Jennifer Hicks is a member of Yeske Buie’s financial planning team working in our San Francisco office. Jen graduated from Virginia Tech’s highly ranked Pamplin College of Business with a B.S. in finance with a financial planning concentration and is a Certified Financial PlannerTM (CFP) professional. She is an active member of the Financial Planning Association (FPA), serving on the San Francisco chapter’s board of directors with a particular focus on pro bono programs. In her day-to-day work, Jen serves Yeske Buie’s clients in all key areas of financial planning, including plan preparation, annual updates, portfolio review and rebalancing, and ad hoc analyses as client needs dictate.
Jen recently returned from a two week trip to Southeast Asia. During her adventure, she visited a total of four countries and eight different cities spending anywhere from eight hours to five days in one place. Her stops included Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, and Hoi An in Vietnam, Siem Reap, Cambodia, Krabi, Ko Phi Phi Island, and Phuket in Thailand, and Seoul, Korea.
What made you choose Thailand as one of your destinations?
Personally, I first “got the bug” to go to Southeast Asia when a friend moved there a few years ago. I always wanted to visit her but never had the chance before she moved back to the States. However, the desire to explore that portion of the world never left me. Earlier this year, a few friends and I started talking more seriously about making this trip happen and before we knew it, our flights were booked! Thailand specifically was a destination for my friend that came with us. She was very interested in traveling to Thailand to see the animals and the culture of the country. I suggested Vietnam as my sister had visited the country not long ago; and, she was a great resource to help us conquer as much as we could in two weeks!
What was the highlight from your time in Vietnam?
My favorite part of Vietnam was the time we spent in Hoi An, a town along the coast of central Vietnam. Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is known for being a quaint ancient town that was once the largest trading port in Southeast Asia. It is a very special place and gives you the option of the beach, the countryside, or the historical town. We stayed with a very kind Homestay family through AirBnB, which added to the uniqueness of this portion of our trip. We decided to take the opportunity to explore the town on our own via motorbike. Along our way, we met a man who was very gracious and took the time to talk to us and teach us a bit more about the area and people of Vietnam (and he also might’ve pointed us in the right direction!). Hoi An was my favorite because it was just a sweet, happy and peaceful place. Despite the heartbreak that Vietnam has experienced, the people we met were very happy and kind, and it was a great experience to deepen our understanding of the culture.
Our friend shared a saying with us that he said many Vietnamese try to live by and embody – “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – Buddha
Was there anything that surprised you during your time in Asia?
The traffic hazards and riskiness in Hanoi! Our first day of the trip, sitting in the van that brought us from the airport in Hanoi it was so nerve-racking surrounded by cars, trucks, and motorbikes seemingly doing whatever they want. Their street system is very complex, everyone is moving very fast, and they don’t really pay attention to the traffic signals. Once we started exploring the city by foot, it was terrifying and VERY difficult to cross the street without nearly being hit by someone or something! Also, motorbikes are a very common mode of transportation and it’s not uncommon to see full families (sometimes with helmets, sometimes without!) on one motorbike traveling across the city. This time in the city was a great first introduction to the lifestyle there.
What is your favorite travel memory involving food?
My favorite food memory would have to be the cooking class we took in Hoi An. The day started with a trip to the market and smelling/tasting the different spices and plants we would later be using to prepare our meals. After the market, we went back to the restaurant where we learned more about Vietnamese food and delicacies. Our guide, Ruby, took us around to try some of the “street food” they served – such as frog legs, jelly fish, pig brains, silk worms, and duck embryo (and we lived to tell the tale!). I did have to pass on the snail, which was enjoyed by sucking it directly out of the shell. Following our taste test, we moved to the classroom and cooked a total of three Vietnamese dishes. It was awesome to be able to make this delicious food even though I’m not a great cook. The dishes we cooked were a shrimp dumpling soup, an onion pancake, and a mango salad with grilled chicken skewers… delicious!
Tell us some of the hidden gems you’ve come across in your travels!
While we were in Ko Phi Phi at a resort enjoying the beach and waters and relaxing after our chaotic travels in various cities, we found a small little village behind the resort with incredibly friendly people. The first night, we met some people and became fast friends; we ended up going to dinner with them 3 nights in a row! We got to know Momma and her family who ran the restaurant very well and even posted pictures together on Facebook. One of the best parts about traveling, in my opinion, is the people you meet along the way. Among our many adventures in each city, we encountered people of all ages from all over the world. It was just really fun to be able to immerse ourselves in the foreign cultures of Southeast Asia, while meeting people from other foreign cultures and still be able to relate to and learn from one another through sharing our experiences.
