Meet Our 2021 NextGen Financial Services Professional Award Recipients

Meet Our 2021 NextGen Financial Services Professional Award Recipients

The American College of Financial Services
September 29, 2021

Each year, The American College of Financial Services selects some of the brightest up-and-coming professionals in the financial services industry to receive the NextGen Financial Services Professional Award. These award recipients are people to watch in the coming year as they continue to work at the forefront of the industry, especially during times of social, cultural, and economic change.

 

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic put the world on its heels, but with the development of vaccines, the increase in remote working and learning, and other adaptations, some thought 2021 would be the year things went “back to normal.” The truth, however, was far more complex. The rise of COVID variants and changing political and social climates exacerbated by the virus have led to a “new normal” many are still trying to navigate.

Through it all, young professionals stepped into the breach and continued to grow their expertise in using technology and building relationships to overcome the challenges of the ongoing pandemic and shifting business landscape—especially in financial services. Those under 40 have played a critical role in helping the industry evolve and persevere when many vital sectors have struggled to hold on.

Get to know the next-gen professionals you should be watching in the coming year as we announce our 6th annual NextGen Financial Services Professional Award recipients!

 

Amie Agamata, CFP®, AIF®, RICP®, ChFC®, CLU®

Amie Agamata is the Director of Investments & Planning for Leonard C. Wright’s team in San Diego, CA. She manages the team’s ERISA plan practice, investments, and financial planning process to ensure all recommendations are in the best interest of clients. “It’s a privilege to be acknowledged as a NextGen leader in our industry and I aspire to encourage anyone interested in or starting their career in financial services to invest in your education, because it does pay off in the long run,” she says. “No one can ever take it away from you, and it makes you a better servant to your clients.”

Agamata says her education through The American College of Financial Services has made a measurable difference in her life. “It’s sometimes harder to be taken seriously in the financial services industry not only as a younger person, but also as a woman in a male dominated field,” she says. “After furthering my education with The College, I’ve experienced higher respect from people in our industry and, more importantly, clients have better trust knowing they’re working with a highly educated individual. It’s key to stay open minded; I recognize the more I learn, the better I’ll be able to serve those in our community.” She also identifies her business partner, Leonard Wright, CPA, PFS, CFP®, as her most important mentor figure, even though they are decades separated in age. “COVID-19 changed him from a Baby Boomer into a Millennial,” she says. “He offered me the position of his right-hand associate when I was only 19 years old, and from that point on, he’s always taught me to achieve and demand exceptionalism in everything I do. I’m blessed to work with someone who shares the same core values as me and truly has my best interest at heart.”

 

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Amie

 

Favorite Hobby: “I love traveling and seeing live music or…traveling to see live music! There’s just something unexplainable about experiencing a new place. You learn a lot about yourself when you’re in unfamiliar surroundings. Live music gives you a greater appreciation of the artists and I love the notion that it brings together so many people with different backgrounds and views to enjoy the performance as one.”

Favorite Book: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens—“It’s a coming-of-age story mixed with a murder mystery that has an unexpected ending. I know I’d enjoy reading again because I’ll learn something different.”

Last Meal: Chicken strips and French fries with a side of ranch—“A classic millennial meal growing up!”

Favorite Vacation: “I backpacked in Thailand for a month with eight of my girlfriends after graduating in 2015. It was an adventure of a lifetime and an experience that we’ll always share and never forget.”

Coffee or Tea: “A hot chai tea latte with oat milk always makes my day a little brighter.”

 

LeTian Dong, CFP®, RICP®, ChFC®

LeTian Dong is Chief of Staff, VP of Planning, and co-founder of a boutique retirement income and distribution planning practice with partner Tom Morris, MBA, CFP®, with offices in Long Island, NY and Durham, NC. She began her financial planning career upon graduation from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2013, and as a retirement income specialist, she helps clients design strategies that exceed their goals and empower them to live joyfully and confidently.

