Originally Published September 2017. Updated November 2019.
Stationed in Denver, Colorado, Paul Bowen has been with Charles Schwab for four and a half years. Paul was previously a CSR (customer service representative) and shares some insight on his tremendous professional growth at Schwab, even coming from an educational background unrelated to finance. Keep reading to learn about Paul’s career progression at Charles Schwab.
Career Progression at Charles Schwab: Paul Bowen
Tell us how you came on board at Charles Schwab.
I finished my college degree a little bit later in life. I was 31, and I had a friend who worked for Schwab for close to 15 years at the time. My degree was in political science, and with that, I wanted to go to law school. But law school was a bit unreasonably priced for the prospects at the end as far as income-wise. My friend said, “Why don’t you come work for Schwab?” I said, “I don’t know anything about finance.” He said, “Well, Schwab will teach you.” And he sent me a referral.
So, I got the referral and was hired on a few months later. I came in as a CSR rep and learned everything from the ground-up. I started off doing some password resets and moved on to bigger and better roles. It was a tough study for the Series 7, which was a difficult thing to overcome.
What attracted you to Charles Schwab careers?
The thing that really drew me in was the culture — the dynamics of the company. That was passed onto me by my friend Chris, who told me about Schwab. He described how open and how diverse of a community they had here, and how they would really help you achieve your goals, whatever they may be. That included inside the firm as well as in your personal life. They really value you as a person.
How would you describe the culture here in a few words?
I’d say it’s a very open culture, very diverse, very fun in a lot of ways.
What support does Charles Schwab provide for you to advance your career?
Schwab has many open lines of communication. They do encourage a lot of cross-boosting with other departments to explore different opportunities that may be out there and also help you set the groundwork to them. I depend on them for help and guidance. I also do the same thing for my colleagues who may need help in certain areas. They can depend on me for similar guidance in different aspects.
Tell us more about the Series 7 Financial Certification exam.
When I came in, they hired me as a customer service rep, which was not required for a Series 7 license. When I did decide to pursue the Series 7 after I felt more comfortable with Schwab as a place of employment, I took the book home with me and that’s where I studied – at home on the weekends and in the evenings. It was a tough thing to study for. It took me four attempts to pass the Series 7. Certainly after that third attempt, having to wait six months was very discouraging. But at the same time, Schwab also said, “Keep doing what you’re doing,” and was very supportive. There wasn’t that derailment of, “You can’t do this.” There was encouragement to pass. Once I passed, it was a huge relief.
The Series 7 provides an individual with the qualifications necessary in order to make different types of trades with all types of corporate securities, excluding commodities and futures. The Series 7 exam must be passed in order to take many other principal licensing exams offered by FINRA.