What differentiates us from other data science teams?
“Data scientist” has become a top career choice, but with all the buzz surrounding this term, lots of questions arise such as: Who are they? What do they do?
Well, here’s your opportunity to hear my perspective as a Data Science Manager at Vanguard! To me, a Data Scientist is anyone who can solve business problems by:
Translating business problems into mathematical, statistical, or machine learning tasks
Making appropriate assumptions using business domain knowledge
Building models using data
Drawing insights from models and translate them into business solutions
You may have already done those tasks, but what differentiates a modern Data Scientist from a more traditional one? Increasingly, we seek candidates who can manage large volumes of unstructured data and navigate sophisticated mathematical structures while taking advantage of powerful technology.
Here are some common questions we’ve received from candidates:
1. What’s it like to work at Vanguard? Vanguard is an investment management company and our core purpose is “To take a stand for all investors, to treat them fairly, and to give them the best chance for investment success”. Vanguard’s unique ownership structure — the company is owned by its funds — means there are no conflicts of interest. So we always ask: “Are we doing the right thing for our investors?” whenever we make any decision, whether it’s about a product launch, sales, or marketing. Working at Vanguard is great because crew alignment to the mission naturally leads not only to success for our clients, but also to a great work culture.
2. What kind of problems do you usually solve? I work in the Center for Analytics and Insights at Vanguard. We help our internal business partners serve their clients better by providing analytics-driven insights to support the client life journey. This includes winning new clients, onboarding them, and deepening engagement in the relationship to retirement and beyond. My data science team uses mathematical, statistical, and machine learning approaches to answer business questions related to financial professionals, institutional investors, retirement plan participants, and investment products.
3. Will I have an opportunity to grow my career? I’ve been at Vanguard for 10 years, and I can confidently say that I have grown professionally as well as personally during my tenure. I didn’t start my career as a Data Scientist, yet many growth opportunities were given to me to be prepared for my current role. Vanguard provides various opportunities to grow professionally, with a range of Data Science roles at different levels, support for ongoing learning, and opportunities to rotate to different teams. Vanguard can help you reach your goals. You should continuously push your own limit — individuals who have growth mind-sets will thrive at Vanguard.
So, what differentiates us from others? The entire company works toward one simple and clear goal of doing what’s best for our clients. We solve some of the company’s most complex and challenging problems using a mix of math, stats, and computer science skills. We bring diverse and innovative ideas and share them in a fun and collaborative environment. What else could you ask for as a talented Data Scientist?
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our Data & Analytics career our opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) is a nonprofit organization that specializes in coaching, mentoring, and supporting Black, Latino, and Native American professionals from college to business school and beyond as they climb the corporate ladder. In this blog, Antonia S. shares her experience with the organization and what she gained from their partnership.
Why did you choose to participate in MLT?
Why MLT? Well that’s an easy one! I realized very early on in my college career that I needed more personalized coaching and mentorship as I tried to navigate my future career. MLT was more than that for me. It’s a family of professionals I can go to for guidance and advice on everything from career choices to my next travel adventures. They have helped me at every personal and professional turning point in my life.
What surprised you about the experience?
Once MLT family, always MLT family. One of the most initially surprising experiences as a member of MLT is how much other MLT alumni will go above and beyond to advise, help, support, and motivate you personally and professionally. While it is encouraged from the organization, I believe we find great pride, purpose, and fulfillment in being able to promote and uplift each other whenever and wherever possible. As a collegiate MLT 2010 Career Prep Rising Leader, I had no idea what opportunities, networks, friends, and family I would gain almost 10 years later.
What do you hope to gain from your relationship with MLT?
As a MLT Career Prep and Professional Development alum, I have already gained so much from MLT. As I transition post-MBA, I look to extend my relationship with MLT by giving back to the organization in the form of mentorship and recruitment. At this point in my life, my goal is to help grow and strengthen the MLT footprint to ensure we continue maximizing our impact across the world. We are only as strong as our alumni base, so it’s important to keep connected with other MLT alumni, ensuring we are doing what we can to further diversify and enrich organizations in need of top notch Black, Latino, and Native American talent.
What are your goals for the future?
My goal is to continue making long lasting impressions on families and communities that need it most. I will marry my education, operations, and leadership development background with my newly acquired financial literacy and advisory skills to help organizations and families better plan, grow, and save for their future and generations to come.
