"It didn’t occur to me to consider a career in financial services until I updated my LinkedIn profile and was contacted by a friend of mine that was working at Goldman. He said, ‘Hey there’s this great program. You need to learn about it and you need to apply. And you need to do it today because the application closes in 18 hours.’ That was a jumping off point for me to learn as much as I possibly could about what it meant to be a Goldman Sachs employee.”- Andrew Neuwirth
is a Private Wealth Advisor at Goldman Sachs. He started out at the Naval Academy, after which he served as a Submarine Officer for seven years. After his military service, he transitioned directly to Goldman Sachs.
Why to Listen:
Andrew never considered a career in the Financial Services industry until a friend contacted him and told him he should apply for a position... where the application was due in just 18 hours. This led Andrew to learn everything he could about Goldman Sachs and a career as a Private Wealth Advisor. Andrew does a great job of explaining more about the Financial Services industry, and why this may be the ideal career for a military veteran.
- StoryBox - People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
- Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at BeyondTheUniform.io/books
Transcript & Time Stamps:
Today is Episode #145 with Andrew Neuwirth. When I look back on all the interviews that I’ve done with veterans, there’s a few strengths that stand out to me. The first is integrity - doing the right thing in every situation. The second is an ability to build strong and lasting relationships - working in diverse teams and getting along with people in incredibly difficult situations.
Andrew has found a way to blend both of these strengths. He works at Goldman Sachs as a private wealth advisor. If you’re interested in financial services or you’re curious about learning the landscape and this role in particular, this is a fantastic interview for you. One reason why I love this interview is that Andrew never set out to pursue this career. In fact, he really wasn’t even aware of it prior to his transition. He has a pretty incredible tale of how he found his way there. And after talking with him, it seems like a career path that would be well suited for many military veterans.
If you haven’t had a moment to leave us a positive review on iTunes, I would greatly appreciate it. And with that, let’s dive in to my conversation with Andrew Neuwirth.
Joining me today from San Francisco, CA is Andrew Neuwirth. Andrew is a private wealth advisor at Goldman Sachs. He started out at the Naval Academy after which he served on submarines for seven years. After transitioning out of the military, he went directly to Goldman Sachs which I am very impressed by.
Andrew, how did you make the decision to leave the military?
When I was at the Naval Academy, I wasn’t sure if I was going to do 5 years or 20 years. But I knew that I wanted to do what was the most challenging to me which I did through the Navy’s nuclear and submarine officer program. After five years serving on a boat, I had the opportunity to consider whether or not I wanted to get out. I felt like I wanted to stay in a little longer and do one more move and try something new. I went to work for an Admiral as a submarine liaison working with military officers from several foreign countries. It was a completely different position than what I was doing before.
During this time, it became apparent to me that military life wasn’t compatible with the goals I had for my life which was not moving around every 3 to 4 years and really trying to build a family and a place I would call home. As a result of that, I began the transition process. But I didn’t know that I wanted to go into finance. I really didn't’ even know this was a possibility. As an engineering officer, the natural step is to move into Operations or Engineering Management. So I went after that because it was a story that made sense to me given my unique background.
How did Goldman Sachs then enter the picture?
Because I majored in Economics at the Naval Academy, the finance industry wasn’t a total mystery to me. But it didn't’ occur to me to consider a career in financial services until I updated my LinkedIn profile and was contacted by a friend of mine that was working at Goldman. He said, ‘Hey there’s this great program. You need to learn about it and you need to apply. And you need to do it today because the application closes in 18 hours.’ That was a jumping off point for me to learn as much as I possibly could about what it meant to be a Goldman Sachs employee.
Wow that’s a great story. A “drop everything and get this done” kind of moment.
It really was. I’m sure many of us who have been in the military know that if it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would get done. The application wasn’t terribly cumbersome. Because I was already preparing for the transition process, I had a resume that I thought would work. I also reached out cold to current Goldman employees in positions I was interested in to talk to them about their job. The third thing that happened in that 18 hours was that I had a lightbulb moment about whether or not I actually wanted to apply. I didn’t want to take a place from someone who really wanted it if I myself didn’t really want it. The story I ended up telling in my interview was that when I was heading into my final year at the Naval Academy, we were able to take out a first class loan. They called it a career starter loan. I knew that I wanted to be on a submarine but that there is no internet on submarines. So if I wanted to take the money, I needed to invest it in a way that I wouldn’t have to touch it for 3 or 4 months at a time. And I really appreciated that process of figuring out what the best investment option was for me. So it made sense to me that this might be something I would want to do for a career.
