What changes do you hope to see for women in the retirement industry in the next 5 years? I am incredibly encouraged by the progress I’ve seen in my time so far but excited to see much more. As more female leaders have their voices elevated in the industry, I’d like to see more women named to top leadership positions across the board. There is still a clear lack of diversity at the top of the retirement industry but with the work of organizations like WIPN and DEI initiatives across firms, I am very hopeful that we will get there.
How important is it for you to be a role model for the upcoming generations of women in the retirement industry? Whenever I find something that makes a difference in my own life – positive or negative – I always try to share that with others in hopes that they can benefit from the lessons I have learned along the way. This holds especially true when it comes to my professional journey as I share my story with others who may be interested in hearing it. It’s important for future generations of women to understand how far we have come but also to appreciate the struggles faced by those before them. Perhaps more importantly, I believe being a role model in the retirement industry means leading by example. I offer support and elevate other women around me whenever I have the opportunity as I believe that is the key to our progress as a collective group. When one of us experiences success, we can all share in that when we are all supporting each other. I feel our industry exemplifies this perhaps more than others, and that is one of the many reasons I am proud to be a part of it.
How did you know that a career in the financial services retirement industry was right for you? Like many in the industry, I got into this business by accident and certainly never expected to still be here almost 20 years later! When my parents shut me off financially after 4 years of college, I took the first job I could find in a customer service role at a large financial services firm. I enjoyed the experience although it was not really related to my degree, and I quickly rose through the ranks into a sales role. When the financial crisis hit, I was unfortunately one of the many to be let go, and so I took a year off to ‘figure out what I wanted to be when I grow up.’ My next position was outside the industry, and it quickly made me realize that I missed financial services. The universe aligned by reconnecting me with a former colleague who was looking to hire for a DCIO position. I jumped at the opportunity and thus re-started my career with a dedication to the retirement space. My journey has included a few gut checks along the way and each time I’m reminded of why this is where I was meant to be. There are also many colleagues and friends who have supported me and sometimes I think it’s the people I get to work with every day that make my job most fulfilling.
How did you discover WIPN? I first joined the SoCal Chapter of WIPN in 2017 when my territory was expanded to cover that region. It seemed like a terrific way to get involved with the local retirement community especially after hearing such great things about the networking opportunities WIPN provided and the strength of membership for the chapter. When we were forced to stop traveling during COVID my WIPN connection weakened and admittedly fell off the radar amidst the chaos of the new normal. In late 2020, I was approached about taking on a co-chair role for my local Seattle chapter and though I was honored to be asked, the timing just wasn’t right. Luckily our Regional Chair was persistent and kept in touch so I finally accepted the position a year later. At that time, I had been through a lot personally and felt that I needed some kind of spark to reignite my passion for the industry. Getting back involved with WIPN, and especially in a position where I had more access to understand the leadership and direction of the organization, was exactly the spark I needed! As I shared during the WIPN National Research Webinar: The Sticky Floor, my involvement with WIPN over the last few years has helped me learn and grow professionally in ways I never could have imagined. I am beyond grateful for the education, resources and support that WIPN provides and look forward to contributing to the continued growth of the organization.
Any other thoughts you would like to add? I would encourage my female peers to make sure they’re leveraging all the resources offered by their firm to support women in the industry. When I changed firms, I was very excited to learn about all the different groups and programs they offer specifically geared toward supporting women and I now wonder what I may have missed out on earlier in my career by not asking more questions. If you think your firm could be offering more, be that voice for change! Leverage your WIPN network to learn more about what’s out there and how to advocate for the support you need. That’s exactly what we’re here for!