A week in the life of a newly remote worker: Part two
In my last blog, A week in the life of a newly remote worker: Part one, I touched on my experience adapting to a new work environment, focusing on my first three days at home. Now I’d like leave you with some additional thoughts that came to me at the end of that work week.
Day 4—You’re not alone
I’m a social media addict, but it can be intimidating tuning in when so much news is being reported. That said, I have enjoyed seeing how my friends are using social media as a distraction. For those with children, I love to see how parents are setting up mini-classrooms, planning pajama days and scheduling break times with pets. Who doesn’t want to see photos of dogs? I’m also enjoying suggestions friends are sharing to stave off boredom and keep everyone productive, as well as reminders to support local businesses. Yes, we all stockpiled food, but many of us can get pick-up or delivery at local establishments. The support across multiple communities has been inspiring.
Useful tips for your mind and body:
Silence can be painful, but so can the news. Find a fun playlist to add some sound to your day.
Read a book, watch a movie (some services are even offering virtual watch parties!), and relax with a bath.
Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn? Find an online class—it doesn’t have to be work related.
Keep moving. Our gym at work is offering online classes each day while the gym is closed.
Walk around the block, if possible. I challenged myself to take my dog for a longer walk each time we go outside and have run into neighbors along the way.
Day 5—Being thankful
Not everyone has the option of working from home. My company has done everything they can to do right by employees, just as they do for investors. Our mission stays the same—we’re working to provide our clients with the best chance of investing success. This is as important as ever right now!
My final message is to take some time for yourself. Make sure to separate work and personal time. My teammates compiled a list of free resources for you to explore. You can do a quick internet search on these topics to learn more:
A week in the life of a newly remote worker: Part one
I’ve got this. I enjoy working from home on occasion, maybe once a week. Working from home for at least a month is going to be a challenge to the way I work, the way I think, and the way I live. My team, and Vanguard as a whole, had been preparing for the possibility of being quarantined, but can you ever be fully ready for such a change to your way of working? In part one of this two-part series, I am going to share lessons learned from my first week at home.
Day 1—The set up
Everyone is upbeat, sharing photos of their new work space. Additionally, they’re sharing articles about a remote lifestyle, juggling children and spouses/partners at home, and how to communicate with teammates. I have an office at my house, but decided to set up shop downstairs on the dining room table so I could keep my dog company. I have notebooks, pens, two computer screens, as well as a webcam. Luckily, Vanguard recently implemented new software that our entire team can use to meet virtually. To ensure we are keeping up with one another and communicating work stream updates, our team scheduled a daily check-in call, which has been very valuable.
Set a schedule and stick to it.
Preserve a space just for work. Bedroom doesn’t count.
Take breaks to stretch your legs and eat.
Remember how positive everyone was yesterday? We were excited about our new work environment, but we soon saw that everything didn’t go as planned. That’s ok. This is a learning experience for all.
Useful tips for communication:
While my team has familiarity with working remotely and communicating with team members in different parts of the country, it can still be difficult reading someone’s tone in an e-mail, or articulating what you’re trying to say. As virtual team meetings become the norm, we are focused on making certain that all voices are heard, project updates are communicated effectively, and we are banding together to reach common goals.
Read emails thoroughly before jumping to conclusions.
Ask for clarification if something doesn’t make sense—this will help you avoid misunderstandings and unnecessary frustration.
Make sure your co-worker has finished his/her thought before starting to speak in a virtual meeting.
Use video, if possible. Participants will be more engaged and less likely to multitask.
Day 3—Staying connected
Useful tips to stay connected:
These themes have extended outside of Vanguard as well. I’ve had family members call to see how I’m doing, and I’ve tried to do the same. Personal connections can make a difference when you’re alone all day. I’m in a curling league—yes, that strange sport where you throw stones down the ice—and a large part of the game is socializing afterwards. We had a virtual gathering last night for those of us who wanted to “hang out.” My advice: Reach out to someone you haven’t talked to recently. I’m sure they’ll be happy to hear a familiar voice.
I’ve also observed other teams adopt new means to stay connected. One planned a “walk and talk” meeting to get everyone up and moving. Others have used internal message boards to share everything from technical tips for computer equipment, ways to communicate better with co-workers, and general messages of encouragement to everyone company-wide.
