We recently sat down with Paula A. Landau, CFP®, CTFA, Managing Director, to learn more about her background and who and what inspired her career in finance.
Q: What was your first job?
A: I was in the Wally Saunders Dance Company in Baltimore. After my parents sent me to many years of ballet, tap, and jazz classes, I was asked to join the company. I was happy for about a year but then, much to my parents’ chagrin, I set my eyes on business. My first job was at T. Rowe Price where I supported the Chartered Financial Analysts on the New Horizons Fund (still in existence today). It was exhilarating to learn about our industry and work with so many intelligent and good people.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your background.
A: I have been servicing high net worth clients for 25 years and have been passionate about it since I began. In the 1980s I worked at Alex. Brown & Sons servicing clients and managing the busy IPO calendar. After staying home for 10 years to raise my children, I went back to work for registered investment advisors who provided financial planning and investment management. I obtained my Certified Financial Planner designation in 2014 and started working at Chevy Chase Trust in 2015 where I earned my Certified Trust Financial Advisor designation and have had the opportunity to provide trustee services for my clients when we serve in the trustee role. It is a great responsibility and I enjoy making complicated information easy for my clients and/or beneficiaries.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your career?
A: When I come to work in the morning and have messages and emails from clients asking for my assistance, I couldn’t be happier. Clients are busy living their lives, so when they need to address a financial matter, I like to make it as seamless as possible for them. The financial landscape is complicated and there are many moving parts. Helping them achieve their goals, step by step, is very rewarding.
Q: What is the most important lesson you have learned from a mentor?
A: Way back in the mid-1980’s, before there was a thing called the “fiduciary standard”, I learned from Billy Rienhoff, IV that you should always “know your client” and put your clients’ best interests first. In addition, he taught me to work very hard for my clients, have discipline and always keep learning.
Q: What would you do if not this?
A: I love what I do and I love Chevy Chase Trust. It is a great company to work for because we always put the client first, have no conflicts of interest, and are committed to providing an exceptional experience for our clients. Everyone here is knowledgeable, experienced, has integrity and a desire to serve the client. I couldn’t be working at a better place or with better people. But if you forced me to do something different, I would be a docent at an art gallery with a great permanent collection.
Q: What do you like to do outside of the office?
A: I like to be with my husband. We’ve been married for 27 years and still have so much fun together. We enjoy traveling with our two adult children, or visiting them where they live (in Boston and Denver). When not hanging around at home, we like to go on hikes, to museums, and out with friends.
Q: What are some of your favorite experiences you’ve had on vacations?
A: Seeing Turandot at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, staying at an agriturismo with friends in Italy, climbing Table Mountain in Cape Town, going to the House of Six in Amsterdam and the Courtauld Gallery in London.
Q: What is the best book you have read recently?
A: When I get into a good book it is dangerous because nothing else gets done in the evenings and on weekends. Each day I make myself read the newspaper and industry periodicals before I allow myself to read fiction. My most recent favorites have been Pachinko and The Heart’s Invisible Furies. Currently I am reading A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. It is 1,400 pages long and a beautiful story.
Q: What advice would you give to someone considering a career path similar to yours?
A: Learn as much as you can and keep learning. When working with clients, don’t make it transactional. Always remember the clients’ goals. It is important to keep the big picture in mind as you are managing all of the moving parts and details. And finally, keep in touch with your clients. It is important to learn about life changes as they are happening.