Kirstin Turner sees smart financial planning as more than a path to retirement or a formula for asset growth. For her it’s a gateway to social change.

The Florida-based RBC complex director, who oversees seven offices, 62 advisers and $36 million in production, entered the profession at age 27. She got her start with Smith Barney after five years in the commercial design field.

With few potential client contacts, she began networking in and around Sarasota, where she was living. Part of her strategy was to volunteer. Turner began by helping domestic abuse survivors learn to balance checkbooks and write resumes. “I fell in love with the way I felt when I saw someone leave a situation, to get in a better situation,” she says.

Kirstin Turner, finds that service and business go hand-in-hand.
Kirstin Turner's career has been on parallel tracks with service to the community.

At the same time, she was cold calling until her neck was stiff. “Three years later I had a business,” she says. “The busier you are, the more you get accomplished.”

But Turner said she knew she wanted more. In the few spare moments between working, volunteering and raising the first of three children, she sought new opportunities. She took a position as a training officer in Smith Barney's Southeast region and later landed a sales manager role, requiring her to move to Houston.

All the while, she never stopped helping others. In Texas, she began working among low income and minority neighborhoods. “That’s when I really saw the power of teaching children,” she says. What the kids learned during the day, they’d bring home and tell their parents at night, she says. “We were changing a whole generation.”

In the months following the financial crisis, Turner again moved to take a position, this time as Smith Barney's branch manager in Peoria, Ill. It was a big vote of confidence during a historic downturn.

Sticking with Smith Barney after it was acquired by Morgan Stanley, she returned to Houston to run a bigger branch of 40 advisers. In just a little more than a decade , Turner had gone from cold calling to managing branches, all while raising a family, moving around the country, and helping those in need.

Turner, now 43, is RBC’s only female complex director, a position she’s held since joining the firm in late 2013. “I like to run our business like a family business,” she says. She has everyone’s birthday on a calendar and calls or texts employees on their special day.

Her efforts at team building have paid off. In the time she’s been at the firm, production has grown by 22% and she’s added $1 billion in assets. “I want employees to be proud not only to work at RBC, but to work at RBC in Florida,” she adds.

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