to start setting aside two, five, 10, 20, 30 percent of your income, whatever the number is and begin saving.
Um, so don’t wait for it to be the perfect time for that. Another misconception, like you said, is that it’s until they have thousands and thousands of dollars there’s nothing that they can do when, um, when the reality is, is most people can start somewhere, even if it’s small so that they can begin building and investing over time.
Don’t Leave Free Money on the Table
Vincent Phamvan: [00:19:07] That makes so much sense. I mean, I remember early in my career, one of my managers had sat me down and basically just said, Hey, do you know what a 401k is? No, not really. Okay. Hey, the biggest thing that you need to know about a 401k is we have a company match. And you should contribute at a minimum just to get the company match because otherwise you’re just leaving money on the table.
The company’s willing to invest in your retirement and you’re just literally leaving money on the table and going, “Nope, actually, sorry. I don’t want, I don’t want that money. You guys keep it. You know, the company needs more money. You should, you should keep it.” The other thing you mentioned just phasing just now, and he was a sly, sly manager cause he got me to set up the, like every year it goes up a percent.
So I sent it. I think I ended up staying at that company like seven years before I knew it. You know, seven years later I log in and I’m like, Holy cow. Like there’s all this money in here.
Chantel Bonneau: [00:19:58] Yeah. Setting yourself up, um, in those circumstances where you accidentally save or keep saving more is always usually a good idea.
And, um, and most people don’t notice the incremental differences, right? So you might start participating in putting 3% into your 401k so you get that match because you are so right, that is free money. Um, why would you leave it on the table in most circumstances? Um, and then if you are increasing it both numerically and also if you make more money, 3% of a larger amount of money is going to be more money.
Most people don’t really notice that tremendously, and it just builds that habit. It makes it easier. It’s almost like working out. Um, if, you know, at the end of the day, you have to run a marathon, you just have to start somewhere. Even if it’s a quick walk around the neighborhood and then you jog half a mile, then a mile and you’re building up.
It makes it easier to go a little bit further in. It’s hard to just start at the, you know, the start of a marathon and you’ve not trained or done anything. Of course, it’s going to be daunting. You have to start small. And just be constantly building. Great advice.
A Day in the Life at Northwestern Mutual
Vincent Phamvan: [00:21:05] So you told the story earlier about, uh, you had a relationship, they introduced you to an uncle.
The Uncle conversation actually led to a different opportunity and that opportunity is at a company called Northwestern Mutual. So tell us a little bit about that company. Like what types of, what type of work does Northwestern Mutual do? What is like the day in the life of you look like.
Chantel Bonneau: [00:21:31] Absolutely. Well, to go back in 2010 when I was interviewing, um, I wish that I could say I made the decision to join this company for all of the reasons I’m going to tell you in just a second, but at the time, right, the reasons that I, I decided to join with Northwestern was, um, with two things.
Number one: it was 2010. Right? Like we have talked about after, you know, really in the midst still of a recession. And I hadn’t really heard of them, but they were a very large company, and sadly at that time, that was a good thing. I mean, if they hadn’t gotten in trouble for anything, they weren’t on the brink of bankruptcy. They weren’t getting bailed out.
So, um, so sadly I was like, okay, they haven’t been in the news for anything bad, and they’re a very large company, so something must be going right. And the second component is people still seemed that I interviewed with seemed happy and positive and, um, they didn’t mislead me and tell me that I wasn’t going to work hard.
Everyone told me I was going to work very, very hard. Um, which I appreciated the honesty. I don’t think anyone expects to not work very hard if they want to have a significant, um, career. And so I appreciated that honesty and I appreciated the optimism. And many of the companies I interviewed at people just seemed defeated. And a lot of it probably was the economic time, but that just resonated with me, that, um, I wanted to be surrounded by people that, um, felt that they had a really good role in the current economic condition. And, um, and that was attractive to me. So. Northwestern Mutual is a financial planning and wealth management firm.
