Celebrating Global Money Week: A conversation with Tricia Wilson

In celebration of Global Money Week, we spoke with 4 women in banking to learn their recommendations for financial literacy for young women and girls. Next up, we introduce you to Tricia Wilson, SVP strategic planning and development, chief of staff, at Simmons Bank. Read on to see our Q&A with Tricia. 

What inspired you to pursue a career in banking, and what advice would you give to young girls and women who are considering entering the financial industry?

I started my career in Information Technology with a retail organization. I love technology and how it enables businesses to understand their customers’ needs and deliver what they need when they need it. When I decided to make the leap into banking, it was because I wanted to utilize my experience in retail and technology and apply it to an industry where I saw a lot of opportunities and room for growth.

Someone might be surprised to learn how much technology plays a role in the financial services industry, from digital banking, blockchain and robotic process automation (RPA) to machine learning and artificial intelligence. There are several career opportunities in banking, from the traditional banker role to data analyst to operations and so much more!

 

What are common misconceptions about managing money that you’ve encountered, and how can women overcome them to take control of their financial futures?

One thing I’ve often heard from many females throughout my life is, “My spouse {partner/significant other} handles the finances, so I don’t need to worry about it.” That might have been the case for our parent’s generation, but it’s not anymore. Money management is a family priority – each partner in the relationship should have equal access to and an understanding of their finances. Assume an active role in understanding your financial situation; this will allow you to make informed decisions further down the road. It’s equally important to teach your kids the concept of money, saving and budgeting so they can gain an understanding and appreciation that will help them as they move through life.

 

How can women overcome barriers they may face in the banking industry, and what advice do you have for navigating and advancing in a male-dominated field?

As far as navigating in what has historically been a male-dominated industry, yes, oftentimes, I’m the only female in the room, but I’ve never been treated differently. I’m here because I have earned my seat at the table. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed to have strong champions, both male and female, supporting me along the way. Years ago, I was passed over for a position that I believed I was more qualified for and deserved. I told myself many stories about why I didn’t get it; I was a female, maybe I wasn’t as good as I thought, etc. A friend told me, “Quit telling yourself all these stories; if you want to know why you didn’t get it, just ask.” So, I did. The response was, “You never said you wanted to do anything different; how was I supposed to know?”. It was a big “ah-ha” moment for me. I assumed the promotion would just be given to me because I was a hard worker and went above and beyond my daily responsibilities. So, I learned that it’s important to speak up and advocate for yourself – and you shouldn’t expect others to do it for you.  

 

What resources or tools do you recommend for women who want to educate themselves about personal finance and investment opportunities?

There are several resources available for women to educate themselves. The Women’s Foundation of Arkansas offers free online educational opportunities with its Save10 initiative and has resources to educate women to pay themselves first, reduce their debt and build their savings. Simmons Bank recently launched an online program to help educate others on everything from building your credit to interest 101 to understanding fraud. The most important thing for folks to consider when educating themselves is to get their knowledge from a credible resource. Wikipedia is great for a lot of things – but for education regarding personal finances, it’s probably not the best source.

 

Can you share any personal experiences or lessons learned from your own financial journey that may resonate with other women striving for financial success?

When I accepted my first job out of college, I was so excited to have a regular paycheck that was substantially more than I was accustomed to. I bought a cute little condo and went overboard with furnishing my new place. Suddenly, I had a nice credit card bill that my new paycheck wouldn’t cover. It was a hard lesson for me; it took me several months to get out of the debt, and, even more importantly, it taught me a hard lesson in understanding WANTS vs. NEEDS. Whenever I make a purchase (big or small), I ask myself, do I need this or want this? It’s okay to splurge on yourself occasionally, but you should do so in moderation, and only after the things you need are taken care of. It was a hard lesson for me to learn and is part of daily conversations with my kids.

 

Tricia Wilson co-chairs our Girls of Promise committee and is also one of our Disruptors with WFA

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