Carolyn Polston, Edward Jones, Wilmington, N.C. Several years ago when Carolyn Polston became a client at Edward Jones, she was impressed by the professionalism, enthusiasm and job satisfaction of the staff.

She was so impressed, in fact, that she became an investment representative at Edward Jones herself.

Now, almost a decade later, she controls more than 150 million dollars in assets. She has earned production awards every year since 1992 and produced 675,000 dollars in 1999.

And yes, she, too, is professional, enthusiastic and satisfied with her job at Jones in Wilmington, N.C.

"I love numbers," says the former National Merit Scholar who earned a master's degree in applied math and computer science at the University of South Carolina. "I've always been fascinated by investments. And I love helping people."

Put those ingredients together and you have a broker dedicated to her clients, most nearing or in retirement. "Many of my clients are in transition from contributing to their nest egg to withdrawing from it," Polston says.

This group may need extra time, and she doesn't mind spending it. "I think the key to successful investments is making sure clients understand the financial plan," she says. "The unhappy clients are the ones who didn't know what to expect."

Well regarded in the Wilmington community, Polston is frequently seen on television when financial news requires a broker's interpretation or perspective. TV reporters seek her out because she is especially adept at providing pithy sound bites.

"I don't talk over the head of the audience," Polston says. "For some reason, I relate well to viewers. My first on-camera interview was just the start of many."

When not on television, Polston can be seen heading committees or leading regional panel discussions for Jones. She frequently makes presentations on business-building strategies. Her reputation is such that new brokers entering the field request her first as a possible mentor for training.

She says mentoring is a way of paying back those who taught her the ropes. "My mentors helped me to do the best that I could," she says. "So I don't mind helping other brokers striving to be better."

Polston herself continually strives to do more. She often works Saturdays. "Some people can only be seen on Saturday. And it's the one day I can catch up on paperwork."

One day she will not work, however, is the day before Christmas. Every December 24, she and her children visit her shut-in clients, bringing each of them a personally prepared gift basket.

Polston's husband, Wayne, is a civil engineer who owns a construction company. She has two sons, Tucker, 14, and Ross, 11, who is already considering following his mom's footsteps as a broker.

This busy mom is also active in the Winter Park Baptist Church Sunday School program as well as fund-raising efforts for the Boy Scouts and Wilmington Chamber of Commerce.

Commitment is Polston's hallmark. "I know my dedication level is higher," she says. "I always look at the big picture and have a plan. I hope to achieve mutual success in all my relationships."