U.S. Money Reserve CEO Angela Roberts
As CEO of U.S. Money Reserve, Angela Roberts believes she has a responsibility to positively influence the professional and personal lives of employees at every level, a lesson she learned many years ago from a mentor at a previous company. She spoke to CorpGov about her approach to management as well as the benefits of employees who feel they are treated fairly, regardless of sex, ethnicity, or background. When it comes to corporate governance, Ms. Roberts believes that it is critical to have a customer-centric model at a business focused on physical precious metals. That mantra is important not just at the senior level, but across the organization. Last, she explains why gold will likely remain a critical asset class, having survived at least as far back as Ancient Egypt. The full interview is below:
CorpGov: Do you believe that a female CEO can help encourage a better work experience for women at all levels of a company and how do you achieve that?
Ms. Roberts: I believe it’s the responsibility of any CEO—regardless of his or her gender, age, race, political views, or popularity—to invest in the professional as well as personal growth of all individuals at an organization. When a CEO invests in both areas of their employees’ lives, it will not only foster a positive and healthy work experience for the company as a whole, but it will also help to build a fuller life for each individual at every level. We’re a customer-driven organization, and I apply that same approach on the employee side. When a leader puts their employees first, just like their own customers, then everyone wins.
CorpGov: Female CEOs are still rare in the financial sector. Can you tell us about your experience at U.S. Money Reserve and how it compared to other industries where you’ve worked?
I have worked for both large corporations and family offices in my career path, and I took many positive experiences away from both environments. My time in a corporation taught me how to use the necessary insights of data analytics when making decisions. It’s crucial to any company’s success to know how to always stay ahead of the competition by knowing your products, customers, and all of your data segments in between at a very detailed level. A successful corporation is made up of very talented individuals and effective executives—at least that is what it may seem like to the outside world. However, when you dive below the surface and examine who anyone is, then you’d realize most individuals share a common thread of having a story where someone believed in their talents and them as individuals before they ever achieved where they are today. My story is no different.
I met my first mentor, a well-accomplished senior executive in the semiconductor industry who was notably respected by everyone who was nearing retirement. He could have very easily finished out his years at the company attending meetings and to just keep doing his job as is. However, he appreciated my eagerness to learn and spent many hours working with me to not only teach me business skills, but life skills, that I still use today. When I left the corporate world, I was very well versed in data capture and analysis to make fundamentally strong business decisions.
When I joined the family office, I realized that I needed to be able to not only take data to make decisions, but also learn how to feel my way around a business intuitively, which is much easier to do in a family-office environment. I was able to really understand how the combination of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and business intuition would allow me to be nimble and make faster and more strategically sound business decisions.
CorpGov: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned since becoming CEO of U.S. Money Reserve?
Ms. Roberts: Being a leader is like being a parent. The responsibility and caring for your employees do not occur only during business hours. It’s with you every minute of your life—as it should be.
CorpGov: How does diversity among your employees – in terms of race, sex, and career backgrounds – make U.S. Money Reserve a better business?
Ms. Roberts: I’m incredibly proud of our U.S. Money Reserve team. It’s a collection of diverse individuals that works together to accomplish a common goal. In particular, talent, drive, motivation, and capability have always come from within a person, and not from anything the eye can see. Our leadership team has always prioritized valuing our employees on these principles to better guide us in putting the right people in the right positions based on merit. When an employee knows he or she is being treated fairly, it takes a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety away and allows each employee to hone their skills, perfect their talents, and in our case, take even better care of our customers.
CorpGov: Having precious metals as part of your diversified portfolio comes with serious responsibility. How do you convey that to your sales associates?
Ms. Roberts: We start with an emphasis on education. The topic of precious metals is incredibly vast—and fascinating—and the industry itself is ever-changing and reacting to what is currently going on in the world. We provide training to our sales associates, including education on the products themselves through daily news articles that could impact the precious metals industry. We also have in-house and outside counsel to assist with reviewing materials and a quality assurance department to monitor sales calls to ensure customer satisfaction and compliance. There are a lot of moving pieces, and in a dynamic industry such as this one, it’s important to know how to effectively pivot in response to any event.
CorpGov: How do you ensure U.S. Money Reserve has strong corporate governance?
Ms. Roberts: As a business organization, it’s our priority to strive to do right by our customers. I am absolutely a hands-on CEO with respect to managing all aspects of the company. It’s my duty to ensure we are all seeing the same vision. Of course, this is done with regular meetings with senior staff and sales associates to communicate goals and achievements, any open issues, and other opportunities for growth. Bottom line is figuring out new ways to make a great customer experience even better—and how do we address it when we fall short. Our quality assurance department provides another component of customer advocacy by reviewing customer calls. If there is a problem, we address it and solve it the best we can. Lastly, our company is built upon a strong culture that takes a customer-first approach to physical precious metals ownership. All of our employees, not just our sales associates, are shaped by our core values of integrity, perseverance, respect, nimbleness, camaraderie, and discipline.
CorpGov: What are the main reasons to own metals in physical form versus, say, an ETF that trades like a stock (Examples include SPDR Gold Shares, iShares Gold Trust IAU, Aberdeen Standard Gold SGOL, SPDR Gold MiniShares Trust, and GraniteShares Gold Trust Shares)?
Ms. Roberts: Our company believes all customers should have a diverse portfolio, which includes a variety of assets that do not always move in sync with one another, such as stocks and physical gold. Our opinion is that every individual should consider having some form of a tangible asset, like physical precious metals. Many of our clients choose to purchase physical gold because they see the importance of having a private asset that they can actually put their hands on at any time and have in their own control. Physical gold, along with silver, platinum and palladium, is very different from paper-based assets, especially when you consider the long-term loss in purchasing power seen by many paper currencies controlled by large institutions, including our own U.S. dollar.
CorpGov: How do you position precious metals as an investment that recently has competed with cryptocurrency?
Ms. Roberts: In my opinion, cryptocurrency, at this point and time, cannot compete with the long-standing history of physical gold. Gold has been a symbol of wealth and the basis for monetary systems for thousands of years. When you consider how gold has outlasted every form of paper currency ever issued, you start to realize just how powerful this addition can be. When any asset has been around for a significant amount of time, we can take a historic look back on it and see what impact, if any, it had on our world. Simply put, we do not know the long-term effects of cryptocurrency. We’re still learning, and we certainly haven’t seen it pass the test of time yet.
CorpGov: What have your years at U.S. Money Reserve taught you about precious metals as an asset class, particularly their performance in times of economic turmoil?
Ms. Roberts: In my 16 years at U.S. Money Reserve, I have seen many types of assets come and go, rise and fall—but gold has continued to remain a core component of today’s world. Gold’s history is unrivaled just by its sheer longevity, going back to the times of ancient Egypt. Fast forward to the financial crisis over 10 years ago, and we saw the fundamentals of gold still hold true. Average annual global demand for gold coins nearly doubled in the years following the Great Recession. Gold is up around 15 percent* since the start of this year alone amongst rising uncertainty here and abroad. When people are worried, they cling to things they can hold onto—and physical gold has proven to be no exception.
*Based on the change in gold’s price from $1,282.90/ oz. (01/02/19) to $1,484.25/oz. (11/07/19). The percent increase based on these prices is 15.69%.
John Jannarone, Editor-in-Chief