Okay, I may be reaching here but the subject of tattoos and their financial ramifications has come up so frequently lately that I took it as a sign to blog about them. Let me say that if I wasn’t a financial planner, I’d probably be covered in them. (I have one; it’s small and easily hidden.) I love any means of self expression but I limit my own because, if you noticed, I said “If I wasn’t a financial planner”. I don’t know how prospects would feel about a tattooed financial planner.
In the 21st century, tattoos are almost considered normal because so many people have them now, they’re not even considered all that rebellious except to the older more conservative folks. Have you ever read the Dr. Seuss book “The Sneetches”? It’s about how some Sneetches have stars on their bellies and others do not. The ones who have stars get all snobby about it, so a man (?) comes along to put stars on the non-starred Sneetches’ bellies. The originally-starred Sneetches get all mad and have the man remove their stars so they could still discriminate against the others. It goes on and on until no one remembers who had what and they all live happily ever after (the man making and removing the stars got pretty rich profiting from their prejudice and desire to fit in).
“So, what,” you may be wondering, “does any of this have to do with finances?” Well I’m getting to it!
I know lots of people with lots of ink and the majority are lovely, honest, authentic people. They are not, however, in traditional work. (I do know two people -an investment adviser and a trust officer- who are inked up nicely but whose tattoos are also easily hidden under a business suit.) The tattooed typically are in creative fields where self expression is welcome, in law enforcement, or (sorry, you knew it was coming) are sailors. I was talking to a friend of mine (Robin Wilson) who specializes in social media marketing. We were discussing the difference in marketing/branding styles and that some companies may prefer the button-downed traditional approach to marketing but that social media’s spark is that it is not traditional; it is not button-downed and that’s exactly what makes it work.
When I shared with Robin that I’d love to have more tattoos but fear what it may convey to prospective clients, she made a good point: “If you had lots of tattoos, you’d have a completely different clientele.” And, to her point, maybe a clientele that wouldn’t feel comfortable around a stuffy traditional financial planner (not that I’m that, either). I worked in a bank’s trust department some years ago. We had a young woman come in who won the lottery. She was covered in tattoos. My manager called her “Spider-woman” because she had a tattoo of a spider on her neck. I don’t think we got the account … I wonder if she’s still looking for help.
People who have tattoos relish in their rebelliousness. They’re rule breakers on a certain level and that’s thrilling. There have been many instances when we, as a society, celebrate rule-breakers because they show us how to get out of our boxes. They’re courageous. They’re risk takers. Uh-oh, that’s why some people are afraid to hire them. People looking to hire an employee generally are NOT looking for a rule-breaker, they’re looking for a rule-follower. The tattooed applicant communicates a part of themselves that may not walk the straight and narrow and for some managers, the risk is too great. Unfortunately, it can be these same risk takers who change the world because who else is brave enough?
Those who enjoy self-expression via tattoos and piercings may just have an inner entrepreneur that needs to come out; not only for them to live their destiny (sorry if that sounds a little cheesy) but also to avoid getting discouraged because others won’t take a chance on them.
So, if you’re an inked up person who is financially confused and wishes someone would “get” you, give me a call.
Thank you for the mention Amy Jo! We never know where conversations take us, I’m very happy to see that this sparked with you.
I’m inked and I love it. Just one (two blended into one). I had a conservative job and just kept it covered but now that I am self-employed, I have no repercussions in showing it off. I don’t think it would concern me when chosing a financial planner. I like to think I’m able to judge what and how a person does something without judging how they look doing it. 🙂
Amy Jo, I agree with your comments up to a point. I’m on a college campus on a regular basis, and it seems to me that tattoos are becoming de rigueur. They don’t particularly represent defiance or self expression as much as being part of the crowd.
That said, I think that there is still a significant portion of the population for whom tats are offputting. Which makes your argument about matching clients and service providers right on target. 🙂 And also, that a open-minded financial planner might be wise to target graduating college seniors.
