Focus and Banking & Finance

Hope College grad is doing what she always wanted to do

Becky Renner Anderson is Edward Jones’ first million dollar woman in Michigan.

November 22, 2013
| By Pete Daly |
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Unlike some college students, Becky Renner Anderson knew when she enrolled at Hope College what she wanted to do: work as an Edward Jones financial advisor.

That motivation, plus the planning and preparation she put behind it, are probably among the reasons she has become the first million dollar woman financial advisor for the Edward Jones company in Michigan.

The company has honored her by inviting her to attend the upcoming Edward Jones Financial Advisor Leaders Conference in Saint Louis in May. She also has been invited to attend a conference in December in West Palm Beach put on by Barron’s financial publishing company to honor some of the nation’s 400 most successful women investment advisors.

Anderson is well-known in community service circles in the Grand Rapids area as a co-chair of Gilda’s LaughFest and through her involvement in support of ArtPrize, Kiwanis Club, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Rotary Club.

Anderson, a South Haven native whose office is in downtown Grand Rapids, said that “being a financial advisor is always what I wanted to do. I really tailored my education at Hope to help me be able to be hired in my field right out of school.”

That she did. Anderson graduated from Hope in 2000 at age 20 with a degree in business administration and was hired by Edward Jones.

Her inspiration to be a financial advisor came when she was in junior high school. Joe Chase represented Edward Jones in the South Haven area, and he met Anderson when he helped start a Builders Club at her school, of which she became the first president. Builders Club is a junior high program sponsored by Kiwanis.

“What I admired about Joe was that he was very successful in the community and among business owners, but he spent a lot of time and energy into giving back to the community. That was something that interested me,” she said.

In college, Anderson worked for three summers selling books door-to-door for the Southwestern Co., based in Nashville, Tenn., which has a 12- to 14- week internship program for college students for which it is well known. Anderson and her teammates were sent one summer to Washington state to sell Southwestern’s academic study guides to parents who want to help their kids excel in school. The next summer they worked in Ohio, and the last summer was spent going door-to-door in a series of farm towns in Nebraska.

“You start a business,” is how Anderson briefly explains what her team did each summer. The college students worked systematically through targeted school districts and in the process learned how to interact with potential customers. At the end of their assignment, they delivered the books to customers who had ordered them.

Anderson said team members learned how to develop self-discipline and motivation. They also made very good money for a summer job, in some cases ranging from $10,000 to $20,000. “Most of the other students I worked with put themselves through college on what they would make in the summer time,” she said.

The summer sales job also exposed Anderson to authors such as Zig Zigler and Augustine “Og” Mandino, author of the bestseller “The Greatest Salesman in the World.”

The sales experience helped her learn how to develop personal relationships, which she said is a crucial requirement in her work with her Edward Jones clients. The advisor has to gain the trust of the client and fully understand the family’s financial goals as well as the direction they are headed in financially.

“Ultimately, people like to work with someone that they feel like they know, and (who) understands them. So much of that is in the conversation” she has with clients, she said.

Investment advisors were caught painfully in the front lines of the financial meltdown in 2008 that triggered the Great Recession. Anderson ruefully describes it as “a very interesting six months,” but she said in the months to come, through 2008 and 2009, she learned that being an Edward Jones advisor “was a fit” because her core values are helping families through a goal-focused approach to investing and managing investment behavior.

When asked what clients were saying as the stock market crashed in 2008, Anderson indicated some people tend to react to what it has just done and where it may be headed, and “any time you get focused on market speculation, it’s easy to talk yourself into a crisis. If you have principles and strategies behind your investment plan, there’s not significant changes that need to happen,” she said.

Edward Jones has more than 12,500 offices nationwide, with more than 300 in Michigan, including 73 in Ottawa and Kent counties. 

“I've always been self-motivated and highly driven,” said Anderson. “My career path has afforded me the flexibility and autonomy to balance work and family life with unlimited earning potential and the ability to serve my community. It's a perfect match for me.”

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