Wow. I am inspired and fired up. This is a must read today. Rachel and I met at a Hatch Tribe event last year. We followed up a few months later with coffee and I can’t wait until we meet at happy hour and chat some more.
Rachel is one of the many women doing her part to break down stereotypes and prejudice, just by doing her best every day. As a mother, financial professional, and friend she wears many hats, but does not let any of them define her. Her advice below is solid, on point, and concise. If you’re questioning whether or not you’re making an impact - trust me, you are. Rachel isn’t on cable news or a social media influencer. She is like you and me. But trust me, when you read this post you will leave in in awe of her attitude and how she is reshaping the financial industry for women.
We can all affect change. It just starts where we are. Thank you, Rachel for sharing and inspiring us all today. You’re doing amazing things and clearing the path for other women in the financial services industry.
Name: Rachel Waddell
Hometown: Roanoke, VA
Occupation: Staff Manager at Western and Southern Financial Group (title)—My actual occupation is sales management in insurance and financial services. What that means: I am constantly searching for individuals who could be successful in the financial industry, given the proper coaching and training, and then I provide that immersion into the industry, so that they are equipped with all the external support necessary for success. They have to supply their own drive, passion, and focus. I train for skill, activity, and belief. [Editor’s Note: She is such a boss!]
How did you first get into the financial industry? I am a former college music professor (I have a doctorate in flute performance!), and due to some crazy circumstances (it’s a long story, and usually involves wine), I found myself on the job market in 2008. I took a job in a small insurance agency, in customer service. The owner asked me to get licensed so that I could meet with clients and transact business as well. I found that I was naturally good at the life insurance piece of the conversation, and I loved talking with people about their goals and dreams. I knew I needed real training and I was also tired of making good money for someone else. I ended up at a large insurance firm, where I got an infusion of training. After a few years of success in the field, I was promoted as a trainer with that firm, and ultimately found myself in a recruiting role also. I recently moved to another company where I am now simultaneously a trainer and recruiter.
What challenges do you see for women in this field? Financial services has always been a male dominated industry. Women, especially younger women, are not always taken seriously within firms as true colleagues. We also don’t have as many female role models in sales or field management, and it is challenging to find a mentor who understands the demands of the family and work imbalance. Young women often are in need of female mentorship in how to dress professionally and how to cultivate their own voice in the industry. As in other male dominated industries, the subculture of women still rightly believes that in order to be seen as equals, and in order to be taken seriously as highly capable and promotable advisors, we must outwork our male colleagues for results. This is not a rule I support, but we are better served by just proving ourselves, than by arguing the demerits of the rule. [Editor’s Note: Love that women like Rachel are working to create change in every industry. Change is happening, whether it’s headline news or not.]
As a followup, despite these challenges, how are women reshaping the financial industry? Professional women want to work with professional women, so the opportunity to develop a niche working with women is so expansive. Educated professional women are often in the dark about financial matters, because they have chosen to let someone else handle everything, or because they feel inadequate based on their own choices and experiences. However, women are hungry for information, especially if it is delivered in a non-patronizing way by a woman who can meet them on their terms. Because we don’t look like the stereotypical financial advisor or insurance agent, the usual stereotypes are not applied to us, and women who would otherwise not take action towards a financial plan will open up to a female advisor. Women are generally more empathic in our approach to asking questions and providing solutions, which gives us an edge in closing business and creating our own professional success. [Editor’s Note: Yes! If you aren’t in control of your finances, find someone like Rachel who can guide you on the right path.]
As a mother and professional, how do you dispel the myth of doing it all and being it all? I’ll let you know when I figure this out! In all seriousness though, I don’t think it’s a myth. The reality is that as women, mothers and professionals, we want to be taken seriously in our careers, and we want to be great mothers and caregivers at the same time. I am very real, open, and honest, with everyone I meet, regarding the juggling act. ALL women have a lot on our plates, and I think you just have to step back and enjoy the comedy act sometimes. I try to live in the moment, and be truly present at work or with my family—which is interesting since I do field personal calls at work, and I respond to work correspondence at home. I make choices that I can live with—which events for my children are non-negotiable for me, and which aren’t that important in the larger scheme of life. There is a lot of self-imposed guilt that we can just release. If it’s related to music or hockey, I am there. Otherwise, we take it on a case by case basis! Our kids need to see a strong, happy, fulfilled mother—our daughters need the role modeling, and our sons need to learn how to treat and esteem the women in their futures. So no matter what chaos is swirling around us, we have to put our own oxygen masks on first and take care of ourselves. Let go of the guilt about doing it all, and just do what you can and want to do, feed your own soul. [Editor’s Note: Rachel, can you seriously write a book on this? This was the BEST summary I have read on balance.]
Why is career flexibility important to you? Flexibility is one of my favorite aspects of this career. My work is graded on results (which equates to efficiency of productive time), not time on the job. I am motivated externally and internally to get my work done well and efficiently, so that I can enjoy the rest of my life. Work/life balance is the real myth. [Editor’s Note: Boom!]
Bonus question, what is your favorite meal to share with your family? Spaghetti and homemade meatballs—we all love it, and I am queen of the kitchen. [Editor’s Note: Gonna need your recipe ; )]