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Fields of Growth
With a constant need for banking, insurance and financial services professionals, these fields offer great possibility for career growth.
Offering stability, challenge, growth and diversity of work, the insurance, banking and financial services industries are places where young professionals can build a career that takes them well into the future.
Here six professionals working in these key sectors talk about their roles and their companies, and offer advice for succeeding in these growth fields, especially given the rise and constant evolution of financial technology - fintech - as the result of customer needs and demands, and the digitization of the world.
Rojas Helps Wells Fargo Clients Make Smart Investment Decisions
After spending a summer with her father tracking the gold market as it related to his business, Carolina Rojas came to admire her father’s knack for forecasting and aspired to have a similar expertise when it came time to develop her own career.
Today she’s an equity sales and trading analyst at San Francisco, CA-headquartered Wells Fargo & Company, where she researches and executes trade ideas to help clients make informed decisions about their investments.
While Rojas was initially drawn to Wells Fargo for its longstanding pledge to hire a diverse workforce and promote an environment of inclusiveness, there was also a sense of familial commitment to the company.
She explains that her family fled the communist regime in Cuba, stripped of their wealth and belongings. They arrived in the U.S. with little more than their hopes and dreams, and after working rigorously and tirelessly for years. It was after her family’s arrival that Wells Fargo extended the first loan to her family, which became the basis of her ancestors’ successful small businesses.
“To date, the loan from Wells Fargo has allowed us to bring countless loved ones and family members into the U.S., fleeing from the dictators that had stolen my family’s livelihood and property,” she says.
Rojas notes that what makes Wells Fargo a “phenomenal place” to work is its vision of teamwork and inclusivity.
“I’ve always loved working in teams, and being in a work environment that encourages this is incredible. I also appreciate Wells Fargo’s longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion, as I firmly believe that a breadth of perspectives is critical to an open and collaborative workplace.”
She also appreciates Wells Fargo’s commitment to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF); as a senior in high school, Rojas received one of many HSF scholarships, which afforded her the opportunity to attend Boston College.
“Wells Fargo’s commitment to this incredible organization proves to me that we are, as a firm, striving to extend the boundaries of our culture and vision for the future,” says Rojas. “By investing in young Hispanic talent such as myself, we’re working together to change the narrative of minorities in this country.”
To find success in this career field, Rojas offers two pieces of advice: don’t be afraid to vocalize your aspirations, and approach yourself as a brand.
“In today’s world I’ve found some people are terrified to raise their hands and vocalize their aspirations. In my view this creates an opportunity to differentiate yourself and show your true character. By succinctly expressing your goals you’re inviting others around you to join you in your journey. As such, you might be surprised to find how coworkers or leaders who inspire you will be more than willing to help,” she elaborates.
“Beyond this, approaching yourself as a brand is of equal importance. Particularly in the world of finance, every interaction throughout your day is an opportunity not only to express who you are, but also an opportunity to highlight your drive. You should always be hungry for information and have an open mind to opportunities that come your way.”
To find opportunities at Wells Fargo, visit wellsfargo.com/about/careers. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.
Vasquez Delivers Outstanding Customer Experiences for Ally
Dave Vasquez wants Ally customers to have an outstanding experience.
“I’m very proud and honored to lead a team that’s responsible for delivering customer care, executive customer relations and customer experience services for Ally bank deposits, invest and auto customers,” says Vasquez.
“At the end of the day, I need to ensure a customer receives outstanding support 24-7 with whatever product that they have questions about or need serviced.”
With a deep passion for helping and serving people, customer service was a natural career fit for Vasquez.
“No matter how digital and connected our world becomes, there will always be times that a customer just needs to interactively talk with someone to get a question answered or a problem solved,” he says.
“Being there for a customer when they need a human experience is exciting because customer service organizations can be the conduit to bridge the offline and online worlds together.”
With Detroit, MI-headquartered Ally for nine years, Vasqeuz found that it was the organization’s vision of being a relentless ally for customers that resonated most with him.
“As a service professional, I’m motivated to be part of a company that’s committed to constantly innovating and recreating itself with a myopic focus on making a difference for customers. We may not always get everything right, but it’s not for a lack of trying, and our commitment to always do right by, and obsess over, our customers is something that unites all Ally employees.”