Since hallway talk is no longer an option, our team has set aside time each week to catch up on non-work-related items. It’s always fun to see a pet or child running around in the background and how home wardrobe styles differ.
Set up non-work “dates” with peers, as well as friends outside of work. It helps to see smiling faces if you’re used to being around groups, but are now at home.
Use your friends for motivation! I have an app on my phone that reminds me to keep moving, whether it’s steps, exercise, or just movement. You can even challenge your friends. We’re in this together.
Start group documents, such as your own tips for working remotely, allowing teammates to share suggestions. You can even share your favorite television shows to watch.
Stay tuned as I’ll be sharing more insights and tips in the next installment of A week in the life of a newly remote worker.
A look at Internal Sales in the Financial Advisor Services division
We recently sat down with Heidi Spilotros, who leads the Broker-Dealer Internal Sales team in the Financial Advisor Services (FAS) division at Vanguard. In this blog, she highlights key components of her role, the broad impact FAS has on our advisors and personal investors, as well as advice for candidates who may be considering applying for an opportunity on her team.
Why did you become a Vanguard crew member?
I have been in sales my entire 24-year career and I have been in financial services sales in one form or another for most of that time. One of the biggest draws for me coming to Vanguard was the culture, and what I mean by that is the focus on collaboration and crew. There was a positive collegiality that I felt when I came here. Many of the environments I have experienced have been male-dominated and highly competitive, and without a willingness to share information or help others. The inclusive nature of Vanguard came through in the interview process. Every single person I met really wanted to ensure I was a culture fit who could help strengthen the collaborative, collegial environment where all voices are heard, everyone is encouraged to bring his or her best ideas to the table, and everyone wins together. I’ll be honest, I didn’t really believe it at first, but after being here for 18 months, it’s true. I have a great team that cares for each other, promotes a sense of belonging, and iterates with one another on everything, even when we dissent and disagree. No feelings are hurt because it’s all in the spirit of trying to do what’s right for our clients and what’s right for Vanguard.
How does your team directly contribute to the client experience and doing what is right by our investors?
It is important for our sales force in FAS to always keep the end client, investors, top of mind, even though we deal directly with Financial Advisors. We have to understand both the Advisors’ business as well as the client perspective, which can get complicated at times. But when you think about the impact you have if you effectively communicate our mission and offer to the Advisors, and help them achieve the goals they have for their clients, it’s really something. One advisor can reach hundreds of clients, so if we set them up for success, a multitude of investors benefit. For every generation our sales team can touch and every subsequent generation of advisors they teach and train, the impact can be exponential. In FAS, we want to make sure that everyone has the best chance for investment success.
How is the sales organization in FAS evolving?
There is a transformation underway called distribution enablement and it is exactly as it sounds. It is a variety of tools, processes and resources that will help our sales people be more effective. There are ways in which we can approach the market more efficiently and a variety of enablement tools, technology and techniques that will allow us to do so.
We are starting to deploy these tools, and one example I’ll share is around our ability to deal with sales opportunities. Our teams haven’t previously been able to answer key questions that would allow one to determine and track success measures. With this new methodology centered on gathering information and involving all players to make better-informed decisions, we now have a shared language and approach that will help us accomplish our goals in a more streamlined way. Going forward, we need to ask ourselves the following questions: How do we go to market with something unique? How do we see more clients? How do we see them more often and further our relationships?
What are you looking for in a candidate to join the FAS sales team?
The first thing I would say is that sales is one of those words that can be viewed in a variety of ways. Sometimes people can be intimidated. What sales really means, especially in FAS at Vanguard, is that you are able to make connections with people. Are you curious? Are you interested in uncovering what an advisor’s business is all about? If you’re curious, love building relationships, and enjoy solving problems, this could really be a great path for you. Sales is one of the most fascinating professions as it is truly filled with philosophical conversation using psychology and human behavior to understand why people make the decisions they do and how you might be able to influence and guide them to a mutually beneficial outcome. Ultimately, this is all about empathetically navigating a conversation in order to identify what’s most important to that person. When asking our sales folks what the best part of their day is, more often than not, they’ll say it’s when they have had great client interactions with financial advisors and brought value to the relationship.
Interested in a career in Sales? Please click here to view available opportunities.
