Alumna shares grace and guidance on managing finances

Soraya Morris wearing a necklace and blue dress.Soraya Morris (B.S.’12/B) is a Richmond, Virginia-based chartered financial consultant for Envestnet MoneyGuide, which develops financial planning software. Morris works with financial advisers to provide financial education and strategies for their clients. She recently discussed her experience at Virginia Commonwealth University and how it set her up for success.

Why did you choose VCU, and what was your experience like at the university?

After touring many schools, I realized I wanted to be around an urban environment and chose VCU due to its diversity. I enjoyed how the campus was close to public transit and that I’d be able to explore Richmond. When I came to the university my freshman year, I was a resident in Brandt Hall on the same floor as many other business students. 

This experience allowed me to walk onto campus the first day already knowing other students in each of my classes. Since we were all majoring in business, most of us had similar prerequisite classes, so I could see at least a few familiar faces in each class. It was very comforting living close by other first-year students to form study groups and help each other out.

What first got you interested in financial planning?

I came to VCU knowing I wanted to study finance. Initially, I thought I would focus my studies on investment or wealth management, but I later learned about the Financial Planning Association at VCU, which allowed me to find my true path. 

Through FPA, I was able to meet financial planning professionals in the Richmond area and work alongside different guest speakers at VCU. I participated in various case study competitions and later became president of the VCU chapter (the university had only the second chapter in the nation at the time). This organization helped me discover my passion for financial planning, seek internships and grow my professional network. 

How has VCU been a part of your career path?

Because I was very involved in FPA, I was able to go to conferences for little to no cost. The events I attended allowed me to network and meet different professionals who would help my career goals. 

I obtained my first internship through FPA after being introduced to an opportunity by our chapter liaison. I was able to apply for various jobs and internships because of my experience.

After graduating from VCU, I worked at Signature Family Wealth Advisors for a few years and later transitioned into a new position as a lead trainer at Envestnet MoneyGuide. The person who referred me to this role was a guest speaker I met through FPA during my time at VCU,while she was working for the company. It has been a great fit, and I’ve been here for four years now.

Tell us more about your journey to become a chartered financial consultant and what you’re working on now.

I started working in the financial planning industry as a financial services associate working with financial advisers. I really enjoyed working with clients and helping them reach their goals, plan their portfolios and understand debt and how to pay it off, especially student loans. I enjoy seeing people get excited when they realize they can retire or can help pay for their grandchildren’s college.

I came to Envestnet MoneyGuide because I really like the culture. It’s a great company, and I can use all of my financial planning knowledge and industry experience. Instead of working with clients one-on-one, however, I now work closely with advisers. I can reach more people through these advisers, who learn more best practices and how to find solutions for their clients.

What has been your biggest takeaway since becoming a chartered financial consultant?

My biggest takeaway has been making sure to stay up to date on financial industry knowledge and following current events about new rules, laws or legislation. 

I realized VCU was really big on not only teaching what the textbook has to offer, but also showing us how to gain outside knowledge by learning from professors, peers and professional opportunities. Having friends and colleagues in the industry is also a great way to keep each other sharp on new knowledge and skills in financial planning. 

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love that I get to travel throughout the country. Last year I had almost 50 flights throughout the year traveling to conferences and meeting other people who share the same passion for financial planning.

I also enjoy sharing my tips and tricks to help other advisers so that they can help more clients; I don’t believe financial planning should only be for the 1% of people with a lot of money. 

I think everyone deserves to work with an adviser to develop a financial plan and learn financial wellness.