It’s been around for about 160 years. Um, which is always impressive. I think things like that are kind of neat, right? Just see companies that are real foundation foundational companies in our country. Um, so that was something that was really attractive to me. Um. The depth of Northwestern back in the 1800s, is that it was an insurance company back when companies did everything separately.
And then now, of course, um, most institutions do holistic financial planning. So, um, so we do investment management, insurance based risk management planning, um, and then comprehensive financial planning. So we work with clients, right? My day, every day is, I have anywhere between five and eight meetings with clients.
Where I, or prospects, where I am trying to understand their circumstances, what their objectives are. Um, and give them advice that is very, um, specific to the individual around their financial life and what, like I said, what I love about that is every day is very different. Nobody is the same. I could talk to 10 people at the same company that have the same job title and every conversation is very different because people come with their own set of baggage, good and bad, right? Some people are phenomenal savers, but they struggle to make those decisions on what to do with the money. Other people can’t hold on to a dime if they try their hardest no matter what race they get.
They just are a spender and we have to work on what they’re trying to prioritize and how to go about that. Um, other people have had really great experiences with financial planners, and I’m just doing an audit and maybe giving them a few suggestions. Other people have had very bad experiences and we have to overcome that and help them realize that they really needed a partner with planning.
So. The majority of my day are those meetings with clients. And then, um, the other parts of my day, I’m working with my staff, my team, to actually build out the analysis behind the scenes and make sure that we have a really quality yet streamlined process so that we are delivering, um, feedback and information to clients as promptly as possible.
How Chantel Chose Between Multiple Job Offers
Vincent Phamvan: [00:25:18] It could seem looking at it from the outside that like you pick the winning numbers on a lottery ticket, but it actually, there were a lot of factors that went into it that you were looking at during the interview process to see whether it was a good fit for you. So kind of like stepping aside and looking at like macro trends a little bit.
The Wall Street Journal had an article. They came out last month that said, “Millennials Show Loyalty to Employers“
, which is a totally clickbaity article because millennials are known for not showing loyalty to employers. But this article had some new information in it now goes on to be able to share a stat.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, since January 2018, 28% of workers age 25 to 34 had worked for the same employer for at least five years. You’ve bucked the trend, uh, you’re in the percentage 25 to 34 the state of the employer, not just for five years, but for 10 years. Like what are the other things that like stood out to you, uh, that showed you that it was a good pick?
Chantel Bonneau: [00:26:19] Yeah, there were, um, there were many things that stood out. One thing that was really important to me, knowing that I was entering this industry at 22, is that they paid for lots of continuing education, which is really important in my industry. Um, since then, I’ve, I have five designations and multiple securities licenses, and all of those take a lot of time on my part.
But, um, but I was very interested in a company that would also pay for it. So, um, so knowing that a company invested in education. For people is usually a pretty good sign that they care about the growth of their talent and they want them to be the best that they can possibly be. So that was something that really resonated with me.
Quality mentorship was something I was looking for because, again, like I said in the very beginning of our conversation, um, one of the important lessons is that you don’t know what you don’t know until you know it. And if you can get a little bit of a leg up versus speed there, that can be valuable in so much of that is if you get real quality mentorship and people that are very, very focused on you growing and doing the best that you can do. So that was attractive to me. Um, I loved the idea that my quality of work was going to be based on what I deliver, not my age or my tenure. And being an overachiever, I guess you could say it. And 22 when I started, that was something that was important to me.
I didn’t want to wait 10 years for a particular title or the ability to make a certain compensation just because that was the standard. So I was looking for an opportunity where I could, I could move out, I could do great work, I could be compensated, um, correlated to my results, which was very important to me.
And then, um, the last thing that was important is in my industry specifically, um, I was really looking for a company that I could build a longterm practice because if I jumped around companies every two or three years. The only people that really get damaged from that can be the clients. And so I didn’t want to drag my clients through changing their paperwork and the company that they’re affiliated with every two years because some company was going to pay me a dollar more or something like that.
