Today is International Women’s Day – a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. We want to introduce you to the women on our team. Read below to hear how their professional and personal experiences have contributed to their success – and ours!
What is the most fulfilling part of your role?
Rachel: Experiencing success with our clients and seeing their confidence and comfort with financial decisions grow.
Chris: I love that I learn something new every day and I get to highlight the amazing people I work with. My job is to help share the Avier story. I am often behind the scenes working on videos, our website, blog posts, and social media. Every project teaches me something new and allows me to be creative with everyone on the team.
Aaren: Providing families with peace of mind. Personal Finances can feel overwhelming, there are so many decisions to make and when we are already running at full speed it’s so easy to put the planning off until we have time in the future.
Meeting with families and wrapping our arms around all the various components of their life to develop a plan can put so much uncertainty to rest. Wealth Management is a fluid and ongoing process – it is refined and enhanced over time, and I think it’s wonderful when I can be a trusted resource to work with families on their journey to financial independence.
Angela: Being able to help my clients achieve financial independence – whatever that means to them! Whether that is giving more intentionally, maximizing their equity comp, or traveling around the world.
Shalonda: Having autonomy, work life balance, and having the opportunity to affect organizational change.
Marisol: Knowing that I’m helping clients with their investments and assisting my colleagues with managing portfolios. My role as Director of Portfolio Management is to serve an intermediary between our clients and our advisors.
When I place trade on behalf of clients, I always treat each situation as if that is my own account. I often find myself asking the following questions: 1. Would I place this trade in my own account? 2. Do the transaction costs make sense? 3. Is this the best way to invest? 4. Should trades be placed today vs tomorrow or a week from now? Many investment managers are focused on automation, efficiency, and economies of scale. Although that sounds great each client has unique situations and one-size doesn’t fit all. It’s important to assess each situation independently for the best client outcome.
Collaborating with Avier’s advisory team is a key part of my role. As a new team member, it is important to build relationships and establish trust with colleagues. I am appreciative of the trust that I’ve been given in making investment and trading decisions.
Have you had to overcome any obstacles/challenges in your career?
Angela: I had interned for a broker/dealer in college and saw the ugly side of financial services. Selling products and working in a “bro” culture were things I did not want in a career. I had to find the right type of firm with a fiduciary responsibility to serve my clients in the best way possible.
Rachel: Transitioning to a career in finance has had its challenges when it comes to technical expertise. But it’s been a rewarding challenge to grow and advance my knowledge to be able to help others. Coming from an athletics background has given me other unique skills though that help me to empower my clients in various aspects of their life.
Marisol: Yes!!! As females, we must often make a choice between our careers and motherhood. I found myself in that situation after my son was born in 2005. At that time, I was an Associate Analyst at Stifel Nicolaus and lived in New York. I had come pretty far in my career and was earning a great salary. I found out very quickly that work/life balance was non-existent in New York and found myself at a crossroad. My husband and I decided that I would stay at home for a few years so we packed up and moved to Arizona where the cost of living was more affordable. I re-entered the workforce after 5 years and found that I needed to start from the ground up again. I’m happy to say that this was the best decision for me and my family and do not have any regrets.
Shalonda: The challenges of being a minority woman in finance and having to prove myself constantly watching roles being given to individuals with less experience and skills while being hired to “lead me”.
Aaren: Of course! I think we all have obstacles and challenges. My best advice is to find a team that supports you and uplifts you on your journey. It is so important to work in an environment where you are heard and feel valued.
Chris: My biggest take-away from the challenges I have faced is to remember that things happen for a reason, and everything is an opportunity to learn (even if you don’t see it right away). People don’t define who you are – you define yourself.
What is your earliest money memory?
Shalonda: Earning money in my mother’s diner and being taught the value of saving and spending money more on needs than wants.
Aaren: Hmmm… I’m trying to think back to being a little kid to remember my earliest money memory… It would probably be playing Monopoly or Life. I remember counting the money and sorting it into the correct piles.
These games remind me that we all come from different backgrounds and that we need to do our best to remember not everyone starts out with the same opportunities. Unfortunately, we are not all given $1,500-$2,000 to start the game of “life”. It’s a great reminder to us all to slow down and make sure we are helping our friends and colleagues who may need guidance, support, and/or encouragement.
Rachel: My earliest money memory is my Dad teaching me how to balance a checkbook.
Angela: I remember getting a monthly allowance from my grandparents starting when I was very young. They taught me to save, give, and spend wisely. So when I found these purple, sparkly sunglasses at Claire’s that I could not live without, I paid a whopping $8! I still have those sunglasses as a reminder to spend on what you love.
Marisol: Buying cookies when I was 5-years old. There was a store on my way home from school. I lived in Spain and I remember stopping off to buy sugar cookies that cost 5 pesetas.
Chris: I learned the value of saving money and the importance of family at a young age, thanks to my grandpa. When we would go to my grandparents’ home, my cousins and I always brought quarters to place in a very large glass jug. My grandpa told us when we saved enough, he would take us all to Disneyland. We loved watching the jug fill up after every visit and would often pour out the quarters to count how much we had saved. Finally, after a couple of years, the day came. We reached our goal and the trip to Disneyland became a reality. (I’m certain we earned a “match” from grandpa because the trip came together before my grandmother became too ill to travel due to M.S.) I boarded the plane with my grandparents and 4 of my cousins (all under 8 years old) and we enjoyed an amazing trip that we will remember forever.
