Transamerica Office Needs 20 New Hires

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A projected shortage of personnel in the financial services industry is driving financial services companies like Transamerica Financial Advisors Inc. to bring on additional staff.

That’s why Deanna Marchionda, branch office supervisor for Trans-america’s Youngstown office, held a mixer July 10 to introduce prospective hires to the field.

The broker dealer office offers retirement planning, life insurance and investment products – including annuities, mutual funds and 401(k)s – from multiple providers, including Nationwide, Prudential and Pacific Life in addition to Transamerica.

Although there is no assigned territory, the office handles clients in most of northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania and Marchionda says she has associates in Nashville, Tennessee; Atlanta, Georgia; and Orlando, Tampa and Naples, Florida.

“We’re looking for some good, quality people, even if they don’t have a background in the financial industry,” Marchionda says. “I can put somebody through a training program and train them to be the person that helps us grow.”

Production at the office has doubled since it returned to downtown Youngstown six months ago from a temporary space in Boardman, Marchionda says.

To meet the demand for services, she wants to add 20 people to her office, which already has about 25 employees.

Several factors are driving demand, she says. The baby-boom generation saw 78 million births and those individuals are starting to retire.

And unlike many firms that cater exclusively to upper-income clients, Transamerica focuses on Middle America. Someone can start an account with as little as $10, Marchionda says.

“In addition to that, we see Generation X is starting to plan for their kids’ college education and for retirement, and then we have the millennials who are getting into their first jobs,” she says.

The baby-boom retirements are affecting broker dealers like Trans-america in another respect, as financial advisers of that generation step down from their firms.

According to Marchionda, who has been branch supervisor of the Youngstown office since 2002, the baby boomers who once dominated the industry are now getting out.

“About a third of our industry is going to retire in the next 10 years,” she says.

Marchionda’s career in the financial services industry began in 2001. Working in marketing, she had lost one job and started a new job, was buying a house and was preparing to get married. A family member suggested she attend a Transamerica financial services overview.

“At the end of it, I said, ‘I need those services and I know other people that do.’ So because of that I ended up interviewing with the company,” she recalls.

Marchionda started with Trans-america part time, then decided to leave her other job and take a full-time position with the firm.

The timing could hardly have been worse. Her first day was Sept. 11, 2001, a day “the market didn’t exist,” she says.

But by December, her performance had earned her an executive-level position.

At the time, women were scarce in the financial services industry, a situation that has changed, she says.

The industry is “very accommodating for a woman with children,” and allows the mother of two “to arrange my job around my life instead of my life around my job,” she says.

Transamerica is among the industry’s leaders in terms of representation by women, she continues. A 2017 ranking showed 37% of its advisers were women, higher than any other independent broker dealer. “It’s been fun to be a part of that,” she says.

Marchionda looks for candidates who not only try to make a difference for their clients but for their community as well, and who prioritize faith, family and philanthropy before work. “If they have those priorities in that order, then I know I’ve found a good person,” she says.

Training associate Kayvonna White is a recent hire, joining the firm a couple months ago, just before earning her two-year degree in business management from Eastern Gateway Community College.

After a disappointing experience at a job fair for the DoubleTree by Hilton Youngstown Downtown, she and a friend attended a Transamerica recruiting event.

White was nervous about joining the company at first. “It was something new,” she acknowledged.

White attended one of the company’s large regional events, which showed her that she “had the ability to succeed here,” Marchionda says.

The training associate is one of the first members of her family to receive an education after high school, something they discussed during her interview, Marchionda says.

“She didn’t have any family members or even a lot of friends who ever had a post-secondary education, so she didn’t know what was the next step,” she continues. During her training, White has had “the opportunity to experience some great people on a national scale” and “rubbed elbows with some of the best entrepreneurs,” she says.

“I like how this company is service-oriented,” White says. “I love helping people.”

Jessica Popio, a local Liberty Tax Service franchisee, also recently joined the office as an associate.

“With taxes and what I’ve done for clients for the last 19 years in the tax industry, it made sense to jump into the financial planning aspect of things,” Popio says. She had looked at other companies in the past, but it “wasn’t the right time, or the right people to be associated with,” she says.

“She’s been doing well. We’re excited for her,” Marchionda says of Popio’s work. “She’s got some good referrals coming through and good things happening.”

One of Popio’s objectives is to help veterans so they can receive “the education and background they need so that they can sustain and thrive” after leaving the military.

In addition to running the Transamerica office, Marchionda has written a book, “The Gift of Money.”

The book is published, but Marchionda is awaiting approval from Transamerica’s legal and compliance departments before it can be sold, which hopefully will happen by the end of the year.

“It’s so super simple. It’s the basics of money,” she says. She also is working on a second book on work-life balance that won’t require regulatory approval.

“Maybe I’ll have two come out this year if I can pull off the second one in time,” she says.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.