My career began in 2001 at a global wealth management firm with a coveted spot in the “Rookie Bullpen.” The Rookie bullpen was 10 tiny cubicles in the center of our very large office. The Senior Financial Advisors, surrounded the perimeter in offices with picturesque views. The walls of the Rookie Bullpen cubicles were very low so you could hear and see what your colleagues (who were actually your competitors) were doing and saying.
A phone, desk, and lists of names – COLD CALLING!
My job was to bring in business. I had a phone, desk, computer, lists of names and phone numbers (in various time zones) and an intimidating Branch Manager who sounded like James Earl Jones. My fellow bullpen mates and I, were cold calling from early in the morning until late at night in the hopes of keeping our jobs. It was truly survival of the fittest.
I did not come from a wealthy family (my father was a mechanic and my mother is an amazing secretary) and therefore my starting contact list / rolodex was non-existent.
For the next several years, I worked hard! I also cried a lot while driving home at 9:30 at night.
Cold Calling nights
Cold Call nights were every Tuesday and Thursday from 6-8:00 p.m. My manager mandated that computer screens must be turned off (since our job was to solely bring in clients) and he would walk around and yell for a solid 2 hours to “PICK UP THE PHONE!” and bang on our low cubical walls in hopes to motivate and inspire us. It was terrifying!
I was told that I wouldn’t make it
I was constantly reminded that I “have not made it yet” and most likely would not make it. I was “too nice, too soft spoken, an introvert, etc…” You name the adjective for why a person wouldn’t survive in the financial services industry, and I donned it at some point.
Although the following happened 16 years ago, I remember it as if it happened yesterday. After six months at the firm, I decided to hang a calendar on my low Rookie Bullpen wall. My Branch Manager disapproved of my decorating. After seeing my calendar, he immediately ripped it down and threw it in my trash can. He said, “Lauren, don’t get cozy, you haven’t made it yet – you probably never will.” Ouch!
Building a client base
I never hit my call numbers or the arbitrary goals placed by my managers but along the way something amazing happened, I began to build a client base. Month after month, year after year, I tried my best to make it as a Financial Advisor. Although early on, I secretly prayed that I would not get fired for underperforming. I stuck with it and consistently plugged along cold calling, hosting seminars, and changing firms to gain greater opportunities professionally and personally. I learned the power of networking, telling stories, and being authentic.
I am now a Partner of an independent financial planning / wealth management firm in Maryland. Like many of you, I am still building my client base, and taking care of my current clients as I would my own family.
The point I am trying to make – if a shy girl with no contacts who was unanimously expected to fail can make it – so can you. Keep on trying. As soon as you stop trying you fail. Don’t let someone else win.
It isn’t easy. At times, what you are trying to accomplish may seem impossible, but keep going. What may seem like a daily survival will soon turn into daily success. And, before you realize it, you will have “made it.”
Welcome to The Female Force, I am glad you are here. Whether just starting out or seasoned in your career, the goal for this site is to help you continue to advance professionally and financially with valuable content and advice coupled with a fabulous community of readers who have so much to share in hopes to make your road a bit easier.
You’ve got this. Be great.
Hugs and handshakes,