Creating legacies through financial planning
Early in his collegiate career, Skyler Denny was convinced that he would become an offensive lineman in the NFL. However, life had other plans and he was put back on the path to another longtime interest – financial planning.
From a young age, Denny became interested in financial planning, in large part because he heard his parents discuss the complexities of their own taxes as a small business owner. He began reading books on money management and financial planning in sixth grade.
Denny graduated from Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in May 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics with a concentration in Finance and Real Estate and a minor in Financial Planning. After six years as a professional consultant and financial planner at two large companies, he and his wife Jordan opened Legacy Financial Designs in Spring, Texas in early 2021. The company provides financial planning services and portfolio management for individuals and small businesses.
Denny is part of an industry where demand has skyrocketed – and where companies are seeking talented, well-prepared people who can provide sound professional advice to those who need it. In fact, the demand for qualified certified financial planners made it necessary to limit the number of registered employers interviewing prospective Texas A&M students at the recent Texas A&M Financial Planning Career and Education Conference.
The Financial Planning program is currently offered as a minor for students with expansion plans. Students who successfully complete all course requirements are eligible to sit the Certified Financial Planner exam. For working professionals, an advanced learning certificate program is offered for those who wish to become a certified financial planner.
We asked Denny to share with us why he became a financial planner, what’s important about the job to him, what made him special during his college experience, and what it’s like to run your own business.
What made you decide to become a financial planner?
When I was growing up, my mother had a small photography shop. This complicated my parents’ financial situation. I remember every year they complained about their tax situation and were not sure what they needed to do to improve tax efficiency. Like many people, they did not have a professional to help them plan their finances and make decisions that could reduce their tax burden. Watching this fight sparked my interest in finance from an early age. I started learning about basic money management around the age of 11 and my interest in the subject continues to this day.
Also, I was convinced that I was going to be a professional soccer player and I wanted to know what to do with all the money I was going to make. I wanted to manage my own finances. However, during my freshman year as a football player at Sam Houston State, I realized that I would never be an offensive lineman in the NFL. But I was able to pursue my interest in financial planning, so I moved to Texas A&M. I had looked at their financial planning and found that it contained the courses I needed to take my education and career in that direction.
What is the best thing about financial planning?
Personal finances are one of the biggest stressors in life and the leading cause of divorce. As I help people make informed decisions about money, I have the opportunity to make their lives more rewarding by eliminating financial burdens. Most people have no idea what they can or cannot do in their current financial situation and I help my clients understand how to maximize their wealth and achieve their lifelong goals and dreams. I want to help people and that’s why I do what I do.
I think I want to help families create the life that really demands them. I help them identify and achieve their financial goals by helping them develop a financial plan and stick to it. I also help them to achieve certain goals, e.g. B. Ensuring their children can attend college without jeopardizing other longer-term financial goals. I named my company Legacy Financial Designs because our goal is to help people design a personalized financial plan that will help them not only secure their own financial independence, but also build a legacy for the future.
What was your favorite financial planning course at Texas A&M and why?
My favorite class would be Fundamentals of Financial Planning. This class should be a requirement for all students, regardless of major. Unfortunately, our public education system has almost no focus on teaching young people about money or finance, which I find absurd. Fundamentals of Financial Planning taught me to apply basic financial, economic, and institutional concepts and covered financial topics such as budgeting, credit management, investment strategies, income taxes, risk management, and retirement and estate planning.
I’ve learned that financial independence starts with the basics. Without adequate cash flow, the ability to build wealth is impossible. Financial independence comes from having a stable income, proper budgeting, cutting expenses wherever possible, and paying yourself first. When you pay yourself first, I mean putting money aside for savings and investment purposes.
Who was one of your favorite financial planning teachers—and why?
I honestly feel that Dr. Nathan Harness, a teaching professor at the Department of Agricultural Economics, is the best of the best in the country when it comes to teaching financial planning. He was a great professor and I now consider him a friend too. He takes the time to get to know his students and serve as a true mentor. As a student, he helped me see how economics applied to the real world. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be where I am today without his guidance.
What is your most memorable experience while taking classes at Texas A&M?
In my senior year, I and two other students worked on a fictional financial plan for the National Financial Planning Association. Students from across the country have the opportunity to create a case study and submit it for review by industry experts, and our plan was accepted. After the evaluation, it was identified as one of the best submissions. Those with the top eight submissions were invited to present at the national conference, held in Boston that year. dr Harness accompanied us to the conference both as a companion and as a mentor.
How did the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences prepare you for the opportunity to own and run your own financial planning business?
The courses I took gave me the skills to be a financial planner. I particularly remember the entrepreneurship course, which gave me an understanding of what it takes to run my own business. It gave me a great picture of what it’s like to own a business. At Legacy Financial Design I am 100% responsible for everything. The mix of coursework gave me the skills I needed as well as the knowledge of how to conduct the research needed to find answers for me as a business owner – and for my clients.
You are newly married and work together with your wife in your company. How’s that for you?
Believe it or not, after almost four years of marriage and six months of working together every day, Jordan and I still feel like newlyweds, so we must be doing something right.
Before we started our own business, Jordan and I always worked late at our respective jobs and were like ships sailing by in the night. But now we work together and see each other all the time. We work well together, so it’s been a blessing for us.
Jordan has a background in nursing — she’s a registered nurse with experience in emergency and operating rooms — and many of the skills she developed as a nurse lend themselves well to financial planning. First of all, she has always had a passion for helping others improve their quality of life and now she can do that by helping people achieve financial independence.
As our Head of Customer Service, she is also the “face” of the company and is usually the first person a customer speaks to or sees. She uses her knowledge of human nature to get to know the customers and understand their needs. She also directs all of our marketing efforts and assists with the creative needs of the business.
I also learned that constantly telling Jo what to do just doesn’t work, so we developed workflows and processes that were a lifesaver. Now the computer tells her what to do – not me. This has really helped keep things running smoothly in the office.