What have you learned from working towards an MBA?
It’s not what you know, but what you do with what you know, how you impact others with what you know, who you know, and do not know and mostly importantly how you manage the connections and drive change with each of these factors.
We all struggle with something – what have you learned from your challenges?
Faith, confidence, and grit go a long way and cannot exist without each other. In the last two years, I’ve lost a parent, experienced an injury during a trip to a foreign country, and survived a highly competitive recruiting season at an equally competitive school. Through all of that, I am reminded that one’s mindset is the foundation to weathering any storm. With faith, confidence, and grit at the forefront you can make it through anything.
What advice would you give those searching for a career?
One of my favorite Instagram comedians once said, “How is the sky the limit when there are footprints on the moon?” My first thought was that this guy is hilarious and how does he think of this stuff? My second thought was that this question promotes a very real message of how self-limiting we can be when dreaming big and setting high goals for ourselves.
One of the biggest life lessons I’ve learned is that you can never dream too big. Getting into Wharton was not an easy feat and I could not have imagined myself a graduate of their MBA program 10 years ago. However, now as a Wharton 2018 graduate, I know this will not be my biggest accomplishment but a stepping stone to something far greater than I could imagine.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, learn about our MBA career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
A lifetime of opportunities to lead, grow, and impact others
It was 1999. I was just finishing up my college degree, and was stuck at a crossroad, trying to decide where I wanted my career to go. I knew I wanted to be involved in a company with a rich culture, strong leaders, sound values, and growth opportunities galore – easy enough, right? When I came up dry with opportunities, my mentor recommended I look into Vanguard.
Finding a core purpose at Vanguard
My first few years at Vanguard were spent solving investment puzzles for shareholders who had encountered account-related issues. Working as a Resolution Associate in the Service Recovery organization gave me the opportunity to support clients with account-related issues. I could see the purpose in my work, as well as the positive impact I made on each client. And, I learned to embody Vanguard’s core purpose:To take a stand for all investors, to treat them fairly, and to give them the best chance for investment success. It was fascinating to research each issue and get to the root of the problem. Even more thrilling was the opportunity to offer solutions for our clients.
While I loved working in Service Recovery, I decided to explore new horizons, and research different career options at Vanguard. One path I hadn’t expected to find myself in was leadership. When one of my leader’s noticed my passion for continuous improvement and knack for supporting professional development among my peers, they suggested I pursue a role in people leadership. What a great opportunity this was – Vanguard was investing in me, so that I in turn could invest in others. If you are exploring a role at Vanguard, read on to learn what differentiates our people, and why I chose to spend nearly two decades as a Vanguard leader.
First, leadership at Vanguard isn’t something you do for a title or recognition. Rather, leadership is about serving the needs of investors and enriching the development of your team. While exploring career opportunities, delve deep into the values of the organization; their mission and purpose should align with your beliefs. At Vanguard, our core values are centered on ‘doing the right thing’ in every decision we make. It’s the primary reason why I am both a long-term investor and a long-time crew member. Truly successful leaders nurture and develop a growth mindset to create value and continually improve the organization and their teams. In my experience, these leadership elements enable you to leave a lasting legacy for the benefit of others.
A return to my roots
After spending 15 years working in a variety of leadership roles in our Retail, Financial Advisor Services, and Office of the General Counsel divisions, I have now returned to my roots as the leader of the Service Recovery organization in which I began my career. In my foundational years at Vanguard I learned how to embrace Vanguard’s core purpose. In my latter years, I learned how to lead and serve others within a global community that continually invests in the long-term value we bring to both shareholders and crew. These are the core reasons why I have dedicated my career to Vanguard. My hope is that you too find a role that enables you to grow and to leave a positive mark on the lives of those who come across your path.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to do the actual investing at one of the world’s largest investment firms?
To find out, we spoke with two principals in Vanguard Equity Investment Group. Mike Buek is head of U.S. trading and Gerry O’Reilly leads a team of index portfolio managers. They gave us an inside look at a day in the life of a Vanguard trader.
Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
What is the role of a trader at Vanguard?
Mike Buek:Our trading desk acts as a combination portfolio manager and trader for Vanguard’s index funds. So we understand the entire investment process. We seek to minimize tracking error to the benchmark while at the same time minimizing the fund’s transaction costs.
