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Financial Planning Month-October

October is Financial Planning Month

Nicholas MacDonald got into the financial services industry by an uncommon route. After completing his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and political science, he found a financial research firm looking for philosophy majors. He applied and became the office's Asia specialist. Soon, his interest in China led to an international move.

In 2008, MacDonald moved to Shanghai and worked in the communications industry. He was an English instructor for adult learners, then started his own consulting firm working with financial services companies in China. After some time as an editor at the China Economic Review, he decided it was time for a change. “I’m tired of just writing about this,” he thought. “I want to actually do it.” So, he went to business school and earned a master's in international business and international finance.

After business school, MacDonald moved back to the States and started the long and difficult task of job searching. His wife, Angela Wu, was six months pregnant, and they needed health insurance. He found a job at Merrill Lynch and moved to Wells Fargo the following year, working in several different positions.

In the spring of 2020, MacDonald became a Certified Financial Planner and has been working hard for the last few months to set up his practice. Now, he works with small business owners and people who live and work internationally. He uses his own experience abroad to help others navigate the unique financial challenges posed by an international lifestyle.

“I’m interested in people who are trying to figure out how to work between economies with entirely different benefits and social support systems, different currencies, very different laws,” he said. “There's always something to learn there. And it’s a difficult area to work in, but it’s what really interests me.”

MacDonald loves finding creative solutions, both inside and outside of the workplace. He runs a weekly tabletop roleplaying game, responding in real-time to the actions his fellow players take. He uses this same creativity to help his financial clients.

“I love just creating scenarios and worlds and I find there’s a huge parallel between being a financial planner and being a [roleplaying game] Dungeon Master,” MacDonald said. It’s a very similar practice. You have to have a lot of information at your fingertips and be able to deliver it and present it and tell a good story to your client. You have to be able to answer their questions, direct it back. You need to be able to control the flow. It's a very similar discipline.”

When he joined Midwest Secure Retirement earlier this year, MacDonald was introduced to NAIFA and decided it was the right place for him. He now works as a fiduciary with financial planning and broker insurance products.

When he’s not in the office, MacDonald can be found reading the philosophy of Ken Wilber or the speculative fiction of Neal Stephenson, cooking dinner, or driving his six-year-old son to karate and swimming classes.

Thank you, Nicholas, for your service to our industry and association. We’re #NAIFAproud to call you one of our own.

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