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Banking Careers Beckon
Banking and financial services are two sectors where you can shine.
As a vital and growing aspect of the U.S. economy, the financial industry is further recognized as a welcoming field for African-American professionals.
With a widespread footprint, this industry encompasses numerous sectors, and chief among them are banking, financial services, securities and insurance.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment in business and financial operations is projected to grow 8 percent from 2014 to 2024 - which is about average for all occupations and demonstrates the steadiness of occupations within the expansive financial industry.
For African Americans, this industry represents an emerging market in an era in which people generally have more money to spend, better jobs and newly acquired knowledge regarding ways to invest and save for the future.
Gain valuable insight into banking and finance from five professionals forging ahead in their careers, serving as shining beacons for others to follow in their footsteps.
Rollock Leads TIAA’s Legal Operations
With more than 13,000 employees, TIAA, headquartered in New York, NY, has for Phillip Rollock been “home-away-from-home” for 27 years. Now senior managing director, senior general counsel and corporate secretary, Rollock earned an AB in economics from Princeton University and a JD from Harvard Law School.
“My prior law firm experience, coupled with the opportunity to serve in a variety of roles at TIAA on the law and business sides of the organization, prepared me for my current position,” Rollock explains.
“With a long-held interest in economics and finance, working in the financial services industry was a natural for me,” he continues. “Being able to work at a leading financial services organization with corporate values that aligned with my personal values led me to TIAA - a mission-driven organization with a non-profit heritage.”
Today, Rollock serves as corporate secretary for the TIAA board of overseers, TIAA board of trustees and CREF board of trustees. He also coordinates legal support for the finance and IT areas of the company, as well as manages its law contracts and legal operation teams.
“I believe the financial services industry is an exciting place to build a career,” he says. “Helping to meet the financial needs of individuals and institutions will continue to provide exciting career opportunities for people with the passion and drive to thrive in this interesting and ever-evolving industry.”
For African-American professionals considering this sector, Rollock suggests tapping into professional organizations such as the Society of Financial Services Professionals (FSP), the National Bar Association (NBA) and the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA).
“All provide opportunities to network with other African Americans engaged in financial services and other sectors,” notes Rollock, who further encourages individuals to stay abreast of industry news and trends by reading business publications.
According to the senior financial professional, one strength of the financial services industry is the number of related disciplines that may be pursued by people of varying interests.
“My advice is to learn as much as possible about your particular area of interest,” he says, noting that TIAA is growing and evolving as a diversified financial services company. “I enjoy the variety of issues and challenges that cross my desk each day as our legal team works to help drive and support company business objectives.”
Internally at TIAA, he mentors professionals in the law arena and enjoys serving as a resource and coach to a talented team of professionals. Rollock is also a long-term member of the New York City Bar Association, and is involved in fundraising for scholarships for African-American high school students at his former Brooklyn high school.
He further points out that TIAA’s law area is actively involved in advocating for diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, and is proactive in encouraging law firms to staff TIAA matters with diverse teams of lawyers.
Traverse careers.tiaa.org for TIAA careers. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+.
U.S. Bank SVP Brown Sets Strategic Vision for Success
Darrell Brown is a senior vice president for the consumer banking group, leading the greater Los Angeles coastal region of U.S. Bank (Bancorp) the nations’ fifth largest commercial bank headquartered in Minneapolis, MN.
He’s responsible for the strategic, tactical and profit and loss management for close to 100 retail branch facilities and is the highest-ranking African American in retail banking.
Brown has been with U.S. Bank for 13 years and collaborates with the small business, mortgage, affluent and investment groups as they’re integrated into his areas of responsibility. Additionally, he leads the customer experience strategies for the western states, and is a key liaison for government relations at the federal, state and local levels.
Brown is also an alumnus of the UCLA extension executive management program. Early in his professional career he identified three primary financial sectors: financial products and services, banking and investments, and securities.
“Collectively and independently, these fulfill the financial goals of individuals, families, businesses, corporations, municipalities and communities,” he states, asserting that a career in financial services is one of the most important in the world, one that will always play a critical role in domestic and global economics.
Having chosen 25-state, 73,000-employee U.S. Bank as his employer based on the company’s executive leadership team and strategic vision, Brown believes that “the financial sector can be extremely exciting, rewarding and satisfying.”
According to the successful financial executive, achievements by African Americans have been impressive, considering past circumstances, and he further stresses the fact that current possibilities for African Americans are immense.
“The financial sector encourages and desires entrepreneurs of all skills, experience and competencies. It’s an industry where African Americans also have the opportunity to learn the intricacies of personal wealth creation and apply these learnings for personal gain and reward,” he asserts.
The ancillary attributes Brown finds particularly necessary to succeed include: strategic thinking, strong interpersonal and communication skills, decisive action, calculated risk-taking, working with cross-functional teams, and good corporate citizenship. He feels these skills, coupled with competent understanding of accounting, marketing, human resources and business law, combine to form a strong set of attributes that benefit those looking to work in the financial sector.
