In honor of Mother’s Day, we’re featuring a series of blogs dedicated to working mothers and their experience at Vanguard. In this blog, Schuyler T. discusses working at Vanguard and what happened when her baby came earlier than expected.
I started at Vanguard as a Client Relationship Specialist answering phone calls from our clients. To be honest, I took the job because my Dad informed me that if I wanted to remain living under his roof I would have to get a job. Considering I wasn’t entirely sure if he was kidding or not, I accepted the job and started a few weeks after graduating from Bucknell University. In my mind, I thought this job would satisfy my Dad’s request and allow me the time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life…
Finding the flexibility I needed
Thirteen years later, I am still with Vanguard and have had an opportunity to grow both personally and professionally. Today, I am a Manager who sits on the Talent Acquisition Leadership team, but more importantly, I am the mom to two great kids and the wife to an amazing husband who is also a crew member. I love my job and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, in fact, I would go as far to say I love being a working mom. There is no secret formula to create a balance or even a magic number of how much time should be spent at home vs. work. Instead, it is all about flexibility.
Vanguard has offered me the flexibility that I need to be the best mom to my kids and succeed in my career. Flexibility comes in many shapes and sizes – some weeks I may put more time in at work to finish a project. Other weeks I may need to put in more time at home to be there for my family. Either way, I have never felt that I had to choose between work and family.
“I didn’t have time to come up with elaborate Halloween costumes – a quick search around the house and voila! Halloween costumes and happy kids!”
Coming back to work
As a new mom to two, I had 4 months of paid time to spend with my newborn son and help my daughter adjust to being a big sister. This time was invaluable to me and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I was able to enjoy my leave and bond with my family. And guess what? Work didn’t stop, and I didn’t get any emails or phone calls. The only communication I had with my team was me sharing pictures of my adorable (I may be biased) kiddos. After my 4 months of leave, I was ready to come back to work. I knew my kids were in great hands with our childcare provider as their days were filled with learning, socialization, art, and songs. Much more exciting than a day spent with mom. In fact, for a few years every time I shared with my daughter that tomorrow was Saturday, she would sigh and respond with “that’s nice, but I can’t wait for Monday”. Comments like these validate that, just like me, my kids have their own lives too. They have friends and activities at school that they get excited about, just like I have projects and initiatives that I am excited about at Vanguard.
Working full time and being a full time mom is not easy, and it’s definitely not glamourous (so what if my house isn’t perfectly tidy, my garden needs weeding, or we sometimes have pizza for dinner) but I wouldn’t change it for the world. In my opinion, I get the best of both worlds and they complement each other quite nicely. Every day I have the opportunity to challenge myself at work, which keeps me driven and energized, and there are still so many things that I aim to do with my career. I know Vanguard and my family will support me every step of the way.
If you had asked me 5 years ago where I would be today, trading derivatives at one of the world’s biggest asset management firms would probably not have been my first response. In college I was studying international business and politics, and headstrong on becoming a diplomat at the United Nations. My summer going into my senior year of college, I worked an internship at the UN. This experience motivated me to follow a path where I could influence positive changes in the world. I also loved understanding how economies operated around the world. In finding Vanguard, not only was I excited about the possibility to work at one of the biggest asset managers in the world, but also a company that had a philanthropic vibe. I felt that the overlap between values at the United Nations and Vanguard was pleasantly similar.
Learning a “trade”
I applied to the Vanguard Accelerated Development Program (VADP), not knowing where in the organization I wanted to be, but excited about the opportunity to explore different areas of the company. The first step was tackling the Series 7 exam – which helped me gain solid investment knowledge and a better understanding of how our funds and ETFs operate. It was soon after that I realized I wanted to learn more about the investment arm of the organization. After spending a few days shadowing on the trading floor, I knew the fast paced, high impact environment was perfect for me.
My first rotation was on the ETF Capital Markets team, a very male dominated area where there had never been a female on the team before. They covered both fixed income and equity, and spoke to clients about trading – this required deep training and hard work to understand the complex technical knowledge. I spent my days shadowing others on the desk and learning about equity, fixed income, market structure, market participants, and ETFs. I kept a spiral notebook with long lists of questions of the current day’s happenings, and Tom (my first manager on the team) would spend time post market hours explaining the plumbing of the market and theoretical reasoning behind the day’s trades. Although this group required a thorough understanding of many different aspects of investment management, I found I was able to learn these technical skills by partnering with a mentor, and consistently asking questions, finding articles, and taking time to self-study. That included starting the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) exam, which although challenging and time consuming, has been instrumental in helping me with my investment education. As time went on I felt confident in my ETF knowledge and my day-to-day now consisted of taking on my own trades and speaking with clients directly, rather than just shadowing another expert.
