After running a dozen marathons, Andi Kang understands the value of preparation, perspiration, and perseverance. For years, she has used her marathon experience to help clients understand the importance of financial planning. During her participation in Next Level, Securities America’s premier coaching program for financial professionals, Kang welcomes the opportunity to apply the same concepts to building her practice.
“You don’t just wake up one morning and decide you’re going to run 26.2 miles,” Kang said. “To run it well, you have to think about the course, the elevation. You have to feed yourself well and pace yourself. Around the 20th mile, your body will hit the wall; it doesn’t want to go any farther. But if you’re prepared, your mind pushes you forward that last 6.2 miles, and you can run it even faster.”
While the two-day Next Level workshop Kang attended in February was her first, the program is her third business coaching experience. This time, she has a different attitude and approach that will take her the first 20 miles of her business-building journey and help her continue through the last 6.2 miles to reach her goal.
“In the past, I questioned what I was learning. I needed to prove it myself or I thought I knew better ways to do things,” she said. “This time, I know if I implement what I’m learning, my life will be more balanced. To be better financial professionals, we need to take ourselves into situations that make us uncomfortable and stretch our boundaries. Next Level emphasizes that if you feel uncomfortable with a new idea or activity, that’s good, because you’re stretching yourself. That gives you the mental fortitude and tenacity to keep going when you want to stop.”
Kang’s no stranger to tenacity. A native of Korea, Kang immigrated with her parents, who sought better education and medical treatments for Kang’s brother, who is deaf and has developmental disabilities. A wealthy family in their native country, Kang’s parents left behind a lifestyle that included a maid, chauffeur, and custom clothes and shoes. They focused on quality education for their daughter and three sons, moving to different areas around Los Angeles to get the children into the best schools. They bought a house in Bel Air intending for their children to attend UCLA. Kang left UCLA with only one quarter left to complete her degree and launched a career in fashion, working as an assistant buyer for Gucci in New York and then managing one of the first Saks 5th Avenue stores in Cincinnati.
Despite her success in retail, Kang said her incomplete college degree made her feel “unfinished.” On a dare from her husband, she completed with honors an undergraduate degree in business at the University of Cincinnati and then started on her master’s degree with a full scholarship. Pregnant with her second son, and with her husband wanting to return to California, Kang left graduate school. An inheritance introduced her to the investment world and, looking for a career change, Kang took a personality test at Prudential to gage her aptitude.
“I remember enjoying the questions, the information, the mental exercise,” she said. “It was fun. I knew I did well, and they told me I had one of the highest scores they’d ever seen. I knew this was the career I wanted to start.”
Kang got her Series 6 and 7 licenses and wanted to start the process for earning the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® designation. Unsatisfied focusing on insurance products, Kang moved from Prudential to Royal Alliance. Then she met Trudy Haussmann, an independent financial professional in Newport Beach, Calif., who was with Securities America.
“I wanted to do comprehensive financial planning and wealth management,” Kang said. “I wanted to make sure the products I recommended were appropriate for the individual client.”
One characteristic, in particular, drew Kang to Securities America: its reputation for strong compliance.
“When I heard from other financial professionals that Securities America had a strong compliance department, I thought it was wonderful,” she said. “It meant I would have compliance professionals helping me to ensure I met all the regulatory requirements. Each year, I look forward to the home office doing my audit early in the year so I can take care of any changes from the start.”
Kang does both commission and fee-based business. As part of the Next Level Coaching Program, she plans to move more of her accounts to Securities America’s Managed Opportunities program, hire a staff person specifically to evaluate the third-party money managers and make recommendations for specific client needs. The Managed Opportunities Unified Managed Account program will make her office more efficient as well, she said.
“In the past when we wanted to use multiple money managers, we had to get new account paperwork for each,” Kang said. “With the UMA, we can combine different styles of money management and be very diverse, with just one set of paperwork for the client. I’m also excited about getting deeper into the technology and doing more with proposal generation and reports.”
The strength of the technology behind Managed Opportunities enables Kang and her assistant to work efficiently and give clients the information and visuals to help them plan for their retirement marathon.
“In investing, just like in running, the course will have its ups and downs,” she said. “I help clients pace themselves for that first 20 miles or 20 years, so that last leg of their journey can be the best of their life.”
“Securities America is helping me build the practice of my dreams,” she said. “I’m working toward my own professional finish line, and when I get there, I’ll know that I did everything I was supposed to do, and I did it well.”