I agree Barb, that’s partly why I mentioned The Sneetches book. It’s funny you mentioned “fitting in”; when I was teaching a Junior Achievement class last spring to a bunch of 8th graders, I asked them why money was important and they responded “To fit in”. I then asked why it was important to fit in and was met by blank stares, like I was from another planet.
Colleges/universities are on my contact list to offer personal finance classes but I can only help those who actually COME to class and sometimes -regardless of age- people prefer to stay uninformed for any number of reasons.
This is a very interesting post. I have interests in becoming a financial advisor as my first professional job, but am wary of the stereotype that may be off-putting to many people I have to approach (“oh, another darn salesman/insurance broker! Shoo, go away!”). I think in this case the impressions you make count, and having tattoos in this day and age is very common. However, we still have to be discerning as to what we choose to reveal to co-workers and our peers… (Think of a portraiture of Mother Mary, versus that of a snake curling around a naked pixie angel with legs straddled across a giant pink unicorn — those two images have completely different meanings associated, whether we try to be objective about the ‘art’ of self-expression or not!)
Paulina, I hear you. Unfortunately so many in the financial services industry represent it poorly, but I assure you that many represent it well. If you decide to be in the latter category and also have tattoos, I’m certain you can serve a portion of the population who may feel the financial industry is out of touch with their unique interests. Authenticity paired with genuine good service is always a good choice.
I love this article. Would you mind if I reposted it (with your link of course) on my site? It’s an ongoing debate on my site, for tattoos, against tattoos, whichever. But I like your perspective on it and I LOVE that you incorporated Dr. Seuss in it!!
Sure, it’s funny, this is one of my most viewed posts…so much for helping people make better financial decisions, lol!
Hilarious post! I turned 50 last week and hired a designer for a special tattoo… I left home at 17 and the first thing I did was get “inked” on Colfax Ave in Denver. I spent $140.00 on that tat and never regretted it. For me, it was the mark of FREEDOM. My new tat will be on my left arm and it represents True Freedom: The Hebrew Name for peace, love, joy, and Freedom.
As a CFP, I don’t share my ink story too much 😉 Feels kind of naughty leaving this comment…
Love in Christ
LOL, I have to laugh because of all of my financial blog posts, this one gets the most “hits”. I wonder whatever happened to spider woman…
I will not do business with any professional that has visible tattoos. That is my right. Tattoos are appearance just as length of hair or clothes or hygiene. To spin it as discrimination is disingenuous. People make choices in life and you have to live by those choices. Just like you have the individuality to get tattoos, the employer has the individuality to build his business profitably. People need to think before they get these disgusting eye sores. Yes I am allowed to think tattoos as ugy as I think pants on the ground are ugly.
George you are certainly entitled to your opinion. Thanks for reading and engaging. Wishing you peace and abundance!
amy i love your article i live only one town away from yale in new england and everyday at my college i see my student peers with tattoos and i think its cool cause i love to ask them the stories about why they got them i thought the dr.seuss book conception was interesting and another thing to add on i think the main people who are scared of tattoos are people who grow up in strict religious home that might be the main reason why the older generation is kind of against it cause of what they learn in church and what they learn from other religious studies i learned by researching online that christianity, jewish and Muslim faiths are the main religions who are against tattoos another interesting fact i read online at a high school out west i think it was in ohio that a principal was more easy going to change some rules of the school dress code to allow student to show there tattoos during the school day but i think times are changing and more people opening up to this art form that was lost thousands of years ago and i also lo let me know what you think of my comment have a good day Godbless 🙂
In my small town in Northern California those who choose to be gratuitously tattooed are generally lower class. Less education, more likely to smoke, more likely have been arrested at some point, most likely have children without a spouse, most likely to have a Pit Bull in their back yard, etc… It may be seen as a sign or “rebellion” in certain communities but in poorer communities or rural areas its often a sign of “trashy” folks. There, I came right out and said it (and I’m sure others notice it as well).