And sometimes there are people that have to make those decisions and I respect that, but I wanted to do my best to try and get it right from the beginning. And so evaluating company that had really good benefits. Had really high historical retention with crucial. That gave me the option to build out my practice the way I wanted to build it yet had all of the resources was important.
Chantel’s Five Steps to Financial Health
That’s so important to business development, is to be able to build your personal brand around the areas that you’re passionate about and being able to share and help other people in the area that you’re passionate about. One of the things that you do, and that led to was you putting out a book, it’s called Finding Your Financial Type: Clearing the Hurdles to Financial Wellness, and you talk about the different financial types in the book.
I think I’m somewhere between a diligent saver and an implementer. What are the things that somebody should be thinking about in the first five years of their career, especially if they still have student loans to pay off?
Chantel Bonneau: [00:29:49] I have had a good reputation in our industry of client acquisition. And I get people asking me all the time that are in my industry. Why? Why do people want to be your client? And they don’t want to be my client, right? Why do you have that attraction power to, to potential clients? And, um, I would like to think that it’s because of my knowledge base and that I have a lot of intellectual capital that’s really valuable and maybe that’s 10% of the reason people want to work with me.
Um, but I think the bigger component when I really boiled it down is that I spend a lot of time really trying to understand what the client needs from me, right? How are they wired? What works for them, um, what has worked in other parts of their life that we can replicate in the financial space? Because so much of the way we choose to, um, to exercise is similar to how we behave financially. And, um, anyone that knows me knows I love analogies and I specifically love fitness analogies because then, um, when I’m not doing this job or spending time with my family, I am exercising. And you can see that from the two Peloton machines that are right behind me, um, where I like to spend lots of time.
But, um, but I use analogies around the financial space, all the financial and the fitness base all the time. Because if we pulled right, pooled a hundred of our friends and we said, Hey, if you want to get into really great shape. What would you prefer? A personal trainer coming to your house? Um, can you handle this?
Buying a Peloton? Will you actually do it every day? Do you want to go to a group class? Do you want to do yoga? Do you need to sign up for a marathon where you have a goal? Those hundred people would, um, would be scattered across all of those different options because people need different things to motivate them.
And I believe that money is really similar, that people are motivated and think about money in different ways. So that’s what was the catalyst or writing my book with to help people self identify so they could actually take steps and make goals that are achievable for them and shorten the financial, um, implementation space right from the time that people decide that they should probably adults and do things appropriately financially to executing.
We want to shorten that as much as possible so that they can spend more time doing. And less time, um, kind of marinating in this analysis phase. So, um, so back to your question on, in the first five years, what are some things people should be doing? Um, hands down.
Number one is you have to know what comes in and what goes out every month.
Um. Staff to which type, which financial types you are. When I say that, that you need to be tracking, which is another way of saying budget, right? Um, there are some people that think, Oh great, I love categorizing and I have this whole Excel, Excel spreadsheet and they fill it out every month. And then there’s other people that hear the word budget and just roll their eyes because that sounds awful to track everything they do.
So, um, so in my book, I talked about the different ways that you would approach that based on how you. I think because, um, because it is important. So knowing what comes in and we’re going, it goes out is crucial.
The next thing is actually being clear on the benefits that your work provides, or if you are self-employed, realizing the gaps that you might have there.
Um, everyone looks at that top compensation figure, but they don’t spend as much time looking at all those benefits that really do provide as an important aspect of your compensation schedule. And if your employer doesn’t provide things like disability insurance, or if it only covers a certain part of your income, you have to consider those things, right?
Risk management is maybe not as exciting, but it is really crucial because we don’t want something to totally derail your plan. Um, the next thing that I would always encourage people is to begin saving. At any level, right? Like we talked about 1% into your 401k, 1% to something, not because 1% is going to do a whole lot, but it makes 2% in three and four and 5% that much easier.
