Financial Questions? "Ask Kidder®"

Dialog helps clients see big picture

Worried investors make hurried decisions, sometimes derailing years of careful planning and pushing financial goals further out of reach. To keep investors from panicking, a trusted advisor needs to be ready to answer questions and create a supportive environment for clients who feel unsettled.

At Kidder Advisers, Inc., openness to questions became the firm’s slogan: “Ask Kidder.”

“We didn’t develop that, it actually came from our clients,” said Keith J. Gredys, JD, AIF®, chairman and chief executive officer at Kidder Advisers Inc. “They said, ‘If we have a question or an issue, all we have to do is ask Kidder and they’ll have the answer or they’ll find the answer for us.’ If you have a relationship with the client then you can have a dialog so they can ask questions. From that perspective, if you’re all on the same wave-length then it’s easier to make decisions and the conversation is more about us rather than ‘What are you doing for me?’ There’s more of a back-and-forth dialog.”

Kidder Advisers, based in Des Moines, provides tailored wealth management and benefit solutions for individual clients and organizations. The firms qualified plans for organizations typically manage $4 million or more and include more than 30 participants, while individuals typically need to meet a minimum asset level of $500,000 to sign on as clients.

The firm offers custom solutions to clients and takes a holistic view of investors’ financial situations and goals. As a fiduciary firm, all clients’ best interests come before the bottom line.

2018 Plan Advisor National Conference Orlando 9 2018“We’re getting into tailor made design solutions not just generic matching and the like. We’re looking at the overall financial health of businesses and individuals,” Gredys told Advisors Magazine in a recent interview. “Clients might understand what they do, but when they get into the financial aspects, they’re out of their comfort zone. So, our job is to educate them so that they can make decisions, we’re not trying to sell products, we’re trying to develop a solution for them to satisfy their financial needs.”

The clients – whether individual or institutional – needs to take an active role in their own finances, Gredys added. While Kidder Advisers’ fiduciary duty puts clients first, it’s up to the client to understand what questions to ask and when to work with their advisor.

“If you look at the understanding of fiduciary, if you do not understand an aspect of your finances, then it is your responsibility to engage competent individuals,” he said.

Gredys said that today’s investor needs to be prepared to work closely with their trusted advisor. Financial literacy among clients is often lacking, and while a competent advisor can fill in the gaps, the investor is the one who knows where those gaps are. For instance, long-term care options typically overwhelm clients, he explained, and the number of products available, family dynamics, and financial goals all complicate long-term care planning. That means an advisor has to listen carefully and work closely with an investor to ensure they understand their options.

“Each situation is different because everybody is on a different time frame, spectrum, and in a different health situation,” Gredys said. “But by providing choices – and showing that there are potential choices, whether they assume that risk or not – they’re in that decision-making process as opposed to saying, ‘I have no clue whatsoever,’ and then it hits them later on. It’s about being open and frank about all aspects.”

keith quote 500x400Kidder Advisers takes an approach that includes both “offense” – accumulating assets – and “defense” – protecting existing assets from risk – and offers clients a mixture of tools designed to accomplish their financial goals.

“I’ve always incorporated an approach that, at least if we’re looking at investment management, incorporates both active and passive investment styles and I’m still primarily focused on asset allocation there,” Gredys said. “Then there’s the more risk management style of investing that might incorporate some additional resources and tools to mitigate risk, whether it is insurance-based, tax-based, or whether it might be alternative investments. Each of those is done on an individual basis to move into risk minimization in the portfolio.”

The personal touch offered by Kidder Advisers provides a higher level of service than investors can find through automated tools or at larger, impersonal firms. One client, Gredys said, often only worries about the market when it’s about the hit bottom, whereas others require more communication to keep them from panicking.

“When that client calls me and says ‘Do you think it’s time to sell?’ that’s when I know ‘Okay, it’s time to buy.’ Most other clients would have come in or been nervous and called up,” he said. “It’s that psychology that a robo-advisor can’t offer. That’s where people will make those poor decisions or emotional decisions or however you want to term it. The only thing that can handle that, in my opinion, is a live person that’s talking on the phone or in person to give them that reassurance.”

The personal approach is why clients know that their financial concerns can often be addressed simply by “asking Kidder.”

“It’s not what you have, it’s how everything you have works together. That sums up a lot of what we’re trying to do for individuals, business owners, participants,” Gredys said. “It’s to help them see the bigger picture, what’s the picture supposed to look like in their life puzzle.”

For more information about Kidder Advisers, Inc., see

Securities offered through IFP Securities, LLC, dba Independent Financial Partners (IFP), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through IFP Advisors, LLC, dba Independent Financial Partners (IFP), a Registered Investment Adviser. IFP and Kidder Advisers, Inc. are not affiliated.


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