Managing Money Bankers’ Financial Lives Are Complicated, Too

by the editorial team at Citi | July 12, 2019

Does a career in financial services impart mystical money know-how?

You might think so. After all, spending your workdays at a bank branch helping others manage their finances would offer a lot of perspective. And, surely, access to top-notch training and resources would make you an expert at achieving your own money goals, right?

Of course the picture is a bit more complicated than that. A career in finance doesn’t shield people from the same concerns everyone faces when it comes to budgeting, saving and planning for the future. But the work can put the tools within reach to tackle those challenges with smarts and confidence.

Here, three Citibank branch employees open up about what being a banker has meant for them and how it has affected their approach to personal finance.

Woman dancing in front of a wall with graphics of blue mobile phones

‘True to my goals, true to my plans.’

Erika Rodas, Personal Banker | Newport Beach, CA

Between owning and operating a karate studio by night, serving customers at a Citibank branch by day, and managing her family finances so that she and her husband of three years can reach their goal of buying a home, Erika Rodas is juggling a lot. But the 36-year-old credits her work at Citibank for instilling a money mindset that’s put her on the path to success — it’s even helped curb a longtime weakness for new shoes.

“The best financial advice I’ve ever received — don’t live beyond your means — has actually come to me while working at Citi,” says Rodas. It’s important that you still live a happy life and occasionally splurge on things that are important to you, such as a family vacation once a year, she adds. “But staying true to my goals, true to my plans,” remains a financial north star.

“I’m always on the go. So even though I work at the bank, I might not have enough time for myself to sit down with a banker to go through my finances.” To spot-check her financial health, she relies on the Citi mobile app. “It’s just so convenient.”  

Man in suit in front of wall with graphics

‘Make hay when the sun is shining.’

Jay Biss, Small Business Banker | New York, NY

Banking was not Jay Biss’ initial calling in life. The 46-year-old started his career as a graphic designer, running his own business. But recognizing his talent for helping others with their businesses led him to the world of financial services.

Biss says that his experience as a small-business owner, through struggle and success alike, helps him identify with his banking clients. “Clients have a misconception about me — that they think I have it all together.” In reality, he says, “I'm just a regular human being with my own flaws and foibles. Whatever it is they're going through, I've been there as a former business owner myself.”

In his time as a banker, Biss has noticed that many small-business owners focus almost solely on their business and its health, while losing sight of how the business fits into a larger financial picture. “What they don't realize is that they really do need to diversify their income streams,” he says.

“It’s just like they say, ‘make hay while the sun is shining.’ It’s important to make plans with a financial advisor when your business is doing well so that you can make the most of that money.”

woman in blue dress dancing in front of wall with graphics of airplanes

‘Mom works at a bank.’

Monique Delancy, Personal Banker | Miami, FL

“I was not a saver before working in a bank,” Monique Delancy says. She used to carry lots of credit cards, including retail store cards, and says she felt burdened by the debt she had accumulated. After reading up on debt-reduction strategies, not to mention picking up tips from customers at her branch, Delancy has made strides in what she calls her credit card journey, including paying off and closing some cards she decided she did not need. “That was a journey, but it's taught me a lot,” Delancy says, “and I have since been able to help people from what I have learned in doing that… My experience made me such a better banker.”

These days, “my big thing is that we all can save,” says Delancy. She emphasizes this to new bank customers all of the time. “When I ask them what they did with five dollars yesterday they often have no idea. I tell them that's five dollars they could have put into a savings account.”

Seeing what a difference a financial cushion can make for customers across the wealth spectrum has deepened Delancy’s appreciation for the importance of saving and budgeting — an appreciation that she has been passing down to her 16-year-old daughter, Regina, since she was 10.

Delancy proudly recalls one impressed teacher telling her that Regina had aced a lesson on banking. “Regina knew everything,” Delancy recalls the teacher saying. When the teacher asked Regina where she learned so much, she said, “Oh, my mom works at a bank.” With college on the horizon, Delancy is glad that her daughter is already well-versed in managing her own money.

And Delancy’s new outlook on credit cards? Use them thoughtfully, and with purpose: She’s currently saving up her rewards points to redeem toward a vacation with Regina to celebrate her high school graduation.