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Katherine Kennedy, CFP • Plano, TX
KBK Wealth Strategies LLC • First Independent Financial Services, Inc.

I joined my mother’s advisory firm in 2000, worked with her for over a decade, and then took over the practice on her retirement. Her focus for most of her career was with clients who have optional retirement plans, or ORPs, which are basically a subset of 403(b) plans in the nonprofit area. I have continued to work with the university market and also several other nonprofits. The university ORP business is basically a three-part sales process: getting approved by a university administration, getting approved by a plan sponsor, and introducing my services to individual plan participants.

It is a fairly specialized area, and I have developed a deep expertise in the field. Since many ORPs offer participants the opportunity for self-directed investments, I can add value by helping them understand the investment approaches that will benefit them over the long run while protecting and growing their money. I have always used third-party active managers and believe their approach to risk management provides a powerful story to tell ORP prospects.

The key is to first get in front of them. Although I have a substantial number of prospects who call me directly after having been referred by a current client, I also assist in that referral process. Even though the universities I work with are very large institutions, they are really broken down into smaller subsets, like a specific department or building or type of workforce population.

Each client is a member of one of those smaller communities. If I mention to a prospect that I am working with one of their associates and they ask for a reference, it will usually secure at least a first appointment. After getting approval from my client, I position it as, “I work with John Smith from your department, and he has been a client of mine for 15 years. He thought you might be interested in speaking with me.” That approach is very likely to get you in front of someone.

I also hold a number of seminars and send out limited mailings to prospects and current clients, inviting them to bring a friend or associate. I focus on the most compelling topics that those nearing retirement would likely be interested in, such as the ins and outs of Social Security and strategies on how it can best work for a client. I find that these often prompt an initial appointment, as people come to realize that working with a professional may add real value to their financial and investment planning for retirement.

Disclosure: Securities are offered through First Independent Financial Services, member FINRA and SIPC, 6660 S. Sheridan Road, Suite 260, Tulsa, OK 74133-1766, 918-492-9484. Advisory services are offered through First Independent Advisory Services. Neither is affiliated with KBK Wealth Strategies LLC.

Post-publication note: As of this update (Oct. 19, 2021), Ms. Kennedy is registered with Royal Alliance Associates Inc.

This article first published in Proactive Advisor Magazine on June 30, 2015, Volume 7, Issue 4.

Photography by Robert Hart

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