And the last, um, the last two things I would say is if you have debt, be clear on the interest rates, um, so that you can prioritize the right debt. Um, and the same thing goes with an emergency fund, right? Have a goal on how much you should have so that if we’re going through a crazy economic time or, um, or you have to go through a job transition, you have some buffer there that you can really lean on.
And the last thing is get good at setting clear goals. Um, the clearer, the better. Sometimes it’s hard to be that clear, but, um, think about, Hey, by the time I’m 30, would there be something I’d want to pay off? Right? If you’re past that, um, is there, you know, can we get to a certain amount in your emergency fund by a certain point?
Um, can you just feel better? Like you actually know where everything is? I mean, that’s a goal too. If you don’t have the resources to be saving, your goal could be, Hey, I took inventory of everything. I know my interest rates. I know how much I bring in, how much I expend. That’s progress too. Just being aware and being a, um, an advocate for your own financial life.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:34:58] There was a lot of information that you just shared there. So just summarizing number one, set up your budget. Figure out how much money is coming in, how much money is going out of your account every month. Number two, understand the benefits that your employer provides. Ask questions, especially in a job search process about the total compensation package, including insurance, 401k, disability, tuition reimbursement.
Start saving at any level. Thus number three and the number four for any debt that you have, make sure to pay off your debt in order based on the interest rate. And last but not least, set up an emergency fund and set clear goals around paying off debt or building up an emergency fund. Okay. Really great advice there.
The Biggest Myths of Getting a Job at Northwestern Mutual
What would you say is a common misconception about getting a job at a firm like Northwestern mutual?
Chantel Bonneau: [00:35:47] I think a big myth, number one is that, um, you have to have all the skills prior to getting the job. Most companies, like I said, a lot of companies are open to training talent. Right? I mean, I, like I said, there’s so much of my role that I would say is, um, is parallel to maybe being a resident doctor where you have to be studying, but you also have to do and have great mentorship to make sure you’re not making mistakes on real people.
Right? Um, so there’s the guardrails there, but you have to be in a learning environment. It’s hard to enter my field prepared because you have to find a way to be trained and developed so that you, um, that you have those appropriate skills. Cause it’s not something you take a one week course on and um, and you’re set.
And I think that’s how many fields are you need to, um, you need to be in a place where they’re going to be teaching you and focused on your development also. So that’s a big misconception is you see a title like wealth management advisor and you think. I’m not qualified for that, well read below. Maybe there’s a really good training program.
Another myth is that it’s annoying to a follow-up. Um, you have to follow up. Like you had mentioned in the beginning, very large companies, get so many applicants. And sometimes it’s the luck of the draw if yours is on top of the pile, right? Or once they get to it. So if you follow up, if you touch base with people, if you have a way to, um, to get a connection where someone can tell the recruiter like, “Hey, definitely look at this person’s resume.”
You have to get the job, but maybe they can at least get your name in front of the right people. And I give presentations all of the time. To, um, to younger people or to students. And I tell them, if you have a friend who’s interested in this field, you can have them. Here’s my contact information. I can’t promise you I can get you the job, but I can make sure it at least gets to someone so they get a call.
Right? I can promise you that. And, um, and I think people need to take us up on that a little bit more because that’s an opportunity for them to get one of those roles and not assume that they have to, you know, if they don’t hear back via email from someone that they weren’t interested, companies are busy and things do fall through the cracks and it’s okay to follow up.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:38:08] Like those job descriptions.
A lot of the times they’re like a wishlist. The company is literally putting out a wishlist of the things that the ideal unicorn, perfect person would fit. That wishlist is just a wishlist and you know you have the opportunity to be able to still apply for the job. Now, if it specifically calls out something where it’s a really, really far stretch for you, it might not be a good fit, but if you’re 80% there, if your 85% there, you absolutely should put your ring in the hat because work ethic, drive, and being able to stand out in a good way on so many of the things that we’ve talked about on this podcast will absolutely make the difference.