We want an index fund to be 100% invested to its benchmark. We monitor any changes to each fund’s benchmark and match them in our trading.
Gerry O’Reilly: At the same time, our traders manage the trade-off between tracking error and impact. We employ proprietary trading strategies to try to minimize the impact our trading has on the overall market.
So if we have a large inflow to a fund on a given day, we have to decide whether we have market impact and still track the benchmark or if we can minimize impact by trading this inflow over multiple days. It’s important to look at each trade relative to the market so we can understand what the market can absorb.
Every trader on the desk employs strategies we’ve developed over the years. For example, we’re fans of using limit orders as a way to minimize impact.
How do you prepare before the market opens in the morning?
Mike Buek:We typically come in around 7, 7:30. We check what the international desks in London and Melbourne have done so far. Then we go right to reconciling each fund to make sure we’re 100% invested. For example, we may have expected to receive $50 million on a given fund the previous day, so that’s what we invested. But then the next morning, it turns out the fund received $55 million. We need to get that $5 million invested as soon as possible. In this case, we’d invest in futures to get the fund fully invested because the market isn’t open yet.
Gerry O’Reilly: Each trader also has to sign off on each of their funds in the morning, saying they agree with each fund’s status. Someone from investment risk also signs off, as well as the desk supervisor. So there are three different sets of eyes looking at the funds each day, making sure the starting line makes sense.
Each fund, based on its size, has a certain tolerance. For example, Total Stock Market Index is an enormous fund. If it starts the day with $10 million in cash, that isn’t a huge deal proportionally. It’s not even a basis point. But $10 million cash in one of our smaller funds could be a huge deal. Our investment risk group monitors those tolerances.
Knowing that you have someone keeping an eye on the performance of the fund and the benchmark is a big source of comfort. As much as we’d like to try to eliminate any potential tracking error, it’s probably unrealistic to think it will always be that way. We closely monitor what little tracking error there is.
Mike Buek: We also look at the performance from yesterday. We’ll look at every fund’s performance versus its index. If there’s anything off, we want to know why. If there’s a reason we knew about and it makes sense that we outperformed by 3/10 of a basis point—and that’s how deep it gets, explaining fractions of a basis point—we investigate so we can adjust and get the fund tracking as close to perfect as we can.
Mike Buek, Principal, Vanguard Equity Investment Group, U.S. Trading
How does the experience change throughout the day?
Gerry O’Reilly:Our data group gets notified of the index changes coming at that day’s close. Once you know an index change is coming, a fund tracking that index has to adjust.
On a given day, you could have 10 to 20 different corporate actions going on, such as a company issuing more shares. Each trader gets assigned a corporate action and takes point on that stock. They will figure out what each fund needs to do to ensure the index weights are correct.
Trading can get really busy when indexes add or remove names. Say, for example, XYZ Company has outgrown a small-cap index and is being added to a mid-cap index. We’d need to mirror that move in the funds tracking those indexes.
How does Vanguard manage the global nature of the market? What specific difficulties come up?
Mike Buek:When we go global, we’re passing trades to Vanguard’s European and Australian-Asian desks to execute. And they pass us trades to execute for their funds. The communication has to be good between the three desks so the traders executing each trade understand the objective.
That’s challenging because of the different hours, but with improved technology and our expanded team, we’re able to make sure our portfolio management is globally consistent.
Gerry O’Reilly:International trading can often involve more markets. In the U.S., we mainly deal with the NYSE and Nasdaq. In other regions, you might have 10, 15 different markets closing at different times with different rules. In Europe, you’re looking at “When’s Norway closing? What about Germany?” You have to make sure you get your orders down in time because if you miss it, you miss it.
The other obvious difference is currency. U.S. investors are giving us dollars, which we have to convert into local currency when we buy international stocks. So in addition to the equity trade, our teams need to address the currency piece in order to keep the cost of the trade to a minimum.
Without getting proprietary, what would you say sets Vanguard’s trading desk apart?
Gerry O’Reilly: At a high level, one of the things that differentiates our desk is the level of experience. Mike has 30 years at Vanguard, and most of that is on the trading desk. I’m at 25 years and almost 23 on the desk. I’d say the average tenure for our traders is probably 12 to 13 years.
