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Q&A: TD Bank’s Linda Verba Shares Tips for Career and Financial Success

With Philadelphia magazine’s Trailblazer Awards right around the corner, we’ve decided to celebrate Philly’s most influential women by asking them to weigh-in on everything from how to make smart money moves to being an effective communicator. Today, we spoke with TD Bank’s Head of Service Strategy Linda Verba for a Q&A on career success, her favorite networking spots in Philly, and finding inspirational figures in unexpected places.

How do you stay/keep fiscally fit?

I think that people can get financial advice from a good financial advisor and internet and social media also offer many perspectives before you dive in and make decisions. For me, a financial advisor works remarkably well because he provides me with the discipline of sitting down and assessing my strategy every year. If you’re disciplined enough to do it on your own, there are resources out there for you and there are even tools which TD Bank offers so you can do some planning.

My other piece of advice is to live within your means. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t establish credit and use a credit card. When you use a credit card, you need to understand if you’re only going to make a minimum payment, there’s generally an interest rate attached to it. The price of your goods or services may increase dramatically based on that interest rate.

Get financial advice, pay yourself first, save some money, live within your means, and then on an annual basis, do a checkup.

Who has been the most influential woman in your life?

It’s interesting because for most of my adult life, I have worked for men. For the first time in my 40 year career, I work for a woman, Nandita Bakhshi. She’s got a huge job here at TD as Head of Consumer Banking. I find that our cadence is very different than my cadence with other bosses. She’s definitely an influence.

Also, my daughter who is 25 [years-old] is very influential in terms of keeping me current and keeping me young. I would say on both ends of the spectrum, it would be Nandita in the business arena, which feels kind of cool to say because I’ve never been able to say that before, and then I would also say my daughter. I get a great mix.­­

What’s been the most pivotal moment in your career?

The most pivotal moment in my career was when I accepted the role as EVP, Head of Service Strategy. When I accepted the position, I moved into a strategic role, which was the first time for me that I was actually out of day to day operations and details. It was ultimately a great decision, because I realized very quickly that I could make a greater impact on one of TD’s most strategic initiatives —delivering legendary customer experiences across all channels of the bank.

What financial advice would you give to your 25 year old self?

No matter how small, take a very small piece of your net—not your gross–income and put it in a saving account that you don’t touch. Have your direct deposit split between a checking and savings account so you never see your savings and you never get used to it. When you get your first raise or bonus, treat yourself, take half of it and spend it, and then take the other portion and increase your savings.

Where are your favorite places to network in Philadelphia?

There are a couple of ways I like to do those things. I think Philadelphia has a very interesting restaurant scene. I’m a big “love-to-eat-at-the-bar” person. So if I want to go out to eat somewhere and I don’t have a reservation, I’m happy to meet a colleague and grab a bite at the restaurant bar. It’s a little more liberating and casual. I like the Water Works.

I also participate in a number of local events. It’s a different kind of networking. This year on Mother’s Day, I asked my daughter to run the Race for the Cure with me. Breast cancer awareness is something we are passionate about here at TD and I’m a big supporter of it. My daughter and I were going to do it and before we knew it, there was a gaggle of girlfriends and we all did the walk together. We met a lot of inspiring women through the event.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

I think a number of us who are successful in business tend to be Type A personalities and want to get things done faster, better, cheaper and they need to be done right the first time. A while ago, I remember obsessing over something and my boss started laughing and I said, “What are you laughing at?” and he said, “With all due respect, I love that you’re obsessing over this, but our earnings per share aren’t going to suffer if we don’t get this done by tomorrow.”

I think the best bit of career advice I took from that was: sweat the details, absolutely sweat the details, but be pragmatic enough to know that if it doesn’t impact shareholder value, your shareholders, stakeholders, or employees; then relax, don’t be so tough on yourself.

What’s been the biggest challenge in your career and how did you overcome it?

I would tell you that now, I refer to myself, in this organization in particular, as a kinder gentler Aunt Linny. Companies change, people change, business changes. Change is the only constant. How I lead today is very different than how I led when I first came to TD Bank. The real challenge is: how do you stay true to yourself and still change enough so that you can remain successful and relevant.

As Head of Service Strategy at TD Bank, what communication skills do you translate to your everyday life?

I think about this one a lot and I think this is where my background in education comes together. I’ve been quoted as saying and I believe this “second graders to senior executives, they’re really all the same. You need to treat people not the way you want to be treated, but the way they want to be treated.”

You communicate to people in a lot of different ways. In this age of social media, the written word is critical, and less is more. [It] needs to be concise and transparent, whether it’s social media or email, your message is translated.

And then there’s the power of tone. Your tone, cadence and eye contact will all say something about you. [Consider] each way that you communicate: simplicity, less is more, tone. I think those are the things we need to keep reinforcing.

For more tips on staying fiscally fit or to jumpstart your saving, visit TD Bank, here.