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Influences on a meaningful career and full family life

September 7, 2021

From my early childhood until present day, my parents have modeled and encouraged a life of meaningful work balanced with time for family.

Both of my parents worked when I was growing up. My Mom worked nights and every other weekend as a nurse. My Dad was a CFO of an international company. When I was young, I would go to my dad’s office with him occasionally on Saturday mornings. While he needed to catch up on his work, he made going with him feel like a treat. He bought me doughnuts, and I lined my toys up on the little shelf under his desk, which made the perfect play fort.

Weekends weren’t always about work, though. My family went camping every other weekend in the summer, and eventually purchased a cabin where we spent many summer weekends. My dad was always the first to take me up on a request to play in the yard or go for a bike ride. He worked hard, but he didn’t live to work. Sundays were “family days,” when we would do something together as a family.

Financial lessons

At home, I would sometimes hear my dad clicking away on his “old-fashioned” adding machine. I was fascinated by the sounds and the tape coming out of the machine. When I asked him what he was doing, he told me he was calculating his net worth and showed me how it was increasing. Even though I was young, he taught me the importance of saving and investing.

My dad was very interested in stocks and has invested aggressively throughout his life. In the 1990s, he invested my grandmother’s money, stretching her assets to last longer than they would have without his stock selection. She ended up with enough money to live on right up until a few weeks before her death.

A financial career

Anne Ward at her high school graduation with her mother As I got older, my mom strongly encouraged me to go to college. I got married while in college, and she stressed the importance of finishing my college degree and getting a foot into the work world. She always encouraged me to think beyond the avenues that were traditionally available to women when she started her career.

My mom had many family members in the accounting and finance industry. Seeing what they did, having my mom’s support for any career, and being taught by my dad the importance of investing all helped lead me down this path of finance and investments.

There were very few women in the financial advising field when I began working, but the mentorship of an uncle in the industry and several aunts helped me along the way.

My uncle coached me to get my training through Ameriprise (then American Express Financial Advisors). My aunts took time with me throughout high school to make sure I was finding my way, and then continued to check in with me throughout college and adulthood. I’ve been fortunate to have these wise women to offer support and be a sounding board.

The next generation

Like my dad, I’m prone to work beyond normal hours to make sure everything at work is taken care of. Also like my dad, my family is part of my work life. My kids will often sit with me while I finish some work at night or on weekends in my home office.

My husband and I are both driven professionally, and my parents are good about encouraging us to take time for family like they did. They have organized trips to Hawaii and Disney World as well as annual cabin outings for our whole family – my parents, siblings, and our kids. As my parents always say, “These years go by fast.”

Anne Ward's extended family kayaking in Hawaii

My mom’s attitude about women’s careers also impacts how I raise my own two daughters. I encourage them to pursue what they enjoy and find ways to use their skill sets, even if that leads them to fields with fewer women.

My hope is that my kids are learning from me some of the same lessons I learned from my parents. My wish for them is that they manage to create a meaningful career, give it their full effort, and find some balance to also enjoy life.

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