On this desk, we have people who specialize in different areas. When we get information from the street from our brokers about what’s going on with a name, we can funnel that to the appropriate person to address that information.
You learn from experience. None of us are set in our ways. You have to be willing to change and learn from past experience.
All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities atwww.vanguardjobs.com.
Krista, a Fund Financial Services (FFS) Senior Financial Analyst, approached her team’s networking event with a clear purpose, “We want to educate crew on what we do and the many crucial processes we touch every day.” At a company like Vanguard, there are so many options for career development and, at times, it can be a little overwhelming. That’s why more and more teams like FFS are hosting networking events for crew throughout the organization to learn more about the department, the teams, and open roles. This event was set in the style of “speed dating” – a format where crew meet with team representatives for 10 minutes, then switch tables throughout the event. Those interested in pursuing careers in FFS got information about critical functions and groups, key initiatives, and how to build financial acumen. Attendees even got to learn more about competencies and skills needed to excel in these roles.
“The interesting thing about our team is that there is a transparent career path. You can go from an entry level position all the way to manager with a clear roadmap. The job is primarily project based, not day-to-day versus a typical daily operational role,” described Brad, a Supervisor in Fund Reporting. Krista added, “Attention to detail is important. We are constantly interacting with teams both internally and externally. Relationship management is also a key component.”
Brad shared with the attendees, “We see the full lifecycle of our reports (annual, semi-annual, quarterly) and they have to be diligently reviewed and ready to send to shareholders in strict adherence to the production schedule. You need to possess great time management skills to manage the entire process. I like that aspect – you finish with a tangible product at the end of the day. You get to hold it and touch it. When people ask me what I do, I can hand them a finished product.”
Jake said, “I joined our team over two years ago when there were nine analysts plus managers. Now we’re over 20. It’s an explosive period for our group and we’re looking for new talent. We hope to find people who are genuinely interested.
Critical thinking is an important part of the job. We may get a week notification that we’ll be trading a new product. We have to get ready for new processes quickly.”
Kelsey, who coordinated the event, said, “FFS has previously hosted speed networking events to provide an opportunity for crew throughout Vanguard to learn more about how we support Vanguard’s funds and clients, while building relationships and networking. We expanded the event and gave different groups from the Finance division a chance to represent their teams. Overall we had 28 different teams represented and over 95 crew attending!”
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
We recently sat down with Anthony W., a Sales Executive in Vanguard’s Financial Advisor Services. Anthony’s role is unique in that he spends his time “in the field” with advisors, and does not work in a Vanguard office. Anthony shares his thoughts on why he loves sales, how he makes a difference, and how football prepared him for his role at Vanguard.
Thanks for joining us, Anthony. Your role is different compared to many of our crew. Can you talk about a day in the life covering financial advisors in Los Angeles?
I partner with wire house and independent financial advisors through the broker dealer channel. I spend my days learning about the landscape of their firms, each advisor or team’s business model, their investment philosophy, types of clients they serve, service model, and their growth strategies. From there, I focus on creating value for them, which includes: providing Vanguard products and resources to give their clients the best chance for investment success, sharing perspectives that are new or different, and offering actionable ideas to help grow their businesses. My goal is to ensure Vanguard is a part of their future growth and success.
You don’t get to spend a lot of time with co-workers, but Vanguard has a very collaborative culture. Working remote, is it hard to stay connected with your team when you don’t sit near them?
We’re still connected, it’s just a different type of connection. We catch up over video and group text rather than going out to lunch or meeting in person. You have to be proactive to stay connected and exchange information. The camaraderie is there, it’s just digital. Commuting in Los Angeles provides plenty of windshield time to call and speak with peers.
So it’s fair to say this is a very independent role.
Autonomy is huge – I liken our work to running a business inside of a business. It’s a big ask to run a territory, and there is less oversight, which means you have to be disciplined and trustworthy. Working well with your management team and internal partners is key. I enjoy the opportunity, but it’s not for everyone.
Learn more about our Financial Advisor Services sales careers in the video below!
What drew you to being a sales professional?
I played football at the University of Arizona and I enjoyed the competition and adrenaline rush of the game. For me, sales was a natural transition from sports. You have to set a goal, analyze the industry and competitive landscape, and execute a game plan. Football taught me the importance of a highly functioning team that works together towards a win. Instead of defending opponents on the field, we’re using Vanguard resources to give advisors an advantage in the marketplace.
