MAKER Kathleen Youngerman Takes a Family Approach to Modern Wealth Management
While some can’t pinpoint where their gumption and grit come from, others can trace it exactly. Kathleen Youngerman is quick to credit her father’s influence and her all-girl high school experience.
“A lot of my determination and drive stems from my all-female setting during that formative period,” says Kathleen of the private school she attended in St. Louis. “There was never any question as to whether you should raise your hand or strive to be at the top of the class. We were all taught to drive forward our academics and life goals.”
On top of that, her dad “always drove home the point of hard work, education and really putting your all into everything.” A reconstructive and plastic surgeon, he was especially patient-centered, she remembers. “I often think about the way he treated patients and how connected he was with their needs. I really use that in my practice.”
Kathleen, now a Financial Advisor and Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, ventured to Northern California for college to attend Santa Clara University and returned to Missouri for law school. But when her father became ill, she took a leave of absence from her studies to help care for him.
But despite stellar academic achievements, the industry didn’t want to hire her as a Financial Advisor. “Managers at firms where I could even secure an interview quickly informed me they would be foolish to waste a training spot on a woman,” she says. “For really the first time in my life, the belief that with hard work and determination I could do anything I desired wasn’t enough to open a door to something I knew was my life calling.”
That experience coincided with having to manage her father’s financial health and emotional needs. “In many ways, that was my first role giving financial advice, and it really shaped my approach today,” which is to “consider everything—even physical health—when it comes to wealth planning.”
When Kathleen was finally admitted to a Financial Advisor training program, it taught her how to cold call and sell products, but she knew that wouldn’t be the way she’d ever approach her clients. Instead, she gets to know the whole person first. “I ask about everything—tell me about your career, your family, your lifestyle, your dreams…and what keeps you up at night?”
Over the next 15 years, Kathleen built her practice and became a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) before making the leap in 2005 to the Smith Barney/Citi Family Office division, which eventually became Morgan Stanley. There. she earned a Family Wealth Director (FWD) designation. She has also earned the Certified Portfolio Manager (CPM®) designation from Columbia University. As a Managing Director of one of the Firm’s 250 Private Wealth Advisor teams, she demonstrates professional knowledge and experience in a range of areas —including estate planning, alternative investments, control and restricted securities, complex lending and hedging strategies, and monetization and succession planning for private businesses. As head of the Harmony Family Office team, she oversees a team of six with more than $770 million in capital responsibility as of September2018. She’s also the Senior Portfolio Management Director of the team’s core portfolios.
Harmony Family Office clients rely upon Kathleen and her team to help orchestrate an integrated financial strategy devoted to privacy, preservation and growth of financial capital. The team serves clients in a virtual family office style, providing ongoing integration of traditional investments management with other aspects of wealth planning needs, as well as concierge luxury services. They use customized, comprehensive reporting services designed to harmonize a client’s many related details across family members’ structural entities to better inform decision making. They also use a system of ongoing daily care, governance and procedures to seek to optimize outcomes across lifetimes and generations.
At Morgan Stanley, she’s grateful to have found a home that supports her complex and client-centric approach. , recalling a quote from a longtime client whose fourth-generation family has relied upon Kathleen’s stewardship for over 20 years: “Don’t let the industry convince you that you’re doing it wrong. This is exactly what we want—personalized straight forward and coordinated activity among our entire family and all things unique to our wealth.”
Kathleen is honored to have recently been named a Morgan Stanley MAKER joining a group of trailblazing women of accomplishment nominated by their peers. She’s also been recognized for many years as a Barron's Top 1,200 National Advisor, a Forbes America’s Best-in-State Wealth Advisor, a Forbes Top 250 Women Financial Advisor and a Working Mother's Top Wealth Advisor. At home in St. Louis, she earned the 2015 Professional Advisor Legacy Award from the St. Louis Planned Giving Council for her skill, knowledge, imagination and insight as a non-profit gift planning advisor.
Over the years, she has volunteered for several grassroots charitable causes as a result of many of her clients’ passions, as well as for the benefit of children with autism. The youngest of her three children, who is now 17, is on the autism spectrum. Kathleen’s active lifestyle includes keeping up with them and her husband, all outdoor adventure enthusiasts, from snow-skiing to surfing as well as competing in off-road endurance motocross racing. Trained as a ballerina through undergraduate, Kathleen continues weekly dance classes but has added a new passion; sparring with her boxing trainer several times a week. She and her husband currently split time between their home base of St. Louis and a home in Southwest Florida, as well as Colorado and Northern California.
Having previously served on the Firm’s diversity council, Kathleen knows the value of diverse backgrounds and ideas. Now, she’s excited to have earned a National Strategic Partner designation , a program established to recognize the Firm’s most experienced and successful strategic partners who excel in one or more specialty areas. One aspect of the program she’s looking forward to diving into is mentoring and helping connect others to the right Firm resources. “Mentoring is a two-way street. You get as much as you give,” she says. “But when you have people from diverse backgrounds bringing different things to the table, you get that much more.”
In fact, her peers say what sets Kathleen apart is her willingness to mentor all men and women, including non-advisor colleagues, who want to take their business and/or careers to the next level, standing alongside them as they grow. She’s particularly fond of helping young people interested in the industry, who bring a fresh perspective. “Their goals are often more than just total return, and they see where we are going and help disrupt our habits and assumptions,” she says. “I appreciate their thoughts on sustainable and responsible investing and what we should have our eyes on for the sake of client’s future generations.”
No matter who or how old they are, Kathleen believes it all comes down to serving clients on multiple levels. “You've got to connect all the pieces—their family and its generations, their charitable wishes and their value systems,” she adds. “This is what defines where we are going. It’s our Morgan Stanley modern wealth management.”