Women Leaders of the Industry, Part 1: Kathy Burgess
by: Kathy Burgess, CUNA Brokerage Services
March is Women’s History Month. To celebrate, we’re holding a series of interviews with women leaders in the financial services industry. We were fortunate enough to speak with Kathy Burgess, vice president-TPM of CUNA Brokerage Services, where she discussed and provided her experiences, thoughts and insights on her 20+ years in the industry.
1) What is/was your proudest accomplishment? What is/was your greatest challenge?
Wow, that’s a hard one to answer! Maybe the fact that I have survived in this industry for 20+ years! All joking aside, what gives me the most satisfaction is when one of my bankers or advisors reaches out to tell me that they were recently promoted, received an award or achieved a significant milestone. The ‘thank you’ they share for my help and guidance along their journey is quite priceless and makes my journey so worthwhile.
My greatest challenge? I think we all find ourselves faced with challenges regularly, that’s what keeps it interesting, right? For me, time has always been my biggest challenge. Wanting to dedicate time to helping our teams grow and succeed while managing the day to day of the business in an ever changing industry is an art! 😉
2) What advice do you have to give to other women leaders in the industry – both new and experienced?
My advice to women in the finance industry is the same as that for women in any industry: Don’t wait to become a leader. Be intentional with all of your interactions:
- Get involved
- Proactively create a peer/networking group and be consistent when connecting with them
- Seek out the women’s networking group within your own Broker Dealer, Financial Institution or Community
- Be curious
- When engaging with your teams, learn what’s important to them.
- Reach out to your institutions leadership to learn about their career journey. Do you know what they are looking for in a good partner? Find out how you can contribute to their overall vision.
- Innovate and experiment
- Don’t get too complacent. Seek new ideas. Look for ways to be more efficient–to be better.
3) What changes have you witnessed and/or experienced regarding women’s contribution to the industry? What are your plans towards further change in the industry?
It’s been great to see more women in the industry and more women in leadership roles. We continue to see more programs being developed to encourage women or young talent to get into the industry (licensed assistant roles, junior advisors, internships, etc.). One of the scariest career moments for me was when I transitioned into variable comp, so creating ways to start out with a more stable compensation plan and learn the industry is proving to be more attractive. Financial advising remains a male-dominated field, but I’m excited to see the next generation of women advisors start to change that!
4) Personally or professionally, what is your greatest aspiration?
I really enjoy what I do and the relationships that I have built over the years in the financial industry. I really just want to be able to look back on my career and be proud of the work I’ve done, that I tried new things and hopefully influenced a few people along the way.