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TD Bank SVP Lindsay Sacknoff: “If you only interview from the “boys’ club,” I guarantee you will only hire from the “boys’ club.”

The idea of finance being a “boys’ club” as well as the somewhat negative attention it’s received via mainstream media in the past few years has really shined a light on some of the areas of opportunity for companies across the board. In banking and finance in general, I think there’s still much to be […]


The idea of finance being a “boys’ club” as well as the somewhat negative attention it’s received via mainstream media in the past few years has really shined a light on some of the areas of opportunity for companies across the board. In banking and finance in general, I think there’s still much to be done and it all starts with solid recruiting practices. I always tell my teams, if you only interview from the “boys’ club,” I guarantee you will only hire from the “boys’ club.” It seems obvious, but it takes a conscious effort to change this trend, and without a diverse slate of potential candidates that includes women, you may miss out on hiring the very best person for the job. We need to continue to impress on our hiring managers and recruiting partners the importance of requiring a diverse slate of candidates at all levels across the organization — that’s when real change happens.

As a part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lindsay Sacknoff, Senior Vice President and Head of U.S. Contact Centers at TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®. In this role, she leads TD Bank’s Contact Center strategy and operations with a team of more than 2,000 colleagues working across four sites responsible for providing Customer care and solutions for ~20MM contacts per year via phone, email social media. Prior to her current role, Lindsay was Senior Vice President and Head of Business Line Risk for TD Bank. In this newly created role, she developed and championed a healthy risk culture across the Consumer Bank. Under Lindsay’s leadership, TD built governance and control strategies including an end-to-end review of the Bank’s in-market sales practices to ensure thousands of Consumer Bank employees adhered to the Bank’s highest compliance standards. In addition, as SVP, Deposit Products & Pricing from 2013 to 2015, Lindsay led TD to industry-leading checking growth and recognition as Money Magazine’s Best Big Bank in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Prior to joining TD Bank, Lindsay began her career in consulting with Carreker Corporation (later Fiserv), where she advised numerous financial institutions. With a passion for helping people realize their full potential, Lindsay is an active member of TD’s Women in Leadership committee, particularly as a mentor and role model for emerging female leaders, demonstrating the opportunities available for women within TD and the community. She has also served as co-chair of TD’s GenNext network since 2014, which is focused on engaging a cohort of 5,000 emerging leaders through volunteer opportunities, service in the community, leadership development and networking events. Lindsay was honored in 2013 by the YWCA of New York City as a female leader that inspires greatness. Recently, Lindsay was named to Philadelphia Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 for 2018 and recognized alongside fellow TD colleagues for leadership, innovation, mentoring and technology as part of American Banker’s 2018 Most Powerful Women in Banking’s Top Team Award. As a cancer survivor, she is passionate about living life after treatment and is involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program, which raises awareness and funds for cancer research through running. Lindsay spends most of her spare time with family and restoring their old home. She loves the outdoors and is an avid runner.


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

In college, when my mom asked what I wanted to do when I graduated, I responded that I wanted to drive a Zamboni. I was only half joking — I was a big Boston Bruins fan, after all, and used to play hockey in high school. At that point, I was in my last year at Vanderbilt University in Nashville and had majored in economics and psychology. It felt like everyone had taken to asking me what I wanted to do with my life, and it drove them nuts that I just didn’t know yet. But then, I’d never been the type to take a set path towards a pre-determined goal. I liked to enjoy the journey.

That fact — coupled with my desire to like the people I work with and be inspired by what I’m doing — accidentally became clear soon after and set the course of my career. A close friend of mine wanted to be an investment banker, and there was a recruiting event coming up. She asked me to join and I agreed, even though I had no desire to be an investment banker. During the event, a senior partner at an investment bank interviewed me, and she seemed great, though I was nervous. It was going well, but at one point she said to me, “Lindsay, why do you want to be an investment banker?” The first thing that came out of my 21-year-old mouth was, “I don’t know if I want to be an investment banker.”

She looked surprised, but we kept going with the interview. Then, I got a very unexpected call back the next morning. Typically, these calls come from the recruiter, but it was the senior partner herself on the other end of the phone. “I wanted you to know that we’re not going to take this to the next level,” she said, “but you really impressed me with your honesty in answering that question. And I wanted to tell you that if you don’t want to be an investment banker, you shouldn’t be one. If you do something you enjoy, I know you’ll do really well.” I will always remember the kindness and willingness this woman showed in taking time to deliver such a personal, relevant piece of advice. From there, I ended up joining a consulting firm and coincidentally worked for banks and other financial institutions and then ultimately transitioned to work at TD Bank. However, I’ll always remember that moment as foundational to who I am, the work I do, and the career I’ve chosen.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

Very early on during my TD career, I attended a Women in Leadership panel made up of accomplished senior executives sharing their experiences as women in banking. Initially, I was going into it thinking it was great opportunity to listen and learn while networking with a group of inspiring female leaders.

