Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.
Hi, My name is Anita Srivastava and I am currently focused on helping busy ad successful professional women simply their finances and live the best life possible. I do this as Part of the KS Group at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. I have a doctorate in Economics from Columbia University and rigorous training in Finance and Capital Markets. I am a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and hold the Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist℠ designation.
In addition I help coordinate the financial affairs of a select group of families, retirees, corporate executives, business owners, and non-profit organizations. By providing education I help clients make the best possible decisions that simplify and clarify their financial lives.
Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?
I met Sally Krawcheck at a Morningstar conference many years ago when I was just getting started with my own professional career in wealth management. I couldn’t agree more with what she called the looming retirement crisis for women. Women’s career paths are complicated and interrupted, which leads them to save far less in retirement accounts and taxable savings. They are the caregivers further dwindling their savings and will most likely outlive all members of the family needing more savings for health care expenses in retirement. They are however still not getting any prudent advice on how to save and invest for their retirement needs. It was these ideas that had gotten me to pursue a career in wealth management.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
The Wealth Management Industry is dominated with men and they seem to have a brotherhood, a tribal loyalty and they protect each other. A woman has to work hard to be part of an 'in' group. You have to build a relationships to know how to move ahead, how to get power and how to manage power, both formal and informal. Building mentorships with both with men and women, and connecting and fostering relationships is extremely important in this line of work.
What are some career challenges on your radar?
The Wealth Management Industry is undergoing a seismic shift with zero commission trades at TD and Schwab, new players such as Robinhood and digitization of advice. These self-service firms may provide the access and resources, but do not provide comprehensive Financial Planning and Advise that looks at all aspects of an individuals finances. To be able to communicate that to investors and clients is one of the biggest challenges I am facing today.
What project have you worked on that you’re most proud of? Why?
Working as an economic consultant at The World Bank in Washington D.C. in early 1990’s I worked on a research project looking at Debt Crisis in Latin America of the 1980’s and if it were likely to occur in the Asian economies, who at that time were attracting a great deal of flow of financial capital. Our research concluded that certain countries were at greater risk of defaulting and we found soon enough that to come true. We were able to draw policy implications and make a difference with this empirical research in the area of international finance.
We’d love to hear more about your career path. What led you to where you are today?
I live the story I share - No two career path of women are the same or meticulously planned. I started a career at The Center for Business Innovation (E&Y), a business strategy and innovation think tank based in Cambridge, Massachusetts where I worked with senior executives and an eclectic group of experts at CBI with a mission to “Anticipate and have the future of business”. It was a wonderful experience working with industry experts and academics from Harvard and MIT to help clients and executives from Fortune 500 companies navigate the changes posed by Information Technology and the Internet. We were however hit by the crash of dot com and tech bubble and the group was discontinued. Since I had two young kids at the time (6 months and 2 years old) I thought it was the best thing that happened to me as I was able to spend more time with them.
I relocated to a suburb of New Jersey and in addition to being active at schools also become active at numerous non-profits, such as President of The Woman’s Club of Ridgewood, Ridgewood Education Foundation, and Rotary Club to name a few. I also joined as an adjunct faculty at Ramapo College to stay intellectually engaged. As my children grew older I decided to go back to work. Since I saw my own financial life unraveled along with many of my friends due to shifting responsibilities, I decided to pursue my second career stint in Wealth Management in 2014 and have not looked back.
I started my Wealth Management career as a Financial Planning Specialist at Morgan Stanley where I assisted other Financial Advisors with Financial Planning and Wealth Management for their clients. I then moved to Merrill Lynch where I am a partner at the KS Group in the Merrill Lynch office in Montvale New Jersey.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
It is incredibly rewarding to help people navigate a series of challenging issues and achieve a variety of substantial end goals,” from college planning to funding a comfortable retirement to leaving a legacy to the next generation. I get to know my clients at a personal level and take great pride it helping them simplify and accomplish their financial goals.
I also like the fact that no two days of work are the same. I am constantly posed with new and interesting challenges making every day a fun and learning environment.
What legacy do you hope to leave through your work?
Helping my clients become incredibly successful and financially independent is what would feel like “mission accomplished.” I would like to leave a legacy where I was able to help my clients to achieve their goals and create their own personal legacies.
What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?
I am genuinely curious about people and their stories. This has helped me to forge trusted, long-term relationships with clients. I also enjoy problem solving. Money trouble is merely a symptom, but generally deep rooted in some other issues. I help my clients identify these issues to have a more meaningful dialogue to be able to solve the financial and non-financial problems they might be facing.
What is one piece of advice you’d offer working moms?
When I moved to the suburbs in New Jersey I did not realize that generally speaking one can only choose two of the following three choices successfully. 1) working full time 2) Mom 3) Live in suburb with active sports etc. Life style of suburban children make it extremely difficult for a mother to work full time due to numerous children’s activities. The days can be long but years as a mom pass by quickly and becomes tough to renter the work force. I would advise moms in suburbs with young children who want to continue to work in the future to take some type of volunteer and leadership roles in their towns and communities to keep their skills current and themselves marketable.
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