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Opportunities & Challenges - SER

Vanessa N Martinez launched Em-Powered Network to help women business leaders achieve success.

The Latino/a population sits just under 20% in the US, but a mere 5% of financial advisors identify as such. At the same time, LatinX wealth has been consistently growing over the past 20 years. Herein lies both challenges and opportunities in the LatinX community.

Opportunities are limitless once you learn you can create them for yourself!

In the financial space, there are a variety of options of roles to choose from and this created one of my first challenges: making a decision. I chose a path to learn a little bit of everything, to better understand what my passion was and where I could succeed. But if you choose a path only for the money, you should know this will not fulfill you completely. Learn about yourself and various roles and opportunities, and being self-aware will show you the true path to follow.

When I was a child, I would watch movies of successful people (few women – even fewer Latinas) in the glass offices giving presentations on flip charts, and I told myself I wanted to do that one day. These movies had all different careers, marketing, finance, and business in general, but what they had in common was someone taking responsibility to lead. It is in my genes to lead and help others and I have taken a role of advocate for many. This enhanced my desire to be in a role where I could make sure there is a path in place for others to grow.

To share an integral part of my own journey, it was a warm July day in 2017, and after a long workday of meeting with multiple clients, I was told there was an opportunity in the practice and they were going to select new partner. I was already the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and knew I had it in me so I took the leap. The following months were going to be about me proving that I have what it takes to move forward and that I should be given the opportunity. While I had support, I had to learn to advocate for myself and ensure this opportunity was open to me. In December 2017, I was made a Managing Partner!

That was the short story, but there were many challenges, both internal and external. The self-doubt we internalize comes to the forefront and might even make you feel that you do not belong because you are different. Confidence is a word people tell me I have all the time, but if I’m being honest, it’s not that. It’s actually courage; the courage I have to make moves even if I have that little voice telling me not to. My courage is simply dressed in confidence! Now don’t get me wrong, I know I am an intelligent, strong, and compassionate woman, but sometimes my culture teaches me that risk is bad and brings undesirable outcomes. I have learned over time that educated risks are different than just going down a slide without knowing the temperature of the water at the bottom. The reason I am focusing on my internal challenges instead of all the external ones I faced is because I want to focus on what I can control.

So here is the advice I have for anyone struggling right now: if you are in a position with external challenges, pivot your mindset on what you can control and build those opportunities for yourself! People from diverse backgrounds may not always see all opportunities available to them, especially in the financial services industry, but you can also make opportunities where they didn’t exist before. Which leads me to share my next endeavor with you.

Earlier this year, a team of nine Latino/a financial professionals got together and created SER Latin@ Advisor Summit to have an inclusive community-building event. This inaugural conference will bring together qualified individuals to share innovative ideas and add value to each other. We will find support in each other as we each come across obstacles in our personal career journey. It’s especially important for Latinos and Latinas to create space and opportunities for themselves, and we welcome this growing trend in the financial services space.

Here are the other founders of SER:

We would love the opportunity to meet everyone in Phoenix, Arizona on Tuesday, September 26th. All of us found that we needed to integrate our community connectivity into our careers and have an event that is intentional and inclusive to help lift each other up.

And now we invite you to join us! Whether you’re just starting your career or have experienced many roles over the years, we welcome you to find inspiration together. As a community, any struggle can easily become an opportunity.

Vanessa N Martinez launched Em-Powered Network to help women business leaders achieve success.

With more than 15 years of experience assessing and guiding families through all aspects of their wealth, Vanessa N Martinez launched Em-Powered Network with the goal of helping other women business leaders achieve success in all aspects of their lives. Her deep understanding of family wealth dynamics fuels her ability to find actionable solutions for complex problems. Her goal is to build meaningful relationships and help others pass on a legacy rooted in holistic wellness.

Vanessa’s career started in Guatemala where she spent seven years managing international lumber sales throughout Europe, Canada, and Central America; all while earning a BBA from the University of San Carlos of Guatemala. That experience founded her passion for helping individuals and families prosper. Upon returning to Chicago, she completed her MBA at North Park University with a major in finance while working at JPMorgan Chase, where she secured her FINRA Series 6, 7, 63, and 65. Vanessa then spent nine years at a wealth management firm, The Lerner Group, managing a team and developing relationships with families. During her time there, she also co-authored Family Value at Risk, a book that details the importance of intentional communication among families.

With a deep commitment to strong family values, her work has extended into taking leadership roles in her community. Vanessa oversees the annual planning for the Hispanic congregation of the Northwest Church of Christ and she is also an active member of Savvy Ladies, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering women through financial knowledge. She is also one of the founders of the upcoming SER Latin@ Advisor Summit.