When opportunity knocks, who answers?

January 13, 2022  |  3 min read

By Chelsey Sleator, Senior Manager, Communications 

Sarah B., a Schwabbie based out of Menlo Park, CA branch

Sarah B., a Schwabbie of over four years based out of Menlo Park, CA, is piloting a new role as a Corporate Financial Consultant. 

"We are trying to build a better connection between our institutional clients and our retail branches," says Sarah as she explains her role. "We have a lot of clients with stock plans and retirement plans through Schwab. We want to help these clients see how their stock or retirement plan fits into their broader financial plan and get them the additional help they need on the retail side as well." 

While she’s currently innovating on behalf of clients, back in 2015 Sarah was just trying to break into the industry as a new financial advisor for Edward Jones. 

"The way it worked was they didn't give you any clients," said Sarah. “You had to go find them. You did that by knocking on doors and giving out your card." 

One day, while knocking on doors, Sarah talked to a woman who told her she was a happy client of Charles Schwab. Sarah didn't think much of it, handed the woman her card and let her know to reach out if she was interested in having a second set of eyes look over things. 

That woman happened to be Teri Bettinger, wife of Charles Schwab CEO Walt Bettinger. 

"I had no idea at the time," said Sarah. "I remember that she was kind, but I didn't think much of it. It wasn't uncommon for people to say they worked with someone else, but she really underplayed it. It wasn't until later when my coworker sent me the article that I put two and two together." 

The article in reference appeared on bizjournals.com ending with Walt drawing a comparison with Edward Jones and relaying the story of Sarah knocking on his door. 

"I was kind of excited to see myself in the article," said Sarah. "Door knocking to get new clients is a tough gig, so I was just really excited for the recognition—to see me discussed in a business publication by a big name even though I never spoke with Walt or his wife after that day​. And then I was a little bit mortified that I knocked on Walt's door. I wonder who else's door I knocked on?" joked Sarah. 

Sarah eventually found her way to working at Schwab, and she even brought the article with her to her interview. One of the reasons Sarah was interested in Schwab was that she knew the firm had a history of innovation and was willing to change the business model when faced with new opportunities, as reflected in the role she’s piloting now. 

"There's been a couple iterations with this program, including adjusting for the pandemic," said Sarah. "But I really believe in the concept and so does leadership, and now it's been a great year with good momentum, and we are talking about expanding the program. I feel so lucky to be able to work with a company that is willing to do that." 

Walt recently visited the Menlo Park branch where Sarah had the opportunity to explain the Corporate Financial Consultant role to him. She forgot to bring up the door knocking incident, so she sent Walt a follow-up email with the story, to which he replied that his wife remembered meeting her and was very impressed with her poise and courage. Surprised to learn of this connection, Walt also expressed gratefulness to Sarah for joining Schwab five years prior

Having come full circle and meeting Walt in-person, Sarah's had some time to think back to knocking on his door over five years ago. 

"It's a nice reminder that I did a lot to push into this industry. The experience also set a good base of what to expect at Schwab. Walt and Teri didn’t know me, and I had little connection to Schwab – in fact, I was working for a competitor! It would have been so easy for Teri to brush me off or for him to have made a joke of me in the article, and instead they were kind and considerate. And I'm grateful for that." 

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