I also had to practice more than I preached, gleaning just as much from subordinates as leaders. From these interactions, I learned nearly every practice or process in place, which ultimately helped build equity among my team when changes needed to happen and set the stage for collaboration. Some people view success with an “I’ve arrived” mentality, and now, it’s time to prop their feet up on the desk. But I believe sustained success is the ongoing process of further developing, observing and serving.
As part of our series about what one should look for when hiring a financial planner or adviser, I had the pleasure of interviewing Angela Holliday.
Angela K. Holliday is the President of Frost Brokerage Services, Inc. and Frost Investment Services, LLC, overseeing the firm’s 45 experienced financial advisors and sales management, operations and compliance teams. Angela began her career at Frost in 1996 as a sales assistant and later served as trading manager, operations manager, sales support manager and chief operations officer. Her leadership is guided by Frost’s core values of integrity, caring and excellence.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit more. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My first financial services job was as a customer service representative in a Retirement Services Department. Our team only handled money in certificates of deposit (CDs), so we had to transfer calls to an “investment team” to handle investments. That sparked my curiosity about investments — I wondered, what are these investments and how do they work? Later, I was selected to join a pilot group of individuals who were allowed to obtain securities licenses while still working with retirement clients. Shortly after I obtained my licenses, I accepted a job with Frost Bank, where I have been ever since.
Can you share a story about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting in the industry? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?
I worked with a client who needed information on her IRA distribution, and it was somewhat complicated since she had lost her husband and there were several factors to consider. It took time to review the account, and I was confident that my answer was accurate. The client insisted I triple-check the details, and in a matter of fact tone, I assured her, I was right. At that point, she told me she previously received incorrect information from another advisor. With certainty, I told her that I personally reviewed the rules and even confirmed with my supervisor. Well, the client pulled out the previous year’s paperwork and revealed the individual’s name and extension number — yes, I heard her read my name and my extension. The hairs on my neck raised, and the room temperature must have exceeded 150 degrees. I profusely apologized for giving her misinformation. That previous year, I was new to the industry and thought I could guess the answer! I learned my lesson to never, ever guess about anything because behind every account number is a real person relying on our accuracy to make significant decisions for their financial well-being. Over the next few years, we spoke often — probably more personally than professionally — and I always appreciated when she’d call and jokingly request to speak to “Amateur Holliday.”
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am a huge advocate for Frost’s multi-year Opt for Optimism initiative. The initiative, established from research on the connection between mindset and financial health, supports that idea that we can use the powers of optimism to achieve better overall financial well-being. Last year, we set out to help Americans improve their optimism. And in our current environment, there’s a serious need for simple tools that can help people improve their financial health. We found that talking about money helps, and know financial discussions are needed now more than ever — so in 2020, we’ve set out to further understand the way people talk about money and the obstacles standing in their way. In my personal involvement as a public voice of this initiative, I’ve actively shared the research findings that launched Opt for Optimism, helped people to learn about the behaviors of optimists and told the success stories of real-world optimists. By conducting and sharing the findings of this research on a national scale, Frost seeks to improve peoples’ lives by taking the taboo out of money. We hope to help people understand that an optimistic mindset can change even the most trying financial situations.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lesson that others can learn from that?
The tipping point in my career, when I started to see the most success, was when I entered management. My perspective changed, and I had to approach my career differently. I had to become thoughtful about who I chose to influence me, so I sought managers who were several levels above me in order to get a better look at leadership versus management. I also had to practice more than I preached, gleaning just as much from subordinates as leaders. From these interactions, I learned nearly every practice or process in place, which ultimately helped build equity among my team when changes needed to happen and set the stage for collaboration. Some people view success with an “I’ve arrived” mentality, and now, it’s time to prop their feet up on the desk. But I believe sustained success is the ongoing process of further developing, observing and serving.
What three pieces of advice would you give to your colleagues in the finance field to thrive and avoid burnout? Can you give a story or example?
Identify your passion. One of my colleagues consistently models and shares this adage: “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Keep learning. In addition to passion and experience, it’s a highly competitive field and furthering cognition, plus emotional intelligence, is crucial.
Rest. Your passion doesn’t have normal business hours or vacation days scheduled in advance, so you must be prescriptive about resting. I’ve worked through many a year without taking all of my vacation. I’ve worked all hours of the night and made myself available whenever I was needed, which consequently led me to experience the gravity of burnout. Burnout left me with mental, emotional and physical exhaustion. Regenerating ourselves is an absolute, and you should not risk your passion nor the contribution of your unique talent to the work.
