Photo courtesy of Merrill.
Being a Client Associate (CA) “has afforded me the ability to have a family and be present in mom mode,” explains Jennifer Breitling, a Client Associate at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, who’s held her position for over 20 years!
One of the key reasons Breitling has remained a Client Associate is how supportive the role is for parents. The Client Associate role “has been an incredible job for me as a mother, plus I have been able to benefit from all of the great resources available to me from working at Bank of America [and Merrill Lynch Wealth Management],” says Breitling. Their benefits stretch from, “Incredible healthcare and family leave time,” to a childcare program that has “saved me many times,” Breitling emphasizes. Teladoc appointments for entire families, tuition reimbursement and a matching gift program are a few of the other benefits Merrill offers parents.
Here, Breitling shares more about the Client Associate career path, from her initial motivation to take the job to why she stayed at Merrill.
I just celebrated my 20-year anniversary with Merrill Lynch. Being a CA has been really my only job since college. I often joke that if I had to write a resume, I’d have to include my middle school extracurricular activities.
I work in the Loring Gifford Group team, there are five of us total: three Financial Advisors and two Wealth Management Client Associates. What I love about my job is that no two days are the same.
Initially, what appealed to me was my fascination with the stock market. I grew up with a father who was a financial advisor, so I was familiar with the business, understood the role and appreciated the client interaction.
I’m also a people person; I love that I get to talk to our clients about all aspects of their life, plan for their celebrations and be there for their hardships. I was a psychology major in college, too, so the Client Associate role seems like a perfect role for me to enter into the financial world.
The most critical part of my training and support came from my local management team. In my early years, there was no formal training program for Client Associates; however, my local management team was incredible in not only providing me with the resources I needed, but, more importantly, giving me the push to get out of my comfort zone, to become a peer leader and explore.
Definitely the relationships I have created with our clients. I love that I get to know about engagements before they happen, or grandchildren that have just been born, or finding out that someone got into their #1 choice for college. Even in the most heartbreaking situations, like a death in the family, I am able to help our clients in their time of need, provide guidance to the surviving spouse or direction to the next generation.
I would say my only advice would be to not delay. Getting registered can seem like an overwhelming task, but as long as you stay focused, follow the training guides and create a consistent study schedule, you will be fine.
I remember freaking out the weekend before taking my test — all of a sudden I was getting low scores on my practice tests and mentally putting myself into panic mode. My mother said, put the books down, you need to give your brain a break before your test day. That might have been the best advice ever!
I approach my work day like I do every other day: I always start with a great cup of coffee, and I take the train to work, which gives me the time to turn off “mom mode” and turn on “work mode”.
Working for Bank of America and Merrill has many benefits that I have grown from. I get to interact with people, don’t have the same job everyday and get all the benefits from working in a large corporation, while also feeling like I own a small business with my team and clients.
Would you like to hear from other women who are growing their careers as Client Associates. Check out this article!
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