Get To Know Sabina
We are excited to welcome Sabina Smailhodzic as Yeske Buie’s newest team member and first Financial Planning Resident. Sabina traveled across the country from Kentucky to join the team in San Francisco. We recently interviewed Sabina about her life and interests and here share the results of that conversation.
With a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and a minor in Biology, how and when did you become interested in Financial Planning?
When I graduated college, I had no idea what I wanted to do career-wise for the rest of my life. Quite honestly, I wasn’t too worried at the time. I decided to take the opportunity to check numerous items off my Bucket List. Unfortunately, nearly one year after graduating, I still had no idea what I wanted to do. My parents suggested that I go back to school for a graduate degree in Chemistry, but I knew that I did not want to work in the field of science; I couldn’t see myself being an analytical chemist like I once could. In attempt to find the right career for me, I took various personality tests. I very quickly noticed that Financial Planning was a suggestion on nearly all of them! I had become really good at saving money and prioritizing expenses in order to afford the various trips I have taken, but I never knew there was a career for helping people with their money! After a few more Google searches, I found that Western Kentucky University had a CFP® Certificate Program. Within a week of reaching out to the program director, I was enrolled and ready to begin classes. I completed the program in two years and have enjoyed learning more about what is means to be a Financial Planner through various jobs and internships.
What is your favorite aspect of Financial Planning?
The subject area that I enjoy the most is Estate Planning. However, my favorite part of Financial Planning is the client-advisor relationships and the potential to make a difference in someone’s life.
What would you say was the best item you crossed off your Bucket List?
That is a tough call! I really enjoyed traveling. I spent the summer following graduation working as a Team Leader for an academic and life skills camp in Hong Kong. Once I returned to the States in the fall, a friend of mine asked if I would like to join him on a trip to Jordan. He knew that I had taken Arabic during my last year of college and thought it would be a great opportunity to put my education to good use. I couldn’t have agreed more, and before I knew it, I had landed in Amman! I contemplated attending the University of Jordan to master Arabic and become a translator, but after a month, I realized that Amman was not the best fit for me. The geography of the area made it impossible for me to continue my favorite hobbies, which are mostly outdoors. There are only so many times one can drive five hours to hike Petra!
Besides travelling, what were some of the other items you crossed off your Bucket List?
Upon returning from Hong Kong, I became the mascot for an aluminum can recycling program: Drive To A Million. I had always wanted to be a mascot, but never found the right one for me. That is, until I found the Can Man! Or shall I say Can (wo)Man? The mascot encourages parents to bring aluminum cans to local schools as a means of raising money. I attended fall school festivals and pep rallies to raise awareness for the program, as well as teach kids how to dance the Cha Cha Slide!
Another item on my Bucket List was to be a cashier on Black Friday at a major retail store. I applied to Old Navy and negotiated my seasonal employment to include being a cashier at midnight on Black Friday. The management team must have thought that I was crazy, but I was very excited to experience the busiest shopping day in America from the other side of the counter. I enjoyed it so much that I remained an employee and worked Black Friday for the following two years.
On a more adventurous note, I went skydiving for the very first time and had a blast! I would highly recommend that everyone do it at least once in their lifetime. I can’t even describe the feeling of literally walking off an airplane and spinning in mid-air!
What is one of your Live Big® goals?
One of my Live Big® goals is to travel throughout Europe for a month. As a native of former Yugoslavia, nearly all of my family lives in Europe. I have not had the opportunity to visit my family for several years and look forward to seeing them soon. I would also like to explore Norway and Sweden!
What is your favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon?
My boyfriend and I enjoy being outdoors on Sundays, especially kayaking and hiking. Kentucky is known for its outdoor attractions, including lakes, rivers, and cave systems. We oftentimes kayak down a river nearby his home or hike the trails at Mammoth Cave National Park.
What is your first impression of San Francisco?
So far, I really like it! I recently walked along the northern “Fertile Crescent” from Fisherman’s Warf to the Golden Gate Bridge. I’m finding that people love being outdoors here with the year-round beautiful weather and everyone seems very friendly. Also, I love the variety of food in the city, especially the different fusion places with unique dining options. Last week, I ate at Shushirrito which offered hand-held sushi burritos stuffed with savory Asian and Latin-infused ingredients and flavors. What a combination!
After months of studying and weeks of waiting for results, we are pleased to announce that Lauren Grove has passed the CFP® Exam. The CFP® Exam is one of three steps required to earn the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM designation (in addition to the education requirement and the two year apprenticeship requirement). It is a 10 hour exam taken over two days. Lauren used the Ken Zahn (Zahn, Inc.) study program which focused on three to four months of pre-study materials, a four-day in-person live review course, and post study materials given at the live review course. Lauren will complete the two year apprenticeship requirement by Spring 2015 to officially become a Certified Financial Planner. Learn more about Lauren Grove and earning the CFP® Certification.