Dong says the greatest challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic is also an old one: “The number of hours in the day. We held four times as many meetings in 2020 as we did the year prior, with the same team. The sheer amount of work was overwhelming,” she says. “I feel guilty saying we did very well helping clients when so many people were hurting. There were so many starfish stranded on the beach, but we helped as many as we could by going as fast as we could. Our team had to revamp some of our processes to deal with the speed.” She also says she has a passion for mentoring young planning professionals, and her goal is to lead future financial professionals in creating innovative strategies to engage with their communities in this rapidly changing global environment. “Getting established in this industry is challenging, especially for young professionals who may not have as much experience or technical skill set,” she says. “We need to dedicate more resources to helping young advisors build their practices.”

 

Five Things You Didn’t Know About LeTian

 

Favorite Hobby: “Dance, especially ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and urban; reading fiction in Chinese and English; and tennis.”

Favorite Quote: “…The credit belongs to the [wo]man…in the arena...” from Theodore Roosevelt’s “Citizenship in a Republic” speech.

Coffee or Tea: “Neither – I generate my own caffeine, so water is all I need!”

Spirit Animal: “The nine-tailed fox. As legend has it, the magical nine-tailed fox earns each tail by being of service to others and granting their wishes. The final tail is awarded in the form of a kind stranger’s wish for her.”

Next Designation: Wealth Management Certified Professional® (WMCP®)

 

Shellie Haluska, CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®, AAMS®

Shellie Haulska is a financial advisor based in Carroll, IA. She attended Iowa State University (ISU) to earn a bachelor's degree in accounting in 2009 and graduated summa cum laude, before getting her master's degree in 2010. During college, she also played on the ISU women's basketball team before returning to her roots in Carroll. She describes herself as a hometown girl who wants to make a lasting positive impact in her home community. She regularly partners with clients during times of transition, such as retirement or receiving an inheritance, and many of her clients are multigenerational families faced with advanced wealth transfer considerations. She and her husband, Sean, have three daughters, and she serves in a variety of volunteer roles.

Haluska says families and clients need financial advice more than ever during the COVID pandemic. “There are so many families out there that are underserved or not served at all,” she says. “We need a large number of truly dedicated professionals in this industry that are intentional about fine tuning their craft and helping the vast numbers of families out there that need better, deeper advice and service.” While she was sad to see others hurt and suffering in their personal lives and did what she could to help, Haluska says the pandemic also offered her a personal opportunity. “The world shutting down gave me the gift of time, and I tried to use that time wisely by being present at home with family, spending time learning and growing personally and professionally instead of traveling, and being more intentional about connections and caring for my clients, colleagues, and friends through phone calls, care packages, flowers, etc.”

 

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Shellie

 

Favorite Hobby: “Spending time with my family, reading, and working out.”

Favorite Organization: “I am the President of the Carroll High School Foundation, our local public school's academic foundation.”

Favorite Quote: “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Last Meal: “A big bowl of Kraft Mac ‘N Cheese. Is there anything better?”

Last Show You Binge-Watched: Fuller House

 

Michael Sise, CFP®, ChFC®, CPFA®, AIF®, CRPC®

Michael Sise, a graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and Liberty University, began his career as a financial advisor in 2013. In his first five years in the business, Michael became a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) professional, as well as achieving his Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF®) and Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® (CRPC®) designations. He worked as an adjunct professor at Salisbury University’s Perdue School of Business for two years teaching Retirement Planning, and in 2019 was named a partner at Comprehensive Financial Solutions (CFS). He is also the host of CFS’s The Financial Planning and Game Theory Podcast. He lives in Maryland with his wife, Allison, and their two daughters.

Sise says receiving the NextGen Financial Services Professional Award is a great honor for him. “It validates the late nights of studying, networking, cold calling, presenting, teaching, and client meetings,” he says. “Our business is ever-changing, and it’s important to keep up with or stay ahead of those changes. Yet ultimately, this business is all about relationships, and an advisor who can build and grow the trust with their clients will have a long and fulfilling career.” He also says the self-doubt young professionals feel can actually be an asset to them in the financial services field. “Any new career is overwhelming, but this career path absolutely requires a young person to know what they don’t know. An intelligent and determined young advisor will be more likely to cherish and capitalize on every learning opportunity they meet professionally. Complacency is always corrosive, and a committed young person in the financial services profession’s greatest advantage is their hunger to learn and grow.”

