Many of us are familiar with the narrative that we should not only love our jobs, but essentially be obsessed with them on a daily basis. Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life, or so the saying goes. For Kimly Hoang, she thinks this messaging is a little misleading. In her mind, a static, unvarying love for one’s job is not only a limited goal to have, it may also potentially be an inauthentic one.
What’s far more powerful and deeply fulfilling, she argues, is a job that speaks to one’s curiosity, offers a challenge, and allows room to be inspired and to grow. That’s what she’s found at Fisher Investments.
Since joining the Fisher family five years ago, first as a Client Programs Associate and today as a Portfolio Evaluation Group (PEG) Analyst, Hoang says she’s been “continually pushed to understand the reasoning and rationale” behind her work, which feeds her natural sense of curiosity. Her years with Fisher have only confirmed something she’s always believed to be true: that when mapping out one’s career path, the best move you can make is to “search for opportunities that will challenge you to grow.”
Hoang recently shared with Fairygodboss what exactly those opportunities at Fisher have looked like, as well as how, as a natural introvert, she’s learned to push past her career comfort zone with major pay-offs.
Tell me about the roles that you’ve held Fisher Investments.
I started at Fisher Investments as a Client Programs Associate five years ago, moved on to Investment Counselor (IC) and finally moved to my current position as a Portfolio Evaluation Group (PEG) Analyst. As a Client Programs Associate, my role was to assist in organizing and executing various events, such as Investment Roundtables and Fisher Client Forums, that are an integral part of the service we provide to our clients. As an Investment Counselor, I worked directly with clients, educating and advising on their personal financial situation, broader financial markets, and ultimately helping them remain disciplined to their long term strategy for financial success. In my current role as a PEG Analyst, I take a deeper dive into the client’s financial situation and provide recommendations for the client’s long term strategy and asset allocation that are tailored to their needs and goals.
What drew you to your current role?
I have always loved getting into the “why” and the “how” behind things, which is perfect for my current role. I’m continually pushed to understand the reasoning and rationale that goes into making a decision which feeds my natural curiosity. As an analyst, understanding the development of a long-term financial strategy and the underpinnings of why we execute strategies the way we do has been exciting and taken my learning to the next level.
A lot of people believe that developing your career means changing companies, and not infrequently. What has enabled you to develop/advance your career without job hopping?
I’ll quote what I used to tell my clients, which is that you have to commit to giving time for your strategy to play out and to be rewarding. If it were easy and instantaneous to invest in markets and a career for a lucrative outcome, everyone would be rich and everyone would be a CEO, but we all know it doesn’t work out that way. While I believe what you do should motivate and inspire you to improve and grow, I am not of the mindset you should love every single moment of your job or career. Challenges don’t feel comfortable. Loving every moment of your job is simply an unrealistic expectation that will lead you to think that facing a tough problem or having the grit to grow through the pain points isn’t what your career is supposed to be like, when your career is really a testament to the types and amounts of hurdles you succeed at overcoming.
What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
I’m not sure there is a single move I’m most proud of or if it’s simply the accumulation of the day-to-day that got me to where I am today. When I was a Client Programs Associate, I wanted to be a PEG Analyst but I knew I wasn’t ready yet. Of course, I wanted it all to happen immediately and had to accept that wouldn’t be the case. At the professional level, the most fulfilling accomplishments take years and decades. Those years are made of days of pushing yourself and steady improvement, coming up short and trying again and again until you exceed expectations. Day-to-day growth is hardly exciting, and a lot of days don’t feel like big wins, but when you take it in aggregate, you can finally feel the magnitude of the work you’ve accomplished.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
I actually received this while working at Fisher: embrace what you fear. If you are afraid of sales or external client-facing service, take on those responsibilities to master and no longer fear it. I’m naturally an introvert. While I greatly desired to be an IC and worked hard towards it, it wasn’t a perfect fit for me. When I first started, I got sweaty palms and had to do breathing exercises to calm myself. Having my day-to-day responsibilities demand constant interactions forced me to build my communications muscle and continually test my comfort levels and abilities. Looking back, I’m extremely grateful for the experience because I’ll use the skills I developed in the IC role in all my future positions. What was previously a weakness is now something I can tout as a strength. That experience was also a key part of what made me an attractive candidate as a PEG Analyst.
What was the best quality of the best boss you’ve ever had?
The best boss I’ve ever had simply believes in me. He’s my advocate when I am unsure about myself. He’s my advocate with others. He’s continually teaching me and enabling me to excel.
What’s your go-to stress-relief activity or routine?
For me, it’s cooking. I love the creative chaos and experimentation that can come with cooking. You have certain basic principles (balance salt, acid, fat, sweet, heat) you follow and then you taste your way through until you get to the point it all works. My job has often entailed I continually plan and analyze the (financial) future but cooking allows me to engross myself in the present, whether alone or with others.
Ultimately, what has led you to stay at your company?
I strongly believe in the service we offer. The entire reason why we are successful is our ability to always place our clients’ interests first and efforts to guide clients through an opaque industry that has a huge and direct impact on their ability for quality of life. As an IC, I had the privilege of caring for clients and their families’ well-being. As an analyst, I have the privilege of helping set up families for financial success and longevity. Of course, what drew me to the company in the first place has also led me to stay: the opportunity to grow with a growing company.
What’s your No. 1 piece of advice for women who are looking for jobs right now or want to take their career to the next level?
Search for opportunities that will challenge you to grow. Be honest in your assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. Then think about which of those you have demonstrated in the work you’ve already done and what you need to substantiate with work that has yet to be done. If you can do that, you can effectively promote your existing strengths and work on transforming your weaknesses into new strengths. Every job is a chance to add to your skill set and become more valuable.
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