EHG Financial Planning Services
Diane Strickland says she got her first job in the financial services industry because she knew how to handle rejection over the phone. For the first six months of her job as a cold caller at American Express Financial Advisors (now Ameriprise), Strickland says, “I did nothing but 40 hours of cold calling. It was brutal, but it gave me a lot of experience.”
Strickland says she slowly transitioned from her cold calling regime to handling more of the administrative work in the office before she became Mike Haymond's sales assistant in 1991, about two years later. Today, Strickland — who holds a series 7 license — supports five advisors with another sales assistant at EHG Financial Planning Services, an independent firm in Irvine, Calif., which manages $134 million for 578 clients. As one of Strickland's advisors, Robert Greenamyer puts it: “She runs the damn place.”
When her team decided to change b/ds (to Lincoln Financial Advisors) in 1999, Strickland says the event marked a turning point in her career; she realized how important her role would be in the success of the transition. Strickland says switching b/ds was a, “double full-time job, working 70 hours a week for about seven or eight weeks.” One perk she got in exchange for all her hard work: Her advisors leased her a car.
When Strickland's team changed b/ds in 2003 to their current b/d, Securities America, advisor Dean Evans says the only question his clients had for him was, “‘Is Diane going with you?’” Indeed, Strickland is indispensable to her advisors; not only is she the first line of defense with clients, but by taking on the entire burden of paperwork and home office responsibilities, she frees up her advisors to meet with clients and choose investments. “The idea of having an assistant is to offload your workload to them,” Strickland says. “One of the things I've always said about the guys: They're good at meeting with clients and choosing funds, but they suck at everything else — and they know it.”
Strickland says the most rewarding aspect of her job resides in knowing that the clients have as much trust in her as they do in their advisors. When she's not manning the control booth at her firm, Strickland delights in the company of her fiancé Steven, her family and her first grandchild.