Robin McNally was 18, fresh out of high school and on her way to the beach, in Melbourne, Fla., when she started her career in the financial services industry. “I needed to be able to tell my parents I looked for a job that day,” recalls McNally, so she pulled over to a random office to get an application. The office was an E.F. Hutton branch and she was hired on the spot to be a wire operator.
Some 29 years later, McNally manages two other sales assistants and is the first point of contact for clients at Sextant Wealth Advisory Group. Affiliated with Raymond James & Associates in Jacksonville, Fla., the group's five financial advisors manage $478 million in assets.
McNally got her Series 7 license 16 years ago. At the time, most firms felt it was an unnecessary expense for a “secretary” to get licensed, McNally says. So, she took care of it on her own on vacation time. Shortly afterwards, she got her Series 63 and insurance licenses, as well. She later transferred to a Jacksonville branch of Smith Barney and began working with two of the FAs she has worked with for the past 13 years.
McNally says she never thought her team would consider leaving Smith Barney, where they had worked for 15 to 20 years. But last winter, after weeks of bad press, the team decided it needed a firm that offered more stability. The group credits McNally for successfully transferring 95 percent of its business to Raymond James in April, within three months of the move. One of her advisors, Adam Campbell, says McNally put in 80 hours a week over several months to meet with clients and implement the transfer process. In fact, McNally's team calls her its “million dollar baby,” crediting her with the creation of a well-organized system that allowed the team to produce over $4.2 million in revenue in 2008.
McNally says her FAs included her throughout the switch, giving her the opportunity to air her thoughts and concerns. “Even as we grew, the rest of the FAs adapted to that because they knew they could depend on me, and they gave me their respect — that is very important.” The hardest part of her job was relinquishing some of her responsibilities to other SAs, says McNally, whose main responsibility is now to serve as a second set of eyes and ears for the team in addition to maintaining new and current client accounts.
With the team settled at its new firm, one daughter off to college and a son joining the Navy, McNally plans on spending her spare time with her husband, and maybe getting in that beach day she missed 29 years ago.