Karen R. KeatleyMBA, CFA®, CFP®
Wealth Manager, Principal
What sparked your interest in financial planning? What fuels you every day in your work?
Early in my career, my focus was on institutional investment management. So, when my father passed away very suddenly at the age of 65, it was natural for me to step in to help my mother sort out her finances and develop a long-term plan for her future. I wasn’t working as a financial advisor at the time and didn‘t have access to the sophisticated planning tools that we have at Modera, so I just used excel. The plan that I created all those years ago seems primitive compared with the financial plans we do for our clients today. However, all turned out quite well because now, 25 years later, my mom’s finances are in great shape.
Through the process of helping my mom, I learned some important things. First, I came to understand that people need an advisor who is knowledgeable and has their best interests at heart. The large banks and brokerage firms are not structured to provide this. I also realized that I could use my professional skills to help people have better lives and to do so was more personally fulfilling than managing institutional portfolios. Finally, I learned that despite my MBA in finance and Chartered Financial Analyst designation, there was a lot I didn’t know about advising on personal financial management. This led me to obtain the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM designation. In our field, knowledge and credentials matter!
When I founded my firm in 2007 (which was Keatley Wealth Management prior to merging with Modera in 2020) I set out to create the kind of trustworthy advisory firm that I would want to send my mother to. I wanted my firm to take a personalized and holistic approach, so our clients could live well and be free of financial worry. The same thought process came into play when choosing Modera Wealth Management as a long-term partner. What fuels me every day is knowing that we are still living up to my original mission all these years later.
What’s the one thing people say you’re best at?
People say I’m good at solving problems and simplifying complex topics. As a financial advisor, conversing and writing are two of my favorite activities to engage clients. The communicators I admire most are those that can take complex ideas and concepts and make them understandable to people, regardless of their training or background. I love explaining how markets work, and how the economic environment influences our experience as investors — but sometimes not as much as people might expect. It is one of my missions to help our clients become better consumers of financial media and it has been personally rewarding to observe many of our clients become more informed, engaged and confident investors.
What do you enjoy most about working at Modera?
The Keatley Wealth Management team merged with Modera in 2020 because we felt we could better serve our clients in the long run as part of a larger organization, with deeper resources and a bigger bench of talent. This has allowed me, as well as my KWM teammates, to focus more on our clients and leverage our individual areas of expertise. What I enjoy most about being part of the Modera team is the smart, friendly, and conscientious people. It challenges me to always be learning more and doing more.
How do you do good in your community?
I am a member of the Charlotte Women’s Impact Fund, a collective giving organization which provides more than $400,000 of grant funding each year to non-profit organizations in Mecklenburg County, NC. The organization seeks to make impactful, game-changing, grants to non-profits that focus on public health, education, human services, the environment and the arts. We also host events and programming to help women become more discerning and effective philanthropists. I have served on The Women’s Impact Fund Board of Directors and as Treasurer.
I have served on the CFP® Board Disciplinary and Ethics Commission, which is charged with review and enforcement of the CFP® Code of Ethics and Rules of Conduct. As a Commissioner, I adjudicated disciplinary hearings and helped the Commission determine appropriate sanctions when a CFP® professional has been investigated for an ethical violation.