Photo courtesy of Bank of America
“As a Performance Manager, I look for candidates who convey a history of success, determination to succeed, and excitement for the advisor role.”
In her role at Bank of America, Lauren Murray is regularly tasked with growing the company’s team of financial advisors. Among the pool of candidates she speaks with and ultimately brings on, those who convey a history of success, determination, and excitement, in particular, consistently stand out as top talent.
“As a new Merrill advisor, I believe there are three areas that can drive your success or hinder it: activity, technique and attitude,” Murray, the bank’s Vice President and Financial Advisor Development Program Performance Manager, said.
That’s why, as a senior leader and mentor, she believes in helping her teams to develop in these areas, and why she’s always sought to “create a good environment for growth.” Of course, it helps that the foundation for this type of environment is already provided by the bank itself. Throughout her tenure, Murray has continually been impressed by BofA’s efforts to supply workers with the resources they need to be successful — including wellness offerings that feel especially timely, like Emotional Wellness and Resiliency Training.
Recently, she shared with us how she’s prioritizing wellness during this COVID era, her favorite way to de-stress, and how BofA empowers her to do both.
Tell me a bit about your current role. What are your priorities?
In my current role, I am responsible for the Seattle Cascades Market Financial Advisor Development Program covering offices in Downtown Seattle, Bainbridge Island, Spokane and Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. As a non-producing sales manager, I deliver coaching, training and accountability that support the development and success of advisors within the Market. I am also responsible for hiring new-to-role Advisors for the Market and am always on the lookout for diverse top talent. When hiring, I look for candidates who convey a history of success, determination to succeed, and excitement for the advisor role. Firm-wide, MLWM currently has the most diverse class of advisors in our training program in our history, which is nearly 30% female and more than 1/3 people of color.
As a new advisor, I believe there are three areas that can drive your success or hinder it: activity, technique and attitude. Based on our firm’s research, we know there are levels of activity that can better predict success, so I act as an accountability coach for my Advisors as they drive their prospecting activity. As new advisors, feeling confident in one’s ability to help clients is sometimes a barrier, too — we work weekly in skill development training sessions to enhance skills and techniques that build confidence for our new FAs. And finally, maintaining a positive, resilient attitude is critical as you overcome the rejection that is a natural part of a sales-based role. Along with my management team, we try to lead from the front on this and create a good environment for growth.
Paint a picture of a typical day for me. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do before you go to sleep?
For me, no morning goes by without a coffee on my balcony to center myself before a busy day of meetings. I like to go through a mental check of my to-do list and start to think about execution. Since in quarantine, I have made it a point to “get ready” every day to keep a routine; however, my outfit choice is definitely more what I like to call “casually business.” On the West Coast, we tend to get an early start, so my meetings will generally start around 7:30-8 a.m. and then end around 3 p.m. Throughout the day, I will have WebEx coaching sessions with my FAs, meetings with the local management team to discuss market strategy, and then connects with our divisional and national teams to discuss any program updates and initiatives. After the meetings wind down, I am able to focus on some of the more creative and project work.
When work is done, I try to get a workout in daily. I recently got a Peloton and having that convenience has been tremendous to sticking with my fitness goals. After that, cooking up some dinner and then usually studying for one of my upcoming Series exams has been on the agenda – I am currently studying for my Series 9 and 10.
What does “balance” mean to you, and in what ways do you feel like you’ve achieved it?
To be totally honest, I am not sure I have quite achieved this yet or figured it out! Since I am still fairly early in my career, I believe in the adage that the harder you work, the luckier you become. I have ambitions to continue to develop as a leader at Merrill Lynch, so I am continuously trying to push myself and grow in different ways with new projects and initiatives. I do try to create balance where I can by always getting a workout in, or unwinding by cooking a nice meal or reading a nonfiction book.
What resources or support has Bank of America offered you during the crisis?
Bank of America has done a wonderful job providing resources to all of our employees during this difficult time. When masks were hard to come by, BofA sent out a pack of washable, cotton masks to each employee and came out early with no-cost coronavirus testing. Additionally, the medical, childcare and emotional wellbeing resources have been unparalleled and such a great resource to so many of my trainees within the program. BofA offered all global teammates an Emotional Wellness and Resiliency Training course that has been really helpful to remain mindful of ways to deal with stress during these times, too.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as you are navigating this ‘new normal’?
Knowing when to take a break! Over the last six months there have been a couple times when the workload seemed daunting and there were not enough hours in the day, but I knew I needed to take a moment for myself and decompress. When there is not much “vacation” happening, forcing yourself to step away and do something not work-related is very important.
What is your favorite way to de-stress outside of work?
This summer was filled with hiking and trail running! Seattle has some amazing trails and I am always on the lookout for a great view.
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