With markets lurching enough to cause investor whiplash, Brie Williams urges advisors to listen to their clients’ worries and to explain clearly how the latest swings impact on their portfolios.
This is “an opportunity to provide education because knowledge is power,” said the State Street Global Advisors’ head of practice management, SPDR ETFs, in an interview with ThinkAdvisor.
“Advisors are well positioned to work with their clients and help them manage the risk of emotionally driven investment decisions by showing them [what] their financial plans [means] long term, not just in the now,” and explaining how these plans protect their wealth during market events like we’re experiencing, Williams shared.
Though much of her job concerns getting the right message to advisors, she also delivers solutions to wealth management firms and advisors and provides research and strategic insights on other developments. But she wasn’t always in financial services.
Williams started her professional life in advertising and then moved to Putnam in 2006 to be senior vice president of global marketing communications. She joined SSGA — in 2014.
(State Street commissioned the bronze “Fearless Girl” sculpture, now located near the New York Stock Exchange, in 2017. It launched the SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF in 2016.)
“If someone were to have asked me to place a bet as to whether I’d be in financial services as part of my career, I would have said they were wrong,” she explained.
“I [am] in this seat because of several role models, coaches and sponsors — and someone along the way during my marketing and advertising career tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘Hey, you would be really good at this. Why don’t you take that meeting and explore it a little further?’” Williams shared.
Without “naming names,” she pointed to two people who were especially instrumental to her career growth. One manager “helped me look in the mirror and see things that I did not want to see. That was a challenging conversation.”
It actually was a “pivotal moment in the choices I made next,” and helped her think outside the box, Williams said. “Without that tough conversation as well as encouragement, I probably would not be in the seat I’m in today.”
Another boss taught her the ins and outs of sales distribution. Although her marketing skills transferred over, she needed other help. That person “really upped my game,” she noted.
What’s been a key challenge in your career?
Learning to fail up. That’s an art you have to learn with experience because it’s tough to fall down — especially if you do it publicly.
I don’t mean a fall from grace ethically, but rather a presentation that wasn’t as strong as it could have been or a missed key point that [was] to be delivered in a management meeting. Being able to take these in, not only for your self-assessment, but to ask for feedback, can help you grow and be better the next time.
And allowing yourself that permission to learn as you go is critical, because so many of us — and I’m going to raise my hand here — strive to be perfect and want to be a pleaser. … Part of developing is learning from your mistakes.