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10 questions with … Kimberlee Orth

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By Peter Osborne
DBT Editor

Kimberlee Orth is on a month-long backpacking trip — by herself — along a 500-mile trail created by Christian pilgrims during the Middle Ages. But she found time — and an internet connection — to respond to a few questions about her recent ranking by Barron’s as America’s second-ranked female financial adviser.

The ranking reflects the volume of assets overseen by the advisers and their teams, revenues generated for the firms, and the quality of the advisers’ practices. It’s Orth’s second straight year in the No. 2 slot after ranking first in 2016 and being on the Top 100 list since 2012. She also ranked 11th on Barron’s Top 100 Independent Financial Advisors list for 2018, and in March led off the Delaware list on Barron’s State-by-State Ranking of the Top 1,200 Financial Advisors.

Kimberlee, who has carried the CFP designation since starting at Ameriprise 32 years ago, is the lead adviser for 17 advisers and team members, serving about 1,000 families from offices on Concord Pike in Wilmington, a bit south of Silverside Road. A University of Delaware Lerner College of Business graduate, Kim is a 2017 recipient of the Lerner Alumni Award of Excellence. 

Orth told Barron’s that patience and a good ear bring success. While her DBT interview did not focus on specific market advice, she did tell Barron’s that “it’s essential for investors to avoid becoming reactive when uncertainty
is high … The biggest risk factor may be their own behavior.”

Can you elaborate a bit on your statement to Barron’s that “the biggest risk factor may be their own behavior?”
We naturally want to avoid pain. Market fluctuations are often perceived as painful by many investors, which may influence them to make decisions based on emotion, not logic or fact. Investors tend to want to put money into the market when it is on the way up and take money out when the market is on the way down. In most cases, it’s best to be a disciplined investor with a longer time horizon and not make short-term decisions based on emotion. 

How much “pressure” does a ranking like this put on you and your team?
There is no pressure to be at the top of a list every year. My team and I take pride in being committed professionals serving clients, and our motivation comes from our desire to help clients achieve their life goals. We do not seek recognition, but we do strive to provide the best possible service. Recognition is not a goal: it is a byproduct of doing your best.

Does this recognition make it easier for you to attract new clients or retain existing ones?
Are you focusing on external business development or more on making sure everyone you have is happy? Our focus remains on providing a consistently high level of service for our existing clients. We are also developing the capacity to provide the same personalized experience to those who express a desire to work with us. Of course, clients enjoy seeing us recognized by local and national media.

What advantage does being in Delaware offer you (compared to how many other top performers are based in big cities)?
Being in Delaware allows us to serve a client base that has easy access to us from three contiguous states, not just Delaware. This gives us the opportunity to connect with clients on a deeper level and offer them a more personal experience as a result.

What keeps you awake at night?
Wondering if I have done enough to make a difference in the lives of my clients.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received (and who was it from)?
Your advice will not always be followed. Help those who understand how to help themselves.

When you’re hiring, what’s the most important trait or skill you’re looking for?
I look for the desire to learn. It is also important to be willing to work as part of a team to help others. I look for team members who have a strong desire to help clients and to provide the highest level of client service.

What’s more important in leading your team at Orth Financial Group: Making their strengths stronger or eliminating their weaknesses?
I focus on developing the strengths of my team. This may also have the effect of minimizing weaknesses, but building strengths is a more positive approach.

What is inspiring you right now?
My belief that people can make good decisions for their lives. I want to be a part of that process.

What is a question you wish more people would ask themselves, particularly as they consider their investment decisions?
Why am I making this decision? What do I fear? Is emotion or logic driving my investment decisions? Why did I hire a financial advisor?

What lesson did you learn from your biggest failure?
I learned that you can’t grow if you don’t try. My biggest failures have taught me how to succeed. For most of us, success is a process, not an event. 

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