Robert Huffman - Class of 1980
Financial Advisor, Edward Jones, Conover, NC
“My father taught me an important lesson. Human relationships were very important to him. He always treated everyone fairly and made it a point to recognize that each person has different needs, interests, and goals. Following in that spirit, putting others first and helping them as individuals has always been my approach with whatever I do.” With this statement, Robert Huffman sums up both his career philosophy and his attitude toward life in general.
Robert’s job as a financial advisor with Edward Jones is to help individuals, families, and business owners with retirement plans and wealth management in order to meet their financial needs. “Everyone is different and has distinct goals and requirements, so before I can help or advise, it is vital for me to establish a relationship with the client. A great deal of what I do revolves around trust and understanding of the individual.
“Teaching and coaching are also important aspects of my job. Helping my clients understand the realities of financial planning, teaching them how to manage their money, and coaching them on the best investments we can make for them are all crucial skills. Occasionally, clients will have unreal expectations regarding their finances, but I can help steer them in the right direction so that they can have the best outcome possible. It is very rewarding to me when my clients are successful, the result being that they have the financial resources they need throughout their retirement years.
“Not only do I teach and coach my clients, but I am always looking for new employees who I call ‘teachable and coachable.’ Edward Jones, as a financial services firm, encourages experienced employees to assist newer advisors by helping them with perfecting their skills. For example, I can train and advise others on how to improve their telephone skills or how to put clients at ease and establish a relationship with them.”
Before entering the world of financial advising, Robert worked for many years in the health care field. “I was a medical social worker for nine years, mostly working with patients who were being discharged. Together we would discuss and plan on an individual basis the necessary steps for their care after they left the hospital. I have also worked in other areas of health care, including sales and education for a radiology company and in medical office management.
“One of my most rewarding ventures was being one of the original founders and board members for the Helping Hands Free Clinic in Lenoir, which operates in conjunction with Caldwell Memorial Hospital. The clinic serves people who need medical help but do not have the financial or insurance resources. Once again, my mission is to help people, and I’m pleased to have been a part of establishing this great resource.
“Working in the medical field may seem entirely different from the world of financial planning, but I have discovered just the opposite. When I was a medical social worker, I had to interact with people on an individual human level. Each person’s needs were different from those of other patients, just like each of my financial clients has needs that differ from others. It’s all about building relationships and working with people to solve the problem at hand. I enjoy doing that.”
Robert’s educational background also contributed to his interpersonal approach to life. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Appalachian State in criminal justice with a minor in sociology. “Most of my classes were in psychology, and I have carried much of what I learned throughout life.” He then went on to earn a Master of Arts degree in counseling from Lenoir-Rhyne University,
“My time in elementary school, junior high, and at East Burke was also influential. Almost everyone who attended Drexel Elementary remembers my aunt Frances Huffman, who was principal there for many, many years. My cousin Maurine Huffman was a great teacher. These women instilled in me the value of education from a very early age. I have memories of other teachers who inspired me – educators like Mary Hewat, Steve Huffman, Clara Cline, Mildred Leatherman, Ruth Sutton, Hilda McNeely, Phyllis Garrison, Anne Stephens. They were all committed to helping students learn. They were also looking, as am I now, for people who were teachable and coachable. While in high school, I also enjoyed being on the tennis team. Sports is also a great way to learn relationship skills. Playing doubles is an especially good way to learn cooperation and teamwork.
“While at Appalachian State, I enjoyed participating in student government. During my senior year, I served as a justice on the student court. It was a very responsible position, as we had to listen to and review cases involving other students. I also was active in the Baptist Student Union, where I served as vice-president. I liked spending time with people who were active in the BSU and who shared the same interests as I did. I also was a member of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. My home church, Drexel First Baptist, was also a huge influence on my younger years. Thad Brendle, our youth leader, took us on several mission trips, where I often spoke and shared my faith.
“My goals include continuing to use my spiritual gift of discernment, encouraging others, and helping people, whether they are clients or not. Much like my father, who was such a great role model for me, I feel successful when I have helped others to succeed.”
Published October 2021