Meet Nina O'Neal.
Nina O'Neal is an Investment Advisor and Partner at Archer Investment Management with a focus on financial planning for high income earning professionals, women, and business owners. Her work in the financial industry earned her the recognition for the 2016 Top 40 Under 40 Financial Professionals by InvestmentNews.
In addition to her financial expertise, she is also heavily involved in the community. She has served on the planning board for the American Diabetes Assiotiation of Eastern North Carolina annual gala, the Executive Planning Board for the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure, the sponsorship board for the Gingerbread Benefit for Triangle Family Services, and helped fund-raise for organizations such as the MJG Brain Tumor Research Fund, the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC, BEGINNINGS for Parents of Children that are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, the NC Tour de Cure, and Reelin' for Research Tournament to benefit UNC Children’s Hospital.
I got the opportunity to chat with Nina to hear her best financial tips, greatest professional achievements, and her thoughts on the reported shortage of women in the financial services industry.
Why did you decide to work in the financial industry?
I kind of fell into it, almost feels like I didn’t choose the financial industry it chose me. I started out in fashion/public relations in New York, but I quickly decided it wasn’t for me.
I had always had an interest in finance so I ended up taking a receptionist position at a bank and fell love with it. I went back to a temp agency and got a permanent position at an investment firm and that’s when I really started my career.
How long have you worked in the financial industry?
My first job was in 2004; I just celebrated 12 years!
What has been your greatest professional achievement?
For me, it’s been survival. It’s kind of sad but a lot of women do not survive in this industry. I’ve seen that revolving door for so long.
My business partner and I began together in 2009 during one of the worst markets this country has ever seen and we were able to grow out of the financial crisis.
I’ve had children, I’ve had difficult pregnancies, and I’ve remodelled my home three times. I’ve been able to drive a really successful career despite a lot going on outside of my job, and I think this is one of my greatest professional achievements.
Going off of that, could be the same, but what achievement are you most proud of?
I’m really proud of some of the recognition I’ve gotten for my work in the financial industry. It was an overwhelmingly special moment for me getting the InvestmentNews 40 Under 40 award.
How do you define success?
I realized that I had attained success when a Monday is the same thing to me as a Saturday. I’m almost sad on Friday’s now because I love what I do! There’s no line between work and play for me, I feel like I’m almost retired. This really isn’t a job, it’s my life and I love it!
What leader inspires you?
There are two people that quickly come to my mind. I was an English major in university and I loved reading about British/European history. I read a lot about Queen Elizabeth I, she was a trail blazing woman and someone who continuously inspires me.
I also had a really amazing professor in the English department, he inspired me just in the way he taught and encouraged his students.
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It’s been reported that there’s a shortage of women in the financial services industry. What do you think is the best solution to help encourage women to enter this industry?
It’s a known fact that there’s a shortage of women in this industry; I’ve never had to wait in line for the bathroom no matter how large a conference is. It’s almost shocking attending these events, it makes it seem like women are intentionally left out.
Women that have survived have made really amazing financial advisors. This is an issue I’ve thought a lot about and talked a lot about.
Look at me, an English major in university. I wasn’t good at math; I really didn’t think business was an option for me. Financial literacy needs to start younger and we need to educate younger women on how great this career is.
We need to change the reputation of this career. This is not a sales business it’s a service business. I hate math and I hate sales, why would this be a great job for someone like me?
The other issue is that there is a ridiculous barrier to entry in this business; it’s not at all friendly to women. For any diverse person in a minority you stand out like a sore thumb. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been called the wife or the assistant. There are quite a few young women who actually are the business owners and the decision makers, but this isn’t always recognized.
It’s hard to make it in this industry, regardless whether you’re a minority or not, so we need to foster training programs and make this career more accessible.
What are the most common financial mistakes you see being made?
There are three main mistakes I see being made.
- Inaction: Not doing anything is still an action. This hurts you especially if you’re waiting for the ‘right time’ to do things.
- Emotional decisions: I see over and over again people fearful of investing at all. You need to trust someone to manage those decisions with you. If not, this could lead to irrational decision making, which rarely leads to success. It’s our job as financial advisors try to steer away from emotional decisions.
- A lack of financial planning: I see people starting at the age of 50, or they say they’re waiting for their kids to get out of school. It’s never going to be “the right time,” you need to start as soon as possible. This is critical for success because it’s so hard to catch up.
What is your number one financial tip?
Start young; don’t wait to start financial planning and investing. Start now!
What’s a fun fact most people don’t know about you?
I’ve had a chicken lay an egg in my hands!