Falling Together, Not Falling Apart: Amy Irvine Doesn’t Take “No” for an Answer

4 min read
March 01, 2017

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When Amy Irvine was a young girl in the Finger Lakes area of New York State, she was determined to be a math teacher.  Her parents gifted her with a chalkboard and a baby brother, and they were all she needed to fuel her dreams. By the time he was two, Irvine’s little brother was coerced to be her student.

It turns out, teaching math was the first of many ambitions she would have, but she never strayed far from numbers. By the seventh grade, she discovered the field of accounting. “They get paid really well and they get to work with numbers all day?!” Sign me up, she thought.

Irvine now splits her time between the area where she grew up in New York’s wine country and Cape Canaveral, Florida as the owner of Irvine Wealth Planning Strategies. She remains incredibly passionate about educating up-and-coming generations about numbers. Specifically, dollars and cents. “I would love to see kids at least taught about using credit responsibly and the cost of a college education,” she said, adding, “not to mention budgeting!”

“In my opinion, every high school student in the United States should be required to take a personal finance class,” Irvine continues. “How is something that will affect the rest of your life not included as a required curriculum?”  

Irvine is so passionate about today’s youth acquiring basic finance knowledge that she finds herself fantasizing about winning the lottery so she could devote herself to volunteering in high schools. She’d also like to help low income populations, battered women, and those who have been harmed by predatory selling activities in financial planning. Her ambition doesn’t stop there. Irvine also dreams of working as a business consultant helping others with starting their own firms.

“I always ask (my clients), what if your resources weren’t a barrier? What would your life look like? My advice is to figure out a way to make those dreams a reality and to weave them into your life as a priority.”

The catch for Irvine: “I don’t just give the advice,” she said, “I have to actually follow it.”  With that philosophy, volunteering and coaching may be inevitable for her.

Irvine’s passion is proof that she found her true calling. “I love the career I have fallen into,” she said. “What is more motivating than helping someone buy their first home, save for their dream vacation, (or provide a) college education for their kids?” 

Irvine’s path began at a trust company, first doing final estate accounting before working with retirement and health insurance plans.  She interacted with the public while presenting at 401k open enrollment meetings. Attendees commonly approached Irvine after the meetings to ask questions about other financial topics.  

“I could see that people were screaming for guidance,” she said.

Recognizing an opportunity, she approached her employer and suggested the company offer a holistic planning service.  When they weren’t interested, she began looking at options to do it herself. “Sometimes when you think everything is falling apart, it may just be falling together,” Irvine recited.  She discovered a job description right up her alley: Certified Financial Planner.  

With encouragement from her husband, she began pursuing a bachelor’s degree in financial planning at age 30.  After earning her degree and sitting for the CFP exam, she joined a credit union’s investment management division. Reaching that goal could be the end of the Amy Irvine Story, but she wasn’t satisfied. The credit union pushed asset collection and she wanted to do financial planning.

After five years, Irvine moved to an SEC-registered firm as the Director of Financial Planning.  Finally, Irvine was doing just what her heart called her to do, with one notable exception: she wasn’t working with the up-and-coming Generation X.

“I feel the pain of the ‘X’ generation,” she said. “I’m part of that generation.  We (often) don’t have traditional pensions or health insurance plans that follow us into retirement.”

As she did earlier in her career, she approached her employer with an idea. This time, she proposed growing the firm by focusing on Generation X through a subsidiary of the firm. She again faced resistance and explored other options. 

With the support of her family and her clients, she launched Irvine Wealth Planning Strategies. She was able to retain all but one client in the transition. After a year in business, that one client told her he regretted not making the transition with her. “That was a sweet moment,” she recalled.

Sweet moments occur more frequently for Irvine than ever before. “I have the distinct privilege of helping people achieve their life goals,” she said. “That is extremely inspiring to me. When I can save someone from themselves, I feel pretty darn rewarded.”  

Irvine admits there are challenges too. For example, the responsibilities of entrepreneurship can be a drag. “Some of the administrative stuff sometimes gets in the way of what I want to be doing,” she said. Easing the burden of those chores is a focus in her next annual business plan. Based on Irvine’s pattern of goal-setting, learning, and achieving, there’s little doubt she’ll figure out a way to do more of the work she loves.

Another challenge for Irvine: marketing. “I’ve never had to market myself before,” she revealed. “I’ve always been part of a company that takes care of that part.” For guidance, Irvine relies on the community of like-minded advisors at XY Planning Network – an organization that recently named Irvine ‘Member of the Month’. “I stalk the forums, listen to the training sessions, try to take advantage of all the feedback being shared. Also, I get to help other advisors by sharing my areas of expertise, which is rewarding to me as well,” she said of XY Planning Network. “I’m in a couple of study groups that I really love…(they) allow for both kudos and constructive growth suggestions.”

Clearly, growth is a top priority for Irvine. “I’ve worked my way up from poverty,” she shared. “The lack of privilege can be a driver for constant growth. (Although) I don’t have an Ivy League education, I’m constantly educating myself.” On that note, Irvine recently passed the three exams for the Enrolled Agent designation to offer tax services to her clients.

“I’m sort of like a fine wine,” she says, “I think I’ve improved with age.”