The customer care and experience executive also appreciates the company’s core values: “Simply put, they shape our culture and drive our success. That means we operate with integrity at all times, we’re accountable to our customers and to one another, we celebrate and embrace diversity, and strive to make a difference for our customers and in the community.”
Furthermore, he’s proud of the work Ally does to educate its customers about financial literacy, which is a key part of the customer experience.
To be successful customer service professionals must be customer-centric in how they view things, says Vasquez. “Said another way, look at situations through the eyes of the customer.”
Strong interpersonal abilities, creativity, and excellent written and verbal communication skills are also needed for success.
In addition, he offers this piece of career advice: don’t give up.
“Never give up when things get hard or complicated as the most certain path to success is always to try just one more time,” he encourages. “That means you must also be willing to fail as you will learn more about yourself from your defeats than your wins.”
Find available career opportunities with Ally at ally.com/about/careers. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+.
Escontrias Works to Build Combined Insurance’s Latino Workforce
David Escontrias works to grow and support Combined Insurance’s Latino workforce.
“I love having the opportunity to make an impact in the Hispanic community. The Latino community is underrepresented and underserved when it comes to supplemental insurance. Many consumers aren’t aware of how our products can help protect them in the event the unexpected occurs, and knowing I can help agents provide them with that protection is extremely rewarding.”
Escontrias provides operational support to more than 700 Latino Combined Insurance agents throughout Florida, Texas, Illinois and North Carolina. For instance, he was recently involved in enhancing Spanish-language materials for agents and customers in North Carolina as the company expanded into that state to serve the Latino community.
“We recognize the opportunity the growing Latino market in various states provide, and we look forward to continuing to grow our Spanish-speaking sales force to better serve those communities,” he points out.
Escontrias has been with Chicago, IL-based Combined Insurance - a Chubb company - for nearly five years. The director of operations, Latino markets was drawn to the organization for its corporate culture, its guiding principles and its people.
“We share a common purpose, [and have] shared traits, and our leaders are invested in employee development and continuous growth.”
He especially appreciates how Combined Insurance continues to evolve.
“In my opinion the greatest thing about Combined Insurance is we continue to transform ourselves. And when it comes to culture and language, we’re truly transforming ourselves to become a more bilingual, bicultural organization, and I’m excited to see that.”
Success in this industry, underscores Escontrias, comes from the ability to build and maintain relationships; emotional intelligence, he believes, is essential to fostering and developing these relationships.
He also advises to always “be a student of your business,” adding that he believes “it’s important to always gather more knowledge, improve your craft and become the best that you can be in any given situation or environment.”
For those considering a career in this field, Escontrias says potential for growth in the supplemental insurance industry for Hispanics is limitless.
“The insurance industry - and especially the supplemental insurance industry - is underrepresented by Hispanics, so there’s a tremendous opportunity to become a part of it and build a career,” he concludes.
Find career opportunities at Combined Insurance at combinedinsurance.com/careers. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and Google+.
Diaz Helps Deliver Innovative Fintech Solutions for Fiserv
Simplified billing is at the core of what Jorge Diaz asks his team to deliver to consumers.
“Consumers today expect greater flexibility, improved experience and greater reliability in any way they choose to receive, manage and pay their bills,” says Diaz, vice chairman of strategy and business development for the Fiserv billing and payments group.
“Our role is to understand those consumer payment preferences and develop innovative solutions that enable billers to consistently deliver excellent customer experiences.”
Diaz’s group works with billers such as utilities, insurance companies and banks to simplify their billing and payment life cycles, resulting in accelerated revenue collection, and improved customer engagement with reduced complexity, regulatory risk and cost.
Prior to joining Brookfield, WI-headquartered Fiserv, Diaz was president of National Embossing Company, a card personalization company he co-founded as a 19-year-old college student. He sold that company to Fiserv in 1994.
“Several companies were interested in our business, but Fiserv stood out because they were the kind of company I wanted to be associated with; people matter most, and there’s a client-first approach,” explains Diaz.
“Additionally, Fiserv has that same commitment to continually innovating and challenging the status quo in order to keep pace with change that I had when I started my own business all those years ago. Today’s consumer wants what they want when they want it, and speed, ease and convenience are the name of the game when it comes to managing money. Real-time is no longer optional - it’s essential. Fiserv constantly keeps its eye on market trends, knows how to spot best-of-breed and fold it into the existing portfolio.”