Creating the right environment
One thing to note is that there is a lack of females in the investment space, and they have historically shied away from more technical areas. Being the first female to join the Capital Markets team, I worked with my current mentors in deciphering why that is and how we could encourage other females to enter the space. The main themes I came away with were mentorship and confidence. It’s up to females currently in these roles to encourage, mentor, and lead other females and males entering the space. The confidence piece is tough, however, it helped me learn that it’s rare that someone walks into a trading or portfolio management job knowing the right way to hedge a trade. Knowing that I started at the same level as many of my peers reaffirmed that I too was capable and smart.
After I became involved in the ETF industry, I also joined a nonprofit group in the industry called Women in ETFs (WE). In this group, I got to know other women in the industry and attended numerous panels and discussions. Personally I have gained so much from being involved in this organization – the network I developed has helped me to not only understand the ETF ecosystem, but has also provided me with a network to lean on. After going back and forth to the New York chapter many times, I decided to explore developing a Philadelphia chapter. I felt strongly that I could cultivate the same experience for professionals here that I was getting in New York. Many months, discussions, and persuasions later we were able to move forward with the chapter launch in August of 2017. Over the past year I have attended events with experts in the local ETF industry that discussed trading, regulation, and market making. The WE Philadelphia chapter has big plans for incorporating formal mentorship programs, webinars, and more educational events this year.
No longer a shadow
After spending two years on the ETF Desk, I was approached about taking a trading role on the derivatives desk in Fixed Income. I was honored by the opportunity to take a step deeper into the heart of our funds and the daily happenings of politics, the fed, and market movements. It’s exciting to work on a desk that has direct impact and trades large amount of notional values. Thinking through trades and risk, staying on top of the markets, and learning how thoughtful decisions can positively impact shareholders has kept me so excited to come into work every day and allowed me to continue to grow as an investment professional.
It has been Vanguard’s openness to teach and mentor that has given me the opportunity to work in such technically challenging roles. If I could say one thing to women and men exploring a career in investments, it’s not to allow what you don’t know to intimidate you. If you are willing to work towards a goal, you can achieve it. You just need the right mentors, the right mindset, and the right company.
If you’re seeking and environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out or 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.
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.
Nestled in a stunning desert landscape, Vanguard’s Arizona campus, also known as Vanguard Scottsdale, is a blend of beauty, warmth, and culture. In the below crew stories, you’ll discover how our AZ campus is different, but still feels like Vanguard.
What is your favorite part about working at the Scottsdale campus?
“My favorite part about working at the Scottsdale campus is the park across the street. There is a beautiful walking path filled with desert plants and wildlife.”
“I have come to appreciate the courtyard outside of the galley (our cafeteria), especially this time of year. I really enjoy the scenery, along with the general landscaping that provides a peaceful environment to unwind. My experience in Arizona has been pretty stellar thus far.”
“The best part about working in the Arizona office is the comradery that is felt within the Arizona Human Resources community. There are many crew members in HR that I don’t work with yet I still feel very connected to.”
“As an Arizona transplant, I could not have made a better move than to Tempe two years ago. It’s an amazing sight, sitting at your desk and watching the monsoons roll through the valley or a lightning storm during the summer months. The Scottsdale office is located blocks away from the beautiful Pinnacle Peak Mountains, a handful of golf clubs, not to mention great restaurants to make after-work and weekend activities easy and accessible. “
What campus amenities do you enjoy utilizing?
“Shipshape is such a fun way to get in a great workout (I like the group classes!) while meeting crew I don’t get to work with in my ‘day-job’. It’s hard not to keep my New Year’s resolution with the great group class schedule – Body pump, Bars & Bells and Cycling are my favorites!”
What are some of the similarities and differences between working in Malvern vs Scottsdale? (Culture, climate, etc.)
“The culture is unique. It had a small start-up feel when I first moved here from Pennsylvania four years ago that has grown and matured into this free flowing friendly collaborative culture. Both sites offer an approachable welcoming environment but PA can be overwhelming at times (especially if you are new) where Arizona is smaller and easier to acclimate to.”
“Vanguard really is Vanguard whether you work in PA or AZ and that is a true testament to the character of our company and crew. I fondly refer to PA as “the mother ship”. For the most part everything is just much bigger in PA but there’s a close knit feel in AZ.”
What do you love to do outside of work that only Arizona offers? (Hiking, spring training, etc.)