Sales is also about helping people arrive at a conclusion they hadn’t considered. Some of my favorite advisors are the ones who have never partnered with Vanguard. I like the challenge of establishing a new relationship, building credibility, and helping advisors manage their assets. When you’ve made a difference for a client, it can feel like making a big play in a big game.
You’ve worked in sales in other roles at Vanguard. How did these previous roles prepare you for this one?
I started in our Business Development Group (BDG), a department that specializes in bringing new clients into Vanguard and introducing them to our advice capabilities. This was a tremendous opportunity as it allowed me to hear thousands of investor’s stories, understand the issues they were facing, and support them through the global financial crisis.
Working in BDG was like going to sales university–it taught me how to have a consultative sales conversation. Talking to someone who trusts you with their financial life is powerful and humbling. There can be a lot of uncertainty and we were able to help clients financially and emotionally through the investing process. After you master these skills, you are ready to move on to a different level of client, with different needs.
So obviously you like sales, but why sales at Vanguard instead of another firm?
I’ve been at Vanguard for eleven years and the culture is very different from other firms where I’ve worked. Vanguard puts clients first. We have no outside shareholders to answer to. No conflicting interests. It’s gratifying to walk into an advisor’s office and know that I can do good and do well at the same time.
What advice would you give someone who’s interested in a sales career here?
Be a good listener and learn how to disagree well with those who hold opposing views. Both of these take time and practice, but give you the ability to connect with others and overcome real objections.
Being successful at sales is more than identifying current needs and providing solutions. Deepening your business and investment acumen will help you deliver differentiated perspectives that add value. Clients need us to offer something that enhances what they’re already doing and make them more successful.
It’s also key to remember our guiding values – focus on doing the right thing and giving all investors a fair shake. It’s truly why we’re here.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
As a video producer and motion graphics designer, people are often surprised to hear that I work at Vanguard. “Isn’t that a financial company?” they ask. But as part of Vanguard’s Marketing and Communications department, I get to produce, direct, and edit videos for vanguard.com, social media channels, and live event experiences. I also design and build motion graphics in addition to providing photography services. My team is comprised of highly-experienced designers who came to Vanguard from very diverse backgrounds. Collaborating with designers, writers, and marketing managers across my department is the best part of my job.
How I got to Vanguard
I’ve been producing video since I was 9 years old and worked in the live control rooms for both a national television network and a professional baseball team. So how the heck did I wind up at Vanguard? I’d known about Vanguard for years—the investment giant in Philadelphia’s backyard. I heard great things about Vanguard as a place to work, and though it’s a financial company, I knew there were communications and creative job functions throughout the company. I looked for the perfect “foot-in-the-door” position that would allow me to learn the business (and teach me how to manage my own retirement plan!), with the goal of eventually moving into a communications role. Friends thought it was a risky idea, but I had confidence in Vanguard as a stable place to work and an opportunity to reach my career goals. Little did I know that someday I would see my work in the middle of Times Square.
I started as a Retirement Plan Processing Associate. The robust training and onboarding process was intense, but a great opportunity to build relationships with my class—friendships that are still going strong 10 years later. After two years serving about 70 retirement plan sponsors spread across the country, I landed a job on an internal communications team. My plan was working! In my 5 years on this team, I had opportunities to write scripts, design graphics, and produce videos from concept to completion. I often worked directly with members of Vanguard’s senior staff, which was both exciting and an incredible learning experience. I was then promoted to Lead Multimedia Designer in Vanguard’s marketing department, where I’m able to use my 25 years of video production and design experience to serve our clients, at a company that truly makes a difference.
My “little” Times Square project
Vanguard was launching a new fund with the Nasdaq exchange, which gave us the opportunity to advertise on their iconic video screen in the heart of Times Square. I was asked if this unique project was something we could handle. “Of course,” I said. But… we only had a few days to write, produce, approve, and deliver the video. Our creative team worked together very closely on sharpening the messaging and designs. We wanted to ensure our message was short and sweet for New York’s fast walkers. Then there was the added challenge of fitting our graphics and content around the tower’s 26 windows.
