Whoever thinks the banking industry is driven solely by a buttoned down old boys club has not met Katie Simpson, Managing Director, Market President & Market Executive at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Katie’s collaborative team approach and openness to look outside her own industry for influences and trends has fueled her success and set her apart from traditional financial institution stereotypes. Her winning combination of drive, creativity and intelligence made Scouts curious to learn more…

Q: If you could try a different job for a day, what would you choose?

A: Barista.  I’d like the ability to observe people in their comfort zone.  I would also be curious if the type of drink ordered is correlated to the personality type/perceived personality.

Q: What advice would you give someone starting out in your industry?

A: Be unafraid.  Careers can span over decades!  Take risks, try new things and be vocal about what you want to try and how you can contribute.  Also, don’t think, linear.  Opportunities and successes rarely come in a linear path.

Q: What is your mantra?

The power of the group outweighs a single performance.

Q: How do you get yourself out of a slump?

A: I usually get into a slump when I feel like I’m spending all my time on tactical items and putting out fires.  When I do, I set aside some time for reflection and white boarding; with the reflection, I acknowledge where I should have handled items differently, and with the white boarding, I try to think about what and how we, as a team, can do better.  The next new idea always energizes me. 

Q: What companies or leaders do you admire? 

A: Ruth Bader Ginsburg (aka Notorious RBG) is an inspiration.  An incredibly intelligent person who persevered to serve on the Supreme Court.  She has stayed true to her values and principles during her career.  I have to thank her for her advocacy around gender equality and women’s rights.

Q: What has been the biggest shift you’ve noticed in your industry in the last decade?

A: The financial industry acts much differently than a decade ago.  The main shifts I’ve seen are that we are more client-focused today; that when we earn a profit, it is in a manner that is sustainable; and our actions are deliberately contributing locally to our communities.

Q: Who has been most instrumental in your career?

A: Galen Robbins, who currently serves as a Managing Director of Global Transaction Services at the bank.  He was my first manager that recognized my potential well before I did.  He knew how to motivate and support me, which was incredibly important.   At one point while working for him, I was going through a divorce.  He created an atmosphere where I could manage that hardship and still perform.  Galen set me on my path at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.  And, thankfully, he’s still motivating and encouraging me to this day. 

Q: What is your go-to celebration meal, drink or tradition?

A: My go-to celebration is to be with the team that created the success. We always try to go someplace new and try new things. We enjoy the team building aspect of the celebration!