Vice President, ERISA Compliance Manager
City National Bank
San Diego, CA, USA
Field: Retirement Planning
“To be successful, you have to be a good listener,” says Sharon A. Burt, vice president and ERISA compliance manager for City National Bank. Starting her career in the insurance field, where she handled retirement plans, Ms. Burt was given the opportunity to transfer over to the financial and banking industry. She joined City National Bank in October 1996 and has become an integral part of its success. Her dedication and passion for her position have enabled her to excel and successfully assist her clients in securing their financial futures.
Ms. Burt graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics. In her current role, she uses her previous experience and skills in retirement planning and compliance to oversee the ERISA compliance unit, handle the legal plan documents for retirement plans, consult on retirement plans, and report finances to governments on the retirement plans. Ms. Burt remains updated in her field through her affiliations with The Western Pension & Benefits Council, the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors, and the National Institute of Pension Administrators.
In 2011, to recognize her dedication to her employer, Ms. Burt was given the Highest Achievement Award from City National Bank. As the years progress, she looks to continue drawing on her experience, strong skill set and diverse knowledge of finance to work with clients around the world. Continue reading
Tax Preparer, Senior Tax Advisor Level V
Field: State and Business Tax Preparation
Jean R. Musselman has been doing her own taxes since she graduated college, so becoming a full-time tax preparer fit perfectly as her career choice. Although she earned a bachelor’s degree in botany and a master’s degree in plant pathology from Utah State University, after years as a stay-at-home mom, she was in need of a job and went through a 13-week training program with H&R Block. She has served as a tax preparer for the past 28 years, and as a senior tax advisor level V for H&R Block for the past 10 years.
Over the years, Ms. Musselman has become proficient in state and business tax preparation, and Canadian taxes. In her current role, she assists new and prospective clients, and teaches advanced programs in business schedules, farm schedules, schedules C’s, and international schedules at the company. She herself attends annual CBT computer classes, as well as advanced instructor training courses. She enjoys the variety in her job as there is always something new or different. “You never get the same return twice in a row,” she says. Named the Most Valuable Professional by H&R Block, she credits her successful career to her ability to listen and work well with her clients.
Ms. Musselman originally planned to pursue a career in botany, and in 1961, she discovered a new species called the penstemon flowersii. Looking ahead, she hopes continue in the same profession and become more involved with the Utah Plant Society. Continue reading
Strategic Director of Bank Operations
Stevens Point, WI, USA
Field: Customer Service
Having led such a notable career within the financial and customer service industries, it can be said that Lorraine Avery has done it all. Not only does she serve as the senior vice president and director of customer service contact center operations at Associated Bank, but she also serves on the board of numerous organizations, including the Portage County Business Council, Inc.; Humane Society of Portage County, WI; and SOCAP International. Truly active within her industry and her community, she also serves as a co-chair of the Customer Experience Council. Additionally, she serves on the boards of the Woodland Girl Scout Council and the International Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals. She is sincerely passionate about and drawn to the nonprofit sector, as she is currently a chairwoman of the United Way of Portage County’s Governance Committee and on the board of Junior Achievement. When Ms. Avery is not dynamically serving these organizations, she’s also consistently engaging at public speaking events. She has spoken many times on the effects that customer service has on each industry and how important those effects are.
With Associated Bank, Ms. Avery works across various business lines with key executives, as well as business leaders. She is also responsible for examining internal and external ways to improve customer service, as well as overseeing support in business banking, wealth and trust services, sales, mobile banking, and customer service delivery. Proficient in all facets of customer service management, Ms. Avery takes pride in remaining abreast of industry trends, as well as doing whatever is needed to provide the highest quality of service to every customer.
A renowned and highly-acclaimed professional within various industries, including customer service and not-for-profit, Ms. Avery has been consistently recognized for her hard work and dedication throughout the years. In 2013, she was named Woman of Courage, Confidence and Character by the Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes. In recognition of her professional excellence, she was named Woman of the Year by both the National Association of Professional Women and the WLA. In 2000, she was the recipient of the Best and Brightest Award from the University of Wisconsin. She was appointed by Governor Tommy Thompson to the Governor’s Task Force on University of Wisconsin Accountability Measure, and was also named America’s Best and Brightest Businesswoman by Dollars & Sense in 1993. Having always attributed her success to her personal passion for helping others, Ms. Avery aspires to utilize her expertise to consult and mentor others with similar passions in the coming years. Continue reading
Tessa Szwagierczak Professional Corporation
Lacombe, Alberta, Canada
Field: General Accounting
Tessa M. Szwagierczak has always had a passion for small businesses, as she feels that they are oftentimes forgotten, and not given the time they need or deserve to really develop. This inspired her to establish her own accounting practice, Tessa Szwagierczak Professional Corporation, which she serves as the sole practitioner. She has nearly three decades of accounting experience, which she calls upon to manage a base of more than 450 clients for whom she handles accounting needs such as bookkeeping, corporate reporting, payroll, and tax preparation.
Ms. Szwagierczak treats all of her clients equally, regardless of the size of their company. Employing an open-door policy, she actually takes the time to listen to what her clients say and feel, and encourages them to take the time to understand what their company is doing, including its accomplishments from year to year, so that they can determine what needs to be done in order to foster business growth.
A certified general accountant, Ms. Szwagierczak is currently continuing her education at SAIT Polytechnic. She is a member of the Certified General Accountants Association of Alberta and the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada. She considers the most gratifying aspect of her career to be having the ability to help so many individuals achieve their professional dreams. With each passing year, she feels fortunate to have the opportunity to assist new and struggling companies become successful.
Moving forward, Ms. Szwagierczak intends to hire two senior accountants, and two to three bookkeepers and accounting technicians for her new office in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.
Director of Compliance
Trustmark National Bank
Focus: Quality Compliance
Compliance is a polarizing field. Either you love it, or you can’t stand it. Fortunately, when he was tapped by his employers to become a compliance officer, Ferol Hettick found that he loved the field. Since that time, he has taken on additional responsibilities and become the director of compliance for Trustmark National Bank. Although compliance as a field has had its ups and downs over the years, Mr. Hettick stresses to newcomers that the key to success is not knowing all of the answers, but rather, knowing where to find them.
Mr. Hettick is a believer in the power of teamwork. He does not truly feel successful unless his team is successful, and his confidence in his employees is such that he would pit them against any other team in the country and be confident in their success. Mr. Hettick encourages his staff to find ways to work with the needs of the bank, rather than simply turning down every request that seems unfeasible. This requires additional diligence, to be sure, as every angle of a proposal must be carefully scrutinized in order to find the necessary leeway to implement the requested changes. Nevertheless, Mr. Hettick feels that this can-do spirit and refusal to accept what seems impossible to be one of the hallmarks of his management style, and it is one of the aspects of his personality that he feels separates him from the majority of his competitors.
Though Mr. Hettick greatly enjoys his work as a compliance director for a bank, he is also aware of a major series of changes on the horizon that may drastically impact Trustmark National Bank’s success. In January 2014, eight regulatory mortgage changes will be made to the bank’s mortgage lending policies, which could limit mortgage lending. These added requirements, Mr. Hettick explains, could drive away lenders and cause them to drop out of the market. With this in mind, Mr. Hettick is looking to ride out the changes and groom a successor so that Trustmark National Bank’s compliance staff is left in capable hands upon his retirement. Continue reading