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.
Read the last blog in this series on Flagship Services and stay tuned for the next edition of our Client Services career conversations, featuring a new department each time.