Sometimes life doesn’t go in the direction you expect, but that’s not a bad thing. So even though I thought my life plans would include a lifelong career in the United States Navy, seeing a need and having the knowledge and passion to meet that need resulted in a career pivot. And now, almost 40 years later, I still see my choice to become a financial advisor as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! Here’s how it happened.
When I was first commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy in 1976 after graduating from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, my goal was to carry on a legacy. Growing up, all of my male role models were civil service employees, from policemen to firefighters, to highway patrol officers. I thought I would serve the citizens of America just as these great men had done before me. Well, exactly 4 years and 4 months to the day, I resigned from active duty naval service and entered civilian life.
But when I walked into the Lockheed California Company the following week to start my new job as a research and development planner, I realized that bureaucracy was everywhere, not just in the military. Thankfully, despite the challenges, I was now working for a company that encouraged and equipped their employees to get advanced degrees. I took advantage of this and earned my MBA from the University of La Verne while I was working full-time. This is where things started getting a lot more fulfilling and exciting.
While in school, I had done some hands-on consulting with a couple who were operating a second business out of their garage. They had a unique niche and product, but they were not turning a profit. After digging a bit deeper, I discovered that they were really just overwhelmed with managing their personal finances. This experience sparked an idea.
Back when I was in the Navy, I used my spare time to study investments, individual income taxation, and estate planning. That early interest in the financial world coupled with the knowledge I gained from my MBA program and the realizations from my consulting experience led me to create my financial advisory business in 1982. Remember, financial planning was not nearly as well known or understood then as it is today. In fact, 1982 was the first year that anyone could invest money in an individual retirement account, whether they were employed and covered by a company retirement plan or not.
My wife and I were already contributing to our 401(k) plans, but we wanted to make a little extra money to put into an IRA. At the time, we figured that if we could earn and save an additional $4,000 a year, we’d end up with a sizable nest egg when we retired. Little did I know what would become of this side business!
After one year of working part-time as a financial advisor and full-time as a manager at Lockheed, I had a handful of clients. My wife and I had two young children, and life was beginning to feel quite full. By the end of the following year, through word of mouth, our client count doubled. And though there was no entrepreneurial track record to speak of in my family, I found myself starting to wonder what could happen if I put all my energy and time into running a financial advisory practice.
In 1984, after a lot of careful consideration and prayer, my wife and I took a leap of faith and turned our side gig into a full-time business. There were no guarantees of success, and failure could mean hardship for our family. We knew we were taking a risk, but I wasn’t sure if I could look at myself in the mirror if I didn’t take that risk. That would prove to be one of the best things I ever did.
Seeing It Through
Now, all these years later, I am founding president, CEO, and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® (CFP®) practitioner at CTA Wealth Advisors, a fee-only financial planning firm dedicated to helping people achieve what matters most in their lives.
I spend my days investing in my clients, building relationships that go beyond the surface so we can help them discover their goals and design a future they can be excited about. There’s just nothing better than walking my clients through financial decisions and helping them implement solutions and overcome challenges.
People sometimes ask me how I’ve stayed the course all these years, how I’ve managed to stay motivated and keep going through different market cycles and circumstances. My answer is simple: my goal is to help people keep the promises that they’ve made to themselves. I want to keep them on course and give them the tools and focus they need to make their dreams a reality. I believe in the American Dream. I believe that hard work pays off, and I believe that every single tenet of the financial planning process can make an impact on my clients’ lives.
Are You Ready To Take Control Of Your Finances?
At CTA Wealth Advisors, we treat our clients like family. If you are ready to work with a financial advisor who puts you first and helps you navigate the complexities of your financial life, we are here for you! Call us at 818-841-1746 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a complimentary consultation, and be sure to introduce your friends and family to us as well so they can experience the difference a customized financial plan can make!
Cameron Thornton is founder, president, and CEO at CTA Wealth Advisors, a fee-only Registered Investment Advisory firm in Burbank, California. Cameron has been a financial advisor for 38 years after a career in the United States Navy and years as a manager with Lockheed California Company. Cameron graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and earned an MBA from the University of La Verne. He is also a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® (CFP®) practitioner. He also wrote the novel What Matters with Rod Zeeb as a result of his passion for helping people secure multi-generational health and unity for their families. Outside of work, Cam gives of his time, talent, and treasure to Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, where he is Chairman of their Development Task Force. Cam and his wife, Jane, are parishioners at St. Bede the Venerable Church in La Canada, and they serve in numerous areas of parish ministry. In his free time, Cam enjoys reading, traveling, and improving his golf game with his wife. They live in Glendale, California, and have three adult children, who also reside in Southern California. In 2019, Cam and Jane were blessed to become grandparents when two beautiful grandsons were welcomed into the Thornton family! Learn more about Cameron by connecting with him on LinkedIn.