Laura Coltman got her start as a sales assistant (SA) in an Atlanta Lehman Brothers brokerage office back in the mid 1980s, when financial advisors were still called stockbrokers. Coltman recalls a pressured environment: Brokers would come up with a story, write a pitch, and then dictate it to their SAs. After the script was passed to the other brokers, Coltman remembers sitting in the bull pen and listening to the brokers repeat that same story for a week at a time. “It was a little intimidating,” Coltman says. “They would stand over you as you had to type it, double spaced.”
Throughout her 25-year career in the financial services business, Coltman has worked for a number of different advisors and teams at different firms. At one point, she even had a stint in the operations department at Paine Webber, before she decided she missed client contact and moved back into a sales assistant role.
In 1996, armed with nine years of experience, Coltman teamed up with Graham Roberts and helped him build the RM Compass Group. Today Coltman is the lead client service specialist at the RM Compass Group, a legacy Citi Family Office with five FAs, three other client service associates and a business development specialist. The group manages $1 billion in assets for approximately 500 clients. Coltman manages the other SAs, whose responsibilities are divvied up not according to advisor, but according to specialty. In the team's branch, Coltman is not only an advocate and mentor for the other client service associate (CSAs), but she also serves on the firm's National Support Staff Council, a forum of CSAs nominated by region to facilitate communication between the support staff members and senior management. In the words of her assistant branch manager, “The bar is set high by Laura and working with her challenges us all to reach a higher standard.”
Coltman, the consummate client problem solver, is the backbone of customer service and cash flow management for the mix of high net worth families, professional athletes, coaches and corporate executives who are the firm's clients, many of whom use not only the group's wealth management services but do their retail banking with them, as well. In fact, solving difficult client problems is both where Coltman excels, and one of her favorite parts of the job.
Compared to when she first set out as a CSA, Coltman now has the luxury of faxes and email, and she no longer enters individual buy and sell trades in the books. Still, the challenges of the job have grown as the business has gotten more complex. But a good challenge is something she can appreciate.