Diaz most enjoys working alongside a group of talented and committed associates.
“Every day our 23,000 associates worldwide are here with one thing in mind - how we get better each day at delivering integrated technology and services solutions that benefit millions of consumers and thousands of financial institutions.”
As to why young professionals should consider a career in financial services technology, Diaz says there’s never been a more exciting time to be in this industry.
“Every single one of us is a consumer, and our business is developing the innovative technology to enable financial services at the speed of life. The younger generation is the most technologically savvy we have ever known, and they have strong opinions and great ideas when it comes to managing their money simply and smartly,” observes Diaz.
“When young professionals think of technology innovators, they often think of Silicon Valley companies, but here’s an organization that grew up in the American Midwest, touches every facet of people’s financial lives - from the payment cards in their wallets to the bills they pay - and is on the cutting edge of technology as a digitization pioneer. It’s one of the reasons Fiserv is consistently recognized as a fintech leader.”
To find opportunities with this fintech leader, visit www.careers.fiserv.com. Connect on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Fernandez Works to Ensure Good Real Estate Deals for JPMorgan
Tirso Fernandez enjoys “kicking bricks,” especially since he’s a credit professional with JPMorgan Chase’s real estate banking group.
“It’s one of the things we real estate professionals mention when describing real estate versus other businesses,” explains Fernandez.
“A building is tangible, something you can see and touch versus a stock or bond. The best part of my job is getting out there and seeing what I’m lending on, visiting the property, walking the neighborhood and talking to people to assess the strength of the collateral.”
Fernandez works on the analysis and approval of large commercial real estate secured loans upwards of $50 million. He recently worked on a $125 million loan for the development of a 363-unit residential building in Brooklyn, New York.
“You’ll often times hear people in finance say that ‘every deal is different.’ Well this one really was,” says Fernandez. “My team at JPMorgan worked over several months to structure a deal that worked for both the client and the bank. 810 Fulton is now well into construction and expected to deliver in late 2019.”
Fernandez started his career working at a community bank in Harlem, New York that exclusively does business in the communities it serves.
“During my time there in the early to mid-2000s, I saw first-hand the impact that real estate investment and development can have on a community,” he recalls.
“It was truly an experience to see restaurants and businesses begin to sprout in and around the areas with new development. I guess you can say that’s when I caught the real estate ‘bug’.”
Fernandez came to New York, NY-headquartered JPMorgan in the summer of 2015. He was initially drawn to the company’s size and the promise of working on large transactions.
“During the interview process, I quickly realized the JPMorgan team’s depth and breadth of experience,” he says. “Having been here for close to three years, I can confidently say that JPMorgan’s commercial real estate group is best in class, and [I] have benefited greatly from my experience here working on large, complex financings.”
Fernandez says it’s a great place to work because of its people, leadership. and chances for growth and advancement that keep employees engaged. “Since joining JPMorgan, I’ve been continually impressed with the caliber of its people, [and] opportunities for professional development and growth.”
Because real estate is a small and insular industry, Fernandez says building your real estate network is critical for success.
“Use your college or university network to find real estate professionals and send them an email. You would be surprised at how many people respond to emails from college and grad students looking to learn more about the industry.”
For those without real estate experience and who are still in college, be sure to learn the terminology and software used in the industry, specifically ARGUS.
Finally, he notes, real estate is one of the more down-to-earth areas of finance.
“So be thorough, thoughtful and be yourself.”
Find your next career opportunity with JPMorgan at careers.jpmorgan.com. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.
Malaver Maps Out Banking Products for SunTrust
Yeny Malaver helps set the path for various SunTrust Bank products.
“As a product manager, I’m responsible for the strategy, roadmap and feature definition for the products assigned,” says Malaver, who manages SunTrust’s analyzed accounts, public fund deposits and sub-accounting products for wholesale clients.
An example of Malaver’s work is supporting the recent launch of the company’s Simple Business Checking product for small businesses.
“Since minority-owned businesses are growing rapidly, I led a product launch event targeting minority-owned businesses owners,” the product manager says.
Growing up in Colombia, Malaver wanted to work at a bank because she “wanted to dress up with a suit every day.” But as she grew older, she realized there was more to banking.
“I saw gaps in society, and I liked the idea that banks filled a gap by transferring money from savers to borrowers. Banks play a critical role in the development of any country, and that concept fascinated me.”