The best advice he offers to individuals in the process of identifying a company that best suits them and fits with their goals include evidence of a commitment to diversity and inclusion, a strong supportive executive management team that promotes programs for the recruitment and retention of African Americans, women and other minorities, and the focus on career development and growth opportunities within the organization.
As a recognized leader known for crafting a strategic vision to achieve business goals, Brown offers a unique blend of executive acumen, team building and service delivery to customers and employees.
“I pride myself on being an effective mentor and coach and an ecstatic supporter of employees as they grow and succeed,” says Brown, who, in addition to serving on the African-American Board Leadership Institute (AABLI), is involved in numerous community and professional organizations.
He’s also received several honors and awards, including the Luis Lainer Founder’s Award presented by Bet Tzedek, the Philanthropic Leadership Award from Inner-City Arts, and been named Outstanding Corporate Citizen by the West Angeles Community Development Corporation.
See usbank.com/careers/index.html for U.S. Bank career paths. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and Glassdoor.
Union Bank VP Cherry Helps People Manage Wealth for the Long-Term
As a vice president and private wealth advisor for the private bank at Union Bank, Ray Cherry works with a team of specialists in wealth planning, investments, risk management, trust and estate services, and banking.
Founded in 1864, Union Bank offers a wide range of commercial, retail banking and wealth management solutions. In 2008 the New York, NY bank became a part of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), a worldwide financial group.
Cherry’s been with Union Bank since 1993, and holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Arizona, as well as licenses that include Series 7, 6, 63 and Life Agent.
“While my educational background gave me a foundation of academic knowledge, my previous positions as staff accountant, investment broker and financial planner provided me with a wealth of practical knowledge that prepared me for providing wealth management services to high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals and families,” he explains.
Reflecting on a personal experience, Cherry recalls developing a years-long relationship with a particular family consisting of parents and their four children.
“The issue I faced was to best ensure that the children, grandchildren and future generations were well cared for according to the wishes of the family elders,” he explains.
Serving as the “quarterback” of this relationship fell to Cherry. It was up to him to create and coordinate this endeavor in conjunction with the family’s attorney and accountant. After accomplishing this mission to the satisfaction of all concerned, when asked how he learned to do what he did, Cherry simply responded, “years and years of education and experience.”
That experience dates back to Cherry’s first professional job at a savings and loan during college. Moving into investments and financial planning after graduation, he became licensed in investments and was subsequently hired by Union Bank, where he was exposed to the complexities of wealth and helping families grow and maintain their assets.
What led Cherry to Union Bank was the company’s approach to wealth planning. “The bank takes a holistic approach that entails looking at the complete picture across personal and business goals,” he states.
Today, as a relationship manager for clients across Los Angeles who maintain portfolios in the millions, he works with a team of professionals and is responsible for executing on recommended strategies.
“I’m accountable for helping my clients achieve their specific financial goals and dreams,” he states, adding that understanding is vital. So, too, is being up to speed on current laws, regulations, current techniques and strategies, and being a good listener.
“Clients know when you’re truly listening to them and keeping their goals at the helm of the relationship,” he adds.
According to Cherry, “The need for wealth management services is here to stay. People are living longer, amassing more wealth and becoming more globally focused.”
Given that, he notes that he has, over the years, seen a tremendous growth in wealth among African Americans, but that many older members of this population are still hesitant to seek available financial advice. As a result, he sees a tremendous opportunity for career growth in this arena.
“There’s room in wealth management for many more people who look like me to provide such services to the African American community,” remarks Cherry, who truly enjoys helping people. “When clients look to me as a source of financial truth, knowing that I’m serving them well gives me a great deal of satisfaction.”
A member of PULSE, an African-American employee group, Cherry is fond of partnering with other employees, as well as serving on boards that impact the community.
Browse careers.mufgamericas.com for Union Bank job paths. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Ally’s Lawrence Drives Profitability for Her Auto Dealer Clients
As a Jamaican American, Chanteya Lawrence’s foundation is built upon her deep-rooted heritage and unique American experience.
“My core values of education, respect for others and myself, hard work and integrity provide a clear lens to view both the harsh realities of the world and embrace beauty found in the most uncommon places,” she explains.
For Lawrence, that place and company is Detroit, MI-headquartered Ally. A full-scale, digital financial services organization and a financial holding company, Ally is not only an award-winning online bank, but also one of the largest automobile financing operations in the U.S., with a complementary auto-focused insurance business, a growing digital wealth management organization, an online brokerage and a corporate financial business.
A marketing undergraduate from the University of Florida and an MBA graduate of the University of North Florida, a graduate of the General Electric (GE) Company’s Commercial Leadership program and a Six Sigma Blackbelt, Lawrence possesses sales experience that encompasses several sectors, including automotive, aircraft and consumer banking, among others.
