Top Women in WealthTech 2020: Angela Pecoraro of Advicent
Accomplishment(s): Our business started more than 25 years ago, and it is both our challenge and our opportunity to remain relevant and innovative for the next 25 years. I’m thrilled to serve as Advicent’s CEO, leading the company through the largest platform expansion we’ve embarked on in recent years.
As we set out to disrupt an entire industry with a new approach to financial planning, we quickly realized that, in order to be successful, we needed to transform our entire business. That meant we needed to think and behave differently. The status quo would no longer suffice.
I am extremely proud of the hard work and determination that our talented group demonstrated over the several months. The transformative work they have achieved to this point has set our business on a path toward great success. Recent accomplishments include platform improvements such as the NaviPlan visual design refresh, and the introduction of NaviPlan Guided Retirement.
Also, we have defined a new approach to data science with regard to three distinct areas — data governance, business intelligence, and analytics. The resulting benefit of this initiative is the ability to deliver more personalized, comprehensive financial planning experiences across all advisor segments.
How to get more women into WealthTech: Understand the skills you bring to bear and how those skills may be transferable into a new role or industry. Anyone can learn how to succeed in a new industry if motivated and interested in doing so.
Never be afraid to redefine yourself or your role. You shouldn’t just think of yourself as the employee who can do X, Y and Z. Trying new things and taking on new responsibilities is key for learning and growing. Be eager to do more, and be humble enough to learn from the men and women around you — regardless of the industry where you work.
I know that first-hand. When I started my career after graduating from college, I worked alongside my father at a family-owned auto dealership. I learned so much about negotiating and building relationships, and understanding people’s perspectives and goals.
But when I entered the tech field a few years later, I still thought of myself as “the car girl,” and looking back, I did myself a tremendous disservice. I picked up many transferable skills at the auto dealership, and I should have appreciated the opportunity to redefine myself when I entered the corporate world.
Luckily, the CEO of the tech company where I first worked, who interviewed me, helped me understand how much good I could bring to my job as a result of my experiences at the auto dealership. This CEO became a longtime mentor and personal friend, and has taught me so much.
Also, financial services companies can play an important role in drawing more women to careers in WealthTech. For example, last year we launched an employee resource group for the women of Advicent in order to attract, retain, and develop the future female leaders of our business.
Advice for those starting out: Be sharp: Focus on building the right knowledge, skills and attitude to be successful in business. Work to understand all aspects of the business or industry you are in. This will expand your business acumen and capability, making you more valuable to any employer. Don’t underestimate how valuable strong business acumen and etiquette are in differentiating you. Strong networking or communication skills — even a proper handshake — can go a long way.
Be curious. Try new things to leverage your strengths and diminish your weaknesses. Think of your career more like a jungle gym than a ladder. There are many interesting steps and activities as you advance to the top, and the journey between them should be fun.
Be intentional: Some of the best advice I received early on was, “If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it.” Whether it’s a sale, a promotion or a salary increase, it doesn’t matter. You are your best advocate. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. And, always be prepared for the various responses you get to the question.
Be coachable: No one is perfect, so don’t try to be. Simply work to get better. Ask for and accept feedback from your biggest fans and harshest critics. Put that feedback to work. Trust that honest feedback is a gift and apply it, even if unsure. You will be amazed by what you learn from it.
Enjoy the ride! A lot happens in life while you’re building a career. Don’t take it so seriously that you miss the celebration along the way. You’ll get there. Don’t rush it, and stop to smell the roses more often.
Sources of insights and inspiration: I draw advice from colleagues who are willing to serve as reverse mentors. Find someone in your organization that is at an earlier point in their career, or in a completely different business unit. This person should be someone who will give it to you straight — how you are perceived, the impact your communications have on the team, and how you can do better in the future.
Industry wisdom and innovation also can come from other industries. Don’t underestimate the power of insights from innovations in other sectors. By leveraging proven techniques when implementing a new idea of your own, you will save time and increase the rate of success.
I have lived this advice — I found ways to help improve the planning experience for NaviPlan customers by looking beyond the financial services industry, and investigating how software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers in other fields were strengthening user experiences for their customers.
I draw inspiration from our end clients — the investors and business owners our customers work with to plan. These are real people with wonderful stories and unique challenges. The work we do is meaningful. We help people live out their dreams, solve their toughest problems, and give them peace of mind and a little confidence to achieve their goals.
-- via ThinkAdvisor.com, published on January 22, 2020.