That’s an interesting take on tattoos. Sure, cheap, “prison work” tattoos are trashy and low class. Today’s tattoos have evolved into an art form. Check out Nikko Hurtado or Roman Abrego or Randy Engelhard. Artists, each of them. I’d caution you against associating tattoos in general with a lower class of the population
Thank you Katrina, I agree wholeheartedly that tats have become a serious art form. I kept Maz’s comment on the blog (instead of deleting it) mainly because I know and love many people who feel the same and value their right to express their opinion.
I honestly think. Tattto is trashy and for lower class people.
Interesting. I am a 54 year old English woman and not that there is anything wrong with it, could by any means be described as lower class – I have spent the last 6 years with PTSD after an horrendous event and am celebrating getting better by having a beautiful tattoo which I have
spent weeks researching, drawing and refining. I cannot wait for my ink. My mother certainly won’t approve or understand but at 54 I believe I am entitled to make my own mind up! Trashy? Well I obviously don’t think so but others no doubt will and you know what? Let ’em!!!
I find most people get tattoos for intensely personal reasons. Send me a photo when you have it done!
Hi Amy Jo! It was a pleasure to meet you at the TEDx Buffalo Women talk yesterday. I had to find your article and read it. Very interesting! Something to stew on: from what I’ve seen, with the job market the way it has been, a lot of people need to get creative in order to find a job that is in keeping with their field. (Perhaps this is because I work in a creative field, though.) Many people I went to college with have complained to me that they are so far away from what they want to do. Do you think the success of individuals in the future in this country will depend on how creative they can be: whether or not they can use an entrepreneurial spirit? Do you think this has always been the case? Thanks again! Amanda
Thanks for your great comments Amanda and for stopping by my blog! I think we’re on the verge of a new economy and that every person needs to be acutely aware of what they bring to the world and find ways to be compensated for it. This is creative energy, but not in the artistic sense, more in the resourcefulness sense. Using what resources you have to create yet more resources.
In ancient times, it was customary for idol-worshipers to tattoo themselves as a sign of commitment to their deity—much like an animal that is branded by its owner. That is one of reasons Judaism prohibits the practice of tattooing, that and the belief that you’re defacing God’s perfect creation: the human body.
Spring forward to the 21st century: what I see in people that tattoo themselves are FOLLOWERS that quietly surrender to “trendy” peer pressure without thinking about the consequences. Have you ever seen a tattoo on an aging person? I rest my case.
I am a biologist, who works in a Protozoology Lab. I also lead tours of students thru our facility, as well as host creepy crawly (insects etc) learning hours at libraries for my company.
And I am covered in Tattoos and piercings.
Lot of people say “I’m lucky”- but I like to chalk it up to me being good at my job. I’ve never had a complaint from students or teachers, and my boss loves me.
I guess my point is, that I think the paradigm is shifting in the correct direction. You should get more Tattoos if you want them, and let your work speak for you.
There’s also groups that have worked to change dress codes for companies who have banned body mods. The one I work with is STAPAW, “Support Tattoos and piercings at work”, who are helping things head in the right direction.
If I ever win the lottery, I will come see you 😉
Thanks Lorelei (pretty name!), I agree that the paradigm is changing for the better. There will always be people who will negatively judge those of us with tattoos, but they’ll probably judge us and others anyway for any number of reasons.
The good news is, you don’t have to win the lottery to work with me now that I’m in private practice, I work with regular people just trying to do their best with money.
I am an old soilder when the boys collected tattoos i collected art when i got sick of a piece i put it in the other room or the attic after i retired i sold a sketch book i bought in my twenties it sold for a modest few hundred euro just under seven i had put it away in a trunk when i got sick of it and that is the way with art i buy it i enjoy it i get sick of it and put it away, that is why i dislike tattoos they are like an ugly shirt you are compelled to wear at all times long after it is out of style