How My Career Empowers Me to Be a Professional Problem Solver

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Cassandra Milbrandt

Photo courtesy of Merrill.

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Fairygodboss
June 23, 2024 at 6:17PM UTC

“I love being able to help people,” says Cassandra Milbrandt, a Register Senior Wealth Management Client Associate (CA) at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, a leading provider of comprehensive wealth management and investment products and services. And, in her work, she gets to do just that. 

As a CA, Milbrandt gets to spend her days helping others and forming real connections with her coworkers and clients. “I love learning about people, their passions and what makes them excited about life,” explains Milbrandt. “I love watching their faces light up when they tell me about their first grandchild being born.”

The benefits of being a CA don’t stop here, either! In this position, Milbrandt notes that she can happily bring her whole self to work and gets to do her best work in a structured and organized environment. As for her colleagues, she notes that the “CA community is happy to help each other with knowledge sharing and best practices.”  The “hours, holidays and benefits are all an added bonus, too.”

Milbrandt shares more about the client associate career path, and her best tips for becoming a client associate, in this article.

Tell us a bit about your job, your current role and your path to this position.

I am a Register Senior Wealth Management Client Associate, also known as a professional problem solver. We are the front line to answering customer questions and easing their concerns. When advisors have questions or concerns, they will almost always come to us first as well. 

Mother Merrill has always been my home. I grew up in a Merrill Lynch office as my mom is a Financial Advisor in the Rochester, MN office. My journey started when I was hired as a seasonal CA in January of 2007, and I was an intern before that (I graduated high school in 2009). After college, I wanted to find my own path, so I joined a team in St. Paul. After seven years on that team, I joined a new team in Minneapolis. 

How has Merrill supported you? 

Merrill has supported all of my career moves. They made it very easy to transition from an intern, to a seasonal CA, to a full-time CA and from Rochester, to La Jolla, to St. Paul, to Minneapolis. 

When I was younger, I liked coming into the office and watching my Mom’s CA’s work and would pretend to work like the CAs — using a typewriter (!), pretending to answer the phone and filing paperwork. Merrill has always shown me a sense of family and community

How did you focus on getting your FINRA registration/licenses? Do you have any tips or advice on reaching that goal? 

Tenacity. It was one of the hardest things that I have ever achieved. I worked full time and studied on nights and weekends. I struggled and failed but never gave up. I had no idea how hard it was going to be or what a long road and journey it would take for me to find success. I was a marketing major in college and finance was not my expertise, but, if you want it badly enough, you can do anything you put your mind to.

I tried three different programs when trying to find the one that worked best for my learning style or one that explained things in a way that helped me understand the material better. These licenses and registrations will open up doors to opportunities, and education and knowledge is something you can keep in your back pocket forever. Whatever you do, do not give up as achieving this goal was so overwhelmingly gratifying.  

What skills or tools do you find help you flourish as a CA?

I am an extroverted, Type A, people person. My outgoing personality makes it easy to connect with clients, prospects, teammates and other colleagues. 

My organizational skills have also played a huge impact in my success in this role as well. I start my day by looking for any problems (fires) to solve (put out). I have a task list of everything I would like to accomplish that day ready for me when I log in, which I prepared the night before — this sets me up to have a productive day.

What’s your best advice for other women who are considering a client associate role? 

My best advice is to keep an open mind and always be willing to learn. This role has evolved so much in the last 15 years I have been here, and it will continue to evolve. The company as a whole is always trying to improve; they value what we have to say and provide several channels to voice opinions and feedback.  

What’s the No. 1 thing you think women should know about working at Merrill? 

Your opportunities are endless, and the amount of support you will receive is truly amazing. 

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Would you like to hear from other women who are growing their careers as client associates. Check out this article!

And, if you’d like to find a career at Merrill, they’re hiring! Click the link below to browse current jobs.

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