Experienced Engineer Transitions into Career As Financial Consultant


- Renata Carico

Term : November, 2015
Department : Business and Management
Program : Financial Planning

Renata Carico’s pathway to her career in financial planning carries special personal significance. For 20 years she worked as an engineer and operations manager in Silicon Valley, specializing in process development and manufacturing. She met her husband at her first job and had four children. And then, in 2007, her world changed when her husband passed away of cancer. As if that weren’t enough, the broker they had hired to help them took advantage of their tragedy, further devastating her family in a time of great loss. Her lifelong interest in personal finance took on new meaning after surviving this, and when the storm settled, she started researching finance courses in the Bay Area. After enrolling in UCSC Extension’s Personal Financial Planning program, she successfully transitioned into her role as a financial consultant at a private financial services firm. She completed the certificate in 2015.

 What appealed to you about financial planning?
I experienced a life changing event that made me want to change careers. Based on the experience I had when my husband was ill, I want to help people in caring and ethical ways. I’d always been interested in finance and investments, but when my life changed in this huge way, I thought I might as well make something good out of something bad. I like helping people. I went online looking for a financial planning curriculum, and when I noticed that UCSC Extension was right off Highway 101, it was very convenient for me. Extension has provided a really great education. If I could complete the program taking one course per quarter, and do it while raising four kids on my own, then anyone can do it, if they are dedicated to it.

What courses stood out to you?

I really enjoyed “Mathematics for Financial Planning”; I love financial math, and learning how to apply it to time values and money. The “Income Taxation in Personal Financial Planning” class was very informative; in general, all of the classes were good. The “Estate Planning” course has helped me quite a bit in my practice since I work with many high net worth clients. I didn’t know much about estate planning, but now I can give my clients a lot more support and knowledge to work these things out.

What was your experience like in class?

I got hired at a very ethical firm, about halfway through my curriculum at UCSC Extension, which was almost like drinking water from a fire hose. I had to take a short break, but when I returned a year later, I was adopted by a really great cohort. It was a good experience to be a part of this group, because everyone was very supportive of each other. If we had really challenging homework assignments, then we could provide each other guidance. The practicum was really nice because it pulled everything together and made us really start thinking as financial planners; we essentially had to practice being financial consultants or advisors. We had to create a financial plan; our instructor made us work our financial muscles. It was definitely the kind of work I could apply the next day at my job. Everything was included, from insurance to taxation to estate planning. It’s been very helpful.     

What advice do you have for students interested in financial planning?

Look at all the possible avenues for financial planning; it’s almost limitless what people can do, once they get into the industry. You could create portfolios, you could be an analyst; you could work with clients. You should see what’s available out there. If you are making a career change like I did, you have to understand what the income change might be—and also think what best fits your personality. Financial planning requires a lot of interpersonal skills. There are a lot of emotions involved; to be an effective advisor, I highly recommend you develop your interpersonal skills to be able to talk about finances.

Visit our Personal Financial Planning program page to learn more about Extension’s unique offerings. Browse upcoming Personal Financial Planning courses.
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