How the Different Genders Apply for Jobs and Transferring Skills
But one article though, it was in Harvard Business Review, is published in 2014 but the data still consistent to today shares a stat that I just wish wasn’t true.
And that’s the following: Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications but women apply if they only meet over 90 to 100% of the qualifications. That’s devastating.
Chantel Bonneau: [00:39:15] It is an unfortunate statistic. And, um, and I used to never think those statistics were real and like who, you know, like how is that possible?
And then you realize, as you know, you get, you talk to more people and you’re in the professional world. But. Um, that those are true and that people don’t think about it. And I have to constantly remind certain people, men and women, but I think it is true that women more often in this case. That people have translatable skills that they don’t always imagine are transferable.
Right. And, um, many times I’ll be talking to student-athletes and they’re like, well, I’ve never had an internship. And you know, most of these companies, you know, they expect internship experience or, or whatnot, or my grades aren’t a 4.0 and I will remind them that. The skills of being at a high-level athletically are really valuable.
You’ve had that deferred, you know, that delayed gratification work ethic, you have to show up on time, ready to go, ready to give 100%. Um, you have to win, lose. Like there are trans transferrable skills there. And, um, one of the things that’s interesting in my field is people that make transitions from other careers, cause they might be five or 10 or 15 years into a different career that translate or transfer into our industry that do really well are accountants, right?
People in consulting who were smart problem solvers, but they’re at a point where they’re sick of traveling all of the time. Right. And that, that’s really challenging. Um, attorneys that really thought that they would have more human interaction than maybe they do.
We have lots of people that lead the iBanking world that just at some point when a little bit more control and want to,impact individuals, right? Versus companies. So people don’t realize that their skills can translate. Um, and it just might not be obvious. It might not fit on a resume, but employers are looking for the things that you said. Um, work ethic, coming, being a problem solving oriented person, being reliable. Um, being able to be truthful about things that you need help with and communicative.
Um, all those things are really important to employers and you just don’t unfortunately fit on a resume. That’s why you do have to take the shot and ask, because maybe an employer is going to see those things in you.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:41:36] Oh, you’re so right. And you’ve got to figure out ways to get those things onto your resume.
I mean, here’s the reality. So you might be listening to this podcast going, I don’t have any work experience, right? Or I worked at a coffee shop, I worked at a waterpark, or I worked at a restaurant. I was a server. But I’m trying to make this pivot into like this job. And you know, I just don’t have the experience for that.
Yeah. Yet at the same time, they’re like crushing it in a student organization that they’re running, and life is about selling. Everything in life is about selling, and when you’re going into a job interview, you’re selling yourself and you’re even going to go into a compensation negotiation after you’ve tried to sell yourself.
Well, newsflash, if you’re in a sorority and you’ve done recruitment that’s the same thing as HR recruiting. If you are in a fraternity and you’re the philanthropy chair and you’ve run a large event, guess what? You have event management experience, and on top of that, you know how to run a budget for an event.
The Most Common Mistakes When Financial Planning
And so you have a lot more of those experiences than you might even know. But being able to translate them, being able to tell these stories is what’s going to make you set you apart. Now you’ve worked with clients over and over again. What are the common mistakes that you see them making?
Chantel Bonneau: [00:42:54] Oh, I see. Um, I see a couple of mistakes that keeps coming up over and over again.
One is people always believing that now is just not the right time. Like some. mystical time in the future, they’re suddenly going to have all of this cash flow or it’s going to be a better time. And it’s just, it’s never a good time, right? It’s never a good time to go workout. It’s never a good time to start saving to do all those, to go to the dentist, to do all the things that are really important.
And I will hear things from clients like as soon as I pay off the student loan, or as soon as I get this raise or my child is out of daycare. Or my child is out of soccer season. As soon as my wedding is over. And again, the reality is if there’s some things that you might have to wait, math is math, but there are some things that are probably important and need to be prioritized earlier rather than later.
