The Investment of a Lifetime: Alexander Kerford
How does a former packaging engineer transition to a career in finance? Meet Alexander Kerford, a financial advisor at Edward Jones. We recently met up with Alexander to find out what shaped his decision to take a leap of faith with his new career.
Talk about your initial job search after leaving the engineering field. Were you searching for a short-term or long-term fit?
After leaving the engineering field, I bounced around a bit and ended up working in sales for a large hospitality company. That’s where I developed those crucial soft skills, such as being able to understand people and interpret their needs.
I think there’s a distinct difference between a job and a career. A job is something you do to pay the bills and provide support for yourself and your loved ones. A career is something that ultimately becomes a calling. And a calling is not short-term. It is something that you feel, believe and value through your work. During that job search, I was looking for my calling.
How did you find your calling? I had a degree in mathematics that I wanted to put to good use and I knew I wanted to help people. I started looking at careers in financial services and I found that it was a great combination. As for Edward Jones, I had a working knowledge of the company since college, when I started investing with a local financial advisor. I loved how the company made me feel as an investor and I decided that I wanted to deliver that same experience on the other side of the desk.
We’re glad you made that decision. What other considerations did you make in your career search? I considered places that I could spend the next 30 years of my life. It was important that I understood everything about the work and why it was relevant, so I made an effort to learn as much as I could about the company. I researched its traditions, its history, and its commitment to the communities it serves. The more I researched, the more I knew it was the place for me.
Having a company that aligns with my value and goals is also a massive bonus. During my job search, I put a heavy emphasis on work-life balance and Edward Jones made it clear that it supports financial advisors finding time to participate in activities that they enjoy.
What was the most important consideration? People. People. And people. The reality for me is that a company could pay me a lot of money and have a ton of benefits and get all types of awards—but if it’s not built around good people, it’s not a good fit. Being paid and making a difference are important, but surrounding myself with the right people was paramount.
What was key to your success in preparing for a financial services career? I had a strong desire to develop my current skillset and learn new ones. Having that level of ambition will take you a long way in any career you want to pursue. Adding in the company’s terrific training program, I was confident that I had everything I needed to succeed. It wasn’t always easy, to be honest. It’s scary to jump into an arena that you aren’t knowledgeable about, but if you’ve developed yourself in a way that you’re always be willing to learn, you’ll be successful.
Why is Edward Jones a great place to develop a career? Even if you come from a different professional background, such as engineering, Edward Jones gives you the same opportunity as anyone else to be successful. People don't look at you differently for needing help. You’re given the training, the tools and the confidence to start this new career journey and come out feeling fulfilled. There is no secret to success here—Edward Jones shares it with you.
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