Alex Wilson, CFP®, BFA™
A fee-only, fiduciary, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and Student Loan Expert dedicated to helping progressive early-career professionals live life on their terms.
"The goal isn't
The goal is living
life on your terms."
Hi, I'm Alex
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ PROFESSIONAL
BEHAVIORAL FINANCIAL ADVISOR™
STUDENT LOAN EXPERT
I'm a creative, analytical, millennial CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, offering straight-forward, actionable advice not only on student loans but also on how to set finances up for success. My writing and advice is jargon-free, and my calming demeanor and expertise make complex financial topics less intimidating.
I'm currently a fee-only, fiduciary, Financial Advisor for SmartPath Advisors and a Financial Coach for SmartPath. My financial plans combine traditional financial planning techniques with behavioral techniques acquired from my financial coaching experience and Behavioral Financial Advisor™ training.
I mentor female Financial Planners entering the industry, moderate Females and Finance, volunteer for The Institute of Student Loan Advisors Corporation, and am a committee member of FPA of Georgia NexGen. In my "free time," I am either watching our 1-year-old daughter grow up way too quickly with my husband, Mike, or discussing thought-provoking ideas with my friend and fellow financial professional, Cait Howerton.
I wasn't always good at money. In college and long before I became a personal finance expert, I bought what I wanted and put it on credit. My college was paid for, I didn't pay rent, and I had a decent job processing medical bills and then auto loan contracts - so why did I graduate with $12,000 in credit card debt?
It's simple looking back, for about 3 years I put about $335 a month onto a credit card. I was living $335 above my means, every month, for 36 months.
I'd like to say there was a light-bulb moment that turned things around, but unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Instead, it was a multi-year-long process of discovering personal finance and my own money scripts.
After college, I began working for an independent branch of Raymond James and started working towards becoming a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. The courses I took through Boston University, like all other CFP® education courses, didn't cover the day-to-day concepts of personal finance. I could show a business owner how to compare retirement savings options or how to tell if a bond is selling at a discount, but couldn't tell you how to handle your student loans.
Towards the end of my time at Raymond James, I discovered Financial Coaching. I was so excited to find a financial profession that dives into the day-to-day finances of everyday people. The problem? There are not many jobs for Financial Coaches. So I set out on my own, coaching clients on their debt, budgets, and cash flow. During this time, I completed the Behavioral Financial Advisor™ certification. Six months later, SmartPath found me and offered me a Financial Coaching position.
My husband and I got married, had a baby, and moved three times that year. At the same time, I was building SmartPath's internal calculators to run retirement projections, student loan analysis including different repayment plans and forgiveness options, debt paydown plans comparing snowball and avalanche methods, investment allocation analysis, and several more. I learned data analytics and reporting, marketing, basics of coding in HTML, using markdown to write blog posts, and agile business development techniques.
I also learned a lot about student loans by working with medical school students, recent graduates, and new residents. Coaching them through Public Service Loan Forgiveness, consolidating or waiting out their grace period, the age-old rent v. buy question, and how to budget when you've never earned a penny before was a fascinating and valuable experience for me too.
Student loans are complex, and a mistake can cost tens of thousands of dollars. I comb through my client's student loans, analyze their options, and come up with a plan. I show them if using a loan forgiveness program is actually in their best interest, or if they are better off just paying them off.
To help many more people with their student loans, I began volunteering for The Institute of Student Loan Advisors Corporation, TISLA, a non-profit whose sole purpose is to bring access to free, neutral, and clear student loan advice to all student loan borrowers. I mainly assist TISLA with their social media strategy and campaigns.
While working at SmartPath, I was exposed to the financial problems everyday people face. Whether that's making a plan for their student loans, budgeting for a new baby, newlyweds combining their finances, or spending more than they make - I was taught how to coach clients through it.
I finished the CFP® education course I started years before and passed the exam. I became a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional in August 2019, and a Financial Advisor the next month for SmartPath Advisors.
After becoming a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, I started mentoring other women just getting started in Financial Planning. I enjoy sharing my experience and tips gained over the years with women who are in the position I was 5 years ago. I am an active member of Females and Finance, a group of thousands of women and male allies in financial services looking to support each other.
I am a self-proclaimed spreadsheet nerd, and proud of it. I have been using Google Sheets or Excel for more than 10-years. Yes, that means I was 14 when I started making budget workbooks. I won second place in the 2019 Tiller Builders Challenge, with my spreadsheet that has a cash flow, budget, bills, debt and savings tracker. After realizing I was the only woman who entered, out of 20 entries, I decided to launch a spreadsheet training course in hopes that more women would enter future challenges.
That brings us to today. My journey is long from over, and I'm excited for what the future holds. My hope is to share my experience, knowledge on student loans and financial planning, lift up women entering the profession, and that you'll join me for the ride.