Vanguard advice careers Melissa

It’s the end of the day as I know it – and I feel fine

As an undergraduate, I was lucky to have taken a class taught by Charles P. Kindleberger, who was instrumental in creating the Marshall Plan, which provided aid for Europe’s reconstruction after World War II. I was excited to hear from a professor who was not strictly an academic but actually had practical experience in economics.  To this day, I have no recollection if Prof. Kindleberger discussed rebuilding Western Europe, but I vividly recall his engaging and humorous chronicling of history’s financial crises. He had me at manias long before I heard of irrational exuberance. So began a lifelong interest in the psychology of the financial markets.

An introduction to finance

Upon graduation, I began work at a private bank in New York where I got to sit at a very large mahogany desk, fill in ledgers with numbers, and occasionally use a relatively new computer program called Lotus 1-2-3.   The work was tedious, which would have been OK for an entry-level position, but the culture lacked a soul and slowly eroded my enthusiasm for the finance profession. Perhaps I was naïve, but I wanted a job where I left the office most days feeling as if I had made just one person’s life a bit easier. As my disenchantment grew, one Monday in October, things got interesting. The institutional brokers that sat across from me were smoking more than usual, executives were leaving their offices, and the normally staid atmosphere took on a frenetic air.  By the end of the day, the Dow Jones was down by 22%.  To me this meant nothing. I barely had money in my checking account, let alone the stock market.  But I did get to witness history firsthand, a real live market crash. I quit several months later, feeling free to pursue something more meaningful.

A circuitous route

Photography had always been a hobby of mine. While I figured out whether to go to business school or law school, I took a job in the photo library of The Associated Press. Immediately, it felt like home. My new colleagues were intellectually curious and incredibly dedicated. We had, dare I say, fun? There was never a doubt that we had a mission to accurately and objectively inform the world. A job that was supposed to be a bridge to graduate school turned into a 19-year career where I got to travel the world and gain a global perspective from my colleagues both here and abroad.

In 2007, my position was eliminated. Initially I was a little disoriented but I left the office that day determined to pursue an old career in a new and profound way. I was going to become a certified financial planner.

Persistence pays

In 2014, I read that Vanguard was rolling out advisory services for 30 bps. I’ve primarily worked at fee-only firms that believe in low costs and extraordinary client service (fee-only firms have a fiduciary responsibility to act in their clients’ best interest). The only difference was that my current firm was charging 100 bps. I immediately wanted to be part of this. Vanguard’s approach was going to change the landscape of the industry and bring advice to millions in a cost effective way. So, I interviewed for a senior financial advisor position and was excited to start my new job. Unfortunately, it’s hard to begin a new position when you haven’t been hired.  I knew I was a perfect fit for Vanguard, but as with many things in life, the timing was not right.

But persistence paid off, and in 2018, I started working at Vanguard as a financial advisor.  I’ve finally found a place that combines my love of finance and psychology with the qualities of the best mission-based organizations.  As with my journalism colleagues, our crew is dedicated to goals beyond individual accolades, share their knowledge freely, and understand that the best work is a result of collaboration and diverse ideas. I’m excited about what we can do for advice as a company as well as looking forward to the many opportunities I have as a Vanguard crew member. Whether that means being a mentor, obtaining my CFA, or working with external financial advisors—the possibilities are endless.

Since I’ve joined Vanguard, I finally have that feeling I was searching for – that each day I leave the office knowing I’ve made someone’s life just a bit easier.

Vanguard advice careers Melissa

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