As chief strategist/consumer education for Charles Schwab & Co. Inc., Schwab-Pomerantz is a leading advocate for individual investors. She speaks and writes extensively about personal finance issues and is a driving force in the movement to improve financial literacy in America. As president of the Charles Schwab Foundation, she also oversees the company's philanthropic strategy and resources.
With her father, company founder, chairman and CEO Charles R. Schwab, Schwab-Pomerantz co-authored "It Pays to Talk: How to Have the Essential Conversations With Your Family About Money and Investing," which Publishers Weekly called "a well-rounded primer that provides one-stop shopping for the many phases of financial understanding and planning."
Schwab-Pomerantz is a sought-after speaker whose public appearances have included appearances on "The Today Show," CNBC and NPR. In 2001, Working Woman magazine recognized her as one of four “Market Movers” in America who are “rewriting the rules of finance,” and she was also recognized as one of the “25 power Elite” in the financial services industry by Investment News. For four consecutive years, The San Francisco Business Times has named her one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s 100 Most Influential Women in Business.
A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Schwab-Pomerantz later earned a master’s degree in business administration from George Washington University. She holds NASD Series 7, 63 and 8 registrations.
Question: How do you lead as a woman in business?
Carrie Schwab: I have been very fortunate to work in a company [Schwab & Co.] that has a large percentage of women. I don’t know if it’s a San Francisco company, or if it is a reflection of my father for being very conclusive.
It is a very purpose oriented company and has really strong values that we talk about. One of those values being teamwork.
I don’t know if it is just part of my DNA, but team building and being inclusive of other people and their thoughts, and respectful to me is really key to leadership and having people follow you is letting them feel a part of the process.
The other difference or important component to leadership is having passion and really caring about what you do, and feeling like you’re making a difference. I think whether your man or woman having that and having people surround you who share that passion, you can do unbelievable things.
That is really some of the disciplines or values that I have used in my own work and found successful.
I have to say for my father, same thing. He really was passionate about democratizing investing. He did not like the way Wall Street treated the average American. So he created a business that was more inclusive and helped more Americans
And I guess, in some ways, I followed that somehow. Again, I really related to that and try to take it to whole different level by including or making investing more accessible for women, for disadvantage populations and others who may not have access.
And it is rewarding and it makes you want to work harder.
Question: What challenges remain for women in business?
Carrie Schwab: I absolutely do think there is definitely sexism in the work place. I think it is critical for women to take a note of that and not look for a company that allows those kind of behaviors to occur. We do have control over that. We don’t have to participate in it. And there are plenty of companies who value women and what they have to offer.
As we know, a diverse workplace makes a stronger company.
You hear a lot also about women get disenchanted with the business world and they go and create their own businesses, I say “go do it.”
We have a lot to offer and don’t let anything stop you.
Recorded on: March 27, 2008