By Bailey Davis | Retail investment services officer, Bankers Trust
Each of us can look back on certain moments in our lives and think, "Wow, that person made a difference."

I wouldn’t be an investment officer if it weren't for my first mentor—a fiercely strong, motivated colleague who became my manager (and branch manager) at the credit union we worked at. I always looked up to her as a female powerhouse who holds her own in a male-dominated field.

Although I played "banker" as a kid, consistently saved my money, and worked in banking since I was 16, Courtney opened my eyes to new options by asking probing questions and explaining concepts from top to bottom. She taught me why savings accounts are not always the most appropriate savings tool, and explained how mutual funds would allow me to take advantage of longer time horizons and participate in market gains.

Courtney gave me the confidence I needed to look out for myself and my financial well-being. It’s because of her early, positive influence I chose a career path that allows me to empower other women (and men) through their finances. She helped mold my thinking from a young age, bettering me personally and professionally.

Now I use the lessons she instilled in me every day. Here’s how.

There’s no shame in starting small. Investing is for everyone. Courtney persuaded me to eat fewer lunches out, which led me to start investing $50 a month. It shouldn’t matter if you have $50 or $5,000 to invest each paycheck — you can start small and take simple steps now to grow your money.

I work with young clients who have been turned away by other advisers who told them to come back when they have more money. I want to be the person who gives them a chance to invest. As Courtney explained to 18-year-old me, we all need to start somewhere.

Break down conventional gender roles. My experience buying my first car was much different than getting started investing. I felt like I was invisible – no one at the dealership asked if I needed help. Instead they asked questions like, "Are you waiting for your husband?" and "Do you need to run this by your dad?"

Unfortunately, most women have similar experiences of being treated differently than men in service encounters – and the investment world is no exception. It can be intimidating to sit across from a financial adviser. And many women feel more comfortable asking questions when they’re sitting across from another woman.

Some of my female clients come to me in the midst of big life changes and are ready to take charge of their personal finances. I assure them they can manage their finances on their own and explain how I use my knowledge to make their money work harder for them. I strive to give these women the confidence they need to thrive in their new chapter.

Just like Courtney made me feel at ease (she taught me there is no such thing as a stupid question), I strive to provide thorough explanations, assure my clients I’m here and happy to answer their questions, and often ask for their thoughts and opinions.

Listen, relate and teach. I want my clients to have the same encouraging and engaging experience I had with Courtney. It’s important that women ask their questions so they can be informed and empowered to make solid financial decisions.

Using my expertise to educate clients gives them the power and knowledge they need to make decisions that lead to financial success. When I see my clients achieve their financial goals, it motivates me to use my tools, knowledge and resources to help others bring their dreams to life.
How can you use your role to educate and empower women?

Bailey Davis is a retail investment services officer at Bankers Trust, with more than 10 years of experience in the financial services industry. She has a degree in business administration from the University of Iowa and maintains her FINRA Series 6, NASAA 63 and NASAA 65, as well as her Iowa Producers Life license, with life, variable, accident and health lines of authority.

Bailey Davis is a financial adviser with Securities America Inc. Securities offered through Securities America Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Securities America Advisors Inc. Bankers Trust, BTC Financial Services, a division of Bankers Trust, and Securities America are separate companies. Not FDIC insured--no bank guarantees--may lose value--not a deposit and not insured by any government agency.