Farmington Hills, Michigan
If you shadowed Betsy Smith during a typical day at her Raymond James office, you'd probably have a tough time figuring out what she actually does. One minute she's cleaning out offices, the next she's on the phone with a client talking about their investments. “Work doesn't scare me. Whatever needs to be done, I do it,” she says.
Smith was a single mother of three and decided she wanted “something of my own” when she took a job filing folders at Paine Webber in 1984. Twenty-four years later she's earned her Series 7, 9, 10 and 24, and has a few clients of her own. Of the $45 or so million in client assets at the firm, she manages 5 percent — mostly friends and family. “I can do whatever needs to be done when the advisor isn't here,” she says.
So why not start a practice of her own? When she was first licensed, she considered the option, but decided it wasn't her thing. Smith says she likes the wide variety of responsibilities she currently has. Not only that, but the idea of living off commissions wasn't very appealing. “I've got some clients of my own. I've got the best of both worlds right now,” she says.
Smith's role in the office is split between that of a sales assistant and an operations manager. She oversees 16 support staff and helps Al Paulikas, the branch manager for whom she works, manage 24 advisors. “She has been instrumental in the logistics of opening a satellite branch and is currently engaged in the opening of a second satellite office,” Paulikas says. “I do everything around here,” Smith says.
Smith says compliance is the most time consuming of her tasks, and takes up about half her day. But she doesn't mind it. “We have good systems in place. I tell all the trainees who come through here to meet the compliance officers. They are here to keep us out of trouble. I understand what an important role compliance plays here,” she adds.
What keeps her on top of her game? “A sense of humor, because nothing is ever organized. Just when you think everything is in order, there's something wrong. You need to be able to laugh,” she says.