Working in the finance industry requires quick decision making, precise problem solving skills, and effective communication. Edward Jones Senior Trust Officer, Brigit Boivin, steps away from her hectic schedule to give a detailed interview with easy to follow steps to improve business communication skills. Located in St. Louis, Missouri, Ms. Boivin mastered her communication skills and utilized them to work up the ranks to Senior Trust Officer for Edward Jones Trust Company. Ms. Boivin has been a part of the Edward Jones team since 2004 and credits her status to hard-work, dedication, and communication. As a successful expert, listen to her answers and advise so that you too can be an effective communicator.
What is your professional history (include your timeline and roles)?
Ms. Boivin: “I began working for A.G. Edwards Trust Co., St. Louis, Missouri in September of 2004. I was hired as an Assistant Trust Administrator. I coordinated books of personal trust for each of my administrators while they were on extended medical leave; communicated with brokers, attorneys, and accountants to gather necessary information to administer trusts; managed property held in trust; and reviewed and interpreted life insurance trusts. In 2007, I was promoted to a Trust Specialist. In this role I oversaw our process improvement committee, was a part of the Records Information Management team, and worked closely with two Trust Officers. In 2009, I became a Trust Officer and last summer was promoted to Senior Trust Officer. My daily tasks have diversified, and I now work more with leading teams and directing subordinates.”
What writing advice do you have for professional communicators?
Be concise and always think of your audience first. It is ineffective to use jargon that the receiver isn’t familiar with. Spell out words rather than using acronyms when necessary and appropriate. Be sure to be clear and urgent in your message.”
What is your one pet peeve when it comes to professional writing?
Ms. Boivin: “My biggest pet peeve when it comes to professional writing is people being too wordy. Just say what you have to say and move on.”
What kind of business reports do you read and/or compose regularly?
Ms. Boivin: “I review daily transaction reports, cash reports, and trade reports.”
What are your writing suggestions to make those types of reports successful?
Ms. Boivin: “Those reports are all numbers, generated by our accounting system, so its hard to give suggestions. But I guess I can advice to follow procedures when composing business reports and be sure to check and double check them before sending them out.”
What speaking advice do you have for professional communicators?
Ms. Boivin: “Similar to writing, its crucial to know your audience and speak at their level. No jargon they won’t understand. Speak at a normal pace (learn how to not race through your speech because you are nervous). Monitor your audience for feedback via body language to see if your being heard or are talking too loudly, softly, fast, etc. Learn how to take that feedback and adjust accordingly on the spot. One of the biggest things missed when talking about business communications is the importance of being an active listener. In an on-going conversation restate what you heard to ensure you understood the problem or question before responding.”
Name one thing you wish you had known about business communication prior to you professional career?
Ms. Boivin: “I learned a lot about how to write a professional letter on the job. I wish I had focused more on proper formatting, salutations, etc. You need to know how to make a letter look professional.”
After assessing the Burning Glass list of Baseline Skills (2016), which skills not in the top 5 would you move into the top 5… and why?
Ms. Boivin: “All of these skills are so important — it’s hard to choose. I would move problem solving and relationship building up into the top 5. In order to be productive, you have to be able to work with others, be it co-workers or clients or usually both. You need to be able to form meaning relationships with these individuals to be successful. Problem solving is an all-around life skill that helps you be more productive and efficient all around; everyone should enhance their problem solving abilities.”
What team skills do you feel young professionals need the most?
You need to be able to openly communicate in a group setting. Listen to others and share ideas in a professional way. Always be open to new ideas. You don’t have to agree with what someone else is saying, but you do have to be respectful and hear them out. Be organized when working in a group. Other people have to be able to follow your work, ideas, etc.”
Ms. Boivin embodies a successful business woman many can model themselves after. She began at the “bottom of the ladder,” so to speak, and through hard-work, dedication, and mastery of communication, she achieved promotions and success. In Ms. Boivin’s career, she must balance a busy schedule, be productive, and efficient. The only way for her to achieve optimal performance is to be concise and accurate with her communication. She strives to keep any form of communication short, to the point, and clear. Many people struggle with this skill. Why is that? It can be a challenge to learn how to say what you need in as few of words as possible while still being clear. As business students it is critical for us to improve on this skill before entering the workforce.
An interesting topic Ms. Boivin brought up in our interview was the idea of being an active listener. Over and over again, business students are taught how to speak and write properly within a professional business setting. Colleges neglect to discuss the importance of listening to others, which as Ms. Boivin points out, is just as important. This active listening allows for successful communication with a client or co-worker, but even more so in a group or team setting. The chart below shows skill gaps between how often employers request for certain skills and that skills importance in the workforce based on a federal study. The graph is a heat map, showing larger skill gaps by darker colors. You can see by this study that employers see a bigger need for skills such as writing, customer service, supervisory skills, mathematics, and communication skills. Ms. Boivin corroborates this study by stressing the importance of learning how to write and communicate with clients, superiors, and subordinates. Ms. Boivin gives easy to follow tips to help business students achieve these skills, such as being concise, accurate, learning to listen effectively and look for feedback, and staying organized. Following her tips can one day make you just as successful and trustworthy as her.
Brigit Boivin, CTFA Biography
Brigit grew up in Belleville, Illinois where she attended Mascutah High school. She attended Southwestern Illinois College and graduated in 2003 with an Associate Degree in science as well as an Associate Degree in arts. She did not stop here, but instead enrolled at the Cannon Trust School located in Boston, Massachusetts where she mastered Trust Fundamentals in 2004. In May of 2006 she graduated from McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois with a Bachelor Degree in business administration. While pursuing her Bachelor Degree, Brigit started gaining experience at Edward Jones. She practiced continual education after receiving her Bachelors Degree, and in 2015 earned her Certified Trust and Financial Advisor credentials. Today, Ms. Boivin still residues in Belleville, Illinois and credits her personal strengths to her problem solving abilities, relationship building, and attention to detail.
Brigit Boivin’s LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brigit-jensen-boivin-ctfa-662a97a0
Lauren Lively is a sophomore at the University of Southern Indiana (USI). She hopes to graduate with a degree and a double major in Accounting and Professional Services and Finance. Lauren is a part of the Honor’s Program, Student Ambassador Organization, and Academic Skills Program at USI. She also coaches high school volleyball at Reitz Memorial High School in Evansville, IN. She plans on graduating in the spring of 2022 and pursuing additional certifications such as her CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and CMA (Certified Managerial Accountant) licenses.