Executive Q&A

Beth Norman’s phone has been busier with calls for advice.

In the last few months, the nation’s politics have been dramatic. Breaking news feels nonstop. Norman says it’s normal for people to feel unsettled. “Money is emotional.”

Norman, 36, is senior vice president at RBC Wealth Management and a member of The Droster Team. She’s spent her career as a financial adviser — literally from the time she was a teenager.

“In my business, I frequently come back to the old saying, ‘The only constant is change,’” she says. “Recent elections have brought a wide range of potential changes in policy. Those changes could impact the economy, investment performance and the financial decisions of businesses and families alike. That can be scary for some, but it can also present opportunities.

Question: People come to you with their life savings. Does the responsibility of that ever frighten you?

Answer: I definitely take the responsibility of being a financial steward seriously, but it doesn’t frighten me because people need help and guidance. My job is a really personal one because I get to know my clients so well. I would be lying if I said I don’t spend some nights awake thinking about my clients. But I also learned early in my career to put a notepad and pencil on my nightstand. Each individual, family and business owner defines financial success in a unique way. So as I listen to their thoughts, dreams, concerns and struggles, we try, together, to find the best strategies to fit them and their needs.

Q: You are a member of The Droster Team at RBC Wealth Management, a worldwide company. How do you connect local clients to that global company?

A: RBC Wealth Management is recognized as one of the world’s top 5 largest wealth managers by assets. But more importantly, we have a corporate culture that emphasizes always putting the client first. RBC Wealth Management is also committed to enriching the communities where our employees and clients work and live. One initiative, the RBC Blue Water Project, is a 10-year global commitment of $50 million to help protect the worlds’ most precious natural resource: fresh water. And here in Madison, RBC Wealth Management invests both money and volunteer efforts from our staff with the Clean Lakes Alliance.

Q: It looks as though you’ve always wanted to be in finance. What’s the best financial advice your teenage self ever dispensed?

A: I got my very first job at 15. And every paycheck since that first one, I have saved some, given some to those in need, and spent some. While saving is really important, you also have to enjoy some of your money. My most recent splurge was a plane ticket to California so that I can spend a weekend in Napa with my college roommates this summer. We all have kids and careers, and it is tough to find time to spend together. I cannot wait.

Q: Was it hard to be a woman in a traditionally male business 20 years ago? Have those circumstances changed?

A: Being a woman and growing up in the financial services industry over the last 20 years has been an incredible experience. In some ways, it was hard. I didn’t have many women in my finance classes. When I got my first full-time job, I had to advocate for myself and ask for higher pay. And after having my daughter, I am constantly working together with my husband to figure out the balance between work and family that works best for us.

But I also believe that women possess unique skills to be successful in my business. We are great listeners. We are patient. And we understand that money is simply a tool to help people achieve their goals and dreams.

I got my beginning in finance as an intern. Some outstanding women, like my business partner Lauri Droster, generously gave their time and shared their talent to mentor me and encourage me to keep climbing higher. Right now, I am mentoring three young female advisers at RBC Wealth Management. They live all over the country, and we connect regularly to discuss how to build their businesses or challenges they are currently facing. If they have a question or want a second opinion on a strategy, I’m there. After receiving so much support, I am thrilled to be able to pay it forward.

Q: Would you want your daughter to follow in your footsteps?

A: I’m not sure if my daughter will be interested in being a financial adviser, but I do want her to follow in my footsteps and invest in our community. I want my family to be intentional about investing in organizations that tackle the issues closest to our hearts. I volunteer and serve on the board for Tri 4 Schools. Last year, I introduced my daughter’s school to the Tri 4 Schools Exercise to Achievement program, an after-school program that promotes health, nutrition, and being active. I was happy to be there, teaching bike safety and running with the students, but more importantly, cheering them on. Aside from the physical aspects of the curriculum, Exercise to Achievement also focuses on courage, perseverance, and respect. I truly feel like I get more from my time spent with the student athletes than I give. Watching them try new things and push their limits was SUCH an inspiration. I am also a board member for The Second Harvest Foodbank, a hunger-relief organization whose reach is truly outstanding.

My daughter attends more fundraisers and volunteers more than most 8-year-olds, but I want her to understand that the time I choose to spend in my community is an investment.

Q: You’re a member of the Friends of the Henry Vilas Zoo Auxiliary Board. Do you get to do special and fun things with the animals?

A: Occasionally, I do. Feeding the giraffes with my daughter and some friends was certainly a highlight. Wally and Eddie are sweet. And when Kawan, the female orangutan, was pregnant, the community hosted a baby shower for her with presents, decorations and treats. Last year, I was fascinated to see the zoo keepers train the polar bears, so that when they need to do wellness exams, the animals are comfortable. The Zoo is such a cool resource for our community because it is a free place for kids and families to learn.

Q: You live in Middleton, but where are you from?

A: I grew up in Racine. It is a diverse and close-knit community, much like Madison. I left home to study at UW-Madison and met my husband my senior year. Like many students, we wanted to stay in this vibrant community upon graduation. My favorite part of this community is the people. Our community is quickly growing and changing. We have so many engaged people and organizations that are stepping up and doing great — and sometimes difficult — work.

I recently finished two terms on the board of YWCA Madison, and I was honored to serve as the board chair for an organization that is providing thought leadership on how to address barriers to success for people of color and women, as well as racial disparities in our community.

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