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Erica James

Financial planner, Creative Planning

While Erica James has changed professions, her passion for education and giving back has been a constant theme.

Growing up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, she took accounting courses in high school and then majored in accounting in college. As a CPA, she worked in the profession for 10 years, first at a Big Four firm and then at a nonprofit, where she learned about taxes and planned giving.

“People started asking me about retirement and investing, and I wanted to help them but didn’t have the knowledge to do it,” she said. That led to studying for a certified financial planner designation, which she interrupted with two years off to teach English in Colombia.

Upon her return four years ago, James joined SBSB, an RIA firm in Tysons Corner, Virginia, which since has been acquired by Creative Planning, and has served as a volunteer with Britepaths, a local nonprofit helping to stabilize poor working families. There, she has four mentees and teaches a six-week financial literacy course to young mothers. “I love being in a helping profession and being able to educate people,” James said. “Even in small ways, education can have a big impact on people’s future, their families and their communities.”

Evan Cooper