The video was one of the fastest—and definitely biggest—projects I have ever worked on, which only added to the thrilling experience. It was great to see how our creative team rallied together to get the video not just done, but done well, and on time. In the end, I was lucky enough to attend the launch in New York with about 20 fellow crew members from across the company. And at the opening bell, there it was—the animation we made just a few days prior! It gave us all chills, and needless to say, there were plenty of high-fives and selfies!
I’ve been quite introspective about my Vanguard career since seeing my work displayed in such an iconic location. What some called a risky career move turned out to be the best decision I ever made. My time at Vanguard has been adventurous and rewarding in more ways than one. From serving clients, to working with senior staff, to camaraderie with a fun and diverse marketing organization, it’s been a great 10-year journey that leaves me even more excited about the future.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
Michael P. is a Senior Investment Analyst in the Portfolio Review Department. He is an alumnus of Vanguard’s MBA Leadership Development Program and is originally from Seoul, South Korea. This is Michael’s story of why he joined Vanguard and what he learned along the way.
A surprising introduction
One evening during my first year at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, I attended a company presentation led by two Vanguard crew members. I still vividly remember the presentation, as it was quite different from what I expected. Rather than talking about how many assets Vanguard manages and how Vanguard funds are performing, the two crew members spent most of their time talking about the collaborative culture of the firm and how they are structured to do the right thing for clients.
I was instantly intrigued, as having been in the asset management industry for most of my career, I saw right away that Vanguard was a different kind of company. I found out my instincts were right after I joined the firm as a member of the MBA Leadership Development Program. Every crew member I’ve spoken with knew and believed in what the company stands for. It was refreshing to be part of an organization that is dedicated to the investment success of investors all around the world.
A 7,000 mile transition
Becoming a Vanguard crew member meant that there was a lot of change ahead for me. On a personal level, I got to settle down in my new home in suburban Philadelphia, 7,000 miles away from my hometown in Seoul, South Korea. At a professional level, I was eager to take on new challenges through the rotational program and expand my perspectives beyond my previous experience as a fixed income portfolio manager.
With that in mind, I took my first rotation in a product development research role in the Portfolio Review Department. Conducting research and drafting proposals to launch new products was quite different from trading bonds, but I was able to pick up a lot of new skills and enjoyed every moment of it. After my time in the MBA program ended, I launched in my current role as a Senior Investment Analyst.
Things I learned along the way
It’s hard for me to fully appreciate how lucky I was to have this journey from Korea to Vanguard’s headquarters in Malvern, PA. Reflecting back on my experiences, here are a few things I picked up that helped me along the way:
1. Be open-minded to new opportunities. The rotations of the MBA program are well suited to help you experience the various ways you can impact our shareholders’ financial well-being. Like me, you might find a new area of passion and learn new skills in the process.
2. Be aware that there are many people who are invested in helping you, and don’t hesitate to ask.I was consistently surprised how many crew members around me, both leaders and peers, placed my professional growth and development as one of their top priorities. This was a critical factor behind my successful transition.
3. Be ambitious. Here at Vanguard, we are excited about how much more we can do to fulfill our mission of helping investors achieve their goals. This is where every crew member’s extraordinary effort, wisdom, and enthusiasm makes a real difference. Are you ready to bring yours?
Exploring careers in Client Services – Personal Advisor Services
In this series, crew members in Client Services share their perspectives on career choices, teamwork, and how they contribute to Vanguard’s mission.
Personal Advisor Services, Financial Advisor
With an undergraduate degree in Political Science and an MBA, Tiana spent a number of years in the annuities department at another financial institution prior to coming to Vanguard. She brings great external perspective as well as five years of Vanguard experience in a wide variety of Retail Investor Group (RIG) roles. Tiana started her RIG career in a Processing role in RIG Operations, but quickly discovered that a career in Personal Advisor Services (PAS) was what she was targeting. She moved into the PAS Portfolio Implementation role, where she served as the liaison between clients and their advisors, then became a PAS Voyager Advisor, and is now a PAS Voyager Select Advisor. Tiana has her Series 6, 63, and 7 licenses, as well as her CFP® (Certified Financial Planner™) certification, and has recently enrolled in a program to pursue a Chartered Financial Analyst ® (CFA ®) designation.
