You know the old saying, "Mother knows best." In Jane Stein's case, it was true.
When Stein was in college, her mother went through a divorce and was forced to learn about investing. After college, Stein moved to Houston and was "26 years old and directionless," she says. "My mother instilled in me a sense of excitement about managing my own money and taking charge of my financial future. I saw an ad in the paper for brokers. She insisted I answer it." Stein got the job.
Stein, now senior vice president of investments with Salomon Smith Barney in Houston, has a thriving career both as a broker and a mother. She and her husband, Michael, have two sons, Nathan, age 4, and Elliot, age 1-1/2. And Stein, as lead broker of a three-member team she formed, has gathered §260 million in assets during her 15-year career.
Early on, Stein made wise decisions to structure her work and home life so she could be successful at both. When each of her boys were born, Stein took four months of maternity leave. "I didn't make any calls, and I did no work," Stein says. "I was able to do this because of the team I have in the office and the type of business I do. I don't do trading. I work with fairly conservative investors--buy-and-hold types." Stein's business centers on mutual funds, money managers and blue-chip stocks.
To continue enjoying her family, Stein started taking Fridays off. "At first, it was mind-boggling," Stein says. "But now I've structured things in such a way that things don't fall through the cracks. And the clients have gotten used to it."
Stein checks in on Fridays and sometimes stops by the office. She can always be reached via her cell phone. "I also like to meet with clients casually in social settings on Fridays," she says.
In addition to their three-day weekends, the family spends each August together in a rustic cabin they own near Telluride, Colo. She and her husband, a commercial real estate broker, both keep in touch with their offices. "We have fax machines and computers. And FedEx delivers to the cabin."
The other 11 months of the year, when Stein is in the office, her time is limited. After dropping Nathan off at nursery school, she gets to the office at 9 a.m. and stays until 4:30 p.m. "When I'm there, I work, and I don't go to lunch," she says. "I don't read or do proposals. At night, after the boys go to sleep, I research, do proposals and read--from about 8 p.m. to 10 p.m."
Blending work and family "would not be possible without Salomon Smith Barney's and my branch manager's very supportive attitude about women and work," Stein says.
Another key to her balancing act is collaboration. "I have a good team at home and in the office," Stein says. She attracts and retains good people with financial incentives. "I am willing to invest heavily--time and money--in my staff. I pay higher than market average," she says. "I do that with my nanny, too."
Stein says her nanny, Cecelia, is fabulous. "I trust her completely with my children. I don't call her during the day to check on her."
At work, Stein has a team of three, soon to be four. Andrea Nelson, a senior registered associate, has been on the team for three years, doing basic operations and client liaison duties. "We're moving Andrea up to parabroker," Stein says. "She'll do more computer work--financial plans, general proposals, more marketing functions." Nelson is now looking for a full-time replacement for herself. She has a part-time backup, Chandra Jackson.
The second broker on the team, Mark Russell, was a long-time friend of Stein's before joining her four years ago. Russell is a chartered financial analyst. "Mark is the asset manager. He researches stocks and manages our buy/sell list. He also researches and analyzes mutual funds."
Stein is the rainmaker, having brought in most of the business. She has a client base of 400 households. In the future, she plans to focus more on meeting with centers of influence, such as attorneys and CPAs, at the advice of a consultant hired by the team to improve its efficiency.
"I've become very selective about new accounts," Stein says. "The target range for our accounts is §250,000 to §10 million. I'm very focused. You can't be all things to all people."
That being said, Stein still manages to find time to serve the community. Her two favorite causes are children and the elderly. "I'm on a couple of boards--for a nursing home and for the American Jewish Committee, which is a human rights organization."
Even while juggling community service, her business and motherhood, Stein remains modest. "A lot of people on the planet are doing what I'm doing."