If You’re New to Financial Planning, Here’s Where to Start

Kay Lynn Mayhue, President of Merit, explains where someone new to financial planning should always start, and leaves some final thoughts for us about what to keep in mind while planning out your future.

You can listen to more of our conversation with Kay Lynn on our podcast, Work, Love, Pray! Listen below or click here to find your preferred listening platform.

What first steps would you recommend to someone just starting their financial planning journey? 

There are so many great resources out there. I would say it depends on the phase of life you’re in. Some people will come to us and have a lot of financial means they’ve just left on autopilot, like stock options through their company or a 401k. Now they have to make some decisions because they’re changing careers or they’re getting near retirement. Those are situations when a financial advisor is really appropriate.

If you’re someone who has found yourself spending more than what you’re making, you likely have debt and maybe don’t know how to work through it. I know Dave Ramsey’s program has been absolutely amazing for a number of folks. People don’t realize how much money they spend on things that are non-essential and that could easily be replaced.

My advice would be to find out where you are financially and then look to the people around you that have done financial planning successfully. That was a huge motivator for me. I became a student when I first got into this industry, and it was an advantage because I was talking to people that had been really smart with money and needed a financial advisor at the stage of life they were in. As a student, I would ask questions like, “What did you do at this stage?” or “How did you get started in this career?” 

Become a sponge to the people around you that have really done this well. Don’t judge a book by its cover, though, because someone might look financially successful if they have the fancy house and the fancy car, but that could mean that they’re overspending to have those things. Be close enough to your potential money mentor to actually know that they truly have been good stewards of what they’ve been entrusted with. 

What is one piece of advice or thought from everything we’ve talked about that you want people to remember most? 

There’s another side of risk management that we didn’t talk a whole lot about that I think is really important, and that’s planning for the ‘what ifs.’ Protecting your assets is critical. We live in a litigious society, unfortunately. I’ve got a situation with a very close family member right now that was involved in a car accident, and there’s now a lawsuit involved. As part of your asset protection piece, make sure that you’ve got good car insurance, that you have an umbrella liability policy that’s appropriate for your net worth.

For those that are just starting out in life, start thinking through your family dynamics. For example, I have an autistic niece who may need care much longer than a typical 21-year-old. While you’re young, think through those ‘what if’ things. What if something happens to me early in life and I get disabled and am not able to work? What if the Mack truck comes out of nowhere?

I hate to end on the note of thinking not only about the great things but also planning for the ‘what ifs’ that could happen, but that is the concert and the beauty of the financial planning world. Working with an advisor can help you think through everything and plan accordingly. As Christians, we are called to steward well what we have been given and financial planning is a big part of that. It’s not always going to be fun, but it’s always going to be essential. 

Kay Lynn has played many roles in the financial advisory industry: as a successor, partner, seller, and buyer. This unique and diverse background allows her to be able to relate to advisors in all phases of their careers and mergers and acquisitions. With a background in financial planning and leadership, her career expands over several areas, including advising clients, mergers and acquisitions, and strategic growth. 

Kay Lynn worked her way up from an entry-level position to earn her seat at the C-Suites table as President of Merit, which manages over 5 billion in RIA and Brokerage assets under management. She holds her CFP®, AEP®, and RFC® and has been a critical decision-maker for two firms over the past twenty years. Kay Lynn has overseen multiple mergers and acquisitions over the past four years and has been recognized for her position as a female leader in the financial services industry.

She is passionate about helping people take their careers – and themselves – to exceptional levels. Kay Lynn’s influence in the industry and her drive for success is a driving factor in Merit’s ongoing growth and appeal to growth-oriented advisors.