Esther Angrisano, godmother of the network of young BT financial planning hopefuls, came into the financial planning world by accident.
Perhaps not surprisingly, about 50% of people working in financial planning have also come into the industry a little “accidentally”. Because the career has not been seen as one for many years, it is usually because of some unexpected experiences with financial planners or a circuitous route to the industry that sees people enter.
For Esther, her role is different. She is not a financial planner herself but more a financial planner wrangler. Currently a regional manager for St George Financial Planning, she has run the Stella Careers programme for BT for the past three years. This entails providing mentorship, access to role models in the business and teaching soft skills to groups of women in the business keen to move into financial planning positions.
Starting her career in an administrative position at a trade union, Esther was given a baptism of fire in customer service by being on the end of phone hearing complaints from employees all day. After reaching the end of her patience here she moved into the much calmer environment of personal super administration. This led to a move to helping top advisers which led to her work with teams of advisers at dealer groups and then to BT in a practice development role.
Some of her responsibilities were implementing strategy, full service packages, pricing models, adviser to client processes.
“Getting the best out of people and seeing people achieve anything that they couldn’t imagine achieving in their wildest dreams is what keeps me going,” Esther says.
“Working with a ‘green’ planner who thinks they can’t do it and then exceeding my expectations in the role is rewarding.
“I love how we help our customers. I manage financial planners because they make such a difference to our clients’ lives and more Australians need advice.”
Women in financial planning
Esther is nothing if not passionate about women in financial planning. “I feel I have worked extremely hard to make my way in a male dominated industry and worked my way up the corporate ladder and to have had incredible female role models who have helped me achieved what I’ve achieved and I’d now like to leave some kind of legacy and inspire other people,” she says.
“We’ve come a long way in the sense that there’s been a genuine focus from our leaders in the business. It’s not a tick the box exercise to get females in planning. We’re looking for the right type of women and we want a mix.
“Women definitely need to be managed different from me, women need more encouragement while often the men need to be brought back to earth.”
The Stella Network
“There’s always been a perception that we’re not and shouldn’t be part of a professional group that is all about women – but I think we’ve still got a long way to go to change people’s perceptions. I’m proud to be part of an organisation like BT that prides itself of providing the best situation to Australians and making sure we can add value to people’s lives,” Esther says.
Esther says she is keen to continue mentoring financial planners in the future. “It’s something I might consider full time down the track.”