Building a Unified Team: With Heather Howell
Heather Howell, Operations Manager for OneAscent Wealth, plays an invaluable role in meeting the needs of our company and team members so we can serve clients well. Hear from Heather as she shares her work experience and passion for working with a Kingdom-focused team!
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A Background in Accounting and Operations
I graduated from the University of Montevallo with a degree in accounting. After college, I started working at a CPA firm, but later, I took a job with a manufacturing company in their accounting department. During this time, I moved from a staff accountant to an executive finance role and later had my first experience in operations. I was able to gain experience in financial services while learning about the company’s operational side. I eventually moved into the operations management department from my executive finance role. I stayed with this company for ten years before joining the OneAscent Wealth team!
My previous role provided me with excellent industry experience, but it was a cutthroat environment. It was all about the money for the company. I heard about OneAscent Wealth through a CPA friend of mine. She told me that my heart aligned with OneAscent’s mission and suggested I should reach out to them about one of their job openings. And I am so thankful that I did.
It was immediately evident that the people at OneAscent Wealth truly cared about serving their clients and each other. I saw how they had biblically-driven motivations, and I knew this was the type of place I wanted to be. I joined OneAscent Wealth as the Operations Manager in 2020.
A Role In Organizational Development
One aspect of my job that stood out to me that I didn’t experience before was my ability to pour into other people. Organizational development has become a significant part of my role here.
I support my team by providing tools to help them grow, both personally and professionally. We spend a lot of time coaching and recalibrating to ensure that people are in the right role and have what they need to succeed. We have a fantastic team, and it’s even better when everyone feels like they are using their time and talents in the best way possible and have the support and space to continue growing in those areas.
A Unified Team
If I could explain what I do in just a few words, I would call it a connector role. I manage our internal finances, but I also make sure our team is working towards the same goal. When everyone has a different area of expertise, whether advising, accounting, or administration, they don’t always “speak the same language.” I make sure that everyone is moving in the same direction and that their goals are aligned.
I don’t meet directly with clients often, but I equip our internal team with whatever they need to serve clients better. I meet weekly with our team of advisors to find out if there are any issues they are running into or the resources they need. I coordinate software issues, ensuring everyone knows about the error and that everything gets resolved quickly. I ensure everyone has the proper training on our internal programs and software. I handle the process of vendor switching. I help outline our hiring needs and our technology needs. If we have a new location joining us, I make sure that the company and clients smoothly transition.
It’s a long list, but it all centers around building a unified team, from bringing new people in to training them on who we are to equipping them to provide a higher level of services.
My Interaction With Clients
I don’t have as many face-to-face interactions with clients, but my role still impacts their experience. One of our values at OneAscent Wealth is always to put the client’s needs first. I often am someone people come to when they have questions or a problem that needs solving.
I always ask them, “what is the client’s need in this situation, and how do you serve them first?” Just a simple question can reframe the situation for people, so they know what to do. I am not the expert on moving money around, the best investing strategy, or any of those areas, but I know that everything we do is and should be client-centric.
My Passion for Purpose and People
I am passionate about working with a team that genuinely is kingdom-focused. I get to go to work every day and know that we are making a difference in God’s kingdom and people’s lives. That’s what fuels me more than the task. I am not that passionate about software or paperwork. I am passionate about our mission. And everyone here is the same way.
Even within financial advising, we spend more time with clients than your average advisor, whether in a face-to-face meeting, on the phone, or even reviewing a client’s files. We have a smaller advisor-to-client ratio than most firms because of this. We want to be intentional about relationships, not more profit.
Living A Life Aligned
I came from a previous job where I was very “successful.” I had a fancy title, a good paycheck, perks, and benefits. Even so, that wasn’t nearly as fulfilling as being able to live a whole life aligned with what I believe in. I always use this to encourage other people who may find themselves successful by the world’s standards, but maybe not feeling successful in all parts of their lives. Many have a desire to live their life aligned with what matters most to them, but are unsure of their options or hesitant about making big changes.
We offer values-based investing services, but we also help our clients gain the confidence they need to make the personal and financial decisions that are right for them.
Most importantly, we have a team where everyone loves hard and is always real. You can be totally open about your passions, frustrations, problems, and emotions, and there is no fear of judgment. We feel that from each other, and we carry that into every interaction with our clients.
I can guarantee that the person you are talking to in this office will hear you and do whatever they can to help you. We want you to be comfortable and confident in your financial life and legacy!
Contact us here to learn more or to schedule a consultation!