Sarah J. Kaelberer
CFP®, ChFC, CLU
Sarah was working at a Fortune 500 company when she sat through her first 401(k) meeting. Listening to the financial adviser talk about investments, retirement planning, and how important saving is, she thought to herself, “I could do that job. That’s really cool.”
And now she does, as President of B&E.
In addition to holding an MBA, Sarah entered the financial adviser’s world and quickly earned designations as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® Professional; Chartered Life Underwriter, CLU; and Chartered Financial Consultant, ChFC. She ascended to a partner leadership role and serves in various professional associations. Before assuming the leadership reigns at B&E, she was often on the road, sought out by peers across the country to speak on her expertise in retirement plan solutions and running an efficient financial services practice.
Sarah’s training ground.
Sarah’s career in large organizations — Chrysler Motors, and Martin Marietta and Kaman Corporation working with Department of Defense — prepared her well for the creative problem solving required of a business adviser.
When working with the Department of Defense, she was one of the few females who worked on pricing government contracts. That is where she developed her thick skin. Defense was a very male-dominated environment, just as the financial industry is. “I was just one of the guys. I don’t take things personally having worked in that environment,” she said.
Her experience in large organizations also affirmed her desire to do her own thing and control her own destiny.
“I wanted to do things right, and you aren’t always given that ability when you are handcuffed by bureaucracy.”
So, Sarah joined B&E in 1996, became a partner in 2002 and president in 2014. Working for a small, privately held firm, she could focus on values-based planning. “It’s about delivering the best service to the people you are serving, with their interest and values in mind.” She wanted flexibility on how to best serve clients and develop people, so the team and the product stay relevant.
It takes someone like Sarah, with a constant thirst for knowledge, wanting to grow and wanting to make a difference to stay on top of all the services and rapidly changing products and regulations in this industry. “If all I wanted to do was sell investments,” she added, “this is not the business model I would choose. Because with the tax changes and all of the things we do, it takes more than understanding just one segment to serve clients well.”
For Sarah, planning has to be comprehensive, and it all starts with the WHY. “If you don’t know why someone is doing something, you can’t be effective. You have to understand the why behind the transaction before you can be an effective adviser.” The why drives her great personal interest in getting to know her clients and helping them articulate their goals.
Then she writes a letter to the client after every meeting. In many companies, the compliance department would never allow that. “I believe the more we put in writing, the better off the client is.”
It’s really about having an impact on the people that you serve.
Sarah has a unique ability to see and solve problems very quickly. She jokes that efficiency is her thing. Time management, operational processes, even ergonomic efficiency, and now investment efficacy. “I believe if you control your destiny, you can design the processes to really take care of people.”
And a sense of servant leadership inspires her. She worked for Martin Marietta Inc. during Desert Storm, and that left an impact. “During a conflict, watching something that big, with your company and your product involved, it truly gave you a sense of something bigger than yourself,” she remembers.
Today, Sarah continues to be an active community member: as a Rotarian, supporting the local Chamber, with her lake association, and with her family.
Sarah and her husband, Darvin, have three children: Miranda, Chloe, Max. When they weren’t cheering teams on at sporting events, the family enjoyed time at the cabin. Now, as their nest empties, they are finding new places to travel. She loves to explore small towns, and her peaceful place is walleye fishing, really early in the morning, right as the sun comes up.
“Delivering exceptional service with your interest in mind.” – Sarah J. Kaelberer