Get to know Carmen Gary, Senior Vice President, Chief of Staff, D.A. Davidson Companies
Carmen offers a peek inside her day and some solid advice to women looking to start a career in financial services.
1. How would you describe your job/role to someone outside of our industry?
Chief Problem Solver, Chief Efficiency Officer. I have a deep knowledge of the business, our strategic priorities and the direction of the business. A big part of my job is to prioritize resources, system enhancements, communications, vendor management and internal policies and processes so they align with our business priorities. Undoubtedly that puts a lot on my plate each day, but I always enjoy the opportunity to help someone. Often people come to me because they do not know who else to ask, and I feel fortunate to be able to assist on a variety of topics — or at least steer people in the right direction.
2. During your career, what major changes have you witnessed in the financial services industry?
The evolution of technology and the focus on a holistic approach to wealth management are both major changes. When I started in the business, trades were written on order tickets and given to the branch wire operator, trade reports were printed on green bar paper, and important updates were written in a memo and distributed in hard copy around the office. Today, financial technology has changed the industry significantly, and even technology that seemed far-fetched a couple of years ago, such as artificial intelligence and robotic process automation, are becoming prominent. How advisors work with clients has changed significantly as well. The focus used to be largely on investment implementation — a more narrow focus on selecting the right stocks and bonds to meet client needs. Advisors today take a broader approach to not only look at investment implementation, but also planning for all life stages for clients and their families.
3. What opportunities or advantages do you see for women interested in becoming financial advisors?
I think characteristics that women often exemplify, such as empathy, attention to detail and the desire to make a difference, lend themselves well to a career in financial services. Assisting clients with all aspects of wealth planning requires knowledge in a multitude of areas, and attention to detail is very important so nothing falls through the cracks. When you are working with clients on long-term financial plans, you certainly have the ability to make a difference in people’s lives in many ways, from something as simple as helping a client put together a sound plan for retirement to being their trusted advisor when dealing with complicated estate issues.
4. What advice would you offer to a woman considering a career in financial services?
Take advantage of all the education the industry has to offer, from licensing to industry certifications, but make sure to balance that with hands-on experience working in many areas of your firm. Working with clients, as well as having an understanding of other areas of the firm, creates deep knowledge about how we can best serve clients and how the industry works as a whole.
5. What book is currently on your nightstand?
“Purple Hibiscus” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I saw at a curriculum review of my daughter’s high school English class. It’s the story of Nigerian girl, Kambili, who finds her voice and confidence after a family tragedy. It struck two chords for me: I was able to share in the story with my daughter, and I was able to further explore my love of international cultures.
6. Which living person do you most admire?
My father. He taught me to always look at the bright side, a strong work ethic and to enjoy simple pleasures in life like a good book or movie. He’s battled multiple sclerosis for over 30 years, and I have rarely, if ever, heard him complain about his condition.
7. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being outside and enjoying the beautiful Northwest on a sunny day with my family. Some of my happiest places are kayaking on Lake Washington with my husband or hiking at Whistler with my daughters. We are blessed to be surrounded by water and mountains.
D.A. Davidson & Co. is a registered broker-dealer and registered investment adviser that does not provide tax or legal advice. Information contained herein has been obtained by sources we consider reliable, but is not guaranteed and we are not soliciting any action based upon it. Any opinions expressed are based on our interpretation of the data available to us at the time of the original article. These opinions are subject to change at any time without notice. Copyright D.A. Davidson & Co., 2019. All rights reserved. Member SIPC.