“The two years I spent at GE rotating through three businesses gave me the background and confidence to succeed in my current role as senior director of sales, national accounts team at Ally,” she remarks, noting that her job is fast-paced and requires intellectual curiosity, process-focus and the ability to understand Ally’s unique customers - in her case, auto dealers.
It was after working in a number of industries that Lawrence found herself eager to join a diverse company that would allow her to gain greater depth in the financial space.
“I was drawn to Ally’s leadership in the industry, its focus on creating innovative products and its commitment to diversifying core business models to meet the needs of changing customers,” she explains, adding that she attributes much of her business success to working for a company that creates an environment where diversity is the norm rather than the exception.
Since joining 7,700-emloyee Ally in 2016, Lawrence has helped build a new product in the automotive commercial space, as well as the infrastructure for its new transportation finance business.
Charged with leading strategic initiatives and working closely with external clients and cross-function teams, she helps to identify new opportunities to increase market share, drive profitability, and manage risk and customer priorities.
Optimistic about the auto financial industry as customers expand into the online space and dealers explore new ways to grow their business, Lawrence says, “As someone with 10 years of experience in this arena, I find change constant - making flexibility and optimism essential as we head into the future.”
She encourages African Americans to consider the auto finance area, and stresses the importance of being open to new experiences, new people, new challenges and the need to diversify.
Urging participation in industry events, reviewing publications and asking questions, she points out that “good communication and strong interpersonal skills are critical in a relationship business.”
Lawrence enjoys working for a company that’s not afraid to explore new ideas, and one that provides the opportunity to work closely with dealer customers and strategic partners to develop new and exciting solutions.
A strong proponent for giving back and participating in leadership development programs, she’s active in several company-sponsored and community programs.
Access ally.com/about/careers for Ally job possibilities. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+.
Buford Parlays International Banking Savvy into VP Post at First Tennessee
Devin Buford jokes that it was First Tennessee Bank’s tuition reimbursement program that got him hooked on banking.
“Joke aside, that is what started me on my career,” says Buford, who, during his 14 years with the bank, steadily grew his career and is now vice president, international banking relationship manager at Memphis, TN-headquartered First Tennessee Bank, N.A. Founded in 1864, the bank is part of the First Horizon family of companies.
Initially intending to major in engineering and minor in business, Buford soon found the finance end of the spectrum more to his liking.
“While finishing my coursework for a bachelor’s degree in business administration at the University of Memphis, I started as a teller at First Tennessee. That’s when I learned that the bank’s tuition reimbursement program was just one of the ways the bank really cared for its employees,” he explains, adding that 4,300-employee First Tennessee has the oldest national bank charter in the country and one of the highest customer retention rates.
Pleased with his choice from the onset, he says, “Compared to other finance careers, I stayed in banking because of the variety it offers and the ability to make an impact. Bankers use finance, marketing and technology skills to serve a number of different sectors and people.”
In his current role he helps companies conduct business outside of the U.S.
“I help exporting companies’ structure and collect payments from overseas customer,s and work with importing customers to manage incoming goods and pay invoices to foreign suppliers,” explains Buford, who additionally assists multinational companies manage their supply chains and facilitate cash flows in foreign currencies.
“My approach is built on listening and learning from clients about their current businesses and their goals for the future. I blend sales and services by following global economic trends and providing financial analysis with scenario modeling,” he remarks.
Certain that banking will always play an important role, Buford points out that banking links savers, investors, borrowers, governments, sellers and buyers together, and believes that the way these services are delivered will continue to evolve as technologies improve. As for international banking, he contends that global trade continues to be an integral component of growth for the U.S. and other countries.
Buford encourages African-American companies and individuals to look outside U.S. borders to learn about other cultures as more than 75 percent of the world’s buying power and 95 percent of consumers are outside the U.S.
Notes Buford, “Since I started analyzing foreign economies, I’ve learned more about the American economy. It’s amazing how these factors converge within the various aspects of international banking.”
According to Buford, excelling in banking requires good math skills and building good personal relationships.
“Be people smart and build your emotional intelligence. There’s an art to understanding what people are saying and not saying. Be an analyst of numbers and people, and develop strong communications skills,” he advises.
“There’s a need for more African Americans in international banking and in executive-level banking positions, and international banking is a great place to start.”
An associate member of the Risk Management Association (RMA), he served on various boards, most recently for junior professionals empowering communities. At First Tennessee he’s involved in the Diversity Networking Association and participated in the mentoring program as a mentee and now as a mentor.
To those about to embark on a banking career, he offers what not to do: “Don’t be afraid to pursue you passion, don’t look for a job, build a career, and don’t chase the money, chase the responsibility.”
Tap into firsttennessee.com/about/careers and firsthorizon.com/Careers for First Tennessee career possibilities. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.
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