Faces of T. Rowe Price: Niki Green, Senior Retirement Sales Executive
After being in the business for 28 years, I can say one of the things that really sets T. Rowe Price apart is that, from the leadership down, everyone truly works for the benefit of the client. That's not common, especially in sales. - Niki Green
After almost four decades in the financial services industry and experience at four different companies, Niki Green made a move to T. Rowe Price in 2016. With such an extensive and varied background in investment banking, she immediately recognized the uniqueness of T. Rowe Price's work culture, noting how long most associates had been with the firm.
The fact that T. Rowe Price's sales team positions are salaried was also attractive. "Salespeople are often compensated by commission, and I think that can drive the wrong kind of behavior," Niki says. At this stage in her career, she wanted to join an organization that would give her some autonomy and the ability to maintain relationships. "Many sales organizations are very numbers oriented and focused only on quarter-by-quarter short-term results," she explains. "They're not looking at the long-term picture."
While working for the past three years as Vice President, Senior Retirement Sales Executive at T. Rowe Price, she has witnessed first-hand the company-wide focus on doing what's best for the client in the long term. That philosophy drives the work culture. "Here, you're given this freedom and autonomy to create an experience for your clients that's also aligned with corporate goals," Niki explains. "Ultimately it's about growing assets and getting sales, but at this firm, it's achieved through a completely different approach. It's refreshing, especially for someone in my stage of a career."
As someone who has decades of experience in the business, Niki represents a variety of minority groups, particularly in investment banking. "Not only am I over 50, but I'm female, Asian, and a lesbian," she says. "I don't know that you could find much more diversity than me."
Whereas other companies might want to hire her so that they can check off a diversity box in their company profile, Niki believes T. Rowe Price values her unique perspective. "They put me in the position where I can succeed in an area that best suits who I am as an individual," says Niki. "And they help me draw on all my strengths as a way of building relationships."
At T. Rowe Price, Niki's diversity is seen as a rich resource, especially as the business environment is shifting with more women working as CFOs, CEOs, heads of human resources, and as other decision-makers at organizations. "Frankly, sometimes it's easier for those female advisors to work with a female sales rep on a closer level," says Niki. "After all women live longer and tend to make less money during their working years, and so a company must work toward helping women find suitable products to best meet their retirement goals."
Niki was one of a few women in her division when she started with the firm in 2016. In the years since she has helped recruit two more to the team. "Quite frankly, no one is killing it right now in regards to female representation," she says. Where T. Rowe Price particularly excels, according to Niki, is in matching associates with the types of clients who reside in that local area.
She believes T. Rowe Price has a unique perspective on diversity because its headquarters are in the vibrant city of Baltimore instead of someplace like New York or Boston. "It's an open culture, and everyone is encouraged to collaborate in a great way – much more than any company I've ever worked for," Niki explains.
Looking back, Niki has been able to maintain relationships with her advisors and clients through each of her company moves because of the reputation she has built in her local market. But she encourages those who are just starting their career journey to be patient. "You're building a practice, representing a brand, and doing the job that you can do to communicate the company that you represent," Niki says. They should also remember that people, both clients, and colleagues, have long memories. "Don't try to slight somebody to get that immediate sale because that could potentially alienate different relationships, and you're in it for the long run," says Niki. "When I realized that T. Rowe Price is so client-centered and everyone is in alignment working towards that common goal, I knew it was for me. You can't match the culture here."
Faces of T. Rowe Price: Samantha Pilon, Senior Manager, Relationship Management for Individual Investors
We're very open here, very clear about our mission and goals, both for our clients and our associates. And for me, as a leader, it's all about those relationships. Working closely with my team and helping our clients save for retirement and for their family – I just love what I do. I love coming to work every day.
- Samantha Pilon
Samantha Pilon has worn many hats at T. Rowe Price, steadily climbing the ranks in her various roles over the past 12 years. Right after graduating from college, she was working at the firm as a phone representative. One day, a supervisor tapped her with a new opportunity. "She told me she thought I would be a great leader for the team," she recalls. "She saw something in me that would allow me to grow professionally."
The supervisor was right— Samantha was perfect for the role."I love leading a team," she explains. In her career at T. Rowe Price, Samantha has led supervisor teams and back-office groups. Now, she's leading relationship management teams. "I thrive off the people, and I love seeing people grow," she says.
Although men do outnumber women in her new position, Samantha doesn't find it at all intimidating. "We are all just talking and working with clients who are just like us, who want help with their retirement plans," she explains. "We put the client at the center of everything that we're doing. It's always coming back to the client."
Samantha is also involved with WAVE @ T. Rowe Price, a women's business resource group at the firm. "We recently had a great talk and forum discussion about women feeling they need to get tapped, or that they have to be 100 percent ready for a business role before they go for it," she says. "Meanwhile, men are more likely to take the risk to apply for a role even if they aren't perfectly qualified."
That discussion struck a personal chord with Samantha, recalling how she felt upon entering the workforce 12 years ago. She believed that she, too, had to be tapped before seeking more professional responsibility. "But now I feel comfortable and confident based on what I've been able to achieve here," she says. "I'm raising my hand to tap myself now."
Her confidence is well-earned. Over the years, she has excelled at positions in a variety of departments like operations, brokerage, business improvement, client development sales, and Salesforce. Some people are surprised to hear she has worked at the same company since graduating from college, but Samantha has an understandable explanation. "I tell them, "You have no idea how much I've moved around within [the firm]. I've been a part of so many different groups and tried so many new things." Samantha has found abundant opportunity inside the firm instead of looking elsewhere for professional satisfaction.
In one of her roles, she was part of an agile development project focused on improving how quickly teams work and respond. "It's a business value-driven approach to development so instead of building something and taking two years, you're building a tiny bit of it as you go," she explains. Now that she's been working in her new role for about a month, she can introduce some of those best practices to her current team.
As she settles into her new position, Samantha doesn't feel the pressure to be an expert on everything or have all the answers. Thanks to the firm's collaborative environment, she can call on peers for help and draw on some of those past relationships as a resource.
"I have lifelong friends at T. Rowe Price," Samantha says, "It makes coming to work better. After all, you spend so much time in your life at work that you have to love what you do. Clearly, I'm happy coming to work – I've been here for 12 years after all. I think that says something."