By Melissa J. Anderson (New York City)
Jane Newton was drawn to Wall Street fresh out of her graduation from Tufts University. “What better place is there for an econ major who wants to learn about business in the Big Apple?” she asked. “I wanted to learn from the smartest people around.”
Newton joined JP Morgan, working in investment banking for 12 years, then moving to private banking for another six. “Switching to work with high net worth clients was probably the best strategic decision I could have made – having that direct impact on the important people I work with and their families.”
She continued, “And moving to RegentAtlantic Capital seven years ago was the other best decision I’ve made professionally. The firm has fostered my leadership and created an environment where I can hone my focus and skills toward a specific market.”
Now Partner and Wealth Manager at RegentAtlantic, Newton is also an enthusiastic advocate of networking, especially for women. In 2010, she launched the annual Wall Street Women Forum®, an event designed specifically for high-level women on Wall Street to help them continue their professional success. “Conceiving of the Forum takes me totally out of my comfort zone. I created something from scratch to meet a need I identified. The Forum changes women’s lives in a way I didn’t expect from the beginning and it has touched a nerve. There’s a gap we’ve been able to fill for these professionals,” she explained.
Founding the Wall Street Women Forum
“We’re about to embark on our third Forum in April,” she continued. The Forum stems from the confusion and concern following the financial crisis, and it is a way for senior-level Wall Street women to network and discuss issues that matter to them, she said.
“When I deal with my clients, so many of whom are Wall Street-ers, I advise them on all aspects of their lives – their careers, career options, and compensation issues. After the melt-down in 2008, my clients were truly frightened about the future of their careers. The same issues were raised over and over again.”
She continued, “With the rapid market consolidation and so many high profile women leaving the Street, the women couldn’t help but scratch their heads and ask ‘what does this mean for me?’”
“To date, I’ve interviewed more than 200 individuals and there is a continued thirst for information about the future landscape for Wall Street. They want to gather with peers and learn from each other and the speakers how to thrive in an ever-changing and demanding environment.”
Newton said she has made two commitments – first, to provide relevant, actionable content on the future of the industry and what it takes to succeed at today’s top financial services companies; and, second, to provide networking opportunities for the group of high powered, seasoned women. “It’s invitation only,” she explained, pointing out that last year’s event drew over 100 attendees. “It’s key that participants have a comfortable environment in which to explore these issues so critical to them.”
Advice for Women in Wealth Management
“Women are responsible for the majority of financial decisions in this country and I think that is a great opportunity for women in our industry. We’re great at connecting with other people, listening, and understanding their mindset. The challenge is that it takes a huge amount of commitment and dedication to serve our clients well,” Newton said.
“My work requires me to continually educate myself. The biggest challenge I hear from other advisors is that they are surprised at how much work it takes. If you want to do it well, it takes a lot of work to be there for your clients 24/7.”
Newton advises women just entering the workforce – no matter their profession – to enter a field they are passionate about. “Find out what your passion is and try to find an environment where you think you’re going to fit in with the people there. Take the initiative to develop yourself and establish yourself and figure out what you want to do longer term.”
“And realize you can learn a lot from being around a lot of smart people.”
Newton recommends college graduates step into the workforce before pursuing graduate studies. She earned her MBA at NYU’s Stern School of Business while building her career at JP Morgan.
She encourages senior-level women to stretch their boundaries. “Continue to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you. The financial services world is changing pretty quickly– if you stand still, you’re behind.”
Thinking about your legacy is also important, she continued, “Ask yourself what you want to be known for.”
Finally, she said, “Ask how you are going to help others, especially the women coming up behind you. Help them, and in turn, you might help yourself.”
While RegentAtlantic is a small firm of about 40 people, it does offer a robust leadership development program and a mentoring initiative, Newton said. “We all work together to support our mutual success. We have no silos here, instead we reach across the firm to help each other to help our clients. In a boutique-sized firm like RegentAtlantic, each person can have a huge impact on the business. ”
She added, “And there’s the potential to become an owner is the firm – if that’s not a retention tool, I don’t know what is. As a partner, taking a key leadership role in the firm is both a huge opportunity and responsibility.”