When the Women Advisors Forum conference kicks off in New York on Thursday, it will feature a popular panel titled The Multi-Million Dollar Woman.

The panel will feature four female financial advisors who have risen through the ranks, gathered substantial assets and learned key lessons along the way.

We caught up with our multi-million panel members ahead of the conference to find out how they each got their start in the industry, and what makes their career unique.

Lee DeLorenzo, President, United Asset Strategies Inc.

On how she got her start in the industry:

I had been a bookkeeper at a local manufacturing lighting plant from the time I was 14 to 19. I took a short time off for secretarial school, and my father worked for Connecticut General’s estate planning division, and he said, ‘I want to hire you.’ So after we negotiated salary I went to work for him. And once I started to work for my father, [we] branched off right away into becoming certified financial planners, stock brokers, started a pension company, and long story short it took off.

On facing her biggest challenge:

I guess the biggest challenge for me came during this period of time where my father moved off of Long Island 2,000 miles away to the Virgin Islands. I had my third child and at the time we had three businesses. I was totally beside myself with the volume of work and the new responsibilities put on me. Suddenly I wasn’t just managing this company. I was also supposed to be the sales person. I was also supposed to be the executive. It was just overwhelming, and then with the three kids it was just a really dark period in my life. It wound up that I sold one of the companies, and that was the beginning of what became one of the solutions, was to examine what the problems were, come up with some action plans, and start to implement them, and just by taking one step after another you get empowered.

On advice she gives women looking to break into the industry:

I do recommend that women try to get mentors, and I do recommend that they try not to limit themselves to just one sex, that they have both men and women in their life, and that they also have experience and age to split it, someone old and someone in the middle, so they could have the best of both worlds. A man and a woman, one older and one in that go go stage. If a woman does have the experience of having a glass ceiling and trying to get through it, a man doesn’t. You might have two different perspectives, whereas one had all sorts of challenges to overcome, the other one didn’t see it or feel it and just plows through.

Carrie Gallaway, Senior Vice President of Wealth Management / Financial Advisor, The Sorensen Group, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney

On how she got her start in the industry:

Right out of college, I started with DLJ Direct, which no longer exists. It was the online brokerage firm for DLJ, and it was a really great learning experience. It was as hard as could be, because I started in the summer of ’98, which was the Russian debt crisis, long term capital management then blew up in the fall. We went through a training program for getting licensed, and it was training for customer service. I really took the job because I needed a job, and it ended up being the best first job ever. We were forced to be on the phone with clients who were irate at times. Literally irate. There were people who would be screaming and you developed a really tough skin right away. And that was really good for me.

On her biggest career-defining moment:

I had one manager when I first started who was not very supportive, and then I had another manager who was very supportive. It was amazing when you had a manager who had more confidence in you. For me, it gave me confidence to even do better. That really, for me, was one of the biggest career-defining moments, to have that manager who knew that I had value and had supported me tremendously, recommended me for a promotion, and then that really gave me even more confidence to continue and realize that I had value to add.

On the benefits of working on a team:

For me, the thing that’s really helped is being on a team, especially if you’re young and when you have a family. When I have been on maternity leave, there’s people who are able to cover and it’s not an unfamiliar person to the clients. They know the name, because they see it on their monthly statements, and we’ve always presented it that there might be one person who you primarily talk to, but there’s always a team that’s behind them and there’s that support. When you’re on vacation, you can be a little bit more on vacation, because you know there’s other people who will be able to take calls. It’s not so much of a just a one-person set up.

Sacha Millstone, Senior Vice President, Investments, Millstone Evans Group, Raymond James

On how having a female mentor helped shape her career:

It just so happened that I was getting recruited by a very small firm in Washington, D.C., which is Ferris Baker Watts. But the cool thing was that I was being recruited for a position in the office of a woman named Gail Winslow, and Gail had been in the business for 30 years. She had started in 1954, really a pioneer, and I jumped at that opportunity. She knew so much about the business. She knew a lot about every aspect of it, from marketing to the investment side to being able to navigate through as a woman in the business. It was just very motivating, and I felt great to be on a team and really supported.

On serving as a mentor to other female professionals:

I am really good at that. That’s just a very important thing. It’s in every aspect of my life, not just in our business. It’s been very important to me to support women who are running for elected office, to support women through nonprofit endeavors, education, microlending, things like that. It’s been very important to me to mentor people in our business, and I’m on the Women’s Advisory Council at Raymond James, and I have a mentee in our training program right now. I really try to encourage young women to think about this business.

On the advantage women have in the wealth management industry:

This business is a great business because you can build your own practice, you can build your own business. You don’t have to worry that much about firm politics. You can have the success you want depending on how smart you work and how hard you work. I think the advantages to women are that they have pretty much unlimited earnings potential, and that’s a huge advantage. They can rise as high as they want as long as they’re wiling to make that happen. There are not very many of us. That’s a tragedy. But for those of us who are in the business, it’s an advantage. I think a lot of people do want to work with women.

Dorie Rosenband, CEO, &Wealth Partners

On how she got her start in the industry:

I am actually the third generation in my family of financial advisor professionals, so this is the business that I grew up with in my family. And when I was 22 years old, I decided that it was time to get very serious about my career. I researched all around the industry, and ultimately decided that the best training platform that was available was through Smith Barney’s financial consultant training program. I was the youngest woman ever hired into that program at that time when I was 23. I started in Chicago and continued to work there for nine years at Smith Barney in Chicago, and then I moved with Smith Barney to New York City, where I stayed for three more years. Throughout that time I built this comprehensive planning business, where because of the confines of a brokerage firm I did a lot of investment management work, but always looked holistically at clients and really wanted to service them in a more complete way.

On how she started her own firm:

I became an RIA in 2009 and set up my own business, and have really specialized my business since then. Now that I can look back three years later, I have to say it was a very successful transition. I took a lot of time to think through and plan all of the moving parts from the entrepreneurial standpoint of becoming a business owner, and then the CFP perspective of setting up a planning practice and then setting up an investment advisory business. I really took time and care to think through every single piece. I just really wanted to make sure I was being thoughtful and making sure that clients would have a good experience and that they would feel the difference in my satisfaction, in being in a different set up and a different environment and being able to serve them in a more comprehensive way.

On how she found her practice niche:

I ultimately reached the point where I was able to reflect on the relationships I had enjoyed the most, where I thought I had been the most helpful and realized that was in working with women who were experiencing wealth management often for the first time after their husbands had passed away. I really enjoyed that transition of supporting a family through that very difficult, painful process that people go through when they’re starting to manage finances, and made that the focus of &Wealth Partners and haven’t looked back. 

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