Personal Advisor Services, Operations Team Leader
After graduating from Dickinson College, Darrell immediately began his career at Vanguard. He has held multiple roles at Vanguard in Personal Investor, Education Savings Group, and Advice. After some time, Darrell asked himself, “Do I want to continue specializing as a Financial Advisor, or is it time to stretch a new skillset?” With encouragement and support from both peers and leaders, Darrell decided to pursue leadership. Last December, he moved into his current role as an Operations Team Leader where he is able to use his caring mindset, energy, and “can-do” attitude to best support his crew. Darrell has his Series 7, 63, and 65 licenses, his CFP® (Certified Financial Planner™) certification, and is enrolled in a program to pursue a Chartered Financial Analyst ® (CFA ®) designation.
What is it like working in Personal Advisor Services?
Tiana: I’m all about client service and building relationships, both with my clients and my peers, and PAS allows me to do exactly that. The dynamic is great; I always say I have my home family, and PAS is my work family. It’s a comfortable environment where I can frequently collaborate with peers, and develop just from listening to their day-to-day conversations. Everyone is open and supportive, so much so that they all offered to help me as I pursued my CFP® certification, which I couldn’t have done without my leaders’ and peers’ guidance!
My day-to-day routine revolves around my clients. I manage a book of clients, who I speak with at least twice a year. They can also schedule ad-hoc meetings with me. I’m empowered to manage my time however I see fit, putting blocks on my calendar for times that I’m not available for client calls, and clients can look at my calendar and select times that work for them. My peers and I try to do video calls with all of our clients to really connect with them personally.
Darrell: No day is ever the same in my role, which is actually really nice. My time is split between projects, workstreams, and my crew. A typical day includes lots of time with my crew: walking the aisles, spot coaching, and working towards solutions when issues arise. Another big portion of my day is working on projects and workstreams to support the business. For example, I am on the Invest Workstream, which is looking at the life cycle of a dollar in Advice. No matter what my day holds, time with my crew is what I look forward to most. I enjoy watching them grow and develop, and coaching them to success.
What are the top skills needed to be successful in your role?
Tiana: Relationship Management, Time Management, and Detail Orientation — First and foremost, relationship management is crucial, not just with clients, but also with peers and leaders. You really have to love building relationships and connecting with people to be successful in this role. You also have to be great at managing your time -advisors are empowered to decide how we want our calls to flow throughout the day. Lastly, detail orientation is key: I’m dealing with people’s money, so quality is crucial!
Darrell: Flexibility, Time Management, “Can-do” Attitude – In my role as an Operations Team Leader, I need to be able to flex from one task to the next. One minute I could be dealing with an elevated situation and the next minute I could be in a 1:1 with my crew member. Effective time management is crucial for success in this role. There are many competing priorities and being able to address each item, in a timely fashion, is paramount. Although it may seem simple, a “can-do” attitude goes a long way. There is a plethora of work that needs to be done each day to advance the work of the department, so one must have that resilient attitude.
What is your favorite client memory?
Tiana: There was an elder client who had been receiving investment advice from a family friend outside of Vanguard. Her former advisor over-allocated in a risky investment which resulted in the loss of a lot of money, and even worse, a distrust in advisors. She called Vanguard with the intention of trying to manage her own investments, and I saw an opportunity to turn a sad story into a great story. First, I had to learn a lot about her to really form a connection and earn the client’s trust. I explained to her that Vanguard is different – advisors here don’t receive commission or other such incentives, so everything I would do for her would truly be in her best interest. It was one of those moments where I really felt like I made a difference.
Darrell: During my time as an advisor, I had a client who was asking multiple sharp and pointed questions during our phone call. We had multiple hour-long sessions and each session was filled with these questions. At the end of the last call, the client took a deep sigh and said, “I think I’m ready to do this”. I asked him to clarify what he meant and he proudly stated, “I think I’m ready to retire.” Additionally, I was able to put Vanguard’s investment methodology into practice in his portfolio. This is the type of call that allowed me to leave the office feeling truly fulfilled in my day’s work.
What is one of the greatest lessons you have learned during your time at Vanguard?
Tiana: At Vanguard, I’ve learned that my leaders are truly here to support me and help me develop my career. I love that Vanguard’s approach to feedback is developmental, so I’ve learned not to feel bad about it, but rather to learn from it and work on it. No matter where I go, as long as I’m working hard, my leader is committed to my development. Development conversations ultimately help me grow and achieve my long term goals.
