To build a career as a woman in finance, ‘you must want it more than you fear it’

I started my career in finance in 1994.

My first job in finance had a description like this:

  • Make 250+ calls a day. Most people will hang up or yell at you while you’re working in a back room with about 15 other people.
  • Once you get seven “warm leads” who will turn into customers, you can leave the back room.
  • If you make it onto a team, you will still be making 250+ calls a day, but those leads will go to your team leader. You start studying for your stockbroker license.
  • Salary $ 1,100 / month, long hours and a dropout rate of ~ 70%.

I think one of the main reasons there weren’t a lot of women stockbrokers in the 90s is because most women see this job description and have the common sense to say, “Why would I want to do this?”

In 1994 there were no “financial advisors”, “financial planners” or any of the 100 descriptions that real advisors call themselves today.

There was a title: stockbroker. We did one thing: pitch stocks.

In the 1990s, we gained new customers through cold calling. Your success was based on your skills on the phone. They needed two ingredients: a real belief in yourself and the ability to speak on the phone.

At the top of our office, 50 to 60 employees were either stockbrokers or wanted to become one. I always felt that being one of two or three women was an advantage. It gave me the opportunity to stand out.

Entering the “Ring of Fire”

Once I made it into a team, I realized that I wanted to lead my own team. First I had to overcome the “ring of fire”.

The company president would come to our office. Everyone gathered in a big circle and when he called your name you went to the center to role-play. He was the client and we had to give him our best stock idea.

This took what appeared to be an eternity, but probably only lasted seven minutes. If you didn’t convince him, these seven minutes would be one of the most humbling experiences of your life.

I blew it the first time I walked “the ring”. The president had a loud voice and sounded like the most aggressive used car dealer. I wouldn’t be leading a team if I couldn’t play this game. Period.

I had no intention of failing, but when I did, I didn’t let it rattle my core. Nobody would have cared if I had never got back into the “ring”. There were 10 to 15 other people ready to get in there and make a name for themselves.

You must want it more than you fear it.

Overcome your fears

Bryn Talkington, Managing Partner, Requisite Capital Management

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

The difference between the first and the second time was day and night.

I started studying the successful people around me. I made note cards. I studied every analyst report I could find and then I put it on, “Why Does Anyone Want To Buy This Stock?”

The next time the president of the company came, I did it. Soon after, I became the first woman to lead a team in the firm’s personal wealth department.

There is no way I would have the confidence today if I hadn’t been forced to overcome so many fears early on.

After leading a team for a year, I realized how big our industry was and how little I knew about anything outside of the stocks we recommended.

I also realized that I was working in a glorified “boiler room” and knew it was time to move on.

By then, I decided to be in the asset management business.

Over the next 20 years – most of them at UBS Asset Management – I learned everything from inefficiencies in the municipal bond market to the merits of arbitrage in convertibles.

I did well in this world and many of my former colleagues are still my closest friends. I have also worked with many thoughtful counselors and learned how they operated their practices.

The best part of my job was working with clients and educating them about the realities of investing. I had achieved some degree of success, but over the years I was not satisfied.

Become independent

Enter Doug John.

He was a successful private investment advisor with wonderful clients and over two decades of experience. Sensing the limits of working in a large company, Doug decided to start an independent wealth management practice.

He asked me to be his partner and start Requisite Capital Management.

As excited as I was about the opportunity, the thought of leaving what I knew was terrible.

Frank Herbert wrote in “Dune”: “Fear is the killer of the mind.” As women, we sometimes create our own glass ceilings. I wouldn’t do that here.

The last three and a half years since we were founded have been the most difficult and at the same time most rewarding years of my career.

As an eternal “student of the market”, I feel like I have earned a proverbial “PhD” to work with a Rockstar team and group of clients who inspire me every day in the industry I love.

Comments are closed.