Voice of Experience: Valerie S. Peters, CTFA®, Senior Vice President and Head of Relationship Services; Abbot Downing

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“When I entered the corporate world over 20 years ago, I believed that it was possible to achieve anything with hard work and discipline, and I still believe those are key ingredients to success,” says Valerie Peters, who serves as operations leader for Abbot Downing, a Wells Fargo business serving ultra-high-net-worth clients.

Her career path has proven the value of focusing on a goal….and working to achieve it.

Each Experience Leads One Step Closer to Career Goals

Peters started her career in retail banking as a customer service phone representative and then transferred to the commercial real estate division, where she was selected for the management trainee program. She immediately felt drawn to the wealth management arena during a rotation in the trust area, and with that eventual role in mind, she began looking for opportunities that would help her build the skills she needed.

She took a role managing a team of client service professionals supporting wealth management clients with their banking, investment and fiduciary servicing needs; from there, she moved on to become a manager within a trust center and eventually transferred to the division that served ultra-high-net worth clients. Her time working in client-facing, trust services and operational roles were each stepping stones that helped prepare her for her current position as operations leader for Abbot Downing.

In her quest for continuing education, Peters counts achieving her designation as a CTFA (Certified Trust and Financial Advisor) several years ago as one of her proudest moments. “I had spent several years working in the fiduciary area, and earning the CTFA was a culmination of the time I spent gaining work experience, as well as obtaining knowledge through the various trust school programs I have been fortunate enough to attend,” she says.

Sponsors and Mentors as a Key Ingredient to Success

Along the way, Peters has found that sponsors and mentors are crucial and has appreciated the support they have given. She has also looked externally to find role models to emulate; one of her personal role models is Ursula Burns, who came from modest beginnings to become the first African-American woman to lead a Fortune 500 company. “I have long been inspired by her hard work and dedication,” Peters says, citing her strong work ethic and commitment to learning the ins and outs of business through a variety of roles.

Over the years, Peters has participated in a number of programs geared towards retaining diverse talent, including women, naming the Diverse Leaders Program as one of the most impactful. “The whole time I participated in the program, I felt that I was valued not only for what I do within the organization, but also for who I am and how the perspectives and insights gained through life experience shape my thoughts, ideas and values,” she says.

When Peters is away from work, she values time spent with her family—a favorite escape is spending time at the beach unwinding and enjoying the ocean. “We try and get away as often as possible when the kids are on break from school,” she says.