Financial Services

The region is a hub for finance and insurance establishments. Significant financial investments continue to grow this already well-established industry.

Financial services offer modern, technologically advanced career options for those interested in Financial Service Support / Back Office, Investment Banking / Front Office, and Fintech / Financial Security Software. Nearly 20 major banks, insurance and investment firms on the Fortune Global 500 list have centers of operation in the Jacksonville region.

Resources

Financial Services Industry Report

Industry Deep Dive

Financial Services Overview

Financial Services Companies in the Region

The financial services industry is evolving and there are many opportunities if you have the drive to learn.

Lindsey ThomasDigital Experience Program Analyst, VyStar Credit Union

The VyStar Academy of Business provided me the opportunity to gain work experience that I couldn’t learn in a classroom.

Gabrielle BokretsionSenior Business Process Analyst, VyStar Credit Union

Use experiences to stretch and expand your skill set, as it will open other doors. Take opportunities to expand your network with professors and industry professionals.

Shannon ColesSenior Vice President Business Management, TIAA Bank

It goes beyond chasing the dollar.

Kenneth McAllisiterDirector of Business Services, JAX Federal Credit Union

With the training and experience I have gained through school and internships, I feel very confident in my skills and abilities and look forward to future opportunities throughout my career.

Sean O’NeillIntern, Citibank and Deutsche Bank

I knew I wanted a career path to help others. As a loan processor, it is rewarding to help others achieve their goals.

Elmin SacicSenior Mortgage Loan Processor, Citi

Shannon Coles

Senior Vice President Business Management, TIAA Bank

Shannon Coles, current Vice President of Strategic Business Development at TIAA Bank, maximized her collegiate experience and has translated that experience into career success. Shannon leveraged her positive student experience into a clear career pathway. She’s worked for TIAA Bank in various roles for over 12 years. In addition, Shannon pursued her professional education by attending the CBA Executive Banking School.

A graduate of the University of North Florida in 2007, Shannon initially became interested in the industry after taking some accounting classes. Seeking the ability to infuse more creativity into her studies, she took a financial management class. She enjoyed it immensely, as it permitted application of rules and practices in different ways. Financial management presented flexibility within a specific framework — something that meshed naturally with her personality.

Shannon’s interest and aptitude were further cultivated through involvement in the Osprey Financial Group, a student managed investment fund responsible for a $500,000 endowment. Only 10-15 total graduate and undergraduate students are accepted into this program each year. Shannon was accepted after completing a competitive application and interview process.
The group involved competitions in which the team completed and presented projects to industry professionals and leaders. This work, in addition to her course load, taught Shannon valuable skills in written and oral communication, teamwork, accountability and conflict resolution. This experience provided real skills and resulted in heightened confidence and empowerment.

Shannon also participated in the Finance & Investment Society, as well as Students in Free Enterprise, additional activities that supplemented classroom learning and made her a more valuable hire. Her advice to others seeking this career pathway is to use experiences to “stretch and expand your skill set, as it will open other doors. Take opportunities to expand your network with professors and industry professionals.”

Ultimately, Shannon is an example of how an individual can successfully select a career pathway, pursue education in that pathway, and obtain gainful, fulfilling employment — all right here in the Northeast Florida region.

Elmin Sacic

Senior Mortgage Loan Processor, Citi

A strong work ethic and a thoughtful approach has helped Elmin Sacic achieve a rewarding career that matches his strengths and personality style.

Sacic, a Sr. Mortgage Loan Processor at Citi and Keiser University graduate, has successfully navigated his career journey by consciously assessing his goals and performance while maintaining a willingness to learn new skills and explore opportunities. His drive to achieve and exceed expectations has helped him develop strong interpersonal skills, conscientious business judgement and excellent time management abilities.

“I knew I wanted a career path to help others,” Sacic said. “As a loan processor, it is rewarding to help others achieve their goals.”

At Keiser, Sacic earned a bachelor’s degree of Business Administration with a focus on finance and financial management services in June 2020. While he initially attended Keiser because of its convenient location, Sacic recognized the excellence of its programs and appreciated the guidance and assistance he received throughout his student experience.

