Symposium Keynote Recap: Navigating a Career in Wealth Management
At our annual Symposium, we hosted a keynote presentation covering all aspects of a career in wealth management.
Before we share takeaways from the session, meet the keynote speaker, Neesha Hathi. Neesha is Head of Wealth & Advice Solutions at Charles Schwab.The conversation was moderated by Stephanie King, head of Wealth Management Practices and Talent Development at Charles Schwab. Neesha discussed her career story, advice for those considering a role in the industry, and what it’s like as a female leader in a male-dominated space.
If you couldn’t make it, we’ve recapped the conversation below.
How Neesha started in finance
Neesha started the conversation by sharing her career background. She grew up in an entrepreneurial family and, as a result, learned about finances early on.
She went to undergrad at the University of Michigan and spent summers on the trading floor at The Chicago Board of Trade.
“I learned a lot very quickly, but I knew it wasn’t the environment for me,” Neesha said. “It was a great learning experience, especially around resilience.”
Next, she worked as an analyst in investment banking, but it still didn’t seem like a fit. So she moved to California and went to business school. After graduating, she started working at a tech startup.
“I loved the idea of building something,” she said. “I was doing something that was impactful and not so transactional. I was a part of something.”
After the startup sold, someone talked to her about working at Charles Schwab, where she’s been for 19 years. During that time, she has had 10-12 different roles at Schwab, including some in technology and strategy.
Changes in the industry impact talent
Stephanie and Neesha talked about the COVID-19 pandemic and how it was a turning point for the world.
“We are constantly changing and evolving as a company,” Neesha said. “And all of us are changing as people. In the area I lead now, investors are looking for guidance related to their financial health.”
Neesha noted the shift in the demographics — more underrepresented communities are coming into this industry needing help and guidance. And as a result, it’s vital as an industry to reflect the clients it serves.
Neesha also touched on the trends and changes in technology.
“It’s an interesting time to reflect that there’s a lot that can happen through automation and technology,” she said. “But there’s still a need for empathetic, caring people. That combination of people plus technology makes someone feel successful in this industry.”
The industry needs your talent, regardless of your path
Stephanie mentioned conversations from other panels, including the fact that you don’t have to have a finance degree to succeed in the industry.
“I’m glad that message is getting out there,” Neesha said. “When you’re in school and figuring out what to do, you might think your degree is exactly what you’re going to do, but that’s not always how it works out. This industry has a lot of different functions and roles.”
A question from the audience sparked a conversation about the optics of a resume with several roles that would appear to a hiring manager in the financial industry.
“It’s about how you tell that story of what you learned and your passion for what you do,” Neesha said. “Find a role you’re excited about and use the opportunity to learn more about the company.”
Neesha said Charles Schwab is looking for candidates with adaptability, learning agility, and intellectual curiosity, not necessarily a certification or educational experience.
“I look for people who want to serve,” she said. “That’s why Schwab exists; we’re here to serve and help people get better outcomes.”
Take more risks and encourage others
Neesha explained that understanding her values and being disciplined about them has helped her navigate between great opportunities and those that align with her values.
Stephanie and Neesha also shared that many misconceptions about the industry could be discouraging, and she wants people to know there’s an opportunity to do good in wealth management.
“Some of my proudest moments are when I see leaders or individual contributors thrive in the work they do,” Neesha said. “They build confidence but are also doing good for clients.”
A question from the audience started a discussion about female leadership in a male-dominated industry. Neesha offered her best advice: don’t be intimidated by it.
She explained that a confidence gap could exist if you don’t meet all of the job qualifications. Sometimes this prevents people from applying for opportunities, but she encourages them to put themselves out there.
“If I’m the only woman in a room, I don’t get in my head about it,” she said. “I contribute fully and keep my head in the game. I need to do everything I can to ensure that next time, I’m not the only woman in the room.”
Neesha and Stephanie’s discussion touched on all aspects of our entire Symposium: Expanding Diversity in Wealth Management. We want people to feel welcomed by the industry, regardless of their career path, and proud of their background and unique perspective.