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West side story

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  • | 11:00 a.m. September 16, 2016
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Amy West, an athlete since she was a kid, likens her new executive role with PNC's wealth management division as a “team captain.”

West was recently promoted to investment director for the Florida West market of PNC Wealth Management. Her region spreads from Naples to Tallahassee to Central Florida. Based in Naples, West has been with PNC for 15 years. In her new role, West will oversee a team of advisers. She will also continue managing her existing multimillion-dollar investment book of business.

West recently sat down with the Business Observer to talk about her career and new role. Here are excerpts of the conversation.

Big picture: West's parents did not earn college degrees, but they had a strong work ethic and valued education. “They scrounged their pennies to send me to private school,” says West. “I understand the burden that can be.” West's father died of cancer during her first year in college, which proved to be a valuable life lesson: to push through adversity and “find the best in every situation,” she says, just like he did.

Worth every penny: West's education fostered a love for math and science. In one particular assignment, her fifth grade team won a stock market challenge by building a portfolio with play money. “There were a handful of stocks, companies like Johnson & Johnson, that made products that we knew and we used,” says West. “I loved it.”

Extra time: West earned the opportunity to play soccer in Europe when she was 12 years old — but admits she didn't fully appreciate it at the time. “On a summer afternoon, the last thing I wanted to do was go to practice,” she says. “In hindsight, that built so much character, the dedication to teamwork.”

Old school: After she earned a bachelor's degree in business management and economics from Gettysburg College, West began a 12-month management training program with a small bank PNC would eventually acquire. “I spent time in the trust department and I knew that was the route that I wanted to take,” she says. She also worked as a trader, “back in the day,” West says, when banks still used tickets and called in their trades.

Go south: West became one of five portfolio managers in New Jersey for PNC over the course of several years, and she recognized the advancement opportunities in relocating to Florida. “My thinking was this was a growth market for us,” West says. “This was a much smaller stage.” West became one of two managers in Naples, and has since earned several performance awards.

Fast learner: West is a certified women's business advocate, a title earned after she completed PNC's course that targets improvement in relations with women in business. The course, adds West, has proved insightful for male employees. West says she often witnesses their “ah-ha moments” during training. Additionally, as a member of the PNC Women's Task Force, she contributes to updates to the course's curriculum.

First impression: West finds empowerment in dressing seriously and believes it speaks strongly about her professionalism. It's also an invaluable tool in wealth management. Says West: “I make it a priority to try to dress the next level up.”

Stand out: Trust is another crucial element in gaining new clients, particularly for younger female advisers, says West. She encourages colleagues to always look for ways to do more. “You have to go above and beyond sometimes to build the trust of your clients, colleagues and teammates,” says West.

Family time: Investors, says West, are motivated to grow their wealth not because of a “why,” but a “whom,” mainly children and grandchildren. “The most critical piece in this business is to build relationships, real relationships,” says West. Building these intimate, multi-generational relationships is a big part of West's passion for the job. That's why she's not so keen to give up the face-to-face interaction with clients once fully immersed in her new executive role. Says West: “That relationship is hard for me to let go.”


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