How did you end up working in banking?
It wasn’t something I had planned on. I grew up in Boston and studied psychology and economics at Vanderbilt. After school I landed at a small firm that did consulting in the financial industry. It was a great experience — I was constantly traveling and meeting new people. But after 10 years and a couple of acquisitions of my company, I was diagnosed with cancer. Following that battle, I decided to create a lifestyle with a bit more stability.
I had met Nandita Bakhshi (now TD Bank’s Head of Retail Distribution and Products) when I was in consulting, and she played a big role in bringing me to TD Bank. I consider Nandita to be a mentor to me and an inspiration to women in banking. I joined TD in 2010 as a Vice President in our retail product group. I was promoted to a Senior Vice President in 2013 and now lead the team that manages a number of our consumer-oriented products like checking accounts, savings accounts and CDs.
As a banking industry “insider,” any tips you would give to consumers?
There’s no shortcut to taking the time to budget and really understand your financial situation. Use the tools your bank provides. I automatically direct deposit my own biweekly paycheck into multiple accounts — one for savings, one for fixed monthly costs and bills and another for nonregular costs like a night out or even a trip. I monitor all these accounts on a weekly, if not daily, basis with online and mobile banking so I always know if I need to take action to meet a savings goal, or even how a change in a monthly bill impacts my spending money.
You can get additional value from your bank accounts by having more than one account or product at your bank. For example, at TD Bank, you can have monthly fees for our Simple Savings account waived if you link it with any TD Bank checking account and transfer $25 into your savings each month. And if you link a TD checking account with our Relationship Savings account, you’ll actually get a higher interest rate on your balances. You can even get a rate discount on a mortgage when you have a TD Checking Account. From the inside looking out, I can say that banks are fighting for your business, which is why we design TD products to work together to create value for our customers.
Any advice specifically for women when it comes to banking?
More and more women are managing their household finances and they should have the confidence to ask questions when they don’t know the answer. In my own banking experiences, and from my time in the industry, I would say that women feel pressure to know all the answers before talking to someone about purchasing a new product. If you feel that way, don’t. It’s not stupid to ask your banker questions. On the contrary, it’s quite smart. When it comes to choosing a bank and an account, think about what you’re looking for and then go ask a banker how you can get there. If you don’t like the answers you’re getting then don’t hesitate to go ask the question at another bank.
What’s the worst personal banking mistake you’ve ever made?
Two mistakes come to mind, and I know a lot people will be able to relate to them. First, I’ve hurried through a transfer between my accounts and ended up transferring money in the wrong direction, which meant I didn’t have enough money to cover a purchase I made. I learned my lesson and now I take the time I need to manage my finances carefully. Taking a little extra time to pay attention saves me stress and hassle in the long run.
The other mistake I’ve made is writing my sister a check that she must have tossed in her kitchen junk drawer for a few months before depositing it. By the time it cleared I didn’t have enough money in my account to cover it (because I forgot I had written the check), and it ended up bouncing on my end and creating a returned check cost for her. I’m hoping mistakes like this are a thing of the past because both my sister and I now use mobile deposit to deposit checks right from our phones.
When did you know you had made it in banking?
Since I manage the team that runs our consumer deposit products, my name is on many letters that we mail to our customers about account changes. My nephew has an account with TD Bank, and one day he got an official letter in the mail from TD and he was so excited to see his aunt’s name on it that he took it to show-and-tell at school. When my sister told me the news, I knew I had made it.