The Cogent Advisor Wealth Manager Kelly Stanley and her daughter Shannon enjoy some girl time.

In July 2015, a little more than a year ago, we welcomed Wealth Advisor Kelly Stanley, CFP® to The Cogent Advisor family. We were excited about the new relationship, imagining all sorts of ways we could better serve our community by combining Kelly’s and Michael’s perspectives and skill sets. For troubleshooting challenges, seizing new opportunities, and generally serving our clients’ highest interests, we think two heads are better than one.

How has it been going so far? With Kelly now fully on board, we’ve made plans to hold our first “Women and Wealth” Evening on November 17. Manisha Thakor, BAM ALLIANCE’s Director of Wealth Strategies for Women, will be joining Kelly and Michael for this exclusive event.

And we’re only just getting started! Today, we share Kelly’s comments, as she reflects on her first year-plus as a Cogent Advisor.

Question: If you had known then what you know now, is there anything you might you have done differently when you joined The Cogent Advisor? What have you found the most surprisingly gratifying about being a part of the firm?

Kelly: Joining the Cogent Advisor is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! The only thing I would have done differently was join the firm even sooner. Although I commute downtown every day, it doesn’t feel like work. I find it so gratifying to collaborate with Michael, Samantha and Allen on how we can improve our clients’ lives. Being part of a team with complementary skill sets and a shared sense of adventure really makes for a pleasant work environment.

Question: In what ways do you feel you have you changed the culture at The Cogent Advisor? In what ways has it changed you?

Kelly: I’d say the biggest culture shift in which I’ve participated has been how each of us has begun to identify and pursue projects and specialized interests that fall into our “unique ability” skill sets. While Michael previously had to wear many hats, he now gets to focus more on the things that he excels at and enjoys the most – and I get to do the same. When you put a team of people in place who each get to work on the things they most enjoy, it not only makes for happier employees, but I think our clients are better served.

How has the culture changed me? I’ve been able to focus my energy on the financial planning and relationship management aspects of wealth management, instead of having to spread myself too thin. While I am able to contribute to related logistics such as marketing, compliance and portfolio management, having a set of core activities helps me work effectively every day, without leaving my head spinning at the end of it. I’ve always enjoyed being a financial professional, but as part of The Cogent Advisor, I’ve found my career more meaningful.

Question: What do you enjoy the most about your role at The Cogent Advisor?

Kelly: I love the high-energy optimism here, and the way we are often working closely together on behalf of our clients. We’ve had so many great conversations and so much laughter as we’ve gotten to know one another personally and professionally. It’s a sweet place to work.

Since I became an advisor eight years ago, I’ve also always loved meeting new people – clients, strategic alliances and others – and learning their life’s stories. When you can get to know someone better than anyone else has, it’s not only rewarding in itself, I think it helps us make a positive difference in people’s lives. What could be more gratifying than that?

Question: You’ve long been an enthusiastic community leader and volunteer, especially when it comes to advancing women’s issues. How has being a part of The Cogent Advisor helped you fulfill your community interests?

Kelly: Now that my children are getting older and busier, I haven’t had as much free time to participate in volunteer initiatives of my own. Family/work/life balance: It’s a challenge all of us face! One way I’ve combined my Cogent career with my passion for women’s issues is by attending the BAM ALLIANCE’s inaugural Women and Wealth conference, where we participated in Circle training with Elizabeth Jetton of Directions for Women. I am now thinking through how I may be able to host a few of these Circles in 2017, as a new way to have conversations about money and related topics in a safe, nonjudgmental space.

Question: Personally and professionally, what goals have you set for the year or so ahead?

Kelly: While I love my career, working full time means I don’t get to spend as much time with my children, and they are still at an age when they actually like hanging out with me! So, on the personal front, I’ve committed to spending some weekend one-on-one time with each of them, somewhere outside of Chicago, where we can build lasting memories together.

Professionally, I’m always looking for opportunities to increase my knowledge and skill sets, so I plan to attend a few professional development conferences as my schedule permits. I’m especially interested in programs that can help me expand on the theme of women and wealth, where my personal and professional interests best come together.

As a firm, we are exploring a number of projects for 2017 and beyond. We’re looking at ways to streamline our operations, leverage technology and host engaging events that will help us continue to deliver highly personalized advice, even as we grow.

Are you interested in learning more about The Cogent Advisor’s November 17 Women and Wealth event? Contact Kelly (or any of us), and we’ll send you an event invite!