Voice of Experience: Angela Raitzin, Managing Principal and Head of New York Office, Morton Capital Management

By Melissa J. Anderson (New York City)

Angela Raitzin, Managing Principal and Head of the New York Office of Morton Capital, says she is dedicated to encouraging women to join and stay in the financial industry.

“I think, particularly as a more senior woman, you have to make time for mentoring. At multiple points in my career, I made it a point to recruit and encourage women to consider financial services and investment banking in particular as a career. Encouraging women to join is the first step but encouraging them to stay, and getting them over the hump from the VP or Director and Managing Director levels is also crucial, “she explained. “Starting over 10 years ago Wall Street made a big push to hire more women and I have seen many positive signs in the past 5 years that they are now making strides to retain these same women.”

She is particularly enthusiastic about the benefits of working in financial advising. As an active recruiter of students from her business school to New York, she says emphasizing the entrepreneurial spirit and the flexible hours associated with financial advising is key. “Both are important to the advancement and retention of women.”

She continued, “For one, you can cast a wide net in terms of your clients. And second, there is much more flexibility to your schedule. In my own case, I didn’t have that degree of flexibility earlier in my career and I think it’s a huge positive.”

Career Path in Finance

Raitzin described her career as an adventure. “After undergrad, I went to Siberia as part of a Russian exchange program. This was right after Perestroika, the fall of 1992. The job market was not too different from what it is right now, and when I got back, I went to work for PwC in Audit (which is now Assurance).”

She was unsure she would fit in at the firm – after all, she explained, she had a liberal arts degree rather than a business or finance degree. But she ended up spending three years there, developing close friendships with her colleagues. “I hit a ceiling very quickly though, and went to work as an analyst for the company that became Xerox.”

In 1998, Raitzin went back to school for her MBA at the Cox School of Business. “I was one of 120 to graduate in my class. Later, I was invited to serve on the Board, and I’m proud to still be there.” In 2009, she was honored as an outstanding alum as well.

Between her first and second years in graduate school, she interned at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. “I was the first person at my school to get that type of internship. This was the summer of 1999, when the Euro was being introduced and Glass-Steagall was being repealed – it was an exciting time of change.”

After her internship, Raitzin took a position at Donaldson Lufkin, and three weeks later, the firm was bought by Credit Suisse. “That was my welcome to New York, the financial services, and M&A,” she said with a laugh. She stayed at Credit Suisse for 6 more years and joined its sales and trading desk as a product specialist. From there, she went on to spend two years in investment banking at JP Morgan, and then another three years in investment banking at Deutsche Bank.

“Just over two years ago, I had a son, and decided to transition out of sales and trading,” she said. “I would have been working during all of my son’s waking hours during the week.” She opted to join a firm she knew well and whose values she shared.

Now Raitzin heads up the New York office of Morton Capital Management, a firm she had worked with frequently throughout her years in investment banking. Her most exciting project at the firm currently is a new transition model. She explained, “I am developing a program working with people who are going through a transition. In my own case, I had my retirement accounts at three different places from the three different banks where I had worked, and when I made my last career transition, I took that as an opportunity to get my own financial house in order.”

She continued, “So the focus is on people who are going through a transition – maybe a change in marital status, selling a family business, or starting a new job. I find that people really need an impetus for getting their financial house in order, and these kinds of life changes can create that opportunity. Transition planning is a relatively unique approach for people going through a change at a challenging time, and it’s a model I don’t see being done in the industry right now.”

She is also interested in the effect baby boomers are going to have (and are already having) on the financial industry. “It’s an issue for individuals as well as for society. I think we’re going to see a shift as more baby boomers reach retirement. And there’s also a sense that 75 is the new 65 for investors – a sense that many will work longer to achieve the goals that may have slipped in the past decade.”

Raitzin continued, “It’s an emotional topic and I don’t want to sound dramatic. But I think it’s going to be seismic. It’s going to change the products being offered in terms of safety and security for individuals.”

Women in Financial Services

Raitzin says she wishes women in finance were more visible – which would ultimately help drive female recruitment into the field. “In my own experience, women make fantastic financial advisors. I know so many women who have stuck with it and been successful. I think women excel at building relationships and they excel at communication. There are relatively fewer women in this type of role, but I think we could recruit more.”

“Being successful in the field is about perseverance,” she continued. “This industry, the financial advising business, is very entrepreneurial. There are plenty of peaks and valleys, but women who have stayed focused here have been tremendously successful. It’s about persevering, relationship building, and communicating.”

Raitzin says she wishes she had learned earlier about the importance of being open to new opportunities. “Step outside your comfort zone and trust your instincts.”

“In the fall of 2001, I was approached to join the sales and trading desk in Private Banking at Credit Suisse. They approached me, and I interviewed and received an offer. When I was talking to people about accepting, they told me I was crazy,” she said with a laugh. “But it really led to ten plus years of very positive experiences, because I was open to something different and followed my instincts.”

She added, “It’s important to be open to advice, but I’m glad I disregarded my nay-sayers.”

“Women should also plan for their future,” she continued. “We always need to be thinking about the next five years, and the next five years after that. When we have reached a certain amount of success, we may not be thinking about what’s next, but complacency should never be the order of the day.”

In Her Personal Time

Raitzin is on the board of the Center for Urban Community Services and chairs the Development Committee. “Our mission is to end homelessness and create opportunities. If you look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you see that if you don’t have a safe place to sleep or spend the night, it’s more difficult to be a productive member of society. Our goal is to get people into permanent housing, giving them that necessary foundation.”

She continued, “We also work to get families back together and to bring children out of foster care. We provide learning services and college prep. It’s not just about helping this generation but the next generation as well. It’s about breaking the cycle of poverty.”

Raitzin is also a member of Golden Seeds. “We’re the fourth largest angel investing group in the community and we invest in women-owned companies. We believe access to funding and mentoring is the air and water for new businesses.”

She added with a laugh, “And with the time I have left, I’m potty training a two-year-old!”