Cindy Couyoumjian is a Certified Financial Planner with 33 years’ experience in investing and educating on financial literacy. Born and raised in Warren, Michigan, Cindy knew she wanted to help others from a young age. She received her Marketing Degree from Oakland University in Rochester and began her career in 1986.
With seven security licenses and an insurance license, Cindy has dedicated much of her career to the education of the general public on financial matters, allowing her clients to plan and attain their financial goals. It is with this dedication that Cindy has also been writing a book to help guide more people to their best financial lives.
Cindy lives in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys reading, watching sporting events, and researching the stock market.
How did you get started in this business and what inspired you?
I met someone in my finance class in my last semester of college who knew someone that had a wonderful career in financial services. I was already pursuing my marketing degree and had given some thought to getting into sales. I was introduced to him and found the company he worked for had an open position.
I interviewed for the job and they thought I would be a good fit. I stayed with that firm for nearly seventeen years. I have always been intrigued by the stock market. I don’t know that I had the specific goal of being in financial planning, but I knew I wanted to be in sales.
How do you make money?
I make money educating the public on financial literacy. Also, I help people understand basic concepts of money and financial literacy. I motivate people to empower themselves to make good financial decisions, with knowing all of the facts and knowledge providing them so they can make logic financial decision.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
Owning your own business, it typically takes a couple years. I spent the first ten years or so investing in not only education, but the infrastructure of the team and understanding the industry as well. I would say over a ten-year window of investing most of the money that I made, by the time I was in my mid-thirties, I was doing very well in the industry.
I had to spend money to make money. I invested in education. I invested in my staff. I wanted to become an expert, I put most of my earnings back into my practice in order to achieve that level of expertise I have today.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
The first six months for me in the industry were very difficult. My supervisor told me you are underpaid in the beginning, but if you put the time and effort in, you will be successful in this field. I stuck to it and set goals. I wanted to buy a new car, so I took a picture of it in my desk. I used that to maintain my daily focus.
There were moments within those first months that I did consider leaving the industry, but I found a reason to continue with that goal. Once I was able to get my first car and really see the benefit of what I was doing, it just encouraged my focus even more.
How did you get your first customer?
Back in 1986, there was a lot of cold calling. I got my first customer out of just calling around to people and small businesses and offering our services. I got some appointments out of those calls and eventually closed my first deal.
What is one marketing strategy, other than referrals, that you use that works really well to generate new business?
Any kind of speaking event that we attend where we are educating the public, whether it be at a college or a company lunchroom. You reach a larger group in those settings. People don’t want to be sold something, they want to be educated and they want to know that you have their needs in mind.
Any time you can reach people in an educational forum, you are going to have several approaches you for additional information. It has been very successful for us in generating new business.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
I am in the process of writing a book on financial literacy. It has been an investment of time and money for me. I am also trying to decide whether I will be writing a second book on empowering women in financial services. I am still contemplating that decision and must figure it out within the next few months.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
Honesty, integrity, and hard work have been the qualities I have maintained throughout my career. I cannot emphasize that enough for anyone in any industry, really. Your clients need to know that you are putting their needs ahead of your own. I really believe I attained a lot of my success from those basic qualities.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
The satisfaction I get from my career is knowing that what I have learned has been helpful to others. I have been able to educate people enough that they have found financial literacy and have reached their goals.
I have clients that I met years ago that I have watched accomplish their retirement goals. They know they can rely on me and with my guidance can reach what they want.
What does the future hold for your business and what are you most excited about?
I am most excited about getting my book published next year and being able to empower women across the country when it comes to financial services. Women are going to be the lead in the next ten to twenty years.
They are going to dominating all the wealth in this country and they need to be well-equipped with financial literacy. I am dedicating the last quadrant of my life on educating women on financial literacy.
What business books have inspired you?
Self-improvement books have helped me attain my level in business more so than your typical business book. I really focused early in my career on how I could become a better person, which then naturally translates into your career. If you improve yourself, you can improve your business.
What is a recent purchase you have made that has helped with your business?
I have recently hired a graphic design firm to brand my company on social media and online platforms. They’ll create marketing materials and increase my presence online, which is the best marketing tool right now.