What are you most proud of?
Rachel: I’m most proud of my ability to pivot and find a solution when things don’t seem to be going the way I originally wanted them to.
Angela: Getting to where I am now! I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, where there is Amish buggy parking at the grocery store. As the first (and only) one in my family to go to college, I pushed past the easy option of staying where I know and have kicked down every barrier in my way.
Aaren: I’m most proud of my path to get me where I’m at! I didn’t have the most conventional trajectory. I started working at a local wealth management firm at the age of 20. After hearing about what they did and realizing that this was an area that I had no experience in, I decided to take the opportunity and learn as much as I could.
I’m naturally a very curious person – I think as we get older this can fade away… but I continue to try and embrace that curiosity and use it to learn as much as I can.
Shalonda: Persevering and breaking down barriers to reaching my goals.
Chris: Professionally, I’m proud of where I have made it in my career and am thankful for mentors that believed in me. I feel very fortunate to be able to call so many of my current and former colleagues – my friends. Throughout my career, I found that I was most fulfilled in a role where I was able to learn from those around me and have a little fun together as well.
Personally, I’m so proud to be the mom of two amazing young men. They are kind, happy, healthy, and following their dreams. I couldn’t ask for anything more!
Marisol: My children. Ryan is 17 and a senior year in high school. As he prepares for college, I am proud of the man he’s become. He’s smart and responsible, and most importantly, I know he’s going to do well with anything he chooses to do in life. Katie is 14 and a sophomore in high school. She is a great student and a competitive hip-hop dancer.
When did you decide you wanted to work in the finance industry?
Shalonda: In grade school while speaking with my 3rd grade teacher about my aspirations and what I wanted to be when I grew up. Mrs. Tharp told me that I would become an accountant.
Rachel: I wanted to pursue a career in finance shortly after college. My husband and I, newly married and moving with the Air Force every few months presented financial challenges and changes. I wanted to learn how to be smart with our money together and how to grow it. As we got better at this and I learned more, I enjoyed the freedom and satisfaction that comes with having control of our financial life and I wanted to be able to give that to others.
Angela: After spending the first 8 years of my career in corporate finance, I decided to take the CFP exam and pivot to my real passion of personal financial planning. I made the leap after listening to tons of personal finance podcasts and discovering my ethical alignment with fee-only financial planners.
Marisol: In college… I just fell into it. As I was completing college at NYU, I interviewed at many firms. A family-friend mentioned that her firm was hiring so I submitted my resume and got an assistant position at C.J. Lawrence which was acquired by Deutsche Bank.
What advice would you share with someone who wants to go down a similar career path as you?
Aaren: Do it! Work hard and focus on what you would like to accomplish. Find people who encourage you, support you, and will help mentor you on your journey. I have been blessed to have several people in my life who have poured into me. As an adult it is so important to find mentors – work can be challenging and having a team of people who help you sort through the noise is very important. They also help to keep us grounded!
Rachel: There are so many facets of financial planning, don’t be afraid to try several of them until you find where your passion lies. And even once you do, never stop learning as the industry continuously evolves. The more well-rounded you are the more of an asset you’ll be and the more you’ll enjoy your work. Chances are your passion will grow and evolve with you so reevaluate what you’re doing often and ensure it’s aligned with your values. If it’s not, pivot.
Angela: Reach out to those in the career path you are interested in (including me!) for an informational interview and pick their brains about the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Shalonda: Set your goals, be diligent and persistent, and for every no that you receive, work that much harder until you receive a yes.
Marisol: Stay the course and do not get discouraged by bumps along the way. If you know that you want to work in finance, follow your dream. I started in this industry in 1995 and it was definitely a male-dominated field. Women have come a long way and it is important for us to support each other. Use your connections wisely as that is the best way to get your foot in the door. Motivate yourself to do and be your best. Believe in yourself and things will work out in the end.
Everyone has a superpower. What is yours?
Angela: I’m not sure this is a superpower, but I’ve never met a dog who hasn’t liked me. As my neighbor put it, dogs can sense the “good people” and I’d be honored to be good enough for a dog!
Shalonda: Resilience, not sweating the small stuff, having compassion and care for others, and not allowing anyone or anything to dim my light.
Chris: I have been told I’m a good friend. It might not be a superpower, but I love being thought of that way. My friends mean the world to me and I am always happy to lend an ear or hand to help no matter when they reach out.
Aaren: I’ve been known to bust out a 1,000-piece puzzle in a day. I’m not sure if that counts as a superpower but maybe the ability to concentrate for an extended period will count!
Rachel: My superpower is my strength – it’s fun outlifting the guys.
Marisol: I have eyes in the back of my head 😊 That’s what I used to tell my kids so they’d behave.
We hope that you take time today to thank the women in your life who have helped shape the person you have become.
“You can always tell who the strong women are. They are the ones you see building one another up instead of tearing each other down.”