The end of the year is often a time to reflect on all that’s been accomplished in the last twelve months. We pulled together the top four career stories from 2019. Whether it’s your first read or you’re revisiting a favorite, we hope you enjoy!
We sat down with five Vanguard recruiters to hear how they coach candidates through the interview process. In this blog, we share 12 ways that experienced professionals can prepare for a Vanguard interview—whether in person or over the phone.
Annsley opens up about her voyage to Vanguard after college. “To say I was hesitant to join the finance industry is an understatement. Much of my college education was focused on classes like organic chemistry and biomechanics. But my friend assured me that my passion to help people live a better life directly aligned with Vanguard’s mission. With his support along with my family, I took a giant leap of faith, and I couldn’t be happier that I did.”
Vanguard’s financial advisors are using time-proven investment methodology to offer investment solutions that lead our clients confidently toward their business or personal financial goals. In this series, our financial advisors share their personal experiences in pursuing a career in this field and the impact they’ve had in driving successful investment results for clients.
Kristen shares a personal story about how Vanguard allowed her to focus on family during a difficult time. “While my personal life was turned on its head, a new leader was assigned to my team. I was experiencing changes both at Vanguard and in my personal life. My first one-on-one was conducted through video conference from my parent’s house. It was during that conversation I finally said the words out loud…my mom had cancer. Not knowing how my new leader would respond, I waited. He took a moment and said, “Family comes first,” a concept I heard Vanguard was known for but never experienced firsthand.”
In this series, crew members in Internal Audit share their perspectives on the role data analytics is playing in their field.
Chris V. Director
Auditor Services Technology
A graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology, Chris began his career with Vanguard’s Information Technology (IT) Division as a systems administrator, providing front line support for critical business infrastructure. He transitioned to a role in IT Audit, where he is currently a Director on the Global Technology Audit Services team, leading the Integrated Audit and Data Analytics functions.
Jeff O. Data Analytics Technical Lead
After completing a graduate degree in analytics, Jeff worked at a media and technology company for several years. While there, he was a developer and thought leader in analytics, with projects spanning consultation, visualization, business intelligence, and machine learning. After joining Vanguard, Jeff supported the Institutional Audit Services team before moving into the Data Analytics Technical Lead role. He is tasked with operational leadership of the data analytics team in providing insight, efficiency, and coverage gains to Internal Audit, contributing to our overall goal of protecting Vanguard investors.
Kelly C. Project Manager
With an undergraduate degree in Accounting from Saint Francis University, Kelly started her career at Vanguard as a Client Services Specialist within Retail Services. During this time she obtained her Series 7 and 63 licenses, assisting retail clients to meet their investment needs. She moved on to become a Corporate Actions Specialist within Fund Financial Services for several years. In this role, she captured and accounted for corporate actions for Vanguard funds. She has spent the past four years as a Project Manager within Internal Audit, partnering with business units around the globe to identify and mitigate risks to Vanguard. During her time at Vanguard, Kelly successfully obtained an MBA from West Chester University and her CIA (Certified Internal Audit) designation.
Why is data analysis so critical to the future of Internal Audit and Vanguard overall?
Chris: A challenge for the Internal Audit department is being able to keep pace with changes taking place in the business. New products and client service offerings, technology transformations, continued global expansion, and an evolving regulatory landscape are contributing to an unprecedented velocity of change at Vanguard. With this in mind, how do we, as Internal Audit, continue to provide coverage over an evolving risk landscape that grows proportionally to the rate of change?
One of the ways Internal Audit can scale to meet this growing demand is through the effective and efficient use of data analysis. If used properly, it can allow us to make smarter, better informed decisions on where to allocate our resources, automate manual processes, test full populations of data in minutes, not days, and monitor the health of our control environment with minimal effort. Data analysis provides us the opportunity to work smarter and make more efficient use of our finite resources which is critical in carrying out our mission of protecting Vanguard’s investors.
How is Internal Audit using data analysis today?
Jeff: In a shared partnership of analysts and auditors, the department uses data analytics by augmenting the audit process with population-level insights and tests. Both reactive and proactive projects are completed currently. As advisory and assurance engagements conduct their reviews, data analytics is leveraged to better understand business practices and identify risk-based exceptions. From the successful use of data analytics during those engagements, automated monitors can be developed afterward to assist the department in reviewing the risk landscape in future. A variety of approaches are used, including independent analysis from source systems, visual analytics to better understand populations, and statistics and algorithms to identify hard-to-find insights.
