Since joining Benjamin F. Edwards & Co. in September of 2018, Jennifer Espinoza has performed her role of Operations Manager and Senior Registered Financial Client Associate with the confidence, enthusiasm, and dedication of a team member who knows her company has her back.
“Starting at the office level and reaching all the way up to our home office, there’s just a very good feeling of support,” Espinoza said. “There’s a familial atmosphere at our branch, and I’ve had the pleasure of visiting our home office [in St. Louis]. The feeling carries through in all levels of the company.”
As someone who thrives on making people feel welcome and ensuring their experience is top-notch, Espinoza said working for a company that cultivates such a welcoming environment for its associates suits her. She even has somewhat of a nickname pertaining to it.
“Cliff [Bryan, Chesterton Branch Manager and Managing Director of Investments] always says, ‘You’re the sunshine in the office,’ and I try to carry that through over the phone in my voice or with my smile when clients walk in,” Espinoza said. “I sit right in the front of the office, and I’m the first person that people see when they walk in. I love that, and I like that so often you can control how that interaction goes. I can pick up on the energy a person brings into the office, and whether I get up and give them a hug, or just nod and say good morning, I can have an effect on their experience with us, or my future interactions with them.”
Espinoza’s role requires her to be supportive in some capacity to everyone in the office. In managing daily operations between clients and her associates, organizing files, deposits, and reports, and acting as a primary contact to clients, Espinoza’s days rarely look the same twice, and that’s something she especially likes about her job.
“I do a little bit of everything, and it always changes. You don’t know what someone’s going to need one day or the next. It keeps me on my toes,” she said.
But her favorite aspect is the day-to-day interaction, that familiarity that brings her closer to her coworkers and clients.
“A lot of our clients live alone, and sometimes they want to just call and talk and have people in their lives to check in with,” Espinoza said. “I love when a client pops into the office with their dog just to say hi, or brings snacks to share and catch up. Those very personal interactions are a differentiator.”
Espinoza and other Benjamin F. Edwards associates had previously worked together at a different company. When the associates began working at the new Benjamin F. Edwards branch in Chesterton—the first branch to open in Indiana—they encouraged Espinoza to join them. She is happy she did, because the company changed her life for the better. That familial structure to the business, plus the earnest consideration for all employees involved, made Espinoza feel immediately in her element.
“When you hear people ask one another about their kids, or their parents, or anyone they care about outside of work, it’s genuine,” Espinoza said. “They genuinely care about the answer, and they genuinely care about you.”
The parents to five boys—one 9-year-old, two 6-year-old twins, and two older stepsons,—Espinoza and her husband have their work cut out for them when it comes to parenting.
“Keeps us busy!” she laughed.
The work-life balance immediately tested her as she made her transition to Benjamin F. Edwards. But she and her teammates passed that test.
“When I first joined, we had a rollercoaster of illnesses come through my house, one after the other. They [the Benjamin F. Edwards team] were just so accommodating, giving me the option to work from home or bring my children to work with me as needed, anything to make it work for me and my role,” Espinoza said.
The real testament to any company’s commitment to their employees comes when it responds accordingly to an unexpected and prolonged period of tension and stress, such as that of a global pandemic. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Benjamin F. Edwards & Co. has proven to be the kind of company that protects its people first and foremost, Espinoza said.
“There was never a question of making us do something we were uncomfortable with. And as we’ve talked about slowly opening our offices back up, it’s been a group discussion, one that involves the entire team and all of our input,” she said.
With virtual meetings, calls, and other forms of communication every day, Espinoza and her teammates have been kept in the loop on every decision leaders are making at Benjamin F. Edwards, and their voices are always heard despite not being physically together.
“And because I have three kids at home, who I have to teach ostensibly three days a week, it’s been an adjustment. It’s a very different experience, but, like everyone, we’re adjusting! Although I now realize I definitely wasn’t meant to be a teacher, and teachers are definitely underpaid,” Espinoza said with a laugh.
Similar to her first weeks with the company, the first weeks back at the office physically will be unique for Espinoza and her colleagues who have kids, depending on how decisions regarding the virus play out. That’s where the company’s consideration and flexibility will be especially appreciated.
“As we’ve discussed gradually opening the office, I’ve been very upfront about taking precautions with my kids. If school doesn’t open up in fall, I’d probably have to bring my kids to the office with me or work remotely certain days, since I primarily lead e-learning, and finding care is difficult. And my team has just been very understanding about it. I’m not the only one in the office with kids, and they care about our health, safety, and families above all.”
Espinoza said one of the other defining qualities that’s risen to the forefront throughout the pandemic is the consideration Benjamin F. Edwards & Co.’s clientele.
“Our clients have just been...oh my goodness. They’ve been so wonderful. We treat our clients like we treat our family, and they return the favor. During all of this, they’ve reached out to us mostly to just check in on us and make sure we’re O.K. They ask about how we’re doing, how our families are doing. They genuinely care, too,” she said.
“I don’t want to say it’s been a good experience, with the pandemic, but we’ve definitely made the most of a tough situation,” Espinoza said.
Benjamin F. Edwards & Co. encourages associates to be involved in their surrounding communities, another facet that suits Espinoza. Her sons are involved in Pop Warner football teams, and last summer she spearheaded park clean-up projects for them to begin learning the value of community-focused efforts early.
“The freedom to be involved in the community is really encouraged at Benjamin F. Edwards. They don’t tell us to get involved—we want to, and they cheer us on,” Espinoza said. “And I think that’s part of what makes us such a good branch. We all work together after hours to make our communities better places, and it’s very refreshing.”
Espinoza is also very involved with the Portage Township YMCA. She cherishes time spent outdoors, whether it’s with her family at their summer home in Monticello, cheering her stepson on from the stands as he plays football on Friday nights in the fall, or supporting her loved ones in whichever new venture they pursue.
To learn more about the stellar team at Benjamin F. Edwards, visit https://benjaminfedwards.com/.
2020-1149, exp 05/31/2023