Tan Phan, MS Financial Planning 2016 and GGU adjunct instructor, is driven by a passion for making financial services available to the Vietnamese-American community.
When Tan Phan was five years old, he immigrated to the United States with his mother and sister. Growing up, he observed his mother stashing money under the mattress to keep it safe.
“My mom, my aunties, my uncles, the majority of Vietnamese that come here don’t understand the market,” reflected Tan, MS Financial Planning 2016 and GGU adjunct instructor. “They don’t know about 401Ks, none of that. They put money into a savings account or under the mattress.”
A Passion for Financial Advising
A seed was planted; when Tan grew older he decided to become a financial advisor. The years of hard work it took to achieve his career goal paid off. Today, Tan has been named to InvestmentNews’ 40 Under 40 List by InvestmentNews, a leading source for news, analysis, and information essential to the financial advisory community.
“This 40 Under 40 award is not just a win for me,” commented Tan. “It is a win for the people around me too. My family, clients, and community. Any win for one person is a win for us all.”
From SF State to Prudential Financial
Tan’s career journey began at San Francisco State University, when he took a finance class and learned about inflation and the time value of money. He realized his mother had been losing money by stashing it under the mattress because of inflation and the opportunity costs of investing and compounding interest. When he told his professor the story about his mother, his professor told him that if he loves finance and wants to help people like his mother he should become a financial advisor.
Following graduation, Tan worked for Prudential Financial in San Francisco as a financial planner specializing in estate, tax, and retirement planning, investment management, and executive compensation. After gaining a few years of work experience, he came to GGU to pursue the MS in Financial Planning in order to further augment his knowledge.
MS in Financial Planning
“I chose GGU because the people that teach the classes are professionals in the field so they actually practice,” explained Tan. “The second reason is that you can get an MSFP and sit for the CFP exam.”
At GGU, Tan was named the 2016 Outstanding Student Award Winner in the Master of Science in Financial Planning program. After he earned his degree, he opened up his own firm, TAN Wealth Management, an independent Registered Investment Advisor that provides retirement planning and wealth management to families and professionals. While he serves diverse clients, he is especially proud to make financial services available and also do pro bono work for the Vietnamese American community helping people, among other things, avoid financial products with high fees and build emergency funds.
Financial Empowerment for Immigrant Communities
“My passion is to increase financial literacy within my community and help people accumulate and protect their wealth,” said Tan. “Financial literacy and financial resources should be openly available to people from all walks of life — not just the wealthy,” Tan added. “I want to do my part for the greater good by passing my knowledge on to others.
Tan would like to see more pro bono offerings within the financial planning industry made available to immigrants delivered in their native languages. He also stresses the need for an information portal that contains the best advice about financial products and planning provided in different languages.
“They are sacrificing themselves for their kids,” said Tan. “They were comfortable in Vietnam, but they come here and work day and night. You have to have a passion to help them.”
Teaching Financial Planning at GGU
In addition to his financial advising work, Tan teaches a Retirement & Employee Benefits Planning course at GGU. His tells students that a successful career in the field requires passion. Burn-out is high with a lot of information coming at you that’s constantly changing about finance, law, and accounting.
“If you have passion and purpose such that you feel even if I’m not paid to do it I want to do it then you’ll be successful in financial planning or any other field.”