DeAnne Steele is managing director and investment executive at U. S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management. In this role, she is responsible for leading a team of investment and wealth strategy professionals for the West and Central South divisions in their delivery and execution of investment capabilities and solutions within U.S. Trust wealth management services and across Bank of America. She is a member of the Fiduciary Investment Committee and the U.S. Trust Investment Strategy Forum. DeAnne is a contributor to the investment thought leadership publications and drives the top of the house investment thinking for U.S. Trust.
Prior to joining U.S. Trust, DeAnne co-managed a mutual fund and appeared on Bloomberg and Reuters Television, in addition to serving in various trust and investment positions in New York and the western United States. She has written, co-authored and contributed to articles for various publications.
DeAnne earned her Masters Degree in Business Administration from UCLA Anderson School and her Bachelor of Arts in English and Political Science from UCLA. She holds the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) and Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA®) designations. She is a member of the CFA® Institute and CFA® Society of Los Angeles. DeAnne has been a speaker at various economic and market insights events and is a major supporter of Women in Wealth and Next Generation topics.
How did you get to where you are today?
A combination of hard work and preparation that met with luck at the right times. When home for the summer from UCLA while an undergrad, I got a summer job at a financial services firm as a file clerk. Having been an English and Political Science major, my plan was to go to law school. I didn’t even know what a stock was. That job actually led to a career in financial services. My life completely changed directions leading me to get my MBA, moving to New York, managing a mutual fund, getting my CFA and CAIA designations and now leading over 160 investment professionals across 12 states. I was offered my current role some five or so years ago after having asked for it a couple of years prior. All along the journey of my career I have asked for what I want and have backed it up with the right level of preparation and patience. And, I’ve always been open to feedback and advice. I’m always learning from everyone around me. This has led me to have had great mentors who have greatly helped me along the way.
What was your toughest obstacle and how did you overcome it?
I’ve had many, and I always go around them. When something is in my way, I respect it. I examine it. It is often there for a reason to get me to see things in a different light or to show to me that I need to go a different direction. This mindset allows me to calmly think through each situation and to plan my next move. And, I always start with moves within my current firm. I have always been very loyal and dedicated to my firms to the very end. I have been blessed to work with many incredible people at strong firms across the industry and have valued my time at each one. When the next move has been to change firms it has led to amazing opportunities that have allowed me to continue to learn and to grow my capabilities and to have greater impact in our industry and with clients.
What’s the key to staying focused & motivated?
I am always adjusting my role, whether I actually change jobs or not. I adjust what I do so that I tap into my passions and so I can accomplish new things each year. That keeps things new and fresh and keeps me energized, motivated and focused. During the last two weeks of every year I review the year… what went well, what didn’t, what do I want to accomplish next year and how? This lets me start every year with a new mission. I also am a big believer in getting enough sleep and regularly practice deep breathing. Whenever my mind is racing, I practice some breathing techniques and can immediately focus.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Very early on in my career a senior woman at my firm shared with me her rules to live by that quickly became my rules to live by. Although I’ve begun to question some, for the most part they are still relevant. They are:
- Always be able to support yourself
- Act the part before you get the part
- If you want it, ask for it
- If you are not going forward, you are going backwards
- Don’t be a quitter
- If you don’t play, you can’t win
- Be open and direct
- Make everyone a part of the process and they’ll be part of the success
- Be open to criticism
- Show affection and warmth to your colleagues
- When angry, wait a day
- Create the vision and communicate it often
How do we get more women leaders?
We need to create a more inclusive environment overall. Doing so will not only help us get more women leaders but will help us get more minority leaders and keep millennials who demand inclusiveness. I love this characteristic of millennials! They have been raised in a very inclusive way, included on decisions in their families, working on group projects all throughout their school lives. And, they demand that in the workplace. And diversity has huge benefits to companies. Study after study has shown that diverse teams make better decisions. And companies with greater diversity have higher financial results. So rather than helping those in the minority fit in with those in the majority, let’s shift the conversation to getting all leaders to recognize the value of diversity and to help it thrive. Here are some specific ideas from a recent article of mine on LinkedIn to create a more inclusive environment:
- Let someone else run your next meeting… yes, you can let go of control, and you’ll be surprised at the new ideas that get explored and at how empowerment can positively impact your team.
- Call on someone in your next meeting who usually doesn’t speak up but whom you know has expertise on the topic. Key here is ensuring you are not just listening to the loudest in the room.
- In your next meeting ask your team to think of an opposing view. This allows people to disagree in a safe way.
- When you are ready to fill a position, take the time to look at all the talent ready to advance into that position, not just the people who have asked for it.
- The next time someone gives you an idea that at first you disagree with, take the time to explore it more. Ask them why. You’ll be surprised at the power of such a simple question. Sometimes the best ideas are ones far beyond our comprehension. This is the space in which innovation happens. Your colleague will feel very empowered.
Focus on making this happen is also crucial. I am proud to say that at my firm 40% of our leaders are women. It has been a focus, and that focus is working. Of course, we always recognize that we can do better.