Senior VP and managing director of investments, Steckler Wealth Management Group at Raymond James

“Leadership involves vision and strength and grace and courage.”

Confounding conventional wisdom about what makes for a successful financial adviser, Laura Steckler went from a career in social service management to being a member of the chairman’s council at her firm in just eight years. Steckler was “stupefied” when a friend suggested that her skills would make her a great financial adviser. The New York native and South Florida transplant thought the job largely entailed financial analysis. But she quickly discovered that advisers help people plan and work toward goals, so she decided to go for it in 2006. Having worked since age 14 to put herself through school and help her mother, she was ready for the challenge of building a business, which she did “one client at a time.”

Passionate about helping women, Steckler helped create and develop a program to train her firm’s service associates, most of whom are women, to become financial advisers, noting that “women have unique abilities and skill sets to do meaningful work with clients.”

— Evan Cooper