In August 2020, Sacic joined Citi, where he manages an assigned pipeline of 50 plus loans on a daily and weekly basis. Sacic is responsible for processing loans from application to closing, assisting clients by striving to provide the best guidance and service to meet their needs.

“It’s important to be as transparent as possible and build trust throughout the process,” he said.

The mortgage industry is constantly evolving and impacted by the overall real estate market. The pandemic forced the industry to go digital and many, including Sacic, continue to work virtually. Much of the daily workflow in the mortgage industry is built upon relationships and the customer experience. Sacic draws upon his interpersonal communication abilities, strong organizational skills and passion for analyzing data and information, which required him to master calculation capabilities.

“I didn’t find math to be my strongest suit in the beginning but I took on a challenge,” Sacic said. “Finance requires a willingness to calculate for presenting data and information.”

Sacic is pursuing a National Mortgage Lending Services (NMLS) license, an industry distinction and certification of excellence. In addition to his drive to learn, Sacic credits his dependability and time management skills for his success. He acknowledges the importance of working with transparency, integrity and adaptability to succeed in the financial services industry.

“Change is always happening in the finance world,” he said.

In addition to finding a career that matches his skills, Sacic’s success and engagement aligns with his company’s culture and mission.

“Citi fits who I am and It is a great feeling to know they are there to push us to grow and succeed in our respectable career paths,” he said.

There are expansive employment opportunities in the financial services industry. Sacic’s advice to individuals considering the mortgage/loan processing field is to have patience and a willingness to learn.

Gabrielle Bokretsion and Lindsey Thomas

Vystar Credit Union Business High School Branch Program

VyStar Credit Union puts significant energy into its VyStar Academy of Business High School Branch Program. Company leaders started the program to bolster student financial literacy and have also enjoyed the opportunity to develop students both personally and professionally. This internship has not only contributed to building young professionals, but this has ultimately helped students decide on what career path they will pursue and have equipped them to be strong candidates with marketable skills fresh out of high school. Colleagues and Academy alumni Gabrielle Bokretsion and Lindsey Thomas launched their careers in the financial services industry as high school students nearly a decade ago.

“The Academy was such a positive experience,” said Thomas, a Digital Experience Program Analyst at VyStar Credit Union and 2012 Fleming Island High School graduate. “It offers an excellent opportunity to gain practical hands-on experience and interact with company executives. It allowed me to develop relationships that have helped shape my career.”

“The Academy provided me with the opportunity to gain work experience that I couldn’t learn in a classroom,” said Bokretsion, a Senior Business Process Analyst at VyStar Credit Union and 2013 Jean Ribault High School graduate who participated in the Academy the first year it was offered at Ribault.

The VyStar Academy of Business is an academic and internship program for high school students. Students participate in an engaging real world experience that brings their learning to life while focusing on the inner workings of financial services, growing technology and essentially what it takes to run their own business. The cornerstone of the academy is an operating VyStar branch run exclusively by students and available to everyone on the high school campus. With the exception of lending services, the 18 high school branches stretched across eight school districts have everything other VyStar branch locations have to offer.

Both Bokretsion and Thomas got their start at VyStar working as tellers at their high school branch locations. After high school, Thomas attended St. Johns River State College and also worked in the VyStar Contact Center. After one year, she transferred to Harding University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public relations. She returned to VyStar in 2017 as a Senior High School Branch coordinator before receiving a promotion to her current position, which focuses on VyStar’s digital banking experience.

“The financial services industry is evolving and there are many opportunities if you have the drive to learn,” Thomas said.

Bokretsion attended the University of Florida before transferring to the University of North Florida. She returned to VyStar in 2015, working part-time as a Teller Specialist while she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. After graduation, she joined VyStar full-time as a Marketing Specialist and advanced to Mergers & Acquisition Marketing Specialist before receiving a promotion to her current position.

“The opportunities for continued growth at VyStar are exciting,” Bokretsion said.

Although Bokretsion and Thomas did not graduate with financial services degrees, both are experiencing career advancement and success as a result of their initiative and employability skills.

“Our professional skills – communicating and problem solving – are critical and have helped both of us advance in our careers,” Thomas said.

For those considering applying to a VyStar Academy, Bokretsion offers this advice.

“It’s excellent work experience, even if you don’t pursue a career in this field,” Bokretsion said.