A 30-year veteran of the wealth brokerage industry, Heather Hunt-Ruddy has garnered success in each of her senior roles including premier manager, complex manager, and regional president to her current position as head of client experience and growth.
Whether her position has placed her in the field, trading desk or headquarters, Heather has proven to be an effective, dynamic and empathetic coach and mentor.
DI: Tell me a bit about yourself, Heather, and how you believe you’ve found success.
Whether my career has placed me in the field, trading desk or headquarters, one of my passions has always been to be an effective coach and mentor. I’ve often been the first female leader—market leader and complex manager, for example—in a male dominated field.
I believe that I’ve been successful because I work hard. I am able to manage complex operations (including leading teams of older men) and have developed a reputation as a problem-solver. And I’d be remiss without adding that I’ve taken lots of risks to get where I am today, including moving my family across the country seven times.
DI: You’ve enjoyed success in a male-dominated field, financial services. What would you say to women considering a career as a financial advisor?
First of all, our industry as a whole is doing a subpar job at telling women what a rewarding profession being a financial advisors is!
Let’s consider a few facts: Women comprise more than half of the U.S. population and 45 percent of US millionaires are women. At some point in their lives, most women likely will be in charge of their family’s finances. Obviously, our industry needs more women financial advisors to keep pace with the number of female clients.
And importantly, wealth management is evolving: It’s not so much about the stock market anymore but rather, listening to clients, addressing their needs and really getting to know them and their goals. The skills to do this successfully are “soft skills” such as listening, patience, persistence, communication skills and being cautious—all of which are inherently natural to women.
DI: What does leadership mean to you, Heather?
For me, leadership means helping to build an environment where ALL team members feel inspired to perform at their best level and are celebrated for that performance. I want my team to want to come to work and to feel “fired up” about doing their best. We spend a lot of time talking about our mission and how our work projects tie back to it. I believe it gives us purpose and goals to achieve.
I have had extraordinary luck in terms of having had leaders teach me things—both good and bad—along the way. My favorite leader was a man who forced me to stop “thinking small.” For example, when I thought I didn’t have the qualifications for a job, he pushed me to have faith in my abilities and I never forgot that lesson.
On the other hand, I also had a boss once tell a room of people that he would never allow his daughter in the business because, “It just wasn’t a place for a woman.” I was the only female leader in the room. As a result, I learned about inclusion and making sure everyone feels like
they are part of the team. You’ll learn something from every leader, even if sometimes it’s what not to do.
DI: Given that you are busy with your career as well as your family and social life. How do you find balance?
It was never difficult to fit my life into my career. That was a non-negotiable point for me and so I’ve always been transparent in stating upfront that I was going to be much better and much happier if my company understood that my family’s needs would always be a priority.
I also was very clear with my family that my job was pretty important to all of us so they understood (and still do) that occasionally I might miss some events I’d rather not miss. However, we prioritize the important things and I am there for those.
I had a mentor once tell me when I was feeling guilty about heavy work travel that I needed to understand how important it is for my children to have a remarkable mother—and I still find that talk inspiring.
Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, member SIPC, a registered broker dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.