How Being Open To a New Role Helped Me Advance My Career

Sponsored by Fisher Investments

Itati Tapia

Photo courtesy of Fisher Investments.

Fisher Investments
Fisher Investments
April 22, 2024 at 10:10AM UTC

When Itati Tapia first started working at Fisher Investments, she knew she was facing an exciting challenge by entering a field that was new to her — financial services and retirement planning. She embraced the opportunity, took advantage of the firm’s robust career development resources, and in just two and a half years moved from an entry-level role to a management position. 

At Fisher Investments, Itati has been able to develop her skills in specialized roles and grow a rewarding career while finding her niche. Along the way, she’s also followed some great career advice: Do what makes you happy! 

Why did you choose to pursue a career at Fisher Investments, and what roles have you held? 

After my first interview with Fisher Investments 401(k) Solutions, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Our group is dedicated to helping the clients and participants we serve have better retirement outcomes. This focus is something I was very interested in from the very beginning. 

The first role I had at Fisher was Retirement Service Associate (RSA). In this position, I learned about all things 401(k) as the role helped with onboarding new clients, providing ongoing service, and engaging with participants. Admittedly, prior to joining the firm, this role seemed a bit daunting as my retirement knowledge was very limited, but I was excited to learn more nonetheless. During my time in that role, I did my best to act as a sponge and soak up as much knowledge as I could. This role also allowed me to use my Spanish language skill to help our Spanish-speaking participant base. The team was very supportive of my learning! Everything I learned about 401(k)s I got from the training program and mentorship that already had been put in place for employees.

After some time, I moved on from the RSA role to help build out one of the new teams – Retirement Service Specialist. In this role, we focused on participant education and complex support cases for our clients. We helped engage our participants on site and over the phone and provided educational meetings around 401(k) plans. I loved my time in this role as I really felt the direct impact our team has on the clients we serve, and my interest quickly turned into a passion for the work we do. This role went on to be specialized further into the Participant Engagement Specialist and Retirement Plan Specialist.

Most recently, I joined the Retirement Service Support Management group where I help manage the newly specialized Participant Engagement roles. Our team works together to engage our participant base and hold educational meetings with them to help set up our participants for success.

What, specifically, helped lead to this promotion?

When I started at Fisher, I was very open to all of the roles and opportunities available. As I spent more time at the company, I really appreciated the approach that the management group had around development. Between one-on one-conversations, stretch assignments, and providing support to the team, I felt like we were always working on developing my leadership abilities. I really enjoyed my time mentoring as well. I found a lot of fulfillment helping others develop and learn a new skill. This experience helped me see that management was the path I wanted to follow, so I could help others in the same way while still supporting our clients. 

In March of 2020, the markets were very volatile given everything that was happening in the world. In our group, we wanted to make sure that we made every effort to engage with as many participants as we could during this time. We ended up bringing together a small but mighty team of four to help complete this task. I was asked to be the main point of contact and coach. This opportunity really solidified my interest in management, as I loved helping my team members learn and watching them thrive, while supporting our clients and participants through a tough time and helping them stay on track for retirement.

Tell us about your current role. 

I am currently a Retirement Service Support Team Leader. I lead a team that is spread across three different offices and three different roles. The three roles that make up the team are the Participant Engagement Specialist, Participant Engagement Associate, and Participant Engagement Junior Associate.

Our team is still relatively new, and my current priorities are to build the foundation for the team and set it up for success. The projects our team is working on reflect this priority. Some of the key projects I am focused on are around our workflow processes and how to make them and the systems we use most efficiently for our purposes. We are currently setting up new software to help make it easier for our team to engage with our participants. Aside from this, we are helping to build training materials for the three roles. We have built more than 22 classes and workbooks to help train new team members and set them up for success.

Why are you passionate about this type of work?

Retirement planning is something many people don’t understand. I love the work that we do because we help demystify the world of retirement and help others feel empowered to make their own informed financial decisions about their 401(k). In the educational meetings that I’ve held with participants, many have shared that they’ve never had someone spend the time with them to help them understand the information. The work we do is so important, and I feel very lucky to work with a team of awesome individuals that look forward to supporting all of our clients. 

How would you describe your leadership style?  

As a new manager, this is something that I am continuously working on honing. My hope is that the team feels it is open and collaborative. I have had the privilege of having good leadership during my time at Fisher, and that is something I strive to provide for my team as well. 

As mentioned previously, the team is still relatively new and our processes are still things that we are figuring out. We are constantly getting to test and retest and I always look for ways to improve and get ideas directly from the team. I want them to feel like they can come to me with their ideas and ways that I can best support them.

What strategies have been most effective in promoting connectivity across your team?

I recognize that having a team that spans three different states and time zones is something that can be inherently difficult. In our team meetings, we always have a video component and a team building exercise. These meetings are only once a week, but in order to stay connected during the weekday, our team hosts a daily trivia game joining across all three U.S. offices. It’s 15 minutes a day where we connect to learn something new and laugh together. 

What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?

Reflecting back, the most memorable piece of advice I’ve received is around doing what makes you happy. It really has helped me build my career towards what I am passionate about. Follow what feels right for you and authentic to what you’re interested in. So far in my career that advice has really helped me find my niche.  

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