As I was heading to the airport that morning, I received a call from Linda Verba, the Head of Customer Experience and Chair of the Women in Leadership committee at that time. It took me a second to process who was on the other end of the line as I didn’t think she even knew who I was. We exchanged a bit of small talk and then she asked me if instead of just attending the panel, I would consider being on it. Again, this wasn’t just any panel — it consisted of our top female leaders. I was terrified. I didn’t want to say no as I knew it was a great opportunity, but I felt so out of place. I wasn’t an executive — I thought what could I possibly add to the discussion? I took a breath, swallowed hard and managed to squeak out, “Sure!”

By the time I arrived, I was a nervous wreck. However, I just pretended I knew what I was doing and kept smiling. As the questions started coming, I answered them the best way I knew how, honestly sharing my own experiences. To my surprise, it worked. I connected. Afterward, the other panelists and many members of the audience approached me to say thank you because my insights had really resonated with them.

It taught me that sometimes you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable to grow. I was proud of myself for having the courage to go through with it. Also, it made me realize how lucky I was to work for an organization in which everyone has a voice regardless of title. It’s one of the many reasons I love working for TD, and today I’m grateful to be in a position to offer other aspiring female leaders similar opportunities.

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

We have several great initiatives under way in the Contact Center and across the Bank, but what I’m personally most excited about is a project we’re ready to begin that extends and customizes an existing Commercial Bank women’s mentorship program for the Contact Center. One of the things I’m most passionate about is mentorship and the importance of building a strong workforce of diverse talent across the organization. Women represent more than half of our Contact Center population, so this tailored program will provide us with the opportunity to formally develop and prepare talented colleagues for more senior management positions. It’s really a win-win — these women have more access and opportunity to meet and even exceed their own career goals while also helping us increase TD’s pipeline of talented female leaders across the bank.

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

We put the customer first but not at the expense of our employees. At TD, we are a customer-centric organization. It’s what makes this place so great. But our broader purpose is to enrich the lives of our customers, colleagues and the communities where we live and work.

My first week on the job in the Contact Center, we received a note from an upset customer regarding an interaction they’d had with an employee. After pulling the tapes, it was clear that the customer was behaving poorly, not the Banking Specialist. On the recorded call, the customer went as far as to make an inappropriate remark while the employee did his very best to help. Of course, we always aim to deliver legendary customer experiences, but our colleagues are the heartbeat of our organization and we cannot stand for that kind of disrespectful behavior from anyone. So that is why we did not hesitate to stand behind our colleague and opted not to provide further assistance to that customer. In that moment, we showed up for that teammate and demonstrated with words and actions that everyone — colleagues and customers included — deserves to be treated with the utmost respect.

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?

The idea of finance being a “boys’ club” as well as the somewhat negative attention it’s received via mainstream media in the past few years has really shined a light on some of the areas of opportunity for companies across the board. In banking and finance in general, I think there’s still much to be done and it all starts with solid recruiting practices. I always tell my teams, if you only interview from the “boys’ club,” I guarantee you will only hire from the “boys’ club.” It seems obvious, but it takes a conscious effort to change this trend, and without a diverse slate of potential candidates that includes women, you may miss out on hiring the very best person for the job. We need to continue to impress on our hiring managers and recruiting partners the importance of requiring a diverse slate of candidates at all levels across the organization — that’s when real change happens.

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?

1. Double down on interviewing a diverse candidate slate

2. Identify and nurture your pipeline via mentoring programs and be purposeful in your networking

3. Hold each other accountable

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.

In college, I had a roommate who once asked me how much I was paying on my credit card bill each month. When I asked her what she meant, she responded that she only payed $100 or so on her bill every month even though she had the means to pay it off in full. My roommate was a savvy young woman and was completely in shock when I asked her if she realized she was paying interest, or extra money, on her remaining balance every month. She had NO idea. To that end, my first “tip” for adults is to always pay your credit card in full. If you’re using a credit card and you can afford to, pay the balance; if you can’t, understand first that you’re paying a premium to carry a balance and secondly understand what that rate is.

Further, I really like to share a tactic called the “envelope method.” Imagine you have an envelope that holds all your monthly income at the beginning of the month. Every month you take out the money you need for non-negotiables like rent, food and other bills. After that, whatever is left in your envelope is yours to spend on whatever you see fit until the end of the month. When the envelope’s empty, the money is gone until you fill it back up again.