The Yeske Buie Financial Planning Team attended the 2014 FPA Far West Round-Up Conference in Santa Cruz from Thursday, August 14 to Sunday, August 17. The Round-Up has many features of the Old West, including a designated sheriff (leader), posse (conference committee), and greenhorns (the new attendees). Dave has presided as sheriff for five years running. Financial planners gather at Round-Up for many reasons, but the main value is best expressed by the following quote from our good friend and fellow financial planner from Sacramento, Jim Johnson:
“Want to know what will be going on in the financial planning profession in the next 10 years? Go to FPA Retreat and Far West Round-Up.”
We will be sharing some of the insights gleaned from the conference in the next Digest. As an example, a particularly insightful presentation by attorney Ray Sheffield on planning for “portability,” a relatively new dimension of estate planning, spurred the financial planning team to initiate a new kind of review that we’ll be bringing to clients’ estate plans in the coming months.
For now, we hope you enjoy some of the photos from the event.
For the second time this year, YeBu East Coast team members volunteered with Dreams for Kids, an organization focused on organizing life-changing activities that empower children with physical and developmental disabilities to unite with their peers and realize their full potential. Dreams for Kids’ Extreme Recess clinics enable children with disabilities to enjoy sports and realize their full potential to succeed in all aspects of life. This time, some of our team members participated in the Extreme Recess Basketball event. Kids and volunteers were paired up one-on-one and participated in various passing, dribbling, and shooting drills. The event concluded with a mini-game and pizza. Everyone involved had a great time playing games and making new friends!
-Complete an educational program in theory and practical application developed by the College of Financial Planning
-Pass the proctored and timed end-of-course exam with a 70% score or higher
-Complete a three-month long internship to verify mastery of a set of basic financial planning-related skills
Summar will continue to serve as one of our Client Service Administrators, but her RP® certification has given her insights that will help her better support Yeske Buie’s aim to be the recognized best financial planning firm in the country.
What types of martial arts do you train in and how did you become interested in the sport?
- So my interest in Mixed Martial Arts started as a way to get in shape. My husband, Will, really wanted to do something to get in shape but also teach us self-defense skills. After some research, Will found a coach who taught Muay Thai at a gym that was close to our home. I started there shortly after and I loved it. We began doing the Muay Thai classes regularly and I had so much fun; it didn’t take long for me to decide I wanted to learn more! So, we made the decision to do personal training. Dave Carter, our trainer for all of our Muay Thai classes, was a natural fit to be our personal trainer. Carter has trained in all kinds of Martial Arts. We continued to train in Muay Thai but also became interested in other art forms including Kali, Jeet Kune Do, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Combat Submission Wresting, and putting it all together to create Mixed Martial Arts. Carter keeps us busy and some days, I’m convinced he’s trying to kill me!
How long have you been training? What does your training schedule look like?
- Will and I have been training for two years now. We do classes two or three times per week and do a personal training session once per week. Our classes on Tuesdays and Thursday go from 6:30pm to 10:00pm. If we feel up to doing the Wednesday classes, we are training from 7:00pm to 10:00pm. Our personal training sessions are on Saturdays for a few hours. And on top of that, we also enjoy participating in seminars related to our training that come to town. These are usually one or two full days of training.
What does it mean to you to be a fighter?
- The thing about fighting and Mixed Martial Arts is that it teaches you discipline, it keeps you in shape, and it gives you confidence. There is something so rewarding about knowing that I can protect myself and if I am out with friends, I can defend all of us. There is also a piece about competing in tournaments or fights that means a lot to me. These tournaments induce stress and simulate a potentially real situation which consequently teaches you to operate in high pressure situations, to remember your training, and to stay calm. After the tournament, you have a sense of accomplishment and motivation to be that much better in training for your next fight.
What is your favorite style of Mixed Martial Arts?
- I am more naturally comfortable on my feet so I prefer the Muay Thai and Kali style. I enjoy them more and I feel like they’re more natural for me and if I had to pick just one to focus on, it would be Muay Thai or Kali. Oppositely, I struggle with ground fighting like Combat Submission Wrestling and do not find it enjoyable.
Who would be your dream teacher to learn Mixed Martial Arts from?
- There is one female fighter than I really admire and would love to fight the way she does and that is Rhonda Rousey. To be able to fight like she does and learn from her would be a dream come true. I admire Rhonda because she doesn’t let anything get in her way. If she knows there is an area she is weak in then drills at it and if there is an obstacles in her way then she finds a way to deal with it. She doesn’t let other peoples’ opinions bother her and she never lets go of her standards. She is the perfect example of the type of fighter I strive to be.
