During Women’s History Month, we began profiling a series of National Life leaders to hear their experiences navigating both life and the financial industry as a woman. We’ve decided to keep that momentum going…so stay with us as we continue to shine the spotlight on leadership.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Carey Yukich brings over 18 years of financial planning experience to her clients through her firm TrueWealth Advising Group. She brings the same passion and drive that she had as a collegiate volleyball player to her business and her team. Carey resides in Crown Point, Indiana with her husband John, daughters Jessica (21) and Samantha (19) along with their English Mastiff, Brandy and English Bulldog, Bozley. She is a Registered Representative and Investment Adviser Representative of Equity Services, Inc. Her registrations include FINRA Series 65, and 7. She is also licensed in Life, Health and Long-Term Care Insurance.
In late 2001, I was on a soul-searching mission to figure out “what I wanted to be when I grew up.” During this time, I was on maternity leave after the arrival of my youngest daughter and our nation was enduring the wrath of the terrorist attack on 9/11. Amid that uncertainty, I knew one thing for sure, I needed a change in my professional life and make a bigger impact on others. In my research, I read the book Do What You Are by Paul D. Tieger which proved to be an invaluable resource for me. The book was filled with different personal assessments filled with thought provoking questions. As I went through these assessments, it provided a result I already knew: it was time to choose a different profession. It aligned my responses to three professional categories: teaching, counseling, or financial planning. After more research into each recommended category, it became clear to me that financial planning was the professional path I would choose. Financial planning is a field where I felt I could deeply impact people by leveraging both my personal and professional strengths. I started my financial career with Prudential and quickly learned that I wanted the independence of the “Hybrid Channel” (similar to the “affiliated channel” of National Life). This is the point in my career where I started to develop my philosophy on holistic planning. By 2007, I had grown into a leadership position and begun developing my team. In 2012, my husband John joined me, and this is when we started what I would call building our “real” team. It was nice to not feel like I was handling everything on my own and I appreciated true teamwork. By 2014, we created the brand of our current company, TrueWealth Advising Group. In 2015 we added administrative and client services, marketing and business development focus. That’s when we joined National Life and Equity Services. This provided the structure we needed to be a turn-key model and to attract financial advisors to our team. We’ve added at least one financial advisor each year since making that decision.
What do you like most about what you do at National Life?
One of the biggest attractions to National Life is our shared values. The mission of Do good, Be good, Make good closely aligned with our professional and personal values. National Life also has many successful females in leadership positions. Not only on the board of directors, but also Pam Blalock leading the affiliated distribution channel, Carey Earle in marketing and many other women throughout the organization. That’s not the case in a lot of other companies. It’s a battle that women face across industries.
Another reason we chose to align our business with National Life in 2016 was their willingness to not only partner with us, but also treat us like a valued client. TrueWealth Advising Group is an independent firm and we are encouraged to build our own brand. A lot of models in the financial services industry want you to do away with your personal brand and brand yourself as their corporate entity. We wanted the support and guidance of National Life and Equity Services with the ability to remain independently branded while sharing our values and culture. Like National Life, community involvement is also important to our entire team.
Has the industry landscape changed during your career and if it has, what changes have you seen?
I think there has been a shift towards holistic financial planning since I started in the industry back in 2001. When I started, a lot of the companies were talking the holistic planning talk, but they weren’t walking that walk. When I say holistic financial planning, I mean investments, protection, income, liquidity, estate planning, and more, all the pieces of the financial picture. Technology has made a huge advancement in the practices of our industry, so we are not only trying to build our practice, but we are also competing with these technology companies that are trying to make financial planning a commodity. We’ve seen that development and aim to make sure we are innovative and adapt in tandem to fulfill our customer’s needs. Knowing that technology streamlines our services, we’ve spent a lot of time and energy on differentiating ourselves, providing value added services in several key areas, especially integrated planning for business owners and individuals, estate planning, collaboration, and coaching. Coaching is right up my alley, before I got into the corporate finance world what I really wanted to do was be a collegiate volleyball coach. Having a coaching background is applicable in our industry because financial coaching is what people need. You can plan all day long, but if you don’t implement, the best laid plans aren’t going to help.
Are there any women who have inspired you in your life?
It’s very hard for me to narrow it down to one so I’ll give you a short list. First, my grandmothers, mother, and younger sister on the personal side. And then I would say two strong women coaches: Beth Launiere, the Women’s Volleyball Head Coach at the University of Utah, who I had the great fortune of being coached by during high school; and Pat Summit, (who passed away in 2016) Head Coach of University of Tennessee women’s basketball. More recently, outside of the athletic arena, would be Nikki Haley. All these women are tenacious and passionate in their beliefs, and they’re great at pushing through any obstacles that stand in their way.
What advice would you give to young women that are just beginning their careers?
Mentorship. Find a mentor and become a mentor. I had the honor of speaking at the last President’s Club (National Life’s producer conference) and I said that this business is “caught,” meaning that you catch it by observing, joint work, learning and then evaluating with feedback. Learn from people who are successful, but also have a mentor to bounce ideas off, make mistakes in front of, and grow with.
Work very hard. It’s going to be difficult at times, your practice will be a lot of work – what is crucial for women especially is finding a balance. I started in this industry in 2001 when my daughter was only 6 months old. I had another daughter who was 2 years old. It’s hard work to balance your time with your family, but it can be done.
Two more things:
- Push through the tough times. There are a lot of scenarios where you might feel defeated, like right now with the economy, but there is a silver lining and opportunities for you to shine if you are willing to look.
- Ask poignant, meaningful questions. Dig deeper especially when it comes to challenges, opportunities, relationships, and experiences that are important to your prospects and clients. LISTEN.
What leadership quality do you most admire and aspire to?
Humble resilience. Staying humble and resilient in overcoming tough circumstances. As an athlete, I missed a lot of shots in basketball and I got blocked a lot of times in volleyball, but I kept trying and figured out different ways to elevate my game while staying humble in the meantime. As you gain success and grow as a leader, that is when you need to emulate.
Do you have a favorite cause or a do-good passion?
A few years ago, my team and I won an Agent Do Good award from National Life for our holistic commitment to Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana. Since then, I’ve gotten involved in our local community foundation. I am on the board of directors and investment committee of The Legacy Foundation based in Northwest Indiana. The ones that are near and dear to my heart are those surrounding women’s empowerment. The Legacy Foundation has a specific sector for “Women in Philanthropy.” It’s a smaller subset of the foundation that focuses on empowering women. It’s exciting. The women in philanthropy group grants funds annually, conducts a luncheon and has a speaker. Last year TrueWealth hosted a table full of women; our clients, and women who are important to our team. We host this group so we could say thank you and to share the good that is going on in our community.
Any other words of wisdom?
You don’t need to do things on your own to be successful. I tried to do everything myself, but then realized it’s better to surround yourself with a team of people who support your strengths and that are better than you at a lot of things. A lot of people on our team are better at a lot of things than me and have different perspectives than I do. I had the courage to push through these boundaries and I think that’s a very poignant piece of advice when gaining the success that you desire.