From Law Enforcement to Financial Services: Stacie Shares Her Career Journey to Schwab
Tell us what you do here at Schwab:
I’m a Participant Associate in Retirement Plan Services and in phase two of the program. My day to day job right now is taking calls from participants across the country who have questions or needs with their 401(k) accounts. As part of the training I’m in, I’m in the licensing phase. We’ve taken the SIE and I’m studying for the Series 7 and then I’ll take the test for the 66; those are the three tests we take for this position. Because I don’t have a background in finance it’s a lot to learn but it’s a great challenge and surprising to me how much is involved and I would have never grasped what we all do for these retirement accounts—I feel like I’ll be learning a lot. Some days I feel overwhelmed but I know that there is plenty to learn.
What was your profession prior to joining Schwab?
I retired from 20 years with the Phoenix Police Department. During those years I spent time on patrol, as a school resource officer in a high school, and in a position working with media relations. I finished in the firearms academy training other officers. The seven years I spent as a resource officer at the high school was probably my favorite years of the whole career, and that made me decide to be a teacher when I retired from the police department. So the last couple of years I went back to school to get my degree and teaching certification and then I became a teacher for Spanish and English as a second language at the high school level.
What prompted you to make a shift in your career?
After three years of teaching, I just couldn’t make enough money to support myself. It was a really hard decision to make, but that’s what made me decide to look at another career. While I was in the police department we had the opportunity to invest money through a 457 and 401A program, and those were handled by Nationwide. They had a representative who would come out once a month or you could schedule meetings with him. I was 22 when I joined the police force and I didn’t know anything about that stuff, but through those meetings, contacts, and educational seminars I learned a lot and was able to invest beyond my pension and leave the department in a really good position. And it was a culture where people who were close to retirement talked about what they were doing and how they were planning for it. All that really helped me and that’s what led me to want to see out another career option; I’m interested in things where I can help others like I was helped.
What interested you in joining Schwab?
I started looking into different companies and knew about Schwab anecdotally—I had only heard good things about Schwab but didn’t know anything first hand. So I started to look at the website and other companies that had the same types of positions, but the more I looked at the Schwab website, the more it stood out. There were videos that were things I could share with my students at the high school to get them interested in investing. I think when people hear Schwab they think it’s for the wealthy investor, but all the information I was looking at was geared towards helping anybody.
Did you ever see yourself in Financial Services?
It wasn’t something that was on my radar at all. It was so hard that teaching didn’t work out and it was a shock to try to figure out what can I do now. I could have stayed longer in the police department and I hadn’t thought about finance before because I didn’t have exposure to the industry other than my personal experience and didn’t think I was qualified. When I started looking into it and the different exams, I learned it was something you could get into even if you don’t have the background.
My biggest concern was whether I was qualified or had the necessary experience to be able to work in financial services because I didn’t have the experience in that area.
How has Schwab supported you in your career shift?
When we first got here the training we went through was incredible and it prepared me for the job I’m doing. It’s set up in phases/steps to expose you to a little at a time. It’s a lot of information to learn so it gives you the opportunity to grasp one thing before moving on to the next. Even though the process of applying for the job—because there were various phases of that—it felt like I had what I needed to be successful. There was a lot of information on the website, the virtual networking allowed me to ask questions to get more clarification and continue forward in the process. It’s nice to know that you’re working for a company that has processes in place and takes that seriously.
The company has a culture of learning and growth. Because I’m new and don’t have experience in the industry, it’s overwhelming, but you’re reminded that it’s okay and you’re learning and if you make mistakes it’s okay and that we’re all here to learn and grow. As long as you’re doing your best, it makes it less stressful knowing that people are here to support you. You get the coaching and you know the coaches are there to help you—that message has been conveyed both overtly and covertly. I haven’t always had that experience in other positions.
What were the transferable skills?
As a police officer, you talk to so many people from different walks of life. In my role now I’m taking a variety of calls from people with different questions or needs and as a police officer, it was similar. There was more danger involved but there is still a liability dealing with peoples’ money. In studying for the exams and learning about the industry, there are parallels in terms of liability and cybersecurity— there is a lot of overlap. Similar to the police department there is a high priority to offer the best service.
What advice do you have for others considering a career change to Schwab?
You need to be dedicated; there has to be a desire to be here. The amount of effort to get the licensing is not easy and takes personal dedication – make sure it’s something you want to do and know why you want to do it. You don’t have to know about stocks and bonds; it’s more about who you are as a person. There are many opportunities once you get in. You’re not just getting a job; you’re getting a second career.