Tash Elwyn, president of the Private Client Group at Raymond James & Associates discusses his 19 years in the securities business.
I was born in Boston and lived there until the blizzard of 1978. My parents threw in the towel then, and we moved south, to Stone Mountain, Ga., an Atlanta suburb. Focusing on soccer, I was a goalkeeper in high school and played varsity soccer at Emory University during my first two years there.
My full name is Tashtego, after the Native American harpooner in Moby Dick. I explain my name by telling people that I was born in 1971 to parents who were left of center. My childhood was analogous to the 1980s TV show "Family Ties," which starred Michael J. Fox as a conservative child who had liberal parents.
I graduated from Emory with a degree in political science, a major I selected as a result of my parents' influence. They believed people should make a difference in the world. I also studied Russian because I hoped to serve in the Peace Corps in Eastern Europe.
I knew that it could take up to 12 months to hear from the Peace Corps after I graduated, so my Plan B was financial services. A classmate had internships in the industry in New York every summer and raved about them. I also saw it as an opportunity to make a difference in people's lives.
I started with Raymond James as a cold caller and have been here ever since. While in training, I met with a person who called me. Then I learned that the contact information was bogus-he was a secret shopper from the media, part of a study about the advice that people could expect to receive from our industry. At least we fared well in the article.
I've been fortunate in my career. I spent 10 years as an advisor in Atlanta, the last two as an assistant branch manager training and mentoring new advisors. I didn't aspire to become a manager, but if advisors have impact, then managers have the opportunity to have a bigger impact by coaching and supporting them.
For my next assignment, I moved to Chattanooga, Tenn., to become a branch manager for two years. Of all the hats that branch managers wear, I enjoyed training and recruiting the most. Then, I moved to the home office in St. Petersburg, where the firm created a role for me as a divisional sales manager.
A year later, I became a divisional director and helped to manage the East Coast for five years. I was promoted to my current role in 2012. I still work as an advisor and have a group of clients today. I love it, and it makes me better able to support our advisors.
Several years ago, a longtime client sent me an email thanking me for a birthday card I had sent him. He wrote that getting older is no fun, and as he ages he has less patience to deal with the problems of daily life. He also said it meant a lot to him to know he could leave his family's investments in my care. That's what this profession is about.
By the way, the Peace Corps did finally accept me, but I was off to such a great start in this career that I knew I had found my calling in life.
As Told to Pat Olsen