Next — and this is an important one — set up your transaction alerts and look at them. Also, make sure your bank has your cell phone number! You can’t get transaction alerts if they don’t have a way to contact you instantly. With account fraud on the rise, your bank may reach out if your transactions are outside of your normal spending pattern or you may see a transaction you didn’t complete that you need to report to your bank. These alerts are convenient and will save you time.

Lastly, talk about it. Whether you’re living with roommates, a partner or a sibling, or even living alone but in a relationship with someone, talk about money! It’s important to engage in open and honest conversation with those you are closest to when it comes to money and financial obligations to ensure you are aligned in your approach.

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 go back to the woman I mentioned earlier from the investment bank recruiting event in college who told me to do something I really enjoyed and if I did that, I would succeed. From that moment, I have self-identified as authentic and honest, and to this day, I am who I am. It allows me to connect with people better.

In my role, being authentic is good for the whole team. Not long ago, when I was just a couple of months into my current job — part of which is running our Contact Centers in the U.S. — we had just gone through a major change in the technology that supports our online banking. Whenever customers experience a change in what they’re accustomed to using, we get a higher than usual number of people reaching out to our Contact Centers for help getting used to the changes. We expected that to be the case for two to three days. But by the time we were two or three weeks in, the Contact Center teams were in crisis-management mode trying to keep up with the workload.

I felt I needed to get out to the different sites — Maine, South Carolina and New Jersey — and hear what this kind of workload feels like to my colleagues answering the phones.

Each Contact Center has a couple of hundred people working the phones, and at each, I pulled together teams of 10 to 15 and asked for their candid feedback. I heard things like, “It’s hard on our families because we’re working long hours,” and “It’s tough to shut off and be there for them when we get home late.” Just making those direct connections and listening to what they had to say helped build morale — some said things like, “Wow, you came to visit us, you really care,” — but from my perspective, there was never a doubt that we had to do something more for them.

So, we implemented new procedures that helped our people get off the phones more; we gave them more breaks to do other types of work; we hired more people; and we gave them thank you bonuses for all the extra time. We also had our top executives go thank them personally. At one location, our Head of Distribution went from desk to desk handing out soft pretzels with mustard smiley faces on them. Little gestures like that helped alleviate some of the tension. Our Head of HR had a golden retriever breeder bring some puppies to the Maine Contact Center for a stress-relieving play visit. All of it was emotionally powerful and a lot of fun.

These efforts not only helped our employees rebound from that trying time, but we made sure to publish photos on our company intranet once we got through that difficult phase too. Now, the whole company looks back on it as not just a bump in the road, but a time when TD made it clear that it appreciates and cares about its people. We’d gone into battle together and come out of it together. I’ve learned that just being yourself and getting into the trenches goes a long way to making others feel valued. Ultimately, everyone wins.

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

“What doesn’t kill you makes your stronger.” A few years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. Before I was diagnosed, I had this mentality that if something was challenging, as long as it wasn’t going to kill me, it would make me stronger. After my diagnosis and treatment, I realized I needed to adapt my thought process and better align my priorities to focus on myself and my health instead of work and other people’s demands.

In both phases of life, that quote applied. Before cancer, it was a badge of honor to work through something difficult. After that life-changing battle, it took on a more literal meaning, and now I’m more focused on prioritizing myself.

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. 🙂

More actual movement in our office lives! Imagine if we encouraged our employees to take time out of their days to walk with each other or schedule walking meetings? I think organizing or coordinating a time for employees and leaders to come together during lunch or to take a morning break to exercise, network and build relationships by simply taking a walk with one another would go a long way in terms of encouraging a healthy workplace — physically and mentally.

Thank you for all of these great insights!

About the Author:

Tyler Gallagher is the CEO and Founder of Regal Assets, a “Bitcoin IRA” company. Regal Assets is an international alternative assets firm with offices in the United States, Canada, London and United Arab Emirates focused on helping private and institutional wealth procure alternative assets for their investment portfolios. Regal Assets is an Inc. 500 company and has been featured in many publications such as Forbes, Bloomberg, Market Watch and Reuters. With offices in multiple countries, Regal Assets is uniquely positioned as an international leader in the alternative assets industry and was awarded the first ever crypto-commodities license by the DMCC in late 2017. Regal Assets is currently the only firm in the world that holds a license to legally buy and sell cryptos within the Middle East and works closely with the DMCC to help evolve and grow the understanding and application of blockchain technology. Prior to founding Regal Assets, Tyler worked for a Microsoft startup led by legendary tech giant Karl Jacob who was an executive at Microsoft, and an original Facebook board member. Feel free to reach out to Tyler on Linkedin HERE .

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