Photo courtesy of Fisher Investments.
Aimee Walters graduated with a degree in business, but hadn’t worked in the financial services industry before coming to Fisher Investments. The Account Executive (AE) says she had an interest in finance, but also says her desire to work in the industry came from wanting to better handle her own finances. She says “Being in this role has allowed me to learn so much about the industry, how to invest and how to help other people find financial solutions that will help them down the road.” Aimee recently talked to Fairygodboss about her career and how she’s helping families achieve their financial goals as well as achieving her own.
Why did you decide to pursue sales in the financial services industry and why is it a great field for other women?
My journey to this role started with my own initial interest in investments and connecting with people that were passionate about working in the industry. We know that compared to men, women generally place investing lower on their priority list, and participate less in investment accounts, which perpetuates the wealth gap (Women and Retirement*). There is a huge opportunity for women in this field to disrupt these statistics, take advantage of uncapped commissions and see their own wealth and knowledge grow.
Tell me about the Account Executive (AE) role: What is a day in the life like?
It’s a pretty straightforward role; I talk to individuals and families who have heard of Fisher and have reached out to us for more information. My main goal is to help them understand how Fisher Investments’ money management services differ from the competition and how they could benefit from working with us. If they are interested, I then set up a meeting with a Vice President to continue the conversation. I get to develop my sales skills and manage different relationships by connecting with different personalities and backgrounds.
On a day to day basis, I usually spend my time talking to around 30-40 different people to see if Fisher can potentially improve their financial situation. Setting two meetings in a day qualifies as a good day for me. A good thing to remember is that setting meetings is a numbers game: Some days I won’t set any meetings, and the next day I’ll get four prospective clients on the calendar. Resilience is key since rejection is just part of the job, but I always try to bring the same level of energy the next day to help as many people as I can.
What skills did you have coming into the role that have made you successful?
I participated in a sales program at school, so I knew I wanted to be in sales and had some experience selling at AT&T. I was an only child being raised by a single mom and we traveled a lot for her job, so I was always assimilating to a new environment. Having attended 16 different schools growing up allowed me to become really good at adapting to different situations and people, which I believe is a key to be successful in the role. You interact with so many personalities on the job: some people are nice and laid back, some are performance driven, and others dive into the emotional side of their family’s lifestyle and financial needs. I found success being able to cater my conversations to different personality types.
My genuine interest in connecting with people and being a good listener has worked to my advantage as well. My communication style on the phone is less persuasive and more consultative where I spend my time educating prospective clients on how we’re different instead of spending too much time trying to convince someone that’s not interested. I choose to spend the most time with prospective clients that are open to learning, but I’ve also spent 30 minutes on the phone cheering people up after a bad day if they needed someone to talk to, even if they didn’t ultimately hire us. At the end of the day, I just want to help people find a solution that will help them.
Why is female representation so important in the financial services industry?
You wouldn’t believe how often a prospective client has said, “Oh I’m glad I’m talking to you because I only get financial calls from men.” A lot of successful women in their 50s and 60s want to hire a money manager and prefer working with women. I’ve even had my male colleagues transfer over potential clients because they have specifically requested a female Account Executive. These women have said they want to support and encourage other women in business, or just feel more comfortable talking about their life and finances with women, which are emotional topics for most people.
Sometimes men are also pleasantly surprised to hear me asking them about their finances, but I love surprising people, changing their impressions, and scheduling a meeting. I was always inspired by my mom who worked in finance for an oil company who was able to chase after her career goals and make her name known as a woman. She taught me to stand up for myself and shake hands hard. She is still working for that same company today!
What does training look like for new employees within your group?
When you join the firm, you get intensive training on all investing topics, firm history, and communication techniques as well as advice from seasoned Account Executive and senior salespeople. You’re assigned a mentor who is your main source of development in the role in addition to your manager. My mentor happened to be Account Executive of the Year (I know, I lucked out), and I learned a lot from shadowing him. The culture in our group is very open. You’re encouraged to seek out top performers and see what techniques they use and get advice on how to improve your process. At the end of the day, I created my own unique style, but it’s nice to take bits and pieces from successful colleagues who are willing to share their “secrets.”
Part of training includes studying for the Series 65 Exam, which all AEs need to pass to be able to work with prospective clients. I took my studying seriously and passed on the first try. Fisher Investments pays for the exam, allows you to study during your normal work hours, and gives you a bonus for passing on the first try. I was encouraged to read Ken Fisher’s books to familiarize myself with his investing philosophy, which has helped solidify my knowledge. Additionally, my manager checks in on me throughout the week to help me improve and answer any questions I may have.
After being in the role for nine months, where have you seen the most growth in yourself?
My confidence and ability to effectively communicate and help teach others about the investment universe has grown immensely within the last nine months. Feeling self-assured over the phone with prospective clients takes time, but through repetition, it’s come much more effortlessly. It’s interesting to see that same confidence roll into other areas of my life; I just have more conviction when I talk to family and friends about anything!
I like being the one my friends and family come to for financial knowledge since there are so many easy concepts that many people don’t know. For example: it’s hard for your money to grow when it’s sitting in cash and taking advantage of your company’s full 401(k) match leads to massive gains with compounding interest. When speaking with friends my own age, I stress that most can afford to take on more risk and keep the majority of our money in stocks since we are young and have a long time to see our money grow.
Some people assume that sales roles have a very competitive culture and it’s hard for people to make money with an emphasis on commission instead of a concrete salary. Do you think these assumptions are accurate?
Not at all. I actually turned down an $80K starting salary to work at Fisher Investments. Our compensation isn’t capped like other companies, so the harder you work, the more you can earn and I was really drawn to the earning potential here. From my experience, I reached what I thought was an average salary around 6 months in, and now my salary is higher than the other jobs I could have taken still only being 9 months in.
The way sales at Fisher is structured, you’re never actually competing with your colleagues for the same leads. The firm’s marketing efforts are always attracting prospective clients to reach out to us and your pipeline of leads is totally separate from your peers. Because of this healthy culture, the only person you are competing against is yourself. This environment allows everyone to stay motivated and work alongside each other to reach their goals. Before I was attracted to the job itself, I was drawn in by the charismatic, confident and passionate people that I saw in the office.
What are you focused on for the next few months and what opportunities are available for career advancement?
I’m really excited to go back into the office and see all of my teammates in person. Professionally, my focus is continue to improve in my role and learn from the more tenured Account Executives. In regards to career advancement, the great thing about this role is you have the option to move into a more senior position, go into sales management, or move to completely different role in the firm. I’m really enjoying my role right now, so I want to stay here for the next few years. My manager creates a space where I feel supported in my next career step, helps my team draw on past experiences to get through obstacles, and provides awesome life advice. This team culture has solidified my decision to stay at Fisher Investments and in this role for the foreseeable future.
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