• LGBT Financial Advisor Forum

Serving a Loyal Community: Focusing on Investment Planning for Women and LGBT Clients

At Morgan Stanley’s Dupre Keating Group, Megan Keating and Dawn Dupre, partners in practice and in life, focus on investment planning for women and LGBT clients.

Berwyn, Pa.—At Morgan Stanley’s Dupre Keating Group, every client meeting begins with the same question: “What is on your mind?”

After that, “we really just sit and listen,” says Financial Advisor Megan Keating. “In fact, what separates us from many other practices is that we are great listeners. And we’re very patient; we’re not quick to make recommendations or decisions. Striving to give clients the very best guidance, advice and direction requires us to truly understand what’s important to them, and what keeps them up at night.”

Their comprehensive approach to wealth management, a cornerstone of their practice, is what gets them to those answers. The team prides itself on asking the right questions and providing roadmaps that guide discussions around portfolios, helping clients stay on track and keeping those plans alive. “Portfolios can never be stagnant,” says Keating. “We are proactive and don’t wait for life changes to take place.”

She points out that investment planning takes a lot of work on their part, but “we know we are adding so much value and that it’s the right thing to do.”

“When meeting with prospects, we see a lot of uncertainty and hear their vulnerability,” says Financial Advisor Dawn Dupre. “They want to know when they will be able to retire, how much they need to save for college and if they are able to gift to their children and grandchildren. We explain that if they were our client, they would already know, within a certain degree of probability, whether they can reach those goals.”

Joining Keating and Dupre in their multigenerational practice are Registered Client Service Associate Kathleen Fisher, who has 30 years in the industry, and Financial Advisor Angelique Orbach, who runs the team’s marketing and client experience.

But the practice wasn’t always all women. Keating’s father started the practice in 1981. Keating joined in 2000, and her father mentored her for a decade until his retirement, when they recruited Dupre as a senior partner. Dupre has been in the business for 23 years, mainly in management. Since bringing her on board in 2013, assets under management have grown to $170 million.

“Since I joined, we’ve really focused on growth and creating scalability in our business,” says Dupre.

The Dupre Keating Group, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

The Dupre Keating Group, from L to R: Angelique Orbach, Dawn Dupre, Megan Keating, and Kathleen Fisher.

Growth Through Referrals

The most natural growth areas have been women and the LGBT community. Both Keating and Dupre are Accredited Domestic Partner Advisors (ADPAs). And they are married to each other. They’ve been a couple for nine years and are now married. They have three children, ages 18, 15 and 4. About half of all new clients, and 20 percent of their entire client base, identify as LGBT.

“We have a soft spot for women as well as LGBT couples,” says Keating. “It doesn’t matter if a client isn’t at our minimum wealth levels; we will never turn someone down who needs financial help. We will get the answers needed.”

Dupre and Keating agree that being openly gay helps create a comfort level with clients. “This is what makes us more unique,” says Keating. “The high level of loyalty in our community helps to compound our introductions in that space.”

“Our business is built very naturally through referrals,” Dupre adds. “People do business with those they can connect with, trust and like. As a gay couple who went through the planning process, we can relate to and empathize with the financial and legal work that our prospects and clients have to go through. We’ve lived it.”

Despite the Supreme Court ruling last year making same-sex marriage a right in every state, investment planning for LGBT couples remains complex. Many couples, particularly those over 40, have domestic partnership agreements, haven’t comingled their assets, and many even have separate Financial Advisors, Dupre points out. Now, married couples can jointly file their taxes and talk about social security benefits. “We’re educating clients on the benefits, slowly helping the LGBT community let its guard down, open up with us, and see that they are entitled to—and deserve—the same level of wealth planning security and confidence as everyone else,” Dupre says.

Making It Work

Contributing to the success of their practice are their complementary skill sets and styles. “Dawn, who has years of experience managing advisors and coaching multimillion-dollar teams, is incredibly direct,” says Keating. “Clients really appreciate that when talking about the markets, their portfolios, or just in honest conversations about spending.”

“Megan is extremely collaborative, and takes into account everyone’s opinions and feelings before making decisions about our practice,” Dupre says. “She owns our brand, and holds every decision to the highest standards and expectations of quality.”

Having the support of Morgan Stanley, which has supported women’s, multicultural and diversity issues and initiatives, has made their collaboration even easier. “Megan and I are always completely comfortable being who we are,” says Dupre, who serves as Federal Club Co-Chair for the Human Rights Campaign in Philadelphia and is a member of Morgan Stanley’s Wealth Management Pride & Ally focus group. “We’ve always been fully supported by management, which advocates for our practice and who we are as a couple.”

Still, no matter how busy they get, the couple has been able to prioritize to achieve a level of work-life balance. “We have great success at the office, but we know when to turn it off and get home to the kids,” says Keating. “I cannot think of a better arrangement than having my business partner as my partner in life.”