I think that’s really interesting and also important for veterans to hear that it’s okay if they don’t know exactly what they want to do in the civilian sector and also that reflecting on experiences from their past might shed light on what they want to do in the future.
I completely agree. Having a direct path is maybe most efficient but not always the best way to find the right option for you. I would advise veterans to be willing to talk to other people and hear their experiences throughout the transition process and just be a sponge for information. Someone will say something that could be a real spark or insight into what you want to do.
Can you tell us more about Goldman Sachs’ Veteran Integration Program?
Goldman Sachs started the program I think six years ago. I was the fifth class to go through. At its most basic level, it’s a 8-10 week internship for recently transitioned members of the armed forces to learn more about the financial services industry. The way that I think about it now having gone through the program is that it’s basically an MBA internship. It’s a little bit off cycle but similar in nature. We had the same access to programs and information that the MBA students had. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to learn that it was something that I really wanted to do and there happened to be a seat open for me which I was able to successfully move into.
What are the different career options or functional roles offered through the Veterans Integration Program?
In the initial application phase, you select up to three roles within the firm’s different business lines. I only selected the advisory role within investment management. I was confident that if I went into finance, that was the role that I wanted to have. But I’ve had colleagues that interviewed for a number of different roles.
Can you give us a quick synopsis of the different business lines at Goldman and what they entail?
An investment banking associate joins a team focused on a specific sector or sub-sector. That team helps with everything that the investment bank does. Things such as issuances and underwriting. With operations and technology, those work as the middle or back office of the firm. They are the true guts of the firm. Without those people, this place would collapse. These people manage everything from making sure our internet is secure to making sure the exchange where we make trades is operating properly.
Were you able to interact with employees in different divisions during the Veterans Integration Program?
Yes. When we were at the Naval Academy and did different experiences during the summer, the men and women that we interacted with on boats, submarines, etc. were committed to giving us honest and supportive feedback. That’s similar to what happened during the Veterans Integration Program. From the most senior to the most junior, everyone here made themselves available for everyone in the program.
How many of the people from your cohort ended up employed full time at Goldman?
I think there were six people in my cohort in the investment management division. Five out of those six ended up at Goldman working full-time. The sixth went to business school. With the other folks in the cohort, I think most people were successful in gaining full-time employment at Goldman if they wanted that.
What was the interview like?
It was a long day. There were about six separate interviews. You could face potentially even more if you are interviewing in different divisions. It’s hard because you know what you did in the military but you only have about 25 minutes to distill that experience and deliver it in an impactful way that translates to the interviewer. You might assume that the person interviewing you knows what it’s like to be on a submarine or be an F18 pilot. But they don’t actually know so it’s your job to teach them.
The second thing is that you have to learn about what it is you’re interviewing for you how you can relate to that. In my case, I talked to as many people at Goldman that were in this role as I could. I tried to stay up to date on anything happening in finance. When I was interviewing, the price of oil was changing and there was a lot going on in China. This was truly interesting to me and it was also something I could bring up in my interview to show that I was genuinely interested in this field.
How would you describe what you do as a wealth advisor?
What is so interesting about this role is that you’re a trusted advisor. When a big decision gets made, you’re the first call. When I was on submarines and on watch, others in the crew would call me and say, ‘Can we do this? Can this work?’. You would then run through your decision making process and then move forward. It’s similar in my current role. The infrastructure at Goldman supports us in a way that allows us to interact with the best strategists and the best thinkers so that we can provide risk control to our clients. These are the most important families and business leaders in the world who rely on us to protect and mitigate that management risk.
I think that’s a great analogy where both on submarines and now as a wealth advisor, you’re taking knowledge and advice from experts in a particular area and then coming up with a cohesive plan.
Something that I also believe is unique about Goldman Sachs is that as a wealth advisor, I”m not the be all and end all expert. But, if I want or need to consult with someone in the company that is an expert in a particular area, they will drop everything to assist me.
What does a normal day look like for you?
Because I work on the West Coast but markets open on the East Coast, we get to the office pretty early. I try to be here right around 6 a.m. The first part of my day is to gain an understanding of what happened overnight and what might happen during the day. I read the Wall Street Journal and other news sources to gain that picture. Goldman also has a massive research arm that puts out probably more information than you could read in a 24 hour period. I try to highlight a few of these every single day. Being aware of the news is important because it structures the conversation throughout the day.
