Black History Month Highlight: Kristi Rodriguez

Kristi Martin Rodriguez currently serves as Senior Vice President of the Nationwide Retirement Institute® for Nationwide Financial, leading teams responsible for advocating for and educating members, partners and industry leaders on issues impacting their ability to have a secure financial future.

In her current role, Kristi oversees an extensive network of knowledgeable professionals who provide hands-on consultation to develop client strategies and address the major concerns America’s workers face when planning for retirement. Through timely insights, education and client-ready tools, both financial professionals and individuals are able to work directly with Nationwide to increase their awareness and knowledge of complex financial topics such as retirement income planning, health care, long-term care and Social Security.

How did you enter financial services?

I must admit my path to financial services was definitely an unorthodox one. After exploring a few career options at Hampton University and listening to sound advice from my parents, I decided to major in finance. My first job out of college was working as a credit risk analyst, and I absolutely hated it. So I decided to pursue a career in healthcare and spent 16 years in that industry where I began to see a strong correlation between health and wealth. I eventually decided it was time to find a role that more closely aligned to my passion of focusing on the wellbeing of others, and that led me back to financial services. Today, as the leader of the Nationwide Retirement Institute, I have the privilege of leading teams responsible for advocating for and educating consumers, partners and industry leaders on issues impacting their ability to have a secure financial future. It’s a passionate and purpose-driven role, and that’s who I am at my core.

What impact are you most proud of?

I want to make a meaningful difference for others − especially our talented youth − to envision what’s possible when it comes to pursuing their career aspirations and dreams. I’m very proud of the work of the Financial Alliance for Racial Equity (FARE) and our collaboration with firm partners, associations and HBCUs to introduce more diverse students to the financial services industry. There’s an old expression that says, “to dream it, you need to see it to believe it” and FARE is giving more talented and diverse youth an opportunity to envision what’s possible in financial services.

What is the best advice you’ve received?

While I live by many inspirational quotes, the following is an all-time favorite of mine: “Let your addiction for growth be stronger than your addiction for comfort.” Progress truly takes place when we step outside of our comfort zones!  

What advice do you have for young professionals aspiring to work in financial services

I’d definitely say follow your true passion, be an expert in your field, and surround yourself with sponsors, mentors and those who will challenge and uplift you to be the best version of yourself. When you do, there’s unlimited potential in what you can achieve.

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