Ryan Puckett: Top Recruiter in the U.S. Air Force to Financial Planner


August 31, 2015

As planning and excitement picks up the pace for the upcoming USO of Northern Ohio Golf Outing and Clambake, sponsored by Skylight’s Business Private Client Group, the first of our veterans, Ryan Puckett, speaks to us about his time in the military and his journey to becoming a successful financial planner.

Ryan, tell us a little about your time in the U.S. Air Force and what it means to you to have been in the military?

After high school, I joined the Air Force and served my country for nearly eight years.  For the first four of these years, my responsibilities were for between 5-20 troops and their professional development and for refueling aircrafts.  For the latter four, I was responsible for recruiting Air Force personnel.  What was particularly remarkable to me when I started out was just how quickly I had to learn to take on a lot of responsibility.  I also had to balance working full-time (which in the military can be pretty much 24/7) with completing a full-time college degree, which is not easy, so I grew up very fast and developed a strong work ethic which is very much instilled in me to this day.

It means so much to have been in the military.  It was truly a great honor to be able to serve my country and my sense of pride for my country just flourished.  You feel so proud in your uniform.  I still vividly remember how proud I felt at Buccaneers game, wearing my uniform, and just how amazingly respectful and supportive people were.

Can you share with us your key highlights?

I had a great time in the Air Force but I’d say there are two things that really stand out for me.  The first is the incredible experiences I gained from traveling.  I got to go to places, like Korea and Bahrain, which otherwise I’m unlikely to have been.  It was a great opportunity to learn about the country, their culture and mix with the locals.  I also got to travel frequently within the US which was neat.  In fact, it was when I was in a base in Florida that I met my wife!

The second was earning a gold badge which is the highest accolade for a Recruiter.  I was one of only eleven across the country to receive this award so it’s an achievement I’m very proud of.  As a Recruiter, I found it very rewarding to guide young people who were considering a career in the Air Force.  It was great fun to develop relationships with high schools and colleges and be able to sit down on a one-on-one basis with young people and give them advice on what to expect in the military and help them create a path to maturity.

How did you make the move from the Air Force to Skylight Financial Group?

I separated from the Air Force back in 2006 and initially starting working at Columbus Financial Group as a Financial Advisor where I helped families understand the college planning and the retirement planning process better.  I then moved to Skylight (Columbus office) where I could focus on helping clients by providing comprehensive financial strategies.  Pretty much from my time as a Recruiter I’ve been in an advising or planning role so becoming, a financial planner was a natural progression.

In what ways do you think that your time in the U.S. Air Force has helped you in your career as a financial planner?

My time as a Recruiter in the Air Force was a great foundation for my career as a financial planner as both roles are really very similar.  Essential to both is giving professional, helpful and honest advice and guidance.   As a Recruiter, I was always honest in explaining to potential recruits how much being in the Air Force would change their lives, preparing them for how much freedom they would have to give up but explaining that the experiences they would gain would make it really worth it.  Similarly, as a financial planner, I’m always upfront and realistic with my clients and recommend suitable strategies based on what’s important to them so I can help them achieve the life they deserve.

Another key skill that I developed in the Air Force was the ability to form close-knit relationships.  As you can imagine in the Air Force you meet people from all walks of life and from every corner of the country so you learn to be good at talking to people, engaging with people at the level they want and making friends.  This is a great life skill and one that’s particularly crucial to my current position.

Do you have any advice for a veteran considering a career in financial planning?

Outside of the risk of running your own business, there are so many similarities between life in the military and life as a financial planner.  Many of the attractions are the same – like the prospects for advancement, the ability to take on responsibility, the fulfillment of helping people and the great relationships you build.  These make it a really good fit.  I can’t promise too much travel though!

Ryan Puckett is a financial planner in Skylight’s Columbus office where he provides individual and business planning.  He is also a member of the LGBT Resource Team.

Look out for the next feature in our Veteran series – coming soon!

Ryan Puckett is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC Member SIPC. 2012 W. 25th Street, Suite 900, Cleveland OH 44113. 216-621-5680.