Episode 61: Betting on Yourself with Fizza Khan
Silver’s Founder and CEO, Fizza Khan, joins Christine Shaw, CEO of InvestmentNews, on Her Success Matters, a podcast that inspires women to elevate their careers, build their wealth and live a healthy lifestyle. On Episode 61 of the podcast – Betting on Yourself – Fizza takes listeners through her journey to regulatory compliance consulting, discusses challenges in the search for diverse talent in financial services and offers advice to the next generation of women to be successful in business – no matter what path they choose.
Following is a summary of the discussion. The full episode can be accessed here.
Fizza on her journey into regulatory compliance consulting:
After law school and several years as a law firm associate focused on investment management, the financial crisis of 2008 forced me to find a job that could enhance my skill set, but also be in line with the skill set that I already had achieved. I was introduced to this interesting world called compliance and regulatory consulting, but I had no idea what this was. It was in a time when compliance consulting was still a relatively new concept. I thought, well, I will just join this firm until the crisis passes and I can get myself back on track for my career of being in-house counsel at a large investment advisory firm, whether it be a hedge fund or private equity firm. However, I fell in love with compliance consulting and 10 plus years later, I still enjoy the consulting work I do every day.
What attracted her to law and financial services:
Fizza shares that, while it was quite unusual for women to want to be involved in finance, much less working on Wall Street, she was fortunate to have had an internship at two prominent investment banking firms, Meryl Lynch and JP Morgan Chase.
I realized being in those positions, I knew I wanted to go to law school, I just didn’t know how I would integrate what I was learning in finance into law school. It really dawned on me when I was taking these internships that any time the groups of investment professionals, whether they were traders or portfolio managers, or even in back office support, they all needed to go through legal. They all needed to go through regulatory advisory services groups to ensure that what they were doing was the right thing and that they could actually do it. And I thought to myself, I want to be on that side, I want to be the person that actually can tell people, this is the way to go, you can actually do this and you can fulfill what it is that you want to do whether it’s through your investments, through your portfolio management, through trading, whatever it may be.
Fizza on her upbringing and where she gained the encouragement and inner confidence to take on career challenges:
Both my father and my mother. having come to this country with basically nothing, and really just pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and achieved everything that they have, they were my inspiration and my primary support.
What’s so unusual about the circumstances is that both of them were in the sciences field. I really was the first in our family to want to explore a career in law and financial services. My parents said no matter what it is that you want to do, all you have to do is tell yourself that you can do it, and we’ll always be here to support you in achieving that goal. They very much stressed education and ensured that no matter what it is that I wanted to do, I was able to get the education to support that endeavor. That family support is why I am able to do what I do today.
On launching Silver:
Launching Silver was probably, or is probably, the scariest, the most exciting and the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. I never thought that I would be an entrepreneur. I never thought that I would be that person that would have their own business, that would run an organization. I always thought that I would be a part of an established firm that I would contribute to. And, now here I am with this business, with this firm that is employing people and helping them find their career and their voice, and building on that. It’s been such an interesting and very eye-opening experience.
Silver’s hiring practices to ensure a diverse pool of employees and developing an inclusive environment:
I will be fully transparent in telling you that it is difficult in financial services specifically, to hire diverse people whether it be women or people from disadvantaged backgrounds or minorities, because, again, financial services has not, I don’t believe, stepped up enough to be inclusive of different groups of people. The way that we, at Silver, want to ensure that we are contributing to the increased diversity of the financial services space, is we inform the recruiters that we use that we want to see people from diverse backgrounds. We want to understand where to search, where to look for these candidates, and oftentimes our recruiters are somewhat at a loss. We have to work together because, it’s not just about going to the typical pool of schools or the typical job fair communities. That’s not going to be representative of what’s out there. We really have to ensure that we are doing our ultimate best to seek out resources, places, people that have their pulse on what is happening in these different communities, so that we can take advantage of that and see what pool of candidates we can be open to and bring into our organization.
Fizza’s advice to the next generation of women on how they can take their careers to the next level and find success:
Whatever path it may be, whether it’s in financial services or in a different field, you always have to follow your passion. Always think that you can do it because you are passionate about it. No matter what challenges come your way. And don’t be afraid to seek help. When I say help, I mean reach out to people that you feel are able to guide you, mentors. Believe it or not, more often than not, people are willing to lend their advice and be able to guide you in a direction that you may feel uncertain about. But when you have that level of support, and when you have the conviction within yourself, anything is possible. It may not look the way you think it should initially, but eventually you’ll come to understand that just following that gut instinct, following your interests, is the very big first step in ensuring that you will achieve whatever it is that you set out to do, because you want to achieve it.
For more on Fizza’s path to being a woman and minority business owner, a pioneer of outsourced consulting for the investment management industry and why she believes Her Success Matters, please listen to the full episode of the podcast here.Listen On InvestmentNews Here