Amy Stein, a division leader at a financial-services firm, shares her experience as a single mother of three: she worked her way up from an administrative assistant to a division leader in her company. She shares how she has found great satisfaction in her six years of helping families heal financial wounds and look optimistically toward the future.
What is your job title?
I am a Division Leader
Please describe what you do on a typical day.
Meetings, phone calls, answering emails, interviewing potential candidates for future offices, seeing clients, training new associates, and endless counts of meetings. My days are hectic but exciting and never dull.
What is your ethnicity? How has it hurt or helped you?
I am Puerto Rican, and I don’t believe that it has helped me or hurt me. If anything, I feel that being a woman has hindered my success in the past more than my ethnicity.
What languages do you speak? How has speaking another language helped you?
I speak English and Spanish, and having the ability to speak two languages has actually been very beneficial for me, especially since moving to a bigger city. I have found that speaking another language has made it easier and increased profits for me.
What did you learn the hard way in this job and how did that happen?
I have learned so much from my current position. I was interviewing someone with a masters degree who felt that I was not good enough to interview him, or maybe he was not used to being interviewed by a woman. What happened was that I let him intimidate me, and I did not take control of the interview. Lesson learned! Second round: with another gentleman holding a masters degree who tried to tell me how I was going to conduct my interview, I politely informed him that we could either do the interview my way or we could end the interview now and he could leave. We completed the interview on my terms.
What don’t they teach in school that would’ve been helpful to you?
You know, I could probably give a list as long as my arm, but in all reality, I feel a real life experience is best. Only because you will not forget it and you can really learn from it!
How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?
I was pursuing a degree in Finance, and I really wanted to get some hands-on experience, but not many financial-services offices could be found where I lived at the time. I found an ad for an administrative assistant and applied. I had no experience in the finance industry and knew nothing about insurance, but I went in with confidence knowing that I could do anything put before me; it also did not hurt that I sent an incredible thank you note to the gentleman who interviewed me and later became my boss. I got my foot in the door and learned as much as I possibly could not only from school but from actually working with an advisor. Then it was time for me to spread my wings and fly!
On a good day, when things are going well, what’s happening and what do you like about it?
On a good day, all interviewees show up, referrals are calling ME, and new associates are actually doing what they need to do to succeed.
When everything goes wrong, what’s happening and what do you dislike?
Interviewees don’t show up or don’t call, new associates lose confidence in themselves and disappear, and things that I need to get done do not get accomplished because there’s a disaster that needs to be cleaned up. Nothing goes right.
What is your favorite part of your job? What areas do you struggle in or wish you could avoid?
I love sitting down with clients and doing their financial needs analysis. Phoning is probably the one thing I hate doing and really want to hire someone else to do it for me.
How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance?
My job is not stressful, or maybe I just work better under stress. Either way, I do maintain a very comfortable work-life balance.
Are you paid enough considering your responsibilities?
I am paid more than enough, and this is one of the things that makes what I do worth it. Not the best part of my job, but it is the icing on the cake.
What’s the most rewarding moment you’ve experienced in this position? Of all the things you’ve done at work, what are you most proud of?
I was working with a client who had an overwhelming amount of debt, and we were scheduled to meet for the delivery of her and her husband’s financial needs analysis when they received news of a death in the family. Typically, I like to get back to clients within forty-eight hours of the initial meeting so that they do not stress over what the financial needs analysis is going to show. In this case, we could not meet for two weeks. When I arrived at my client’s home, I could see the stress on their faces, but I just thought it was because of the death in the family. After showing the couple their financial needs analysis and how I could get them out of debt in five years versus the twenty-two years that it would have taken them if they continued to pay the debt their way, the lady let out a sigh of relief and the tension left her body. She explained that she had been stressing about how bad in debt they were and hoped I could help them. The stress was replaced with a huge smile and I knew at that moment that what I did for families was a good thing and I knew at that moment that I didn’t want to do anything else.
What’s the most challenging moment you’ve experienced? What would you prefer to forget?
There really isn’t a moment that has been so challenging that I would prefer to forget it.
What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?
The education required is dependent upon the company you work for. Some require a Bachelor’s degree, some want more, others require only a high school diploma.
What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?
Come with passion, fire, and drive or don’t come at all. You have to have ambition and a desire for success, a desire for more than what is handed to you. This is more than a job this is a lifetime career to make a difference in the lives of others.
How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?
I take as much vacation as I want when I want it. I am blessed to work for a company where I have that freedom.
Are there any common myths you want to correct about what you do?
Not every financial-services representative is the same. There is a bad egg in nearly every company, but get to know a prospective representative and don’t settle until you find one you are comfortable with and trust.
If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?
The same thing I am doing now but in my own office. I want to give others the same opportunity I was given six years ago: to get their foot in the door and have a meaningful career. I also want to continue seeing more smiles on faces and continue healing financial wounds for families everywhere.
Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences?
When I started in this industry, I was a single mother of three children, I was going to school full time and working full time. I am now married but my husband is in the Navy, so he is often not home; I still find myself being a single mother and working full time. Although challenges will always come up, my passion and drive to do what is right for my family push me past anything that life throws my way.