Meet The Female Leaders Of Finance: “Why you should actually balance your checking account” with Samantha Patton and Jason Hartman

Balance your checking account. I know this should be intuitive, but it’s become less and less of a common practice. Balancing your checking account helps you become mindful about how much you’re spending, what you’re spending money on, and checking for any fraudulent activities. As a part of my series about strong female finance leaders, […]

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Balance your checking account. I know this should be intuitive, but it’s become less and less of a common practice. Balancing your checking account helps you become mindful about how much you’re spending, what you’re spending money on, and checking for any fraudulent activities.

As a part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Samantha Patton. Samantha is the Chief Operating Officer of Portfolio Pathway, leading analysis, support and data operations. Prior to joining Portfolio Pathway, Samantha was Manager of Business Analysis at Conduent, responsible for Business Analyst oversight as well as assessing and providing recommendations on the company’s contact center system and process improvement. Samantha was a key member of the team responsible for creating the software that received the 2017 GEO Award for Innovation. She was also the lead Business Analyst of the team that developed a custom dialing solution leveraging Avaya capabilities that received the 2015 Avaya Customer Innovation Award. Previously, Samantha spent seven years with State Farm focusing on contact center processes and collaboration capabilities. While Samantha started out in the bank, her responsibilities were extended to be enterprise-wide. Samantha earned her BA in finance from Illinois State University.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the banking/finance field?

Long before having any inspiration to pursue a career in finance, I had a special interest in getting a degree in child psychology, having a passion for helping children in need. I shifted that interest when a friend of mine shared with me an opportunity she had to job shadow in the finance industry and the things she was doing. Surprisingly, I found myself wanting to learn more about it.

Ironically, the only financial exposure I had then was a basic high school economics curriculum and my student checking account. I had never considered a career in finance before and had never been educated about global economics, the financial markets, and investing. So, I took it upon myself to do some due diligence on what it would take to pursue a career in finance, and after considerable soul searching, I decided that finance was a more suitable path for me.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far?

One story that comes to mind occurred back when I was interviewing for my last job. It was my final interview, meeting with a couple of members of the executive team. After handing out copies of my resume, they all flipped them face down, and one of them said, “I don’t even want to look at this. You wouldn’t have made it this far if you weren’t qualified. Let’s just have a conversation.” I was a little thrown by this as it didn’t fit into the standard interview routine, but I just went with it. The conversation ended up flowing so easily and by the end of it, I knew these were people I’d be lucky to work with. Finding that perfect professional fit that can match your skill set and passions, is indeed a wonderful feeling.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Driven by the mantra of making people’s lives easier, my team and I at Portfolio Pathway are working on the release of a new technology platform being developed entirely in-house — I’m excited about the intuitiveness of its user interface. Our aim with this new platform is to simplify workflows, access to information, and increase client efficiency.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Our attention to detail and our relationships with clients is of utmost importance to us; we work directly with our clients to help solve their unique problems.

Our wealth management platform, for example, includes the ability to process fee billing and in one such instance, we had a client changing all their fee schedules. We worked with them on a plan to implement the best way to make that change — which ultimately resulted in all the changes being processed seamlessly without any issue. That’s one of many daily success stories we encounter with our technology offerings.

Wall Street and Finance used to be an “all-white boys club”. This has changed a lot recently. In your opinion, what caused this change?

A major factor that has allowed me to succeed in finance has been the growing acceptance of husbands staying at home. When we had our second child, we looked at the cost of daycare and decided it made more sense for my husband to stay home with the children. “Working mom guilt” is real, and it’s been so reassuring having him at home for many reasons. It’s wonderful to have my husband’s support in helping kids with their homework and handling all the housework. It allows me to focus on my work and spend quality time with my children when I get home.

I feel that a change in the industry’s culture where we are more cognizant of the lack in gender diversity, make conscious attempts to be more inclusive, and have an improved support system for women has come a long way and the industry should continue to thrive in that direction.

Of course, despite the progress, we still have a lot more work to do to achieve parity. According to this report in CNBC, less than 17 percent of senior positions in investment banks are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a) individuals b) companies and /or c) society to support this movement going forward?

Believe in yourself. It’s important for women to believe in their ability and that they are deserving of a senior position. Women can still tend to believe they aren’t worthy of a senior position and never put themselves out there for it. Also, rejection is scary; if it does happen, it can reinforce the feeling of unworthiness. It’s important to improve skills if needed but to keep trying.

Professional development. For women to advance, they need the proper skill set to do so. Therefore, companies should support professional development and mentoring programs that can help next gen of female professionals to learn and adopt proficiencies that can assist them in their growth.

Educate girls. We need to ensure we are educating our girls about careers in finance either at home or in the classroom. My friend had the opportunity to job shadow within the financial industry through high school. Without that opportunity, neither she nor I would have pursued a career in finance. If we don’t educate girls on the career options available and show them successful examples, they won’t know to consider it.

You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive things one should do to become more financially literate, what would you say? Can you please give a story or example for each?

Balance your checking account. I know this should be intuitive, but it’s become less and less of a common practice. Balancing your checking account helps you become mindful about how much you’re spending, what you’re spending money on, and checking for any fraudulent activities.

Budget for fun. It is important to have a budget, but within that budget it’s important to plan for fun. It’s like a diet, if you don’t plan for it and occasionally have that piece of yummy chocolate cake, you’re bound to over-splurge. You’ll want to plan for smaller expenses like going to the movies or drinks with friends, but also plan for setting aside money for bigger things like front row tickets to see your favorite band.

Don’t lose the match. When you’re first starting out your career there will be a lot of unexpected expenses that you’ll feel are important to spend your money on rather than on your retirement. But, make sure to take advantage of whatever your company match is offering for your retirement account. If you set it to come out of your check automatically, you won’t even think about it and won’t be passing up on free money.

Get professional help. Investing money can be intimidating. It’s important to find a financial advisor you trust who can help you create a financial plan with goals and choose the right investments for that plan.

Set up accountability. Who’s going to hold you accountable if you financially eat a whole chocolate cake? Whether you can have that relationship with your significant other, parent, or financial advisor, have someone who can question your financial decisions and challenge your regular expenses.

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?

There are so many people throughout my professional journey who have helped and mentored me, and for whom I’m so grateful. I couldn’t have been successful without my husband and all he has done to take care of things at home and with the family.

My most influential professional mentor has been someone I’ve previously worked for, Tom Benton. He exemplifies leadership qualities I will always strive to emulate and continues to be a role model and someone I frequently turn to for advice. He sees the good in everyone, even while acknowledging and working with people in areas they need to improve. He has cared enough about me and my career to helping me figure out where I want to go and how I can build the skills needed to get there.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others. — The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz was my absolute favorite movie growing up. One of the quotes that really stuck with me from the movie was, “A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” Throughout my life, I’ve consistently strived to be liked, respected, and trusted by others — it’s one of my core values in life. As a leader, though, the desire to be liked is a struggle. Not all decisions will be liked, and you must provide constructive, sometimes difficult feedback, to your staff. It’s taken some self-discipline to not be too hard on myself for that and take pride in doing what is best for the employee, the team, and the company.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

What I’d like to inspire is more of a cause than a movement. I was lucky enough to be adopted by terrific parents when I was ten days old. There are so many children around the world not so lucky who grow up in orphanages with terrible living conditions, never knowing the love of a family. If I could inspire something, it would be to help and advocate for those children. Whether it is to motivate people to considering child adoption, advocating for better treatment, or donating to help improve living conditions and education at orphanages.

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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