Q & A with Dan Serra CFP®, Vice President

Describe your role at Chevy Chase Trust.

My main role is helping clients maintain and grow their long-term wealth through analysis of their cash flow, investments, insurance, taxes and estate planning. Retirement planning is an important part of our work. Clients often seek assurance that they can live the life they want after they stop earning income. I offer guidance to make sure clients are prepared for the unexpected and protect family legacy goals.


What led you to a career in financial services?

Before becoming a Certified Financial Planner®,  I was a journalist for major daily newspapers where I developed an interest in business news. I remember interviewing financial planning professionals for my column and being impressed with how they improved people’s lives. Having a helper’s soul, I wanted to join them and went back to college to get my Master’s in financial planning.


What’s the most rewarding part of the job?
It’s absolutely the feeling that you helped someone feel confident and less stressed about their personal finances. Sharing the benefits of a positive relationship with money gives meaning to my work, especially when I witness someone reach their goals. And there’s the additional reward of being surrounded by colleagues who also put clients’ interests before their own.


What would you do if not this?
I would be a teacher. A couple times a year I instruct an online class for Southern New Hampshire University as an adjunct finance professor. I love sharing my knowledge with others and this includes being a role model to those who want to explore a career in financial planning or just learn how all this stuff works!


Do you have a book to recommend?
I gravitate toward spiritual and goal-oriented topics to learn how to live a more fulfilling life, both mentally and physically. I am not a Buddhist but I find the teachings uplifting. Charlotte Kasl does a wonderful job writing about our spiritual paths in her “If the Buddha…” book series. She explains how life is about overcoming its demands and experiencing the natural essence of who you are. Physically, I know the advantage of connecting health with wealth so often I seek out books on healthy eating and exercise. I’ve found success following the guidelines of Dr. Dean Ornish through his excellent book “UnDo It” on the benefits of lifestyle changes to prevent and reverse chronic diseases.


What advice would you give to someone considering a career in investment management/financial services? What personal attributes are essential for success?
Be curious. The industry loves stacks of paperwork so be willing to spend the time studying it carefully to understand how things work, and don’t be afraid to question it. While social interaction is enjoyable, it’s what goes on behind the scenes that makes a successful financial professional– that constant drive to know more.

Read Dan’s bio »


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