“Outside of work, I’m a huge baseball fan, particularly college baseball and MLB spring training. The weather is great and you have the opportunity to get to watch the stars of today and tomorrow in a very fan friendly, warm environment.”
“Exercising and eating healthy are my passions outside of work. Arizona is filled with amazing hiking trails and great restaurants. Gateway Loop is about 10 minutes away from work and is beautiful. Two of my favorite restaurants are Green Restaurant and Barrio Queen.”
“I love visiting the beautiful city of Sedona. I’m also very fond of walking around without a coat in December. What a dream come true for this Alaskan girl!”
This Valentine’s Day, we wanted to recognize a special kind of love – love of your career! Below we share just a few of the reasons Vanguard is a caring place to work.
At Vanguard, many crew members start their first day in a group and spend time together to get licensed and trained. In this video, you’ll hear from Amanda S., a crew member that shares why her husband eventually came to Vanguard too.
Amanda S.: And that’s what brought my husband here. He worked for a competitor where it was you need to get licensed on your own. You have to figure out the job on your own. And he did it. He did it really well, but then he saw I had some great friends and how much Vanguard was investing in us that he was like, “All right, how do I come to Vanguard? I don’t care what role I come to Vanguard in.” He’s like, “I want to be hired because I know from there I’ll then be able to build my career path.”
We asked crew members Donald F., a Communication Project Leader, and his wife Arecka, an IT Project Manager: What’s it really like working at the same company as your spouse?
“It’s a blessing for us because we both get to take advantage of the benefits of working for a company like Vanguard. From health coverage to our gym memberships to generous paid time off, we both feel very lucky to be working here.
Also, balancing personal and work life comes easy for us because our positions allow for flexibility. We joke with each other all of the time about whose project is a higher priority, because if I’m trying to retain a billion-dollar client then she knows she’ll be the one driving our daughter to karate. Either way, we’re able to make it fun and productive because we can always balance work and family with minimal hassle.”
The power of (career) love – When you feel good about what you do, you want to share it with those you love. That’s why employee referrals remain the number source for finding top talent at Vanguard!
Exploring careers in Client Services – Retail Services
In this series, crew in our Retail Investment Group share their perspectives on career choices, teamwork, and how they contribute to Vanguard’s mission.
Retail Services, Retirement Specialist
David graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he studied management and sociology. He then completed a graduate program in business fundamentals at Wake Forest. Following his education, David followed his passion to serve others by working for the Hickory Public Housing Authority where he worked with low-income families to empower them towards self-sufficiency. After his time with the Hickory Public Housing Authority, it wasn’t long before David found himself at Vanguard – first taking on a role in Personal Investor as a Client Relationship Specialist, followed by his current role as a Retirement Specialist in the Retirement Center.
What is it like working in your department?
As a Retirement Specialist, I have the opportunity to educate and assist clients with one of the biggest moments in their life – retirement. Due to the complexity of the subject matter, I leverage my technical knowledge and CRM (client relationship management) skills, often taking ownership of unique client situations until resolution. In my role, there are two main areas of work: complex transactions and small business accounts.
What are the top skills needed to be successful in your role?
Intellectual curiosity, and attention to detail, but first and foremost, you need to have a desire to learn about the complexity of retirement. There are a lot of IRS and tax implications related to complex transactions, so I need to make sure I’m asking clients the right questions to understand their needs, and then adequately explain the options to guide them to an appropriate decision.
What is one of the greatest lessons you have learned during your time in your department?
In addition to the immense retirement knowledge that I have gained, I have learned the importance of approaching a situation in a holistic way, making sure to gain all the details to arrive at the best answer. In my role I’d come across complex client situations and taking the extra time to gather all relevant information before positioning solutions for the client proved to be well worth the time!
How does your current role fit into your career goals?
I recently accepted a new role as a Retirement Administrator where I will be responsible for supporting other specialists and service partners with highly technical issues. Each stage of my career contributes to the next, and I am confident my experiences as a Retirement Specialist will aid in my success in my new role.
How does your role contribute to Vanguard’s mission?
Clients want to make sure their assets will sustain them during retirement and the Retirement Center is crucial in helping them reach this goal. As an example, baby boomers who are entering retirement age are leaning on institutions like Vanguard, particularly the Retirement Center, for help in navigating their transition into retirement. The Retirement Center’s mission is Vanguard’s mission. We are taking a stand for all investors by providing excellent service and solutions on complex individual and small business retirement topics, equipping our clients with the tools and information for investment success!
Stay tuned for the next edition of our Client Services career conversations, featuring a new department each time.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our Client Services career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com!