Darrell: One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is to never be afraid to seek out help and additional perspectives. Crew here at Vanguard are quite receptive to offering their assistance and perspective. The more open you are and the more willing you are to ask for help, the better off you’ll be at the end of the day. This requires being coachable, which is critical to growth.
How is your current role contributing to your overall development?
Darrell: I think about my career with less of a destination in mind and more of a collection of experiences that will grow and develop my skillsets. What I am learning in my current role is how to manage and develop crew, how to drive business impact, how to demonstrate conceptual thinking skills, and how to develop deeper business acumen.
How does your role as an advisor fit into your career goals?
Tiana: In my past experiences, I’ve witnessed situations where the client was not put first. Since then, I’ve known that I not only wanted to be in Personal Advisor Services, but I wanted to do it at a company where the clients’ interests are truly at the core of everything we do. My ultimate goal is to be an Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) Advisor, and the path to achieving that is pretty clear: advisors are split by segment, based on individual client need, so there are multiple opportunities for advancement. I’m confident that I’m building skills in my role now that will enable me to become an UHNW Advisor a few years down the road.
How does your role contribute to Vanguard’s mission?
Tiana: I’m a firm believer in Vanguard’s investment methodology and strongly value our client-first approach. What I do day-in and day-out is really all about the client. I help them in all of their most personal milestones: planning for retirement, creating a plan to save for college, helping them buy a home. Whatever their unique goals are, I’m serving their best interests by getting their money invested in a way that best fits their individual situation.
Darrell:This has looked different as I’ve held different roles across Vanguard, but as a Team Leader, the best way I can fulfill Vanguard’s mission is to effectively manage and develop my crew so they can then deliver the best client experiences.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our opportunities in Advice atwww.vanguardjobs.com.
After working as an engineer for over 12 years, I decided to completely change careers and pursue my MBA full time. Why? I wanted to do work that I was good at, and passionate about. The thought of making a major career pivot was exciting, complex and risky at the same time. Where could I combine my aspirations for general management with my passion for helping people with their personal finances? Is it possible to transfer the skills that I acquired as a manufacturing engineer, technical sales engineer, and product manager? Or would I have to start over? How would I get up to speed quickly enough to make a meaningful contribution?
To take a stand for all investors, to treat them fairly, and to give them the best chance for investment success.
This sounds a lot like my passion for people and their success with personal finance! And this mission is not just hearsay, it is the foundation for the work that gets done each day. For example, when I worked in the Institutional division, we were focused on helping plan participants achieve retirement success. When I worked in Enterprise Finance, we were focused on monitoring how well we were performing as a company for the benefit of our clients (fund performance, cost, client loyalty and risk management). Now I am working in Client Experience…I’m sure you get the point.
A supportive squad
There were 15 other professionals who joined the MBA Development program with me. Their academic and professional accomplishments have enriched my experience. This group has been my “speed dial” for many things like: learning the Vanguard organization, understanding various aspects of the financial services industry, and just getting connected and acclimated to a new working and living environment.
The additional benefit is that there are many cadres that have preceded us and they continue to make themselves available – sharing their insights to ensure that our experience is a success.
A quality offer
All leadership development programs are not created equal. These are some distinct elements of Vanguard’s approach to MBA development:
Program Qualifications – Vanguard looks for candidates with more pre-MBA work experience than most companies. This was very compelling for someone who worked for many years prior to business school. It was a signal to me that Vanguard values my past experience and provides opportunities for crew to transfer their skill sets.
Rotational Assignments – There is a lot of work that goes into matching participants and assignments at Vanguard. We are placed in departments that align our strengths, experiences, interests and even development opportunities, thus creating meaningful and unique on-the-job training.
Development (beyond the job) – The MBA Development program has created additional opportunities to enhance our professional development through: industry discussions, leader overviews, specialty workshops/trainings, assessments & feedback, MBA buddies, and corporate mentors.
There are other benefits to working at Vanguard (people & culture), but this is supposed to be a blog and not a book. In four days, I will celebrate my one year anniversary at Vanguard. As I reflect back on the excitement, complexity, and risk, one thing’s for sure – I would make the same choice all over again.
Check out this video to learn more about the MBA Development Program!
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, learn more about our MBA programs at www.vanguardjobs.com.