“There’s a unifying theme and link to every move I’ve made,” Beverly Bockus said. “It goes back to finding new ways to analyze and organize the way things work.” She began as a research scientist in the cancer research facility at a medical school. “The work was important, but a breakthrough was not going to happen in my lifetime. I am goal oriented.” In addition, she said, “I tend to be more people-oriented. To be in the lab at three or four in the morning wears thin.”
She went to MIT’s Sloan School of Management for a business degree — “I wanted to find out how business organizations manage risk,” she said — then got a job in business development at a top biotech company. “I worked with finance people and learned how you model all the variables that may impact the development of a new product.”
Next Bockus joined PricewaterhouseCoopers (now PwC) in its higher education consulting practice. “We were working with major academic medical centers, helping them solve problems. We built complex financial models.” When reorganization resulted in a layoff, Bockus developed her own consulting practice. “Boston was a great place to be,” she said. “I was keeping pretty busy.”
When her mother’s illness brought her back to Minnesota, Bockus worked in the Institutional Planning department at the University of Minnesota, where she applied her modeling techniques to help various groups. Following that, she worked for a short time in economic development consulting. While the work was stimulating, “I realized I wanted to get back to working more closely with individuals.” Bockus had completed all of the coursework to become a Certified Financial Planner before her mother became ill. A Twin Cities organization called SHiFT, which helps people with midlife career transitions, was offering “midternship” positions — three- to six-month paid, hands-on work experiences in a new career path. In 2011, Bockus interned with Scott Simpson at Focus Financial in Minneapolis. When the midternship ended, she stayed on as his assistant. After three years, Bockus said, “It’s a great field. It’s certainly tougher than my classmates and I realized.”
Do people turn to financial planners at the beginning of the year?
It can happen all through the year. For example, people may be confronting a challenge of some sort, or the market is doing well and individuals want to examine their financial position. Another trigger may be a news story or something on television that catches their attention. The “outlive your funds” question comes up a lot, and people start thinking, “I don’t know.”
What’s the most rewarding part of your current position?
It’s the same role I’ve always had and liked — letting people know they’re on the right track or helping them find a way to accomplish their goals. Giving someone that sense of relief and security is a really nice thing.
What are some of the challenges?
Understanding how “the market” works is not easy. An individual’s financial life is a very emotional topic. That’s where the education comes in: “This is your money, this is your decision. Let me say what my concerns are.” You have to be empathetic with their concerns. You want to help them make a decision that is in their best interest. □