Salomon Smith Barney,
“Through Elpha's tireless quest for perfection, she has trained our clients to depend on her precision and prompt service. Our clients know when it comes to an administrative issue, they go straight to Elpha.”
— Eric Wong, senior vice president-investments, Salomon Smith Barney
“Elpha is a very easy person to deal with and is very, very personable. Whenever I have a question, she just always knows the answer. I can't imagine anyone better to work with, in any business.”
— client Joanne Stern, Los Angeles
As it turns out, Elpha Yocom is much more than a sales assistant for Salomon Smith Barney. She's a recruiter as well. Now, that's not exactly part of her job description. But Yocom actually did help recruit a broker — Lynn Shrum — a rep she knew from a prior position.
“After only one year in our office, Elpha recognized an opportunity for our firm to attract an experienced broker,” says Eric Wong, a senior vice president of investments who works with Yocom in downtown Los Angeles. “She wound up selling Lynn on our firm and the management.”
Yocom sold her own talents as well. To ensure Shrum's book would be transferred efficiently, “Elpha worked with a college business professor to create a proprietary software package to facilitate the transfer,” Wong says.
The software tracked the status of every account, assets and documents as it was transferred between firms. It identified the position of any individual or group of accounts, produced reports and generated letters. As a result, Shrum's book transferred with “a minimum of issues,” Wong says.
Yocom also works with James Oghigian, second vice president of investments.
Obviously, Yocom is a take-charge individual determined to get it right, no matter what the task. For instance, a client who lives in Spain needed to transfer funds from an account in Italy during a business trip. He was attempting to purchase real estate. He couldn't recall the name of the bank in Italy and was only able to provide bits and pieces of information.
Working through language barriers and time zone constraints, Yocom was able to locate the bank in Italy, the corresponding bank in the U.S. and all the routing numbers to complete the transaction, according to Wong. “The client received the funds in time to purchase the property,” he says.
Yocom has been a sales assistant for 14 years, the last four with Salomon Smith Barney in Los Angeles. She launched her career as a sales assistant while still in college at Cal State Long Beach, working for a branch manager and three brokers at PaineWebber.
She is an active supporter of the Revlon Run/Walk for Women, which raises money for breast and ovarian cancer research; the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra in Long Beach, Calif.; and the Long Beach Grand Prix Foundation.
Throughout her career, the one factor Yocom considers paramount to the success of any sales assistant, and a brokerage office in general, is communication. That's why she instituted a morning communication session with the staff when she joined Wong's team.
“That's the one thing I'd suggest to someone new coming into the business, or even someone who's been in the business for a while, because there's nothing more important than communication,” Yocom says. “Whether it's for five minutes or 30 minutes, it's important to talk about issues, if any problems have come up, and meetings that will be happening in the future. It's important just so everyone's on board and knows what's happening.”
Yocom also says it's imperative to “develop a great line of communication with the operations staff because you'll always need their help. They're there to assist you, and if you have a great line of communication, they'll always be there for you.”
Yocom handles all administration responsibilities, prepares broker presentations and even takes clients' orders. “Eric and I have a running joke that I do everything except tell the clients what to buy and when to buy it,” Yocom says.