GETTING STARTED | Cashing In: How finance professionals found their way

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By Alison Bailin Batz

Don’t believe the movies – greed is NOT good.

But choosing to go into the financial field with a mindset of helping educate others about money, savings, financial regulations and/or fiscal responsibility can mean a long and rewarding career in one of many potential fields. Here is a look at a diverse group of local business professionals and how they got on their paths.

Daniel Leidenz
Branch manager, Washington Federal Tucson
Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated with homes – having seen them everywhere from jungles to islands growing up. I was actually born in Venezuela and also lived in Margarita (an island, not the drink) before coming to Arizona as a teen. My dad worked for oil and mining companies, so I always asked how things got done – how homes were sold, how things were built. As it turned it, it was through finance! I was hooked and have been doing it since college as a result.

 

Rick Cruz
Branch manager, Washington Federal Mesa
I didn’t set out to be a banker. In fact, I was in community college focused on studying criminal justice. However, I was starting to lose interest in the field. Around the same time, a family member urged me to look into applying at a bank while I was figuring out my next step. That was seven years ago! I’ve risen in the ranks and even today as I lead our branch, I am seeking to formalize my work in finance. In fact, I am working toward my bachelor’s degree in it right now.

 

Elizabeth I. Symons
Registered representative, Symons Wealth Management
I didn’t get my start in the field until later in life, after serving in the Air Force, in fact, when I was working in the psychology field. I was approached specifically about the need for women to help other women understand finances, especially through different phases of their lives. Given my background in women’s mental health, I married that passion with my love of helping others and have now been at it for 22 years, getting and giving education along the way.

 

Kirtus Brustman, CFP AAMS
Financial advisor, Wilde Wealth Management Group
I grew up on a farm, watching my parents work hard, slowly and methodically building both their business and retirement over decades. When a tax mistake resulted in them losing much of their hard-earned savings nearly overnight, our lives were forever changed. I got into the industry due in large part to my desire to help others avoid the undue stress and strife that my parents had to endure.

 

Scott Berg
Banking and financial institutions practice group chair, Quarles & Brady LLC Phoenix
I came to the industry by way of personal political ambitions, noting that most lawmakers historically have been attorneys as well. Once practicing law, I decided that it offered more interesting opportunities than politics. Practicing law guided me into the finance world as I began representing local, national and international financial institutions, assisting clients in commercial financing and real estate financing as well as tax-exempt transactions.

 

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