Women of Northwestern Mutual Manhattan Beach

Above L to R: Back: Michelle Dixon, Talia Cheatham, Shirley Medina, Alexandra Costello, Sarah McCann, Riley Ritchie, Maggie Malyn, Miho Manabe | Front: Caitlin Quattrocchi, Eugenia Aizcorbe, Barbara Bernstein, Roberta Fitzgerald, Heather Quinn, Brittney Durbin, Krys Kabe, Ilana Sloggatt

Northwestern Mutual is a Fortune 500 company that provides a wide range of financial services to more than 4.6 million people nationwide. The advisors at the Manhattan Beach location offer wealth management, retirement planning, life insurance, estate analysis, investment strategies, education funding, disability insurance and group employee benefits. 

What is your professional superpower?

The topic of personal finances can often come with stress, guilt and regret. Our superpower is in creating a judgment-free space for clients to come as they are and to partner in getting them where they want to be. We don’t waste time on what we think we should have done. Instead, we get to work on laying a foundation of financial education and providing specific recommendations to show them where we go from here. Each person’s planning journey is unique, and women are so successful in this career because of their natural ability to ask the questions that get to the heart of a client’s goals and to the values that drive them. Understanding the greater “why” is the key to inspiring our clients to take the action necessary to achieve what they want most.

How do you help clients avoid making rash decisions?

We have a specific focus on educating and empowering our clients around their finances. In the past, we’ve had clients (particularly women) who have complained that their advisor would talk down to them or that they never really understood what they were doing or why. We invest according to the plan, so we feel it is important to help our clients understand the reasons behind why we are making certain recommendations. We don’t need to make someone an expert, but we do feel that placing an emphasis on educating our clients is important. So even if the market is volatile, clients are staying the course and not making reactive changes to the market. We only make changes when the plan changes.  

Tell us about a unique approach you took to solving a client’s problem.

Often we prioritize lifestyle goals over numbers. For example, if our only concern is relaying the exact dollar amount a woman and her family can expect to have when she retires, then we miss out on what is most important to her. Does this mean she gets to travel with her children? How will her day-to-day look different? Women also tend to be more concerned about the important people in their lives. Will her parents and children be taken care of? We try to hit on every facet of this conversation to make sure each client’s plan is reflective of their values and lifestyle.

What is the most important step you take to understand the unique needs of each client?

We never start any business relationship without a foundation of trust, authenticity and genuine connection, which allows for open and honest communication about the true needs of each client. We’re actively seeking natural connections with clients for whom we can truly create value and impact. There’s no room for smoke and mirrors in a business sustained by long-lasting client relationships. People can sense that we have their best interest at heart. When they get that feeling not only does the relationship last, but they want to tell other people about us.

Tell us something unique about women in your industry.

Women are not only more involved in financial services than ever before, but women’s control over our nation’s wealth is about to double from where it currently sits at $14 trillion. According to a 2020 study conducted by McKinsey & Company, “By 2030, American women are expected to control much of the $30 trillion in financial assets that baby boomers will possess—a potential wealth transfer of such magnitude that it approaches the annual GDP of the United States.”

What is the biggest challenge in your work?

Bringing more women into the industry, both as clients and as advisors themselves. Women often perceive that the financial services industry was built by men, for men. In many ways, they are correct. When meeting with a financial advisor, women tend to prepare, study and research in advance of the meeting much more often than their male counterparts. Interestingly, when women meet with female financial advisors, they feel less pressure to do this same level of preparation—allowing for a more comfortable, collaborative experience.

Disclaimer: Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NM) and its subsidiaries, including Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC (NMIS) (investment brokerage services), a registered investment adviser, broker-dealer, and member of FINRA (finra.org) and SIPC (sipc.org), and Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company® (NMWMC) (investment advisory and trust services), a federal savings bank. NM and its subsidiaries are in Milwaukee, WI. Sarah McCann, Barbara Bernstein, Heather Quinn, Krys Kabe, Roberta Fitzgerald, Brittney Durbin, and Miho Manabe are Insurance Agents of NM. Sarah McCann, Barbara Bernstein, Heather Quinn, Krys Kabe, and Roberta Fitzgerald are Registered Representatives of NMIS. Michelle Dixon, Talia Cheatham, Shirley Medina, Riley Ritchie, Maggie Malyn, Caitlin Quattrocchi, Eugenia Aizcorbe, and Ilana Sloggatt are employed by the General Agent and associated with the local office listed. Recruiters are not licensed insurance agents, registered representatives of a broker-dealer, investment adviser representatives of a registered investment adviser, or representatives of a federal savings bank.

Photographed by Shane O’Donnell