I’ve always been fascinated with human behavior, and wanted to find a career where I could help people live happier lives. I thought that if I could understand people’s thought processes, I might be able to help them make better decisions. So, I decided to study psychology. During my college years, I pursued internships that allowed me to deepen my understanding of human behavior and explore potential career paths, with the goal of earning a PhD in clinical psychology. But as much as I loved learning about psychology, I just couldn’t picture myself working anywhere I had interned. I put my plans for graduate school on hold and continued exploring what I wanted to be when I grew up.
After graduating, I worked at an employee assistance program call center where I connected people with financial, legal, and behavioral health resources. The majority of my calls involved assessing the caller’s various challenges– and through these calls, I began to notice a pattern. In a lot of cases, people’s financial issues were at the heart of their problems. Unfortunately there wasn’t much I could do to help them as I didn’t have the financial background to provide the right guidance. I knew there had to be a way I could offer more meaningful help.
Applying to Vanguard
I wasn’t sure that a finance company like Vanguard would hire someone without a business or finance background, but I heard such great things about the company, I had to give it a shot. So during the interview, I conveyed my passion for helping people and my desire to learn how to help people achieve their financial goals. Because of my dedication to clients and my related skills, they offered me a position as a Client Relationship Specialist in the Retail Investor Group. I was so grateful that Vanguard hired candidates with various backgrounds and appreciated diversity of thought. Crew members are valued for their unique interests, passions, and experiences. And Vanguard does an incredible job teaching the skills necessary for crew to be successful in their roles.
Securities license exams
Now I’m not going to lie and say passing the FINRA Series 7 and 63 licensing exams was easy, but college taught me how to learn and the trainers and fellow crew at Vanguard supported me every step of the way. They offered study materials and practice test questions, and used teaching methods that made the topics comprehensible for every learning style. Crew members who were passionate about coaching and leadership spent time explaining the more difficult concepts to us. The caring culture was evident from the first day I set foot on campus in Charlotte, NC.
Finding my place in finance
Now that I’ve been at Vanguard for a few years, I finally feel like I’m giving clients the services that make their lives easier and their financial situations better. Additionally, I’ve been able to amplify my impact by supporting process improvement projects that help crew and millions of clients.
But it wasn’t just my clients who received support. The sense of community has only grown over the last 6 ½ years I’ve been here. My peers, mentors, and leaders at Vanguard have all encouraged me to test out different career paths, and build additional skills. Since coming here, I’ve learned how to network, build a personal brand, and strengthen my professional presence. I’ve had the chance to work with IT teams and volunteer in the community at Vanguard sponsored events. I’ve even had the opportunity to complete my MBA, fulfilling my aspiration for higher education.
Looking back, I always knew I wanted to help others, I just didn’t know the best way to go about it. Deep down, I knew I wanted to help people get informed and find the right path. I never dreamed that, along the way, I would also help myself.
When I started working at Vanguard years ago, I knew I’d be working for a company with a fantastic reputation and many opportunities to grow and learn. What an incredible and unexpected bonus to have also made so many friends during my tenure here.
In 2018, I will be celebrating 18 years at Vanguard, all serving Institutional clients. Working in different roles and departments within the division has allowed me to meet different types of people and many of my friendships stretch back to my earliest years at Vanguard. Every year there are opportunities to meet new crew and make new connections.
One memory that comes to mind is the time my team had a Vanguard Accelerated Development Program participant working on a challenging project for our department. A couple of us supported her by giving her information and advice throughout the project, and the three of us ended up as friends. As we all continue on our career journeys, we’ve found ways to keep in touch even as work, and life outside of work, gets busier. A quick coffee meetup, regular lunches (monthly nacho lunch has been a favorite for over five years!), and the occasional night out are all ways we’ve stayed in touch as our careers spread us throughout the company. And sometimes keeping in touch takes us far from Malvern – this year will mark the second time I’ve traveled with a friend I’ve made at work. After years of saying we want to explore London together, we’re planning a trip for late spring, and I couldn’t be more excited!
It’s a common refrain that we spend more time at work than we do with our families – that time is so much more rewarding when you make friends with your co-workers. Whether it’s grabbing lunch on a tough day, asking for feedback to help you grow and develop, or just having a network that can guide you with a challenging task, I am supported both personally and professionally.
Today, I am an Offer Evolution Analyst, working on a team focused on continuously improving our Institutional Offer. Over the years, I’ve found that each department has their own way of bonding. One of my favorite memories is from a team that got together for pot luck dinners every month. When a team is that close it can make a huge difference in stressful situations – whether it’s a crazy busy time of the year, or a highly visible project. Based on the confidence my co-workers have in me, I feel prepared and motivated to get the job done and get it done well.