Senior Financial Advisor
My father passed away when I was 12 years old. My mother worked part-time before his death but had to secure full-time employment after his death. I watched her struggle to care for me and my brother after losing my father’s income. In that moment, I decided to use my love of math to help her with budgeting and discovering entrepreneurial ways of bringing in extra money. I then learned to sew from my mother, but I really improved my skills by taking home economics classes. My teacher was a tailor and taught me more advanced sewing techniques. At age 14, I started a dressmaking/tailoring business, and my brother started a landscaping service to earn money to help support the household. I maintained my dressmaking business while earning my undergraduate in Business Administration/Fashion Merchandising at Florida State University. During my junior year in college, I read an article about colleges encouraging women to go to graduate business school.
After graduating from FSU, I moved to Washington, D.C. to live with an older brother and attend graduate school. I started out paying my way, but I was fortunate enough to get a job with a corporation that offered tuition-reimbursement. The D.C. office was the lobbying arm of this corporation and my job was to gather information for my immediate boss and senior management to make presentations to legislators. It was then that I realized I had a knack for getting people to share important, relevant information with me. I continued to attend graduate school at night and on the weekends, and I was able to earn an MBA within the time period I had set for myself.
I moved to New York the following year seeking employment in the financial services industry. I wanted to be a financial advisor (also known as a stockbroker, in those days). My first job was doing strategic and financial forecasting for a bank, and even though this job was fulfilling to a point, there was something missing. I longed for the interpersonal interaction that allowed me the opportunity to help people solve financial challenges.
A friend informed me that the firm where she was employed was looking for financial advisors and she thought I should come for an interview. So I interviewed, and I was hired. Upon getting registered and doing the dreaded “cold calling,” I soon realized there was a better way of getting clients. I didn’t want to just push a product – I wanted to help people solve financial challenges. I contacted all the corporations in my area and offered to put on seminars about the importance of participating in their company’s 401(k) plan. One company took me up on the offer, and I built my business doing seminars on retirement planning.