I met Aixa at the last in-person Bank Insurance and Securities Association Women’s Luncheon. I had the pleasure of sitting with her at the same table and simply loved hearing about her background and the work she has been doing with women in transition. She’s truly a very compassionate, smart, and selfless person serving the financial services industry. Inspired by a woman keynote speaker who discussed behaving as a woman in a man’s world ~ Always being true to yourself! We are honored and humbled to share Aixa’s story.
– Maree Moscati, CEO, Copytalk
Financial Advisor & Resident Director
Merrill Lynch Jersey City
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
Aixa: I’m a first-generation American, born and raised in the state of New Jersey, the daughter of Cuban immigrants. I’m bilingual, fluent in Spanish and English, which surprises some people, especially with the last name Robinson. My full name is Aixa Betancourt Robinson.
I had the opportunity to travel to Cuba in 2015 with my three sons, and it was an incredible experience to see first-hand the country that my parents spoke about. It’s the one and only time that I’ve been able to visit. I’d go back again in a heartbeat when I can, as I’m very passionate about hanging onto your roots and knowing where you came from.
Can you share how your career path positioned you to be where you are today?
Aixa: It’s a little unorthodox. I started with Merrill Lynch when I was only 19 years old and going to college at night. I worked there for about 11 years in various service and management roles, and then ended up taking about 10 years off to raise my three sons. During that time, I did some substitute teaching, which has translated into a passion for going out into schools and working with students, from grade school to university, and providing mentorship and role models. As part of the executive leadership team of the Bank of America employee network HOLA (Hispanic/Latino Organization for Leadership and Advancement), we offer professional development to over 1000 members, and service opportunities in local underserved communities. Seeing the lack of diversity in my own industry, I really wanted to engage more women and Latino students, and get them interested in careers in financial services.
That 10-year maternity leave, as I like to call it, allowed me to come back to this industry with a very different perspective than when I left. I was able to create a brand and niche centered around women in transition, whether that be divorce, widowhood, or other major life changes. Women at those transition points in their lives really need to work with someone they trust, and who has their best interests at heart.
Can you talk about women in finance who have had a great impact on you?
Aixa: So without naming them directly, I have worked with two or three female financial advisors at Merrill Lynch who are hugely successful and built all-female teams. They are truly pioneers in this industry.
Several years ago, I once was at a conference, and everyone was wearing the “financial advisor uniform” – blue or black suits, muted colors. But one woman near the refreshments was wearing a teal green dress with a beautiful Versace scarf. She just looked amazing and was definitely not wearing the uniform. Everyone in the room was drawn to her presence. Long story short, she was the speaker at the next breakout session. A top female producer at the firm, she was fearless in how she presented, and talked a great deal about the unique differences between how a woman runs a practice compared to a man. She was one of those people that caught my attention and stayed with me, because she wasn’t trying to behave like a man in a man’s world. She was behaving like a woman in a man’s world, and I absolutely loved that.
What is your favorite Cuban dish to make?
Aixa: I make a good “arroz con pollo,” a saffron chicken and rice dish. It’s one of my signature Cuban meals. You make it in a shallow pot, with a very solid base of onions, garlic, peppers, saffron, wine, and tomato sauce. And then you throw in the chicken, the rice, and water, and simmer until the rice is cooked. It’s a one-pot meal!
Aixa Betancourt Robinson is a Financial Advisor and Resident Director for the Merrill Lynch office in Jersey City, New Jersey. In her 24 years with the company, she has held roles in service, mutual fund operations, product development and market leadership. Today she focuses her efforts on helping women in transition, engaging them in personal and meaningful conversations around family, financial goals, and retirement. Having entered financial services at a time with very little representation of female and Latina advisors and leaders, she has mentored young women and encouraged them to pursue these career paths. Aixa is an avid believer in the power of your network, through both personal and professional alliances with female executives and community leaders. Within her firm, she proudly holds a leadership role and is vocal in the company initiatives to bring more diverse advisors to the organization.
As a native of Northern New Jersey of Latin descent, Aixa has brought this same passion to programs for inner city youths that encourage education and professional development. In her brief tenure as a substitute teacher, she learned the value of adult mentors to children in these communities. Therefore, she volunteers with youth organizations like NJ LEEP, Junior Achievement and is a HISPA (Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement) youth role model.