Luis Sepulveda ’21 was 16 years old when he started his financial services firm. That was three years ago.
Now the sophomore business administration, finance major has nearly 20 clients, from his mother’s hairstylist to his USF resident adviser. For a modest fee he helps them budget, save for retirement, and learn how to invest.
Many of Sepulveda’s clients are people, like his parents, who don’t have the resources or support to plan their financial futures.
“My parents have been working in fast food joints, day cares — living check to check,” says the first-generation college student, who is from Houston. “They never had a steady stable job, and they never opened a retirement account.”
No more zeros
In high school, Sepulveda scoured Google and YouTube to teach himself how to buy and sell stock, the difference between a Roth and traditional IRA, and how to open his own business. Then he started his mother’s retirement account.
“When I opened my mom’s account in 2016, I remember seeing zeros,” he said. “It was a really sad thing to see. Now her account has grown a lot and has been compounding interest.”
After helping his mother, Sepulveda registered his business and started taking on more work, slowly building his reputation through word of mouth. He now manages about $60,000 in investments for clients, and also offers services such as bookkeeping and setting clients up for retirement.
“Luis taught me how to budget and take a close look at my day-to-day spending habits,” said Willie McDonald ’18, a theology major who was Sepulveda’s dormitory resident adviser. “I’ve continued to evaluate my spending in the way he modeled, which has helped me save money for investments, traveling, and the Bay Area housing market.”
Working his way up
At USF, Sepulveda is sharpening his financial and business acumen with the help of his professors. His financial accounting class taught him how to create better financial statements. His business writing class taught him how to communicate simply and clearly, which can be helpful when working with clients who have low financial literacy.
On top of running his firm, he also works part time in the finance department of 826 Valencia, a San Francisco nonprofit that helps students with their writing. The job started as an internship he found through USF’s career center.
“I started off as a cashier and now I’m actually part of the finance department and run the entire online store,” Sepulveda says. “It’s great to get even more hands-on business experience while I’m still in school.”