Women Making Great Strides in the World of Finance.
A man’s club no longer, one of the most male dominated professions, the financial industry, is starting to experience change as more strong, confident women break into these high powered jobs. With the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealing that almost a third of US financial advisers are now female, and increases across the board in related careers, it’s a new day. Bringing with them their determination, dedication, and commitment, these ladies have what it takes to achieve their lifelong dreams by helping others manage their finances.
CEO of Charpentier Wealth Strategies, Debbie Charpentier is a 30 year veteran of the financial industry. Not the career she originally had envisioned for herself, which was working in the dietetics field, it quickly became her passion. She was recruited by Lincoln Financial Group after signing up for her hospital’s retirement plan, she revealed, “I was a little bit bored with what I was doing in food service, and I was looking for my own business, and this came along and I decided to make the leap of faith.”
A lot of the work that Charpentier does now is succession planning, “helping business owners and executives to set up a plan in case they cannot go to work. We use very detailed tools and different financial products if necessary to write out very specific steps for the person to be able to sit at their desk and take over.” This plan takes much of the burden off the shoulders of business professionals so they can rest assured that their livelihood won’t disappear. Making a comprehensive financial plan like this can seem daunting, but it’s important to have a plan in place for the future.
Taking this to heart, Charpentier for many years sought out those who often overlooked their own finances, going to hospitals like the one she once worked in. “I would go to the night shift between midnight and five a.m. to reach all of the night shift employees who had never had the time, or anyone meet with them.” Citing perseverance as one of the most important traits to have in this industry, it’s easy to see why she has succeeded.
She started in the 80s, and has noticed more and more women working in the field over time, with her whole office now being female. She theorized that some of the reason for women being so successful is their ability to listen and really dig into what clients are looking for, “that’s a big part of our job, listening and a comfortable place to come and talk, because money brings out a lot of personal issues.”
Her advice for a woman who might be insecure about entering the field? “That she can do it, it is hard work but anything worth doing is worth doing well, and it’s a fabulous career for women.” And while it is intensive at times, her job has also afforded her the time she needs to focus on family. “It’s the best career as a woman, I believe. I’ve been able to work part time for 20 years and still have a great business. The flexibility to be able to take time off for my children, go on field trips, help in the classroom, that was a really important part of my life and I was able to make that happen and work flexible hours.”
Janet Hepp, vice president of loans at Valley Republic Bank shared, “when our clients succeed, we succeed,” adding that one of the most rewarding parts of her job is “helping them realize their dreams.”
Her role with the local community bank gives her plenty of opportunities to do just that. Take Dewar’s, the iconic family-owned business that first opened on Chester Avenue over one hundred years ago. “The family came to us a few years ago looking for an expansion loan to build the city’s ‘best soda fountain’ in northwest Bakersfield. We were able to fund the loan and in 2012 we celebrated alongside them when the 6,000 square foot location opened. Today, families from all over enjoy the one-of-a-kind experience only Dewar’s can provide. It’s a privilege to help local business grow and make our city a little better at the same time,” she shared.
Hepp’s heart is local. She grew up in Bakersfield and it was during her time at CSUB that she made her career choice. “It was the early 80s and the banking industry was going through many changes with deregulation. My finance classes were some of my favorites; it seemed natural for me to pursue it.” After college she was hired by a woman for her first job as a lending officer at a local financial institution. She admits there were many more men in her workplace at the time. Today, “there are definitely more women working in higher level positions,” according to Hepp who is proud to have earned a vice president position at one of the area’s premier banks. Although she added, “I don’t focus on whether I’m dealing with men or women.”
She joined Valley Republic Bank just after it opened in 2009. Day to day she meets with clients, works with accountants and credit analysts, appraisers, and other professionals. “I assemble the complete package as quickly and accurately as possible so good decisions can be made.” She closed by saying that she enjoys finance and “views every day as an opportunity to help develop lasting partnerships where everyone benefits.”
Edward Jones financial advisor Lourdes Arrubla, AAMS® has been in the financial services industry for about 15 years. She admits that she may not be exactly what most people picture when they think ‘financial advisor,’ but she said with determination, “We have to break through those stereotypes.” While she’s in what’s currently a male dominated industry, she stated, “I haven’t had too much of an issue, because to me it’s more about relationships. The people I work with, they become my friends, my family. I would do for you what I would do for my own mom.”
Arrubla loves her job because of the ability she has to improve the lives of the people she works with. “Once you build that relationship, and you earn the trust of the client, then you’re really able to provide all the different opportunities that they need to be successful in their own lives. So really, what pays me, what keeps me going every day, is for them to be successful,” she added. Arrubla lives for the day that she receives calls from clients and their family saying ‘thank you’ for helping them to go to college, retire, or make other big life changing moves that she’s carefully planned out for them as their advisor.
The ability to steer someone’s finances doesn’t come without tremendous responsibility, however. “This is people’s livelihoods. My decisions do not come lightly, my guidance, how I advise, how I plan, how I strategize, none of it comes lightly,” she disclosed. While this is certainly a hefty obligation, she is able to provide much more depth to someone’s financial plan because of the training, licensing, and education that she has cultivated throughout the years. “If you can imagine standing on top of a mountain and looking down, I’m looking at all the different things that can happen in a person’s life. I get to see, what if there’s a car accident, what about life insurance, what about long term care, what about your kids getting into college—are you going to borrow that money or are you going to save for it? I see the full lay of the land so that when we put together a plan or a strategy, it’s based on everything.”
The financial industry continues to benefit from more diversity in the workplace as apparent in a Morningstar study which found that financial teams with at least one woman are more successful, providing better results for the clients they serve. There’s still a lot of room to grow in this traditionally male dominated industry, but if these local ladies are any indication, the financial services industry is about to be taken by storm.