So that’s one. Another mistake is that people don’t value reviewing their financial plan. At a minimum. That’s something you probably need to be taking an hour of your life to really think about twice a year. Ideally more than that, but at least that reframing your goals, like I said, your cashflow, um, your balances, your risk profile.
It’s easy in a constantly upward market to think everything’s fine. Many people have a if it ain’t broke don’t fix it mentality. But the key is that as we all know, the market goes in both directions and to make sure that your risk profile is suited for the time horizon that you have on your resources, right?
Many people will just delay it. If they feel the market’s fine, they don’t look at it. Um, so I think that’s a big mistake. And then another mistake is people are afraid to talk to people. I will get calls from both ends of the spectrum of people that were, I don’t want to say nervous to call me, but they didn’t know if they needed me yet.
Right. I will get the, um, the 60-year-old couple that is worth $15 or $20 million that is on the cusp of retirement. Maybe they sold a business and they will say to me, well, I don’t know, like should we wait two or three years until we get a financial planner? Because we’re not quite at retirement yet? And I’m like, no, we should put up that rapport now.
We should have a plan in place. Make sure there’s nothing that can be a little bit more efficient or a little bit. Better allocated for you as looking at the whole plan. I’ll also get the 22-year old that their parents forced them to call me and they say, I don’t think there’s anything that you can do and maybe I can’t do a lot for them, but I can give them budget tools.
I can give them, um, some resources to understand how their credit score is impacted. And I would just say it’s better to ask then make mistakes because people don’t realize all of those components that play a role. Pass coding your credit score, your debt ratio timing, right? It’s, it’s better to be, like I said, an advocate for yourself and just ask versus again, waiting for some perfect time when it seems so obvious to all of a sudden take action
Vincent Phamvan: [00:46:04] and in the midst of a pandemic right now, it’s a good reminder that it’s important to review your financial plan during good times and during challenging times.
And so if this is something that you haven’t done recently, now is as good of a time as ever, where can our listeners find some of the resources that you have available online?
How to Get In Contact with Chantel
Chantel Bonneau: [00:46:27] So a few places. My website is Chantel-Bonneau.com, so just Google my name and Northwestern Mutual and you can find my email address and all my contact information.
My book is on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and we also have a website directly for this, for speaking engagements or ordering the book directly. Um, FindingYourFinType.com and then of course, on Instagram or LinkedIn, you can find me at @ChantelBonneau. I post lots of good little tidbits that are relevant. I don’t like to give specific financial advice.
I think that that can be confusing for people to say by this doc. Right. Get this product, um, take advantage of this tax deduction because it is so individual to the person and be weary of guidance like that, right? That’s not really picking your specific goals into place, but I love to post pieces on behavioral finance on why people do the things they do on statistics, on questions you should ask yourself or ask your advisor if you’re working with that line.
And I think that that’s a real value add that, um, that people need. Is that. Um, the more general behavioral guide for the financial space.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:47:41] And I’ve been a follower for years now and I can attest, it is really helpful stuff. So I will put a link to all of those different resources in the show notes for this episode.
So definitely check that out. Hey, it’s been really awesome catching up with you. Thanks again for joining us on today’s show.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:47:58] I’ll see you later.
Chantel Bonneau: [00:47:59] Thank you. I appreciate it.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:48:03] Thank you so much for listening to the show this week. If this podcast was helpful to you, the best thing that you can do to support is please consider rating and reviewing this show on Apple Podcasts.
This helps us help more people just like you move towards the life that they desire. Visit our podcasts on Apple Podcasts. Then scroll to the bottom. Tap the rate with five stars and just leave a sentence or two about what you loved most about this episode. You can subscribe wherever you listen to your podcasts, or you can write at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m Vincent Phamvan and you’ve been listening to how I got here.
This podcast is brought to you by Vyten Career Coaching.
“Millennials Show Loyalty to Employers”. Dill K. The Wall Street Journal. Feb. 19, 2020.
“Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified” Mohr T.S. Harvard Business Review. Aug. 25, 2014.