Ok. Thank you for all of that. Let’s now move to the core focus of our interview. As an “finance insider”, you know much more about the finance industry than most consumers. If your loved one wanted to hire a financial advisor (not you :-)), which 5 things would you advise them to find out about before committing? Can you give an example or story for each?
- Learn the basics and determine your needs.
You don’t have to be a financial expert, but you should take the time to learn the basics. Finding a book or reading online about financial principles will help you more confidently identify what you need. For example, do you need an advisor who specializes in financial planning to help you plan for retirement, find insurance, budget or an advisor who specializes in investment management, or both?
- Ask friends, family and colleagues.
Referrals are a great way to find advisors, as you would be receiving first-hand reviews from the people you trust. If you don’t know of anyone who works with an advisor, you can ask a tax or legal professional, as they usually work with advisors and should be able to offer some names.
- Interview potential advisors.
Ask the advisor to meet for an interview. Now that you’ve learned some basics and know your needs, ask questions to address those topics. Include other questions like, what licenses or certifications do they hold, how do they get paid, have they ever been disciplined, do they have areas of specialty, what products and services can they offer and how much experience do they have? During this discovery process, you should get a better idea of their personality and if it is a fit for you to choose to begin that relationship.
- Verify their credentials.
All those great letters behind the advisor’s name and those stacks of licenses can all be checked! Regulatory agencies like the Securities Exchange Commissions (SEC), Financial Industry Regulatory Agency (FINRA) and Certified Financial Planner Board (CFP) have online databases where you can confirm credentials, disciplinary history or certain customer complaints. It’s also smart to conduct your own manual Google search to see what other information may appear.
- It’s a relationship, not a marriage.
You can have more than one advisor — many investors do! For example, you may have an advisor who has an enormous amount of bond experience while your other advisor focuses on financial planning. And, if you ever become dissatisfied with your advisor, get divorced and restart the process to find a new one. I’ve heard unacceptable statements over the years, such as “my advisor never calls me back,” “they don’t listen” and “I don’t understand what they are saying.” When asked why they don’t change advisors, the answers are equally unacceptable. “They are so nice,” “my spouse made the decision and he passed away six years ago” or “it will hurt their feelings.” Go back to the first step — learning the basics — hurt feelings and a sunny disposition are not financial principles. The advisor is there to address your needs and help you achieve your financial goals.
I think most people think that financial advisors are for very wealthy people. This is likely not actually true. Can you explain who would most benefit from hiring a financial advisor and why? Can you give an example?
Anyone would benefit from working with a financial advisor, wealthy or not. Once you have additional money you’d like to begin putting away or a financial goal in mind, it’s time to consult a financial advisor. There’s no “too small” of an amount or too short-term of a goal for beginning those conversations. Frost Bank’s recent research found that just talking about money can help. In fact, people who discuss their finances are 2X more likely to have better financial health and have a 9-point higher financial well-being score.
For example — how you start is rarely how you finish! We’ve begun this financial journey with people saving as little as $50 a month for a child’s college account. Over time, life events such as a job change, promotion, marriage or inheritance lead to more income. Some have even led to an opportunity for an individual to start their own business.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am particularly grateful to my friend and former colleague whom I met in 2014. She briefly worked with Frost on legal matters, and I was awestruck by her genius and warm-heartedness. One morning, she came to my office and told me how smart she thought I was and how I could run the firm. I almost choked on my coffee. At the time, I was the chief operations officer and didn’t believe being president was the next step. From that day forward, she pressed, trusted and encouraged me to deliberately demonstrate my talent. It challenged and changed my entire direction. When great people call your talent forward, I’d encourage you to accept the call, as I’ve learned it can be transformative. She never expected a “thank you,” nor will she accept my deepest gratitude, so I will say to Isa’s mom, you are magically uplifting.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I am currently undergoing a “self” process, and I’m reading a book about the reclamation of our wise and creative selves. Some of the practices in the process involve not living from past events, relying more heavily on intuition, choosing how you show up in the world and actively being more compassionate to yourself. I reiterate, it’s a process, but it cultivates the necessary care and acceptance we should have for ourselves. I believe that when we choose this type of work, we silence much of the fear, violence, hatred and abuse that exists. We can only give to others what we genuinely possess in ourselves. I believe that knowing and becoming the best version of your inner self changes our sense of humanity.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
They can add me on LinkedIn here.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.