I’ve been here for about two years and I’m on a team with four total advisors. We all manage a number of clients and what we refer to as a “Book of Business”. These clients have a direct relationship with one of the advisors. I help them cover these clients. And then for me, these advisors serve as my team as a I go out and meet potential clients for the firm. Part of my role is to build and form relationships and bring folks into the firm. That could be going out and meeting people in person or through a phone call.
Veterans are often very strong both in integrity and relationship building. It seems like you’ve found a career path that allows you to do both.
That’s a great point. If you were to distill what are some of the most important parts of being in this role, I would say that two of those are having integrity and being trustworthy. That is something most veterans would look at that and kind of laugh because that’s something they have always had. But it’s not something that is necessarily true of the general population. And I think that’s what Goldman is trying to get at with the Veterans Integration Program. This firm has always had a great relationship with the military. One of the leaders of my group is a former submariner and Naval Academy graduate. One of our former partners, John Whitehead, was in the Navy during World War II. I think a lot of his principles came from his time in the military. Treating the client well and having integrity. I think these are things that come naturally to veterans.
How do you manage to maintain a work/life balance?
It’s a constant topic of conversation and work/life balance is extremely important. Goldman is great for that in allowing their people to do what they need to do to maintain that balance. With that being said we are in the business of helping our clients make money. That’s not something that can be done with a lackadaisical approach. How I think about work/life balance is that I try to keep both my family and my work sacred. And there’s not a black and white line. It’s a constant conversation and you’re always iterating on that and what it means to have that balance.
What are some career paths after someone has worked in private wealth?
I don’t really have a good answer for you. I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about what might come next. To me this is, keeping my head down and doing the best job I can and then what happens, happens. It’s certainly something people talk about but I don’t do a lot of time researching it. I will say that a lot of people have gone from here into some sort of investor relations role. And then others take a 180° turn and go to business school or go join a tech company.
In one of my favorite books So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport, he talks about a similar idea - just focusing on the job before you and being as good as you possibly can be at that job.
There’s been a lot reported about our generation where two years is the most someone will spend with any company before moving to something new. But I think this might not translate to those of us who have been in the military. Not that you don’t transition when an opportunity arises but you’re used to a mindset where you were in a similar career arc during your time in the military. So it’s not comfortable to now think about a position in terms of ‘OK, I’ll be here for two years and then I’ll move on.’
Can you recommend any resources to listeners?
I’m not saying that you need to buy one but I loved having a kindle while I was on the submarine. One book that has really resonated with me is A Random Walk Down Wall Street.The book talks about how to invest for yourself. It’s a very easy and fun read. If you want to be involved in finance, this is a great book to get you going.
What are some paths that you’ve seen veterans take to get to Goldman.
Certainly business school and the Veterans Integration Program. I’ve also seen people go into financial services after the military and end up moving laterally into Goldman Sachs. Those are really the main paths I’ve seen.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with active duty and veteran listeners?
One thing that has become more important to me is maintaining a community of veterans in my new world. So whether that’s here at Goldman or in the broader San Francisco community where there are an innumerable amount of groups for veterans. Finding those groups as you enter the civilian world can be very meaningful. Over the past year I’ve met some phenomenal veterans out here. We’re all going through the same thing together to different extents and have a common background.
When you reach out to talk to people to learn about different roles, it’s so important to follow-up. Whoever you’re talking to is likely really busy so get time on the calendar as quickly as possible. That’s a good way to get in people’s good graces and open doors for you.
Thanks so much, Andrew.
Some of the things that stood out from this conversation was that I loved how Andrew mentioned having non-veterans review your resume. This will allow you to learn about parts of your resume that might not make sense or resonate with someone that hasn’t been in the military.
I also liked that Andrew mentioned that ending up at Goldman Sachs was started by simply updating his LinkedIn profile. I think this shows just how important and powerful LinkedIn can be during your transition out of the military.
I loved that Andrew talked about being a sponge for information and about talking to as many people as possible. That’s the intent behind Beyond the Uniform but I also hope you go out and reach out to people in industries that you are interested in to learn more about whether that field might be the right fit for you.
I liked what Andrew said about investment banking and financial management and the different paths that people take to get there. With that enjoy your week and the start to your 2018.