What are the biggest benefits that Mixed Martial Arts provides you?
- The biggest benefits that Mixed Martial Arts has given me are better awareness of self, more confidence which bleeds into all aspects of my life, and an even stronger bond with Will. Whenever there is an event or a fight on TV, it’s almost like date night for us! The sport brings us together in a way that feels like Living Big to us. We enjoy training together, spending time together, getting fit and healthy together, and gaining all of these new strengths together. It helps me become more aware of my actions and interactions with people and often reiterates the mindfulness training that we’ve done at our Yeske Buie retreats. Mixed Martial Arts has been a great addition to helping me, and Will, to Live Big®.
In addition to all of her martial arts training, Summar found time to become a Registered Paraplanner(R). Congratulations Summar!
We are excited to introduce a new feature to our Digest called “Ask Elissa and Dave”. Interested in learning more about Dave or Elissa as financial planners or as avid travelers? Looking for some clarity on a financial planning topic, the markets, or your portfolio? Curious about Yeske Buie, how we operate, or our company culture?
Share your curiosity with Elissa and Dave and receive an answer to the questions you’ve always wanted to ask! Simply send your question to Lauren@YeBu.com and stay tuned to future Digest posts for answers. Submissions will be anonymous and no question is off limits (answers may be, but you can ask whatever you want!). We look forward to hearing your questions!
In your most recent current update, you talked about completing the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in DC and looking forward to running the Fit Foodie 5k. Have you always been interested in running or is running a new hobby of yours?
- Growing up, I ran, but in the form of playing team sports like soccer and basketball. I started running as more of a hobby in college; I loved running through the gorgeous Virginia Tech campus. The first real race I ran was the 3.2 Run in Remembrance, held every year at Virginia Tech. My interest in half marathons and other races (including 5ks and obstacle races) spiked after graduation. I’ve really enjoyed seeking out and running in these races – I love having an upcoming race as a goal to work towards.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of running?
- Do I have to pick just one?! The health benefits are obviously one of the most rewarding aspects of running. In addition to the physical health benefits, running also provides me with a lot of mental health benefits. For me, running is a good way to meditate and clear my mind. Regardless of my mood or desire to go on a run that day, I always feel much better afterwards. Also, I enjoy having a hobby like running in common with friends and people I meet. It’s nice to have a friend to train with, to be able to hold one another accountable, and to celebrate finishing races together.
What motivates you to run long distance events?
- That’s easy! First and foremost, the feeling of accomplishment upon crossing the finish line of a race is something that motivates me to keep signing up for and running races of all kinds. I also love the race atmosphere: there’s just something about the excitement, the adrenaline, and the encouragement from both the participants and the crowd that is incredibly motivating for me.
Are you training for any upcoming marathons?
- For the record, I don’t think I will EVER run a full marathon! Every time I cross the finish line of a half marathon I wonder how marathoners turn around and run it all over again! However, I have signed up to run the Baltimore Half Marathon in October. I have not begun training yet but have started looking into 12-week training schedules to begin in the coming weeks. I’ve been periodically running when I have the time but most of my time is taken up by studying for the upcoming CFP® exam. Once the exam is done, I will focus on training for the half marathon.
What is the CFP® Exam and how have you been preparing for it?
- The CFP® Exam is one of three steps required to earn the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM designation (in addition to the education requirement and the two year apprenticeship requirement). It is a 10 hour exam taken over two days. Personally, I have been using the Ken Zahn (Zahn, Inc.) study program which focuses on three to four months of pre-study materials, a four-day in-person live review course (which I attended two weekends ago), and post study materials given at the live review course.
That sounds like a lot of work! What inspires you to pursue becoming a Certified Financial Planner?
- Not only is taking the exam part of my career path with Yeske Buie and the next logical step to becoming a CFP®, I think it’s also the best way to dive into this profession head first. I acknowledge that I will always have more to learn about the financial planning profession (and that’s the beauty of it- it never gets boring), but the knowledge I’ve gained in my first year with Yeske Buie and through studying for the exam helps me to continue to grow in my role as an Associate Financial Planner. Every tidbit of information I’ve learned helps me to better serve our clients.
After months of dedicated studying, you deserve to celebrate your hard work! Do you have any plans to reward yourself?
- Yes! Immediately after the exam I will be flying to Milwaukee to visit family that I haven’t spent time with in quite a while. We will be spending the majority of our long weekend at a nearby lake relaxing. I also have plans to attend the Darius Rucker concert the weekend after the exam. And of course, I will be going for a run; time to get the half marathon training started!