With SunTrust for four years, Malaver appreciates working for a purpose-driven company.
“That means that we have a common purpose that drives what we do. We’re passionate about lighting the way to financial well-being to help our clients, teammates and communities achieve financial confidence. I work for more than a paycheck; I work at SunTrust because I know I’m making a difference in people’s lives.”
She also appreciates SunTrust’s commitment to inclusion, inside and outside the company. As co-lead of the company’s Hispanic Teammate Network, Malaver gets to assist Atlanta, GA-based SunTrust in connecting with the Hispanic community internally and externally.
For young professionals interested in this field, Malaver suggests networking and being flexible.
“Networking is a critical especially early in your career. Since you may not have worked in financial services before, it’s important that you contact experienced professionals to understand what they do. This will help you determine whether this is the field you want to pursue. Be flexible early in your career. It may benefit you to be open to move to another city or take a job that may require long work hours.”
She also suggests pursuing development programs.
Finally, she offers this career advice: be bold.
She elaborates: “As a minority and a woman, we tend to underestimate ourselves. We tend to check every single requirement before we apply for a job. Consciously or not, we also tend to believe others should go first when it comes to career advancement. [Those] words encourage me to boldly tell others what I want in my career; even if it seems that a rejection is coming. Boldness and persistence will pay off.”
Find career opportunities at SunTrust at jobs.suntrust.com. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+.
Reinventing D&I Creates Opportunities for Diversity in Finance
New analysis finds that the CPA profession is barely inching forward with including ethnic minorities as new hires and at every point of firm leadership. Some firms are making headway by reframing inclusion as an entrepreneurial endeavor - an approach that simultaneously drives firm growth and redefines inclusion as a strategic advantage.
That’s according to the CPA Firm Diversity & Inclusion Report - Inclusion as Innovation: Entrepreneurship Re-Invents the Diversity & Inclusion Business Case - sponsored by Xero, wilson-taylorassoc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/report-v4.pdf.
Perhaps, the report posits, the winning formula isn’t to compete with the same kinds of career opportunities traditionally offered by CPA firms to new grads of all backgrounds and cultures, but to recruit them for entrepreneurial, fast-growth ventures where they could help shape team culture from the start, instead of potentially being lost in a firm’s overall efforts to diversify.
The profession can use all the insights it can get to recruit a greater number of diverse professionals, notes the report. In 2017 Caucasians represented 83% of all employees and 95% of all partners , according to the study. The report draws data from the Accounting MOVE Project report, which focuses on women in the profession.
The Accounting MOVE Project is published annually in May and provides the Public Accounting Report, which is its annual report on women in the profession.
Little has changed since 2010, when the Accounting MOVE Project launched. Then whites comprised 83% of all employees. Ethnic diversity has vacillated a little through the decade, peaking in 2013, 2014 and 2015 with whites comprising 88% of employees. However, during the same period, partner ranks remained solidly Caucasian. In 2010 whites comprised 95% of partners, and that proportion increased to 97% in 2013, 2014 and 2015 before reverting back to 95% in 2016.
And while the 2017 AICPA Trends Report found that diversity is edging up in bachelor’s and master’s programs, hiring is not diversifying in lockstep. Asians and Pacific Islanders accounted for 16% of the latest crop of new hires; Hispanics, 7%; African-Americans, 4%; Native Americans, less than 1%; and whites, 70%.
Meanwhile, the national conversation about diversity and inclusion continues to intensify. Employees, shareholders, investors, and policymakers increasingly voice expectations that employers will continually improve at recruiting and advancing diverse talent.
Firm leaders say it’s not enough to simply keep offering the same career opportunities to all new grads. It’s especially important to offer diverse candidates new career paths that don’t simply replicate the traditional CPA path to advancement. Firms are finding that innovation both attracts and develops diverse talent – and, in the process, becomes a powerful catalyst for the end goal of evolving toward an inclusive culture that drives growth.
Overall, it’s about inspiring talent, the report asserts, especially since diverse candidates and professionals are well aware of the many options open to them. They expect their diverse experiences and identities to be viewed by employers as unique assets that can open new venues. They want a platform for their ideas to take off.
This translates into plenty of opportunities within the CPA profession, as well as the banking, financial services and insurance sectors.
Source: CPA Firm Diversity & Inclusion Report
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