Photo Courtesy of Fisher Investments.
Neha Nair didn’t know much about the finance industry when she started at Fisher Investments. But she says even as an entry-level employee with no prior investment experience, she’s treated as an important member of the Fisher team.
“I learned so much within my first few weeks,” she shared. “I’ve always been treated as a business partner instead of an associate.”
As a Regional Sales Associate, she ensures Salespeople’s meetings with clients go smoothly by providing necessary analytics, resources, and support. But she’s also given the space to pursue projects she is interested in — and to leave her work at work.
“We’re encouraged to disconnect when we leave the office, and spend time with family and friends without being able to check emails,” Nair said.
Recently, Nair shared the amazing benefits of working at Fisher Investments, beyond the inviting atmosphere and solid work-life balance. She also told us more about her path from nursing major to an illustrious investment firm, and shared her best advice for recent graduates (and women in general) looking for a role they love.
What experience did you have prior to starting with Fisher?
I went to Washington State University in Vancouver and actually spent my first three years pursuing a nursing degree! It took me some time to realize that a career in nursing wouldn’t make me happy long-term, so I switched to business. I majored in marketing, still not knowing exactly what I wanted to do after graduation, but felt more confident in that choice. My first internship during college consisted of calling and confirming trade show dates for an agricultural association, which didn’t exactly give me an accurate picture of what a career in business looked like. I worked there for 6 months before a friend in my finance class convinced me to apply for a Junior Associate at Fisher Investments: a part-time position for locally enrolled college students.
Did you have any prior knowledge of the investment industry before starting the job?
I didn’t know much about the finance industry. All I knew was that Fisher’s headquarters was a mile down the road from my house! I learned so much within my first few weeks: the psychology behind market behavior, the magnitude of the portfolios we manage and the real families that we impact on a daily basis. Everything I know about the industry and my responsibilities were things I learned once I started. I can only hope that my bank account looks like that of our clients’ when I retire…
How did you make the decision to stay at Fisher and accept a full-time role, and how did the Junior Associate role prepare you for that transition?
As a Junior Associate, I got the same exposure to the business and responsibility as a full-time employee. I was immersed in a real business atmosphere where I helped our salespeople get the tools they needed to help grow their business. Other Junior Associates around the firm manage large amounts of data, complete research projects, plan events or may even speak with clients or prospects. I was able to start creating my own network of colleagues around the firm that quickly became my friends and mentors.
The career development from my Team Leader, Kylie Gula, was most influential in my decision to stay. She was dedicated to my growth and gave me options of where I could take my career. I liked that our meetings consisted of me sitting in the “driver’s seat.” I would explain where I wanted to take my career and we would create steps to accomplish those together. It was a no brainer to want to stay here.
What does your role as a Regional Sales Associate entail? How have you been able to shape your experience into transferrable skills?
I’ve been in the role for 8 months now and I’ve always been treated as a business partner instead of an associate. My group partners with the highest performing salespeople in the company and ensures their meetings with clients go smoothly by providing necessary analytics, resources, and support. It’s my job to make sure everything is coordinated internally to support their growing businesses.
Outside of my core responsibilities, I’m also able to pursue project ideas that I’m interested in and that can help make an impact on my group. I’ve used an understanding of multiple processes to help bridge the gaps between our client-facing and sales support teams. Being able to teach my team a few new skills has made us much more efficient and saves time for both groups by not duplicating efforts. I also just joined our department newsletter editorial team and am putting my marketing degree towards a creative outlet in the group. I’m working to improve my design and content creation skills in the next few months since that’s something I’m passionate about.
What is the most enjoyable or rewarding aspect of your job?
I enjoy the relationship building aspect of my job the most; whether it’s collaborating with other internal departments or giving our salespeople someone to chat with on the way home after a long day of meetings. They have so many stories to tell from their meetings and it’s a reminder that we work with real families that need our help.
What skills have led to your success in the role?
Anyone that starts a career with Fisher should be incredibly curious. There’s so much to learn, so asking a lot of questions and being able to keep an open mind is key. I learned a lot about professionalism and email etiquette when I first started.
Time management and problem solving are essential to the job. When there’s a lot to do each day and you control your own schedule, you need to develop a system for yourself to stay on top of everything. Even though I may have 20 things on my to-do list, not all of them have to be done immediately. I’ve learned to prioritize my work flow and be very clear with my communication.
You also have to be able to think outside the box since not all of the issues we run into have black and white answers. Understanding all of the resources available to me is helpful for when I don’t know the answer. If someone calls with an urgent issue, I can stay calm and focus on finding a solution.
What professional goals are you setting for yourself this quarter?
I’ve been focusing on growing in areas where I’m less comfortable. My manager is working with me to build relationships with salespeople that typically have a difficult process or require more from the partnership. When my teammates are out of office, I have been filling in for them and working with 4 salespeople that normally require a greater level of service and attention. I know it will be challenging, but it’ll be rewarding to learn to perform well under pressure and be assertive in my decision making.
In terms of my career at Fisher, I eventually want to transition to the marketing department but I probably have another year or so to grow in this group which is what I’m focusing on now. Plus, there may be new roles available by the time I’m interested in transitioning. In the meantime, I’m shadowing different roles in the firm and networking with those in current roles to understand the types of projects they work on.
It must have been an adjustment getting used to the full-time work schedule compared to classes in school. How are you able to maintain work-life balance?
I really appreciate the fact that we don’t take work home with us. We’re encouraged to disconnect when we leave the office, and spend time with family and friends without being able to check emails. Taking partial days off is great for creating long weekends and taking a mental health day when you need it. When there are busier days, I like to stay an hour later to make sure I’m preparing myself for the next day, but I never feel pressured to stay. Since I work in a collaborative team environment, we all work together to divvy up the workload so everyone can leave on time.
What advice do you have for women starting their first job, whether they are recent graduates or simply looking for a new opportunity?
Just apply and keep an open mind. There’s always going to be positions we think we are either overqualified or underqualified for, but it never hurts to apply and learn more. I never would have ended up at Fisher if I didn’t keep an open mind about the industry and position. Sometimes a job posting on LinkedIn or a class in college doesn’t give you all the information you need to know when choosing where to start your career. A lot of why I chose to work here was based on the culture.
Ask about training and development programs. I’ve gained so many connections at Fisher, all of which are eager to help me learn and grow as an employee. Having a culture where you’re coached and taught how to fix things together was something I wasn’t used to, but it has been so pivotal in my experience here.
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