A holiday reflection written by eMoney CEO Ed O’Brien
I love this time of year in the Northeast. Fall doesn’t fade into winter; rather, it slowly but surely presents a magnificent symphony of changes for all of those who are willing to stop for a minute and admire them. From the crispness in the air to the explosion of color found in the trees to the scent of freshly lit fireplaces, there’s something profound to be discovered in places where you can literally witness the transition from old to new over and over again.
Perhaps it’s the notion of having something to look forward to every few months after you’ve had your share of 90-degree days or below-zero nights, or maybe it’s the odd sense of comfort found in natural change. Whatever it may be, I’m fortunate for the decades of distinct seasons I experienced growing up in New England and the continued opportunity to do so now living in the Philadelphia area.
For me, this feeling of seasonal security is undoubtedly anchored in holiday traditions. And although it’s unfortunate that sometimes taking extra time to reflect on what and who we are thankful needs to be teed up by turkey, I rely on the holidays to provide a welcome reminder to take a step back and appreciate what’s around me. And while many of us celebrate Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and various other winter holidays with additional layers of gratitude for family and friends, I often find myself giving equal thanks to the people I spend the majority of my days with – my colleagues and coworkers who help me bring to life the mission of eMoney Advisor.
Think about it – the majority of us spend more time working than we do anything else. The most recent American Time Use Survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics found that employed people age 25-54 with children spend most of their day – about nine hours on average – working. For many of us, it’s longer than that, which may be necessary sometimes as business grows or new projects arise.
So as you’re barreling full speed ahead to meet a deadline, launch a new product or hit your numbers, why not take advantage of the changing seasons paired with holiday traditions to pause and call out the good in what you do for a living? No matter your field, level of experience or skillset, we all contribute to something greater, and it’s critical for us to see the forest through the trees if we want to be satisfied, let alone successful.
I’ve worked in Financial Services for 30 years. Amid shifts in the regulatory environment, evolving client expectations, and increasing competition, I make it a point to remember that we actually do help people. At eMoney, we make financial technology that enables financial advisors and firms better serve their clients and reach their financial goals. To me, assisting people in some small way as they strive to fulfill their dreams for themselves and their families is a noble service.
Coming to this conclusion was a process, but it was made clear to me years ago when I was traveling on business in Seoul, Korea. I was working as a consultant to a large financial services firm at the time, and we were conducting focus groups with customers. Through an interpreter, we asked many questions about saving money and the methods used to do so. An older gentleman’s simple story stands out to this day. He explained that having access to mutual funds when he was younger allowed him to save money and throw a beautiful wedding for his daughter, which was an important life goal for him. Now while I realize that this doesn’t come close to curing cancer, I take pride in knowing that the financial services industry helps millions of people accomplish goals and better their lives in ways that are both big and small.
During my short time as CEO of eMoney, I’ve already acquired an even better perspective on how we help our customers position their clients for success. We make it our mission every day to listen to them and create technology solutions that increase their value as financial professionals so they can deliver financial advice to more people who need it. We invest our time and resources into building products and features and providing services to nearly 40,000 financial advisors, so they can not only do their jobs more efficiently but also relentlessly work with their clients’ best interests in mind, building stronger relationships along the way.
Our latest product roadmap, which includes everything from an Advanced Analytics tool that helps advisors use data to better meet client needs, to our forthcoming Digital Advice Solution, reinforces our commitment to providing a path to advice for those who might not otherwise seek it. If we, at eMoney, lost sight of this vision we wouldn’t be able to develop the solutions that our clients need most. My inherent passion for this work is fueled by both long-term goals and short-term recognition of why what we accomplish at eMoney matters. And I’m thankful for the change of seasons to remind me to take time to recharge this passion and give thanks for big and small wins and the teams of people who make them possible.
So, what makes you thankful for your career? Is it the people on your team who jump in to help without being asked? Maybe it’s your manager who empowers you to do your best work, or your assistant who makes sure you never miss a meeting? Is it the mission of your company or the contributions that your industry makes to society?
With the stress that’s often associated with work, I understand answering these questions may not be easy. We do not all have the luxury to do what we love, but I encourage you to try and find appreciation in “work,” the activity that takes up the majority of your time. If the answers do not come now, perhaps they’ll emerge by Spring.