Kelly: Internal Audit uses data analysis in multiple phases of the audit lifecycle. For example, when establishing an annual audit plan or preparing for a specific audit, data analysis helps an auditor identify the high-risk and complex areas to target. It has also led to a shift in how typical control testing can be performed. Audit teams can assess complete populations of a data set rather than merely inspecting a small sample selection by using analytical tools and techniques. This helps provide better assurance on how effectively a control is operating and gives the team better insights into the holistic control environment of the respective area.
What are the hallmark traits of a successful data analyst?
Jeff: I once heard it said that, “…the analysis isn’t complete until the results are accepted.” Deriving interesting and valuable insights, which depend on persistent curiosity is key. It is not just about asking a good question, but about asking the right series of questions that drive deep into a subject. However, great analyses can be of no value if they are misunderstood. The ability to describe the methods and the value of the results in a clear and concise manner creates the return on investment. Further, a great analyst must be able to build excitement around the use of data.
How can a data analytics skillset benefit one’s career?
Kelly: I think that having a proficient data analytics skillset pays dividends throughout any career path. Being able to successfully identify and analyze the necessary data and information needed to make a well-informed decision are essential skills that will benefit an individual in any role. Personally, as I grow in my career I aspire to lead larger and more strategic projects across the organization. Analytics skills will help give me both macro and micro views into a respective book of work, information to drive data based decision-making, and a tool kit for persuasion and influence.
Chris: Having a risk and control skillset alone is no longer sufficient to be considered an effective auditor. While data analytics is very quickly becoming a required competency in our industry, the benefits aren’t solely limited to a career in audit. Data analytics skills are in-demand, very transferable across disciplines and are impactful in a number of different roles should you ever decide on a career change. Building data analytics acumen today can be a big differentiator in your future.
Data analytics at the heart of Vanguard’s client experience
Imagine a world in which you are a detail-oriented analyst focused on results and outcomes, encouraged to ask questions, and empowered to work with a team developing innovative solutions. Within the Client Experience & Digital (CXD) group at Vanguard, our high-performing teams are doing exactly that, and the data analysts are central to this work.
I’m writing this as a new team member, having joined CXD only a few weeks ago. People have asked me to describe what it’s like to work in CXD and what makes CXD different from other groups within Vanguard and places where I had previously worked. I started my career working with large databases within IT divisions, and then moved into direct-to-consumer retail marketing and marketing technology as those solutions gained prominence in the mid-2000s. I was aware of Vanguard’s mission, and as a woman and working mother, Vanguard’s focus on doing the right thing for both investors and employees was attractive to me. Two years ago, I was fortunate to join Vanguard’s Retail Marketing Analytics group, where I led a team of data analysts, before my recent transition to CXD, where I serve as a data analytics manager.
Three things come to mind when I consider what it is like to live and breathe analytics in this specific context and, in my experience, make working within CXD unique.
1. The first is POST-IT NOTES, which are used daily in brainstorming sessions, in mapping out client journeys, and in tracking progress against goals. They are representative of the way we work and our team structure, and they also provide decorative flair to the office walls. The work we do here is very visual – after all, the journey labs are focused on improving Vanguard’s digital experiences which is, in and of itself, inherently visual. They also come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes optimized to get a specific job done. I see this as being symbolic of the way our teams are structured and representative of the diversity of skills and backgrounds that help make our teams high performing.
2. The second is IMPROMPTU CELEBRATIONS. We work in short sprints, rapidly iterating to consistently move forward by taking one step at a time. This leads to celebrating small wins along the way. We might applaud the automation of a process or the results of an experiment because we are happy when we can see that we are making digital experiences better for our clients, or when we can quickly learn that something did not work as we had hypothesized. These celebrations also acknowledge personal and work milestones. We take pride in the work we do, and we look for ways to recognize the fact that we are making progress both personally and within our CXD journeys.
3. The final item is a high level of PEER-TO-PEER COLLABORATION. The data analysts are embedded within a “full-stack” agile team with strategists, developers, designers, and researchers. You might think this means analysts are without the support of an analytics community. This is not the case! The analysts continue to work closely with other analysts across CXD, thinking through approaches and validating findings while sharing knowledge with their analytic peers.
