From engineer to financial advisor: How Rob DeHollander made the leap

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Financial adviser Rob DeHollander
Financial adviser Rob DeHollander uses his engineering background to consult clients. Photo by Will Crooks.

Switching careers from engineering to finance, Rob DeHollander serves his clients with the technical mind of an engineer and the understanding heart of an advisor.

“It’s one thing to change jobs,” DeHollander says. “It’s another thing to change careers.”

DeHollander began working as a financial advisor 20 years ago and became a founding partner of Greenville’s DeHollander & Janse Financial Group in 2009. Prior, he worked as a consulting engineer where he would analyze problems, find solutions, make recommendations, and help implement them.

“So, the consulting mindset appealed to me when I decided to make a career change to finance,” he says. “I structured this firm so that we do financial planning in a consultative way.”

Considering himself analytical when it comes to numbers, DeHollander says using his skills in the engineering world became repetitive. 

“With financial planning, you sit down with a different person every day and talk about their unique life stories, what’s important to them and what their fears, hopes, and aspirations are. It requires a much broader set of skills in terms of using the gifts that I think I have,” he says. “I enjoy it much more. It’s more diverse; it’s more engaging and rewarding.

“Fiduciary” is an important term, DeHollander says, when it comes to understanding his mission as a financial advisor. “It’s somebody who is making financial decisions that are in your best interest, not just suitable,” he says.

With money being a very personal topic to discuss, DeHollander enjoys walking clients through the financial planning process and developing personalized plans to make wise decisions in all of life’s circumstances.

“Money is an amazing, pervasive thing that impacts nearly every area of our lives,” he says. “It’s very emotional. So it gets really close to our hearts in terms of both our desires and our fears.”

Having the ability to switch careers as he did is another result of a good financial plan, according to DeHollander. He’s seen many people come into his office with great salaries, but they don’t enjoy their careers.

Debt, standard of living, or salaries may restrict some people from pursuing more passionate careers; however, DeHollander says, once a financial plan is implemented, more opportunities are created for the future.

One of the biggest misconceptions DeHollander faces regarding working as an independent financial advisor is that it’s fun, easy, and lucrative. “That’s true, but it takes years to get to that level,” he says. “For folks starting out in finance, there’s a big barrier to entry and learning curve to overcome.”

Coming into a field with no reputation, clients, referrals, or assets, DeHollander personally experienced that barrier to entry. “But once you’re successful and you’ve been working with clients for years, it’s a really deeply relational and rewarding business,” he says.

When DeHollander isn’t busy planning out his clients’ lives, he’s spending time with his wife and two sons. His hobbies include what he likes to call the four f’s: faith, family, football, and finance.

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