Advisors in the Spotlight Series: Jessica Searcy Kmetty Expert Financial Advisor in Arizona

Pam Krueger April 15, 2022
Jessica Searcy Kmetty

 

This month’s Advisors in the Spotlight series stars expert financial advisor, Jessica Searcy Kmetty, ChSNC®, AIFA®, CPFA®, C(k)P®. Jessica runs two businesses and specializes in financial planning for families with special needs children. She sits down with Wealthramp founder, Pam Krueger, to discuss her businesses, personal life and some helpful advice to those who are looking for financial advice in regards to planning for their special needs family members.

 

Pam:

Since you joined the Wealthramp network, we have been receiving raving reviews from our members who discussed their financial needs with you. It’s great to have you today to share more about your unique expertise and approach to client service. To start with, could you talk a bit about your firm and any specific types of clients you usually work with?

 

Jessica:

I serve as an advisor primarily to divorced women and blended families with special needs children. In addition, you can find me helping retirement plans with their stewardship, leadership and governance responsibilities. My firms are both independent, fee-only, SEC Registered Investment Advisors with offices and clients in multiple locations across the United States. We have different levels of service across both firms to meet almost every client’s unique needs. No matter which service level someone is looking for, they can always expect excellent care from us and an advisor team that really knows their situation and is responsive to their needs.

 

Pam:

What are some of the unique responsibilities you have as an advisor who specializes in special needs planning?

 

Jessica:

Well, as a financial advisor for clients who need special needs planning, my job is all encompassing, but primarily it is to make sure the family will adequately leave enough money to the special needs children. Now oftentimes this involves family psychology, such as conducting conversations among the siblings because everyone’s inheritance will not be equal, but equitable. The equal vs equitable family discussions are very important. I break it down for my clients like this, equal would be watching a baseball game with all the kids standing on a box behind a wooden fence. But the kids are different heights, so the shorter kids are going to be neglected. In this case the special needs children have a higher cost of living and require a bigger box to stand on.

 

Pam:

What challenges do you face working in special needs planning?

 

Jessica:

Special needs financial planning involves a lot of financial coaching. No two situations are the same. First, you need to figure out who will be taking care of the special needs sibling on a daily basis. Sometimes, within a family one sibling will take responsibility, other times the family will hire assisted living. Additionally, the plan has to be multifaceted. There is a financial plan for Mom and Dad, and a life plan for the Special Needs child. That includes many variations depending on the likelihood or probability they will go to school, and work and live independently. With the numerous variables over the entire lifetime for a special needs child, planning becomes infinitely more complicated.

 

Pam:

Through the years you’ve been able to help various families, each with their own unique situation. Is there a specific story you can remember that stood out to you or really impacted you?

 

Jessica:

One of the best parts about my job is that I get to help families on a daily basis. One story that I remember very well involved a gentleman who was retired and his family, who recently relocated from New York to Florida. His wife was the only one managing their finances and was also the primary caregiver for their adult daughter with down syndrome. She handled all the paperwork associated with her benefits. Not too long after the family moved to Florida, the wife passed away during Covid, leaving the husband grieving in a new community with no network to support him and his special needs daughter.

He came to me for financial advice knowing that I was an experienced fiduciary financial advisor who has worked with many clients on special needs planning. I was able to connect him with a local network of financial related assistance and other resources he needed. Furthermore, I was able to find him a special needs lawyer to review their trust documents to ensure that it’s enforceable in the state of Florida. State specific legal requirements for trust documents can be tricky and detrimental, always consult a trust lawyer after moving to a new state. In the end I was happy I could get him the support he needed during this difficult life changing stage.

 

Pam:

Wow, that’s a very touching story, Jessica. Thanks for sharing that. You really have a very challenging job.. What do you like to do for fun outside of work?

 

Jessica:

Typically cooking or hanging out with my kids by the pool and reading a book. I really enjoy reading in my free time and average about one book per week. Because I love learning and am always looking for ways to bring more value to my clients, I completed a ChSNC® (Chartered Special Needs Consultant®) designation during the pandemic to help further assist our special needs community.

 

Pam:

Thank you for speaking with me today Jessica. I appreciate you educating us more on special needs planning. That will do it for this advisor in the spotlight story. You can learn more about the fiduciary financial advisors in the Wealthramp network, and our advisor vetting process. Whether you need help with general financial planning or special needs planning, you can answer some quick questions to see your best advisor matches.

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