I think it is interesting that our analysts come from a variety of backgrounds and work from different strengths. It shouldn’t be surprising that we have individuals with quantitative experience. However, we also have team members with degrees in communications and people who started their Vanguard careers as phone representatives. Within this context, analysts switch between the technical and non-technical to continually ground decision making in the data, design and execute experiments, and craft data stories that are meaningful to the business. All of this happens so we can improve client experiences in support of Vanguard’s mission to give investors the best chance for investment success.
Meet Bonnie D. She is an Advertising Manager who did not expect to find herself in the financial services industry. Now after having spent a number of years in creative roles at Vanguard, one thing she says she never takes for granted: “I laugh every single day.”
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.
Our Client Relationship Associates are the voice of Vanguard and assist all types of investors with meeting their financial goals. This role is the foundation for successful careers across financial services in advice, sales, relationship management, leadership, and more. In this blog series, crew in our Retail Investment Group share their perspectives on career choices, teamwork, and how they contribute to Vanguard’s mission.
In early 2015, I was suffering. Years of working a desk job and a sedentary lifestyle had taken their toll and my health was worsening. My blood pressure was way too high, and gout attacks frequently made it agonizing to walk. Sleep apnea and acid reflux meant I rarely got a decent night’s rest. At 41, I wasn’t too young to be at risk of a heart attack (or worse). It was time to do something. Lucky for me, Vanguard has an amazing wellness staff here to help – at Vanguard’s fitness center called ShipShape.
Small steps and big changes
I started with baby steps, like joining ShipShape’s six-week group weight-loss challenge and hitting the gym regularly. Encouraged by our specialist, I kept a food diary and changed my eating habits. I walked on the treadmill for a half-hour. I used the stairs instead of the elevator to get to my desk on the third floor. At the gym, the ShipShape team greeted me by name almost immediately, which built up my sense of belonging, as well as the accountability that I needed to make this a habit. They have been with me every step of the way.
Jumping to the next level
As time went on, I gravitated to group exercise classes, where I did things I never thought possible. I lifted a barbell for the first time in my life – then did 800 reps in 45 minutes. I punched and kicked through a cardio workout. I swung a kettlebell. I jumped on a BIG box. And then I did it all again. (At home, I annoyed my kids by threatening living-room burpees. Hey, I’m still a dad.)
The results came almost immediately. I lost a tremendous amount of weight that first year, but just as important, was developing the routine and the commitment to make this a lifestyle change. My family tracked my weekly weigh-ins. I had to buy new clothes! My team at work noticed. People who hadn’t seen me in a while were surprised by my transformation. “You did all this at Vanguard?” more than one person asked me.
It takes a (supportive) village
Make no mistake, this can be hard work, but the ShipShape staff are there to guide you through it. Austin has us pedaling for our lives in Group Cycling (but you don’t notice it, with such a fun soundtrack). Shannon doesn’t skip any of the toughest kickboxing choreography. Brandon and Chelsea sweat it out with us in every class they lead. I can’t argue with the results! There’s nothing more energizing and motivating than pushing yourself to the limit while surrounded by dedicated crew focused on a common goal. I have strengthened my Vanguard network, made new friends, and even found my current job through a workout buddy. And if I haven’t been around in a while, someone notices.
For me, fitness just fits
I have a favorite shirt that I wear to the gym – it has the words MAKE HISTORY emblazoned in big red letters on a gray background. It was a Father’s Day gift from my wife and three children a few years back. This shirt is the symbol of a miracle. I wear it to celebrate how far I’ve traveled on my wellness journey and to remind myself why I so often visit ShipShape. The center is always there for me – I can go before breakfast or at lunchtime, which suits my family’s busy schedule. I know the specialists will greet me with a smile and that I’ll see friends and might try something new. Three years later, my ShipShape family is a significant part of who I am as a Vanguard crew member. I couldn’t be more grateful.
Today, I’m more present and available for my Vanguard team, my peers, and most importantly, my wife and kids. I stay active, and my health has dramatically improved. I find that I contribute more at work and at home. So, what’s next for me? I plan to keep making history.
In this podcast, Kahlilah D. shares her journey to becoming a Senior Financial Advisor at Vanguard. Further, she speaks to her experiences in staying true to herself in the workplace and how that has positively impacted her relationships with her clients.
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