Ohio National President and CEO Barbara Turner has enjoyed a long and successful career in the financial-services industry.
As Women’s History Month comes to a close, Turner spoke with InsuranceNewsNet and shared some of the steps she took on her way to the top, the challenges she encountered along the way, and her advice to other women for making it to the next level of success.
Before joining Ohio National Financial Services, Turner worked for a local investment banking firm that owned a retail broker dealer and registered investment advisory firm. In that position, she was responsible for trading, operations, and systems.
“I learned a lot about the financial markets and holistic wealth management during my almost 10-year tenure with the organization,” she said.
Then almost 25 years ago, Turner joined Ohio National as vice president, operations, for the organization’s retail broker dealer, ONESCO. Within a relatively short time, she had assumed the position of president of ONESCO.
Turner also reactivated the organization’s dormant retail registered investment advisory firm, ONIMCO, and positioned ONESCO and ONIMCO as wealth-building platforms for independent financial advisors.
“The programs and initiatives implemented under my leadership transformed ONESCO and ONIMCO from cost centers to profit centers and fueled the asset and revenue growth experienced today. My success at ONESCO helped position me for bigger roles at Ohio National,” she said.
Turner was presented with new opportunities almost annually over the last eight years, including chief compliance officer, chief administrative officer, annuity strategic business unit leader, member of the office of the CEO, vice chairperson, and president and chief operating officer.
“Every position I’ve held during my 40+ year career in the financial-services industry helped equip me for my current role as president and CEO of Ohio National,” she said.
Not surprisingly, Turner experienced several challenges throughout her career as she moved into sometimes uncharted territory, but in many ways, she said, these challenges have served as motivators.
“As a woman and person of color, I’ve had individuals question my intellect and attempt to diminish my value, or squash my spirit. Those micro-aggressions and sometimes blatant actions caused me to work even harder to prove I was intelligent, talented, capable, deserving, and that I belonged," she said.
These challenges also resulted in her being very intentional and passionate about mentoring, coaching, and sponsoring women throughout their careers. In addition, Turner said she has been fortunate to work with many amazing men who “get it” and have partnered with her to advocate on behalf of women in the workplace and in the industry.
Women in the financial-services industry face fewer challenges today than they did over 40 years ago when she started her career, Turner pointed out.
“We’re doing a better job of attracting women to the financial-services industry, but we have a lot of work to do to support women who are interested in advancing beyond middle management,” she said.
Moving The Needle
Turner has a message to pass on to other women who are working hard to achieve greater success: “I encourage women who are working hard to make it to the next level of success in the financial-services industry to communicate their career aspirations to the decision-makers in the organization.”
Aspiring women must also be willing to put in the work needed to make success happen. This may involve volunteering for high-profile or unpopular assignments or enrolling in a course to fill a technical gap. Years ago, Turner said, she started a practice of creating an individual development plan annually.
“My plan identified goals I wanted to achieve and gaps I needed to close in order to make it to the next level. I shared my plan with my direct supervisor and trusted advisors. This process worked well for me,” she said.
Women looking to move ahead should also be “next givers.” “Lead with integrity and by example,” she said. “Dedicate time to mentor, sponsor, and coach others. I’ve found that individuals are typically willing to support those who truly lift as they climb.”
Ayo Mseka has more than 30 years of experience reporting on the financial-services industry. She formerly served as Editor-In-Chief of NAIFA’s Advisor Today magazine. Contact her at [email protected]