Melissa Terito, CPA
Sentinel Pension, A Division of Faulk & Winkler
I love the retirement industry because … I literally get to help people all day long. Whether it is walking a participant through their distribution options, or explaining to a business owner/ HR manager about best practices,or how to operate the retirement plan and giving guidance on plan design changes or fixing a mistake, etc. Additionally, I LOVE chatting with business owners about strategies to save for retirement AND to save on taxes. It’s a WIN-WIN!
How do you see WIPN affecting positive change in your career or industry? There are so many benefits from having the opportunity to network with other women in your field. Whether it is because you need advice on an internal issue, bouncing off marketing ideas, or just chatting about experiences (and sharing “client stories”). I just love meeting other women that I form long-lasting relationships with.
How important is it for you to be a role model for the upcoming generations of women in the retirement industry? This is a big priority for me. I know that a huge part of my path to success was role models, mentors, advocates, etc. It took me a bit to build up a female network of businesswomen, but it has been a game changer for me in both my personal and professional development.
My first job in the retirement industry … was as an intern in our TPA department within our CPA firm. I applied at the CPA firm because I was going back to school (I taught high school math in my prior life) to take courses to sit for the CPA exam and I needed a JOB. So, I was hired as an intern working exclusively with 401k plans and it was a great fit! I am currently one of the business owners in our firm so I now do all of the prospecting, selling/ marketing, running the TPA practice in our firm and also working with the other partners in running the CPA firm.
What has been your most rewarding accomplishment in your career? There are two moments that stand out to me: the first is the night I found out I passed the CPA exam — it was seriously one of the best feelings I have ever had. The second was when I was asked to be a partner in our firm. We have only had only other female partner in our firm before me, and she has since retired, so I am the only female partner and definitely a voice to all the female professionals in our office.
Regional Retirement Sales Director
Lincoln Financial Group
My first job in the retirement industry … was as an advisor with Piper Jaffray/ UBS. I managed several 401k plans, but after 5 years I realized that I could make more of an impact on the wholesaling side. Now I get to work with hundreds of advisors, and while Sales is the ultimate goal, most of my time is spent educating and assisting with prospecting. There is something so rewarding about being able to assist in growing the business of advisors who do the right thing by their clients. In a way, I am more of a professional coach.
Prior to joining WIPN, how difficult or easy was it to find networking/mentoring opportunities in the retirement industry? On the mentoring side, I would say very difficult. I think there is something so powerful in learning from women outside of your company and I am most excited about this aspect of WIPN.
How do you see WIPN affecting positive change in your career or industry? Sadly, we are still in a very male-dominated industry. I think that women are in a unique position to truly listen and understand the needs of the average worker. However, women can often feel isolated in financial services and a group like this gives us the opportunity to embrace what makes women so special and share ideas in a non-threatening way.
I love the retirement industry because … it is near and dear to my heart. I was raised by a single mother, and when I started in this business, I asked her to let me see her 401k statement. I was mortified by how little she had saved in her late 50s! She had been putting in the 3% and, therefore, assumed she was good. Right then and there, I realized how important it is to have a financial professional help participants prepare for the future. So many people in this country are not educated about what they will need in retirement, and I am very passionate about helping the right advisors get to the right people.
How important is it for you to be a role model for the upcoming generations of women in the retirement industry? Is WIPN a force for change? It is very important! I’ve been in this business for over 17 years and a LOT has changed and I have learned a ton about how to be a successful woman in this business. I am eager to share that!