Alumni Spotlight: Raquel Tennant

Raquel Tennant, a 2019 graduate of the College of Business and Economics, always had a knack for finance. Tennant always was making lists for her spendings and math came easy to her. Despite this, Tennant did not like the abstract nature of the subject and wanted something that could be applied to everyday people. When she found financial planning being offered in CBE in the Business Administration major, Tennant says the option “ made it real for me”. 

Tennant, a first generation American, felt as if people were being left out in the overall financial field. An everyday person may not have the funds or understanding to invest their money right away, and Tennant found that financial planning was more inclusive to everyday people and lifestyles. Tennant also loved the comprehensiveness of financial planning, and how a CFP has knowledge on and is able to help their clientele’s entire life. 

With financial planning, Tenant was able to learn a skill that “not only helps other people but helps myself”. 

Tennant also shares that financial planning, with its rigorous requirements and testing procedures, is what she sees as “the gold standard of finance”. Tennant feels distinguished knowing she was able to make it through the qualifications that make her “the real deal” while also having a comprehensive understanding of finance that allows her to speak on many parts of the industry. 

Tennant enthusiastically shared her appreciation for her time at Towson University and how it has benefitted her in her career. One major part of her career that she feels CBE prepared her for was the art of networking. By attending networking events put on as part of her classes, she was able to find internships that matched her career interests. Tennant shares that while she was anxious about where she would go in her career, she would have been even more anxious without the opportunity to network during her time in CBE. Tennant was even able to get her first job after graduation through the College of Business and Economics. 

Tennant remarks that “the jobs we want aren’t on Indeed, they are word of mouth”. 

The financial planning program, as Tennant explains, was also helpful in giving her the needed technical skills for her CFP exam. Her prep course for the exam felt like a review of what she had already learned in her classes beforehand. By having two steps done in one at CBE – her degree and her financial planning courses – Tennant was ahead of her peers who were taking separate courses for financial planning. 

During her time in CBE, Tennant was a part of the creation of the Women in Finance club. This club was created to give a space to women in her primarily male dominated classes. Tennant explains that the idea for the Women in Finance club was sparked by the Finance club, and she wanted a place for women to call their own that would show that they are “by no means timid”. The group was created for women who love what they do and to build a sense of community. Tennant shares that the club shows other women in the field that they are not climbing the uphill battle alone and that they have a community of people there for them. The Women in Finance club is still a strong part of CBE thanks to Tennant’s hard work and perseverance to help in creating a space for women to achieve their goals. 

Being in a field dominated by predominantly older white men, Tennant was concerned about the opportunities she would get in the professional field. Tennant felt that in her past, her talents may have been overlooked for those who meet the more common profile of a financial planner. Despite this, Tennant continued to persevere and reach her professional goals. Instead of backing down, Tennant saw this as a positive challenge to better the industry. Tennant expresses the importance of diversity, as diversity brings a variety of unique lived experiences to a company that is important in making changes. 

For Tennant, it is important that the field is becoming inclusive on both the professional and the client sides. Throughout her career, Tennant places a great emphasis on helping minority groups who may not be fairly represented in the financial planning field. In 2021, only 1.8 percent of CFP professionals were Black, even after growing 10 percent from the previous year; and even at an all time high, only 23.4 percent of CFP professionals are women. As Tennant explains, non-traditionally served groups in the financial planning field are going to want to see themselves reflected in the CFP professionals in the field. When going for financial help as a non-traditionally served group, as Tennant explains, there can be shame in asking for help and not previously knowing anything about financial planning. But with women empowering other women and young people empowering other young people, there is less pressure and shame in the experience. Having more diversity, Tennant says, also allows for culturally sensitive values to take a bigger place in the financial planning process. 

Tennant expresses that we must “be the change we want to see”. 

Currently, Tennant is working with a completely virtual women-led firm. Being a part of a field dominated heavily by men, Tennant wanted to place emphasis on helping her own community and generation. Tennant’s goal is to help people who aren’t normally prioritized in her field, and has created a lower barrier of entry to do so. By talking to her clients and learning their history, Tennant is able to create a plan fit for her clients that is reviewed based on their life changes. A highlight of this, Tennant shares, is being able to work with her young clients through major life milestones such as marriage and children, which isn’t always seen in the average clientele of a financial planner.  

Tennant is also a big advocate for not only helping her clients with her skills, but educating them as well. By not only telling them the answers of their questions, but also explaining why, Tennant is able to share valuable information with clients who may not have been able to access this information before. Tennant shares that it’s very empowering to share her knowledge with demographics who traditionally left out of the field, as it allows for more people to become aware of their own finances. 

“Everyone is just trying to figure it out,” says Tennant. By taking away the shame of not having this knowledge beforehand, Tennant is able to better help her clientele while also giving them important financial information. 

When sharing advice with current students, Tennant would like to share with women considering the financial planning field that  “who you are is your superpower, don’t try so hard to conform to what you think is the status quo. What you’ve gone through is going to make you a great financial advisor”. Tennant states that being who you are will allow for the people you are working with to naturally open up and connect with you. Tennant also wants to share to “know your why, and do your research” when it comes to considering financial planning as a career path. Tennant urges people to look into the field, and by understanding what it takes may intrigue people into joining the field. Knowing why you want to go into the field will also narrow down where you want to work in the industry, she explains. 

“We are a special field and that is really cool,” says Tennant.