Anthony Fallahi Discusses His Career in the Financial Sector and the Importance of Financial Education

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The youngest of three boys, Anthony Fallahi was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah.

He graduated from Olympus High School, earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from The University of Utah, and an MBA from Baylor University. Mr. Fallahi served a two-year service mission in Spain between high school and college.

Throughout his undergrad years, Anthony waited tables and worked odd jobs to pay tuition. He began his career in financial services with a small non-profit that focused on debt management, before pursuing an opportunity with Fidelity Investments, where he spent fifteen years in various leadership roles. Having achieved an extensive range of professional milestones, Mr. Fallahi has designed and implemented financial wellness programs for several Fortune 100 companies. He has been recognized for his outstanding commitment to innovation and has received several distinctions for his work with Fidelity.

His focus throughout his career has been on change management and financial wellness.

When not working, Mr. Fallahi enjoys hiking, skiing, teaching, and traveling. A self-proclaimed tech geek, he enjoys keeping up with the latest developments in AI and mobile access.

What has been the inspiration behind your success?

Early in my career, I saw people who were really struggling financially. It wasn’t necessarily because they had made poor decisions – in many cases life had simply worked against them. The reality is, most Americans are one major setback away from serious financial hardship. Growing up gay, and ethnically mixed in an otherwise extremely homogenous community, I have always been inclined to look out for those that may not fit the paradigm. Everyone deserves to know the rules of the game and have access to the same resources and support. In the financial services industry, things are often needlessly complicated. My passion is in making personal finance accessible and inclusive for everyone.

What keys to being productive can you share?

Building repeatable processes is crucial to both your level of productivity and the quality of your output. As you go through your career, seek opportunities to expose yourself to different models and continue to hone your own approaches. Process allows us to learn and retain the best and iterate off of things that don’t pan out. These can be simple, like Steve Job’s infamously streamlined wardrobe, or more complex like building and delivering a presentation to an important client. Either way, having some structure in place encourages creativity and drives results by reducing the time and energy allocated to the mundane and allowing for additional time to explore new ground.

Tell us one long-term goal in your career.

When it comes to teaching our youth the foundations of personal finance, we as a nation have failed miserably. For good or ill this space is often filled with credit card companies, financial service providers, and Reddit threads. The lack of qualified, unbiased financial education, coupled with skyrocketing college tuition, has left young workers saddled with record high debt just as they begin their adult lives. We need to fill this knowledge gap through all means necessary, private and public. This is a problem that is not only solvable but creates only winners in its solution. 

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through the course of your career?

The value of preparation. As a kid, I remember going to Utah Jazz games with my grandfather and marveling at how effortless everything looked to those professional athletes. As a young fan, I didn’t think about the hours, days, and years in the gym honing each facet of the game. This is true in any sphere and I have found that it is often what separates the good from the great – the willingness to do one extra read through, go one extra hour, get one more opinion. I love that Lincoln quote: “If I only had an hour to chop down a tree, I would spend the first 45 minutes sharpening my axe.” Keeping our toolkit sharp through preparation allows us to react much more quickly and decisively as change and setbacks occur.

What advice would you give to others aspiring to succeed in your field?

Regardless of your chosen field, the best single piece of advice I’d share with anyone is to be someone that others want to be around. Ultimately, everything comes back to one’s ability to connect with others, communication effectively, and inspire those around you. Yes, you have to be good at what you do, but those are table stakes. If you want to excel, people need to like you.

What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?

I love everything related to the outdoors. Growing up in Salt Lake City, I woke up each morning surrounded by amazing peaks. Whether it’s hiking up them or skiing down them, the mountains have my heart. I love podcasts, travel, politics, culture, and tech. Giving time to causes that are important to me has become more and more rewarding throughout my life. I work with an organization called SIFMA which provides financial education to kids, as well as local animal rescues.

How would your colleagues describe you?

That seems like a loaded question! I would hope to be remembered as someone that is passionate and energetic about ideas and people, and always willing to embrace new and diverse points of view. The way my clients and colleagues feel about the journey is just as important to me as the end result.

What is one piece of technology that helps you the most in your daily routine?

That’s a hard one. We are all walking around with supercomputers in our pockets these days; tech is ingrained in everything we do. I recently purchased Amazon’s Echo frames which are super cool. If you spend a lot of time on video conferences, I’d give them a look. I find that a lot of folks don’t take full advantage of the CRM that their company utilizes. Salesforce, for example, has so many quality-of-life features to help you stay connected. It’s worth it to dig past the first couple layers and learn how to take full advantage.

Who has been a role model to you and why?

My role model is my grandfather, my Gramps. He was someone that took personal responsibility very seriously which I always greatly admired. He knew that he was in a position where people would look to him for help and guidance, and he never shrunk away from that weight. He was also an accomplished Jazz Musician and an award-winning Tennis Player. He helped me open my first savings account (and made the first several deposits), taught me how to swim and shoot a basketball, and how to treat people with dignity and respect. He taught me what it means to be a good man.