Meet the Team: Karen Simons

Meet the Team: Karen Simons

Interview By: Mila Lavoie

Last year, Yeske Buie was invited to join a collaborative initiative between the CFP Board and iRelaunch called the Financial Planner Reentry Initiative. The goal of this program is to diversify the financial planning workforce by establishing re-internships for experienced, professional, women seeking to return to the workforce. From this program, Yeske Buie had the privilege of being connected with Karen Simons, who started working with us as a Re-Intern in February. Karen’s high-quality work, care for our Clients, and wealth of expertise were bar none, and we are pleased to share that Karen has joined our team full time as a Financial Planning Apprentice. Join us in welcoming Karen to the team by reading our latest edition of Meet the Team.

In your role as a Financial Planning Apprentice, how do you assist Yeske Buie’s Clients?

As a Financial Planning Apprentice, I assist our Clients by supporting the lead Financial Planner in various capacities on all the numerous Client “assignments” that need to be accomplished. For example, I sit in on meetings and take notes for the lead Planner so they can focus all their attention on listening and hearing the Client. Once the meeting concludes, I take care of any tasks that are needed so that the lead Planner can do the appropriate analysis for that Client’s situation. I find it to be a unique advantage that while I’m new to Financial Planning, I’m not “new” to life so I am able to resonate with Clients and their various life events a bit more.

How did being a Return to Work Intern (Re-Intern) prepare you for your apprenticeship at Yeske Buie?

As a re-intern, I just jumped right in. I was exposed to all aspects of the business, not just the Financial Planning portion but touching every corner of the business. My approach was to soak in all the knowledge I could, and I feel that this gave me a “road map” of how the Financial Planning process works at Yeske Buie. Now with a more targeted focus, I can really dive in and learn all of the ins and outs of what exactly the Financial Planning process is.

What intrigued you about starting a career in financial planning?

While I have never worked in Financial Planning directly, I do have an MBA in finance, so I have a bit of experience in the financial services industry, but mostly at a corporate level. When looking to re-enter into the workforce earlier this year, I knew that I wanted to be involved with something more personal. I wanted to work with real people and real situations and the more I learned about Financial Planning, the more it seemed like a natural transition. I feel that Financial Planning combines all the skills I have developed over my years in the work force – analytical thinking, financial background, and then the personal element – and it just made sense for me!

What has been your favorite project at Yeske Buie, so far?

I can’t identify one specific project that I have worked on recently, however there is something that I enjoy on a day to day basis, and that is the openness to challenge the way things are done here. When I started as a re-intern, it was stressed to me that if I saw anything that didn’t make sense or I felt could be improved upon – anything from how we greeted Clients to our naming conventions and the processes we use – I should speak up and share that feedback. This, to me, is incredibly rewarding. It makes me feel, even as a re-intern, that I am heard, and that is priceless!

What aspect of Financial Planning intrigues you the most and why?

In particular at Yeske Buie, I love our Safe-Spending Policy because it applies to almost everyone no matter what stage of life they are in. One of the most common questions everyone wants to know about their finances is, “how much can I actually spend?”. I think that it is important to have a personal understanding of what you can and cannot do so that you can stay financially safe and not disintegrate your assets. I believe that through our Safe-Spending System, we can help Clients answer these questions, and knowing that we helped give someone peace of mind gives me a certain satisfaction. 

What is your first memory of Financial Planning?

When I received my first few paychecks for jobs like babysitting or working at a car dealership or clothing store, I remember my parents saying to me that even though I was young and didn’t have any expenses yet, they still expected me to save half of all my paychecks; only the other have was mine to do what I wanted with. Shortly after that life lesson, one of my employers offered me the opportunity for a company match 401(k) plan – and I was only in high school! I immediately began saving into my 401(k) and I urge my children to do the same. My parents always told me to never be afraid to work – and that any work is honorable! – because $1 is better than no dollars!

What Yeske Buie worldview aligns with you most and why?

Live Big resonates with me most and is actually a huge part of how I have chosen to live my life. I grew up being told to always live within my means, but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t have dreams! The key is to keep those dreams realistic, plan for them, and then move ahead to manifest them. For me, spending time with my family is the embodiment of Live Big. I recently went on a trip with my family and the most meaningful time for me was simply having dinner with them every night. I believe that when you craft what you do around the values you hold, then you are truly living big.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

As a child, I dreamed that I would become an actress… and instead, I ended up with an engineering degree! My parents convinced me to pursue engineering vs. acting because of how smart I was in math and, of course, because they felt acting wouldn’t pay the bills. That said, as I worked on my engineering degree, I also enrolled in theater classes. These classes were my relief from the heavy math courses I was required to take!

What is one of your Live Big® goals?

I absolutely love to travel anywhere and everywhere. I had wonderful opportunities earlier in my career to travel all over the world and have just always enjoyed different cultures, people, and environments. With that, one of my Live Big goals is to move from the suburbs to the city and simplify my life so that I can have more time to travel with family, friends, or independently.