First Union Securities,
“Vicki is the epitome of professionalism. She is a can do' person with a great attitude. She's well-respected and well-liked by everyone in the office and really helps to keep things flowing smoothly.”
— Alice Tiano, financial adviser, First Union Securities, Louisville, Ky.
“Vicki is very knowledgeable. I trust her as much as I do Jill. Jill takes care of my investments, but Vicki knows about everything and always goes way beyond the call of duty to help me.”
— Jane Fink, client, Louisville, Ky.
Finding answers for a client, spending a day off assisting a prospect, or tracking down clients' much-relied-on monthly distribution checks, are all in a day's work for Vicki Stone, lead sales assistant for Jill Bradley, a financial adviser at First Union Securities in Louisville, Ky.
Stone started in the business in 1985 as a receptionist for what was then J.C. Bradford. Three months later, she became a sales assistant for five brokers. In 1988, when the firm opened a satellite office in another part of town with Bradley coming over as producing manager, Stone took a giant step forward.
“Jill's sales assistant left the business,” Stone says. “I saw this as a great opportunity and applied for the position.”
Bradley says, “I'm grateful every day that Vicki took this leap of faith.”
Since starting with Bradley as both a sales assistant and secretary, the office has grown to 19 financial advisers with 12 support staffers.
During that time, Bradley added two more sales assistants to her team, rounding out a business that has grown to $200 million in assets, over 1,000 accounts and $1.6 million in production.
Stone, who passed the Series 7 exam in 1994, was named Employee of the Year in 1995 and last spring received the Recognition of Excellence award for “superior skills, talents and accomplishments.”
Her strong suit, she says, is her organizational ability, one of several elements needed to cover the day-to-day challenges of the job. “You also need to be a good listener and very patient, especially when working with a wide range of personalities,” she says.
Clients agree. “She is always ready to help and never makes me feel that whatever she's doing for me is ever any trouble,” says Jane Fink, a long-time client.
Over the years, Stone has evolved into a tax-reporting expert, handling many calls from CPAs. Clients get intimidated by the reporting forms, Stone says. “I became the person who asked the questions and learned the answers from the home office or from the Internet,” Stone says.
On another occasion, Stone spent a Saturday assisting a disabled prospect whose spouse was retiring from a local manufacturing plant. It was a separation lecture, and Stone wanted to make sure the couple was able to get there and feel comfortable with what was being explained. “I sat with them and took notes so I could go over it with them later.”
Knowing how to get the job done without a lot of wasted effort is another of Stone's specialties, Bradley says. “Through a network of support personnel in the home office, Vicki makes it her business to watch out for a number of retired people who rely on their monthly retirement distributions.”
“It's very important to these people who are counting on that money,” Stone says. “I have a six-page chart of everyone who takes a distribution, and I call at least three business days ahead of time to make sure the money is going to be there when it is supposed to be there.”
Stone admits her conscientiousness can sometimes be carried to an extreme. “If I have to rely on somebody else to send out a statement or a check, I check and recheck. Unless I actually see it, I don't believe it will get done. That might be cynical,” she explains, “but I come from a family of worriers.
“Following through to make sure things get done is just part of who I am, and how I do my job.”