Career tips to help you succeed—and maybe even break some glass ceilings.
THE GLOBAL PAY GAP STILL EXISTS—and according to the World Economic Forum’s “Global Gender Gap Report 2020,” it could take another 257 years to close it.1 All the more reason for every woman to make the case for pay equality—for herself and others—as she rises in her chosen profession.
Below, four successful Merrill financial advisors who’ve thrived in the highly competitive field of wealth management share the career advice they wish they’d been given when they were first starting out.
Q: Can young women starting out afford to do what they love? Or should they focus on a profession that will pay a good salary?
Nadia Allaudin: “I don’t believe in only following your heart or only following money. Find a happy medium. Money can’t be your No. 1 priority, but it has to be one of your top 5. You have to keep an eye on your financial independence.”
Alyssa Moeder: “I agree, Nadia. The other piece of advice I’d give women starting out is that if you’re thinking about having children, it’s helpful to focus on building your career early, so that you’re in a stronger position in terms of flexibility around your schedule when you start your family.”
Q: How can women position themselves for leadership roles?
Nicole Christians: “Raise your hand. Women tend to believe that if they do a good job, it’s going to be recognized. That’s not the case. You really have to make sure that your contribution is known, and let management know that you’re looking for new challenges.”
Alyssa Moeder: “The advice that I’ve gotten throughout my career from female role models is to take risks. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Growing your network is key to identifying and garnering support for new leadership opportunities. I’ve been amazed by the calls I’ve received from men wanting me to make connections for them. You don’t see it as often with women. Feel comfortable asking your network for help when you’re looking for your next opportunity.”
Heather Goodbody: “Networking within your organization to meet people that you can learn from, regardless of whether they work in your division, line of business or elsewhere, can be very powerful. The Merrill Women’s Exchange program, for example, has connected me with women across the country, and its mentoring program was of immense help to me, both as a mentor and a mentee. Bank of America also has some very powerful mentoring programs for women, including its Global Ambassadors Program.”
Q: Any tips for women who feel they deserve a raise?
Nicole Christians: “Your compensation won’t increase just because someone noticed you did a good job. You need to articulate what you want and be very pragmatic. Ask for more than you’re looking for, and have supportive data.”
Heather Goodbody: “Earning what you’re worth is important—but so is investing that money wisely. Talk about your goals and investments with other women—or a financial advisor who can help you create a plan that aligns with your particular life journey, both professionally and personally.”
Nadia Allaudin: “Absolutely—it’s so important to take ownership of your money.”
Q: What career advice would you give your younger self, if you could, right now?
Nicole Christians: “Speak up, have confidence and know your capabilities.”
Alyssa Moeder: “Be a little bit more assertive.”
Nadia Allaudin: “I was a little naive. I’d probably say, it’s going to be a lot harder than you think, so buckle up.”
Heather Goodbody: “You can achieve anything in this life; just remember everyone has a different definition of success.”
And here’s one final career tip for women who dare to dream big: Dwell in the house of “yes.” Watch the video below featuring advice from cardiothoracic surgeon Kathy Magliato, who was a keynote speaker at Merrill’s first #WomenInvested event.
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1 “A woman would have to be born in the year 2255 to get equal pay at work,” by Rosamond Hutt. World Economic Forum. December 17, 2019.