Spotlight: Lisa Kirchenbauer, CFP®, CeFT®

Spotlight: Lisa Kirchenbauer, CFP®, CeFT®

Omega Wealth Management, LLC is based in Arlington, VA just outside Washington, DC. Lisa has been in the industry since 1985, and had her own business since 1999. The firm has been independent since 2004. Her specialty is early affluence and sudden wealth. In addition to being a Registered Life Planner® through the Kinder Institute, she is a Sudden Money Advisor through the Sudden Money Institute.

We spoke with Lisa to get her thoughts on Life Planning and how she uses the insights she’s gleaned through her affiliation with the Kinder Institute over the years.

Q: What helped you to decide to enroll for your first Kinder Life Planning workshop?

Actually, it began with the Sudden Money Institute and also a Capital Trust conference called “The Next Big Thing” in Scottsdale, AZ 2002. There I met many of the people in the life planning community and finally found a community that I could come home to and who shared my values and approach to financial planning.

Q: How do you see your Life Planning Practice differ from the other Financial Planning Practices in the area?

Many of our competitors say that they are wealth managers or financial advisors, but many do not provide in even full financial planning so it’s not too hard to distinguish ourselves first as true wealth managers and financial planners but as also financial life planners. The fact that we also focus on early affluence and sudden wealth also helps us distinguish ourselves.

Q: What are the top 2 actions you have taken to spread the word about your Life Planning practice?

Introduce affiliated advisors such as CPAs and estate planning attorneys to our work through semi-annual group information lunches on various topics, individual lunch meetings to discuss our work and opportunities to collaborate.

Send out a quarterly letter, that we write, to not only clients, but their advisors, other “connections” such as the media, non-client advisors (coaches, etc.)

Q: Describe a client situation where Life Planning made a profound difference (for the client and/or for you).

I have a client who was referred to me through an executive coach. She was burned out, had no real life because she was working so hard and had decided that she needed to make a change. Through the life planning work that we did together, she was able to more comfortably take the time off to rejuvenate and then help with her ailing father during an extended illness- all things that were important, but hadn’t been at the top of her list. Now she is back working and has a much more healthy and balanced approach towards what’s truly most important in her life.

I have a second client, a very successful business owner, who came with his wife to work with me a few years ago as he was planning his transition out of the company. He was also burned out (DC ‘s pace is famous for doing that to people!) Through the life planning process we confirmed that he wants to provide opportunity for his employees (which lead to an internal ESOP sale) and in the meantime, we began working on helping him develop more of a “life” outside work. He has since contracted Parkinson’s disease, and he and has wife have been struggling through that impact. Recently, he indicated to me that the value of our work thinking about legacy and what’s most important had finally begun to truly sink in. Now, we are beginning to think about how he would like that to play out in terms of estate planning, what he will do with the rest of his life, etc.

The third client is one who had been successful in the high tech industry, had some early wealth, but was also running herself into the ground. Through the life planning process she came to realize what was most important to her: good health and teaching second grade. She took some time off to heal, but then was lured back into the high tech world. After getting sick again, and thanks to our work in really hearing what she needed for herself, she left the 2nd high tech job, went back to school for a teaching degree and is now a happy public school teacher!

Had I not had the tools, process and experience through my work with the Kinder Institute, I don’t believe that I would have been able to get to the same depths or have the same impact as I have been able to have in these three clients’ lives.

Q: What were the most significant challenges you have overcome in your practice and how did you overcome them?

We have made many transitions over the years: commissions to fees, semi-independence from our broker/dealer to complete independence and SEC registration, and flat fee to retainer fees, but the hardest was probably when I was out on bed rest for four months (two months at home and two months in the hospital) running my business as best as I could. Our house was being renovated (we were in an apartment) and my oldest son had just started Kindergarten. I was lucky to have a supportive team who went above and beyond the call of duty, understanding clients (who I had built solid relationships with over the years) and in the end what supported me most was learning to surrender to the situation and let people help us, and to trust that it would all work out for the best. It did! I have three beautiful boys, a more spacious house, a great and thriving business, and greater inner strength that I believe can carry me through life’s inevitable challenges.

Q: In what ways is your practice more successful since you have added Life Planning?

Life planning clearly positions us differently than the vast majority of our competitors. Life planning allows us to be more effective in implementing our clients’ plans while also forging a deeper relationship that is stronger and less likely to be jeopardized by market volatility or economic uncertainty. The work has also allowed me to see beyond the traditional planning roadblocks and challenges that clients inevitably bring to us and help them be more successful in truly achieving their deepest dreams. Having gone through the life planning work myself, my life is richer and more on purpose. Hopefully, in adding this work to our business it has also positively impacted my team’s lives as well.

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