 

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Michael

 

Favorite Quote: "Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." – Abraham Lincoln

Last Meal: “Surf & turf with a caesar salad, fresh bread, and a chocolate shake.”

Favorite Vacation: “A Caribbean cruise in 2014. I put on ten pounds in seven days.”

Next Designation: “The College’s Master of Science in Financial Planning (MSFP) has always appealed to me. The curriculum looks excellent.”

Last Show You Binge Watched: Cobra Kai

 

Andrew Tudor, CFP®, RICP®

Andrew Tudor is the Founder and Chief Wealth Coach at Alchemist Wealth. There, he helps professional women and dual-income couples transform their relationship with money. His group combines financial planning and coaching to help give dynamic women clarity and confidence with their money. He says receiving the NextGen Financial Services Professional Award “means that we are successfully changing the conversation about money. Our business is about serving our community, being fully transparent, and coaching people to be more fulfilled humans. The market and now the industry is telling us that this new conversation about money matters to people.”

Tudor says young advisors enjoy many professional advantages in today’s financial services industry. “Young professionals and people of color experience financial success and money differently,” he says. “They need someone who understands their unique dreams and potential hurdles with context. That’s why our generation prefers working with younger advisors who understand the aspirations and fears of our peers.” He says younger advisors are also better equipped to lead conversations about wealth creation as well as wealth management. “I understand and can articulate the desires and fears of my peer group. We experienced the Great Recession, Housing Crises, and Cryptocurrency Boom in the same life stage,” he says. “That gives me an advantage because I’m hearing the meaning behind the goals and the fears. The most important thing is that our clients feel understood.”

 

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Andrew

 

Favorite Hobby: “Cooking. It’s my creative outlet and I love eating my creations.”

Favorite Podcast: “Revisionist History with Malcolm Gladwell. I love history and reexamining the things we hold to be true.” 

Favorite Book:The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It explores how life is an uncharted journey that you have to chart for yourself. You must follow your personal legend and create your uniquely satisfying future. I believe that to my core.”

Best Vacation: “Accra, Ghana, in 2019. It was the Year of Return for people of African descent. It was beautiful, insightful, and powerful. It changed my life.”

Favorite Organization: "Professionally, CHIP, NAPFA, and XY Planning Network. Personally, I-Rise Investments (my investment club), the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, the Leadership Center, and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.”

 

Lauren Yamaoka, CAP®

Lauren Yamaoka is a Director of Development at The Fuller Foundation, where she works to help clients and donors achieve their philanthropic goals and support Fuller Theological Seminary and its community. She earned a BA in English from Hope College and an MFA in Creative Writing from Roosevelt University. She has worked in nonprofit fundraising for nearly a decade, holding positions with Northwestern University, Southern Methodist University, and the Children’s Medical Center Foundation. “As a fundraising professional among so many traditional client-facing financial advisors, it is truly an honor to receive this award and to represent the nonprofit seat at the planning table, as we are all working together—client, advisor, and fundraiser alike—to make a positive difference in the community and world,” she says.

Early in her career, Yamaoka was a nonprofit recruiter, and she says she’s most grateful for  those who took a chance on her when she decided she wanted to transition into a frontline fundraising role as a major gifts officer. “As young professionals, we have been raised to be successful in a business world that has shifted toward a focus on social responsibility, values, and impact,” she says. “For those of us in the nonprofit sector, we are in a prime position to use these skills to better articulate our organizations' impact in the community and progress toward mission fulfillment, which can in turn inspire better confidence among donors and volunteers.”

 

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Lauren

 

Favorite Hobby: “Reading! I typically read an average of one book per week and love sharing my thoughts and recommendations with others.”

Favorite Quote: "It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts." —Henry David Thoreau

Best Vacation: “My husband and I visited Thailand and Vietnam in fall 2018 and fell in love with the culture, cuisine, and the people.”

Next Designation: “The Master of Science in Financial Planning (MSFP) with a concentration in legacy planning. My three CAP® courses count toward this degree!”

Last Meal: “All my favorite dishes at Gather in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood.”

 

For more information about The College’s President’s Dinner event and other award recipients, read our official release. You can also learn more about The College’s work with next-gen professionals through our “NextGen in 10” podcast or nominate an individual for a future NextGen Financial Professional Award