Kansas State University


Personal Financial Planning

Alumni update: Maureen Kelley, 2016

An interview with Maureen Kelley, graduate certificate in financial therapy

Maureen KelleyTell us about yourself.  

I am experiencing incredible career and personal growth at this stage of my life. A successful CEO friend shared: When you align your passion with values and your work—great things will happen.

Where are you from? Where do you live now?

Originally, I am from New England. Due to my father’s career path in the New England Telephone Company, our family continually moved between Rhode Island and Vermont. I also spent several years working in New York City – living in Westchester County. So basically, I am a North Easterner! Eleven years ago, I was offered a position with Wells Fargo Private Bank in Denver, Colorado, and since the skiing is way better in Colorado, it was an easy decision!

What is your background?

My career has been in financial services. I got my start as a financial consultant at Merrill Lynch and Smith Barney and then transitioned to “the other side of the balance sheet” as I like to say! When Key Bank acquired McDonald Financial Group, they were looking for someone with an investment background to join their Private Bank. I’ve always been a risk taker and felt that it would broaden my skill set and I could be of greater value in serving clients. Throughout my career, I have been committed to serving the financial needs of women and their families.

As the relational side of finance was my passion and focus, I became more intentional in my learning. I completed Executive Leadership Training at the Wharton School, became a Certified Family Coach, a Family Wealth Advisor from the Family Firm Institute and in December of 2016, completed the graduate certificate in financial therapy at K-State. I learned about the program in a Wall Street Journal article and immediately pursued it. I knew that I had the heart and the business acumen for this work, but to understand the empirical research behind the theory was critical and would help me put this work into my practice. The program exceeded my expectations and has set me in a new direction.

What have you done since completing your K-State PFP experience?

As I completed the financial therapy program, it continued to inspire me to focus exclusively on this work. I view this as cutting edge – with over 25 years of experience as an advisor, there was no question for me that this is the work I am designed for. While my career success was in managing assets and structuring credit, my true success was all about the relationships.

What do you do now?

In September of 2016, I retired from Wells Fargo Private Bank and formed my own practice called MADRE, Financial Well Being for Families. It is an acronym for “Money Assets and Durable Relationships” and defines who I am – always a mother! Simultaneously, I became an Affiliate Consultant with Relative Solutions, a thought leader and expert in helping multi-generational family enterprises manage the complex decisions related to their shared assets. It is a perfect fit for me.

I consider MADRE a coaching vs a therapy practice. A large part of what I am doing is educating people about the work and services that I offer. And of course, there is a marketing component to every new business – fortunately I enjoy that aspect and have had considerable experience in marketing and sales. Anyone who is a financial advisor understands that is the nature of the business.

How has your education in PFP enhanced your current career path?

My PFP education has clearly inspired me to take yet another risk by leaving my corporate career and focus exclusively on this “softer side” of money and the impact on individuals and relationships. I plan to continue the education process (I am hopeful the master’s program at K-State will be available in the fall). I am thankful for the technical financial expertise I have gained throughout my career, but feel that my purpose has shifted to a deeper level through financial therapy. I also became a member of the Financial Therapy Association and continue to learn from the organization.

What recommendations would you make for future financial planners?

I highly recommend this program to any financial advisor who has a desire to take their practice to the next level and deepen their client relationships. I firmly believe this is the direction of the industry and as a financial advisor, given the fiercely competitive nature of the business, you must differentiate yourself. Understanding the emotional and relational side of money, and having the ability to ask better questions, will set you apart from the rest.

I continue to be very clear about my boundaries. In no way, do I feel that I am a qualified therapist and I do not attempt to work with clients on that level. Knowing when to refer to a family or individual therapist is foundational; my main concern is to do no harm. Collaboration with trained therapists is a great approach.

What kinds of awards have you received?

At Wells Fargo Private Bank I received the prestigious Diversity Champion Award in 2011 for my leadership initiatives for women. Throughout the years, I have received numerous awards for production; but the greatest reward was the impact on I had on clients’ lives.

What kinds of things do you do in your community?

I have always been extremely involved in my community—something I learned from my parents. I have served on numerous board of directors and executive leadership teams of non-profits such as Women’s Leadership Foundation, World Denver, American Heart Association and the American Red Cross. I believe in giving back.

What are your hobbies/interests? What do you do for fun?

I spent many years as a competitive swimmer and triathlete, but this year is a milestone as I enjoyed my 50th year on skis! I am also an avid cyclist, but more than anything I love spending time with my three adult children, their spouses and my darling granddaughter. I consider myself a lifetime learner and continue to challenge my own personal growth.

What else is important to you that PFP friends and alumni should know?

In February of 2017, I participated in a micro finance insight trip to Guatemala with Capital Sisters International. We were privileged to visit the clients of the Friendship Bridge, a 501(c)3 that empowers impoverished Guatemalan women to create a better future for themselves, their children and their communities through micro finance and education. As a banker, this experience was beyond amazing. Perhaps most insightful and moving was witnessing women who live in utter poverty as happy people. Family is their foundation. Just think of the implications for a study on money and happiness….