Advisor Interview – Heidi Helmeke

The day I met Heidi, I was working in Minneapolis, and my client had arranged a personal meeting with some advisors. I was told ahead of time that they have a great business, and that I would enjoy meeting them.

Charles (Chuck) Blossom and Heidi Helmeke are fantastic financial advisors, and the entire team at Prestige Wealth Management come together to offer a fantastic client experience.

They take a complete and comprehensive approach to their financial planning process, but they are as passionate about their client relationship which is what sets them apart.

As Heidi put it “For sure we have a complete financial planning process, and every client we have understands it, so yes we do a great job of caring for them from a strictly technical perspective – but we put a lot of effort into ensuring that we create a sense of family or belonging here. We want people to look forward to seeing us; and to having their meeting – those are two separate things”

In addition to the photo albums of client events, Prestige Wealth Management also hosts several impressive client events including a Holiday event where they book an entire movie theatre, and for Halloween they delivered pumpkins to over 20 houses that had grand kids. “People love it, and our movie day for many of our clients has become one of their family traditions – which is really nice for us.”

Name: Heidi J. Helmeke

Family: Married to Rob Helmeke and have two children Garrett age 7 and Brooke age 5

Current Position: Senior Vice President, Prestige Wealth Management

Years in Business/Brief History: I have been in the securities business for approximately 20 years originally to start up an investment program within the bank where I was acting vice president.  I later moved into the independent RIA channel with Prestige Wealth Management 12 years ago.

Staff: Prestige Wealth Management has three support staff, an operations director and the President of Prestige Wealth Management who is the other Advisor in the office.

Assets under Management: 51,000,000 and growing steadily.

DMW: How did you get into this line of work?

HJH: My path into this line of work started at age 16 when I was hired as a bank teller.  My work experience in the financial arena continued through out my pre-dental scholars’ program years at Marquette University.  After 2 ½ years I realized that my financial burden for undergraduate and then Dental school would leave me in debt until I was at least 40 years old even with a dentist’s income.  That was not what I wanted out of life and changed my degree to psychology in order to be able to finish in 4 years.  I had no idea at the time how valuable that degree would be for me in the future.  I took the first job out of college that would pay me enough so I would not need to move home.  That meant I would be working in finance since that is where a majority of work experience was concentrated.  After making my way up the banking ranks into a vice president I was asked to start up an investment department.  In doing so I was able to see that I wanted to explore this avenue that was very new to me.  Once I started working with clients I realized I needed more information to be able to assist them in their financial decisions and therefore obtained my certified financial planning certificate.

DMW: To what do you most attribute your success?

HJH: My dad.  He not only had a strong farm work ethic that he passed on to me he was also an incredibly smart man who did not go past the 6th grade.  He could add and subtract in his head faster than I could with a calculation however because of his lack of education he never had confidence in his ability to understand finance.  He started his own successful business and was able to provide for our family however he died without ever writing a check.  I continually see “dad” every day meeting with clients whether they are scientists, engineers, executives, lineman, or school teachers.  It doesn’t matter what, if any, education they have the complexity of the financial world creates a need for me to bring confidence and education to their world.

DMW: What would you say are the five key elements for starting and running a successful financial planning practice?

HJH:

  1. Health – Both mental and physical
  2. A Strong family relationship
  3. Passion for your clients
  4. Establish a business plan that will withstand the ups and downs of our industry similar to the plans you do for clients.
  5. Continual personal growth – never stop learning

DMW: If you spoke to a squeaky new fa on his or her first day……

HJH: Get to know your client one conversation at a time.

DMW: I really like that – one conversation at a time – it sort of suggests that you should be patient. Seek to understand your clients. Know them intimately.

DMW:  What keeps you interested about this career?

HJH: The desire to assist my “business” family with every new challenge and opportunity that occurs daily.

DMW: People’s lives are always changing – I always think about me, my own financial life and how semi-complicated it is, financially speaking. Granted I run a business, but most of my friends don’t and their lives are financially complicated too – mortgages, investments, retirement, promotions, layoffs – everyone is always in flux.

HJH: Keep connected with your clients – you have to check in, that is how you find your place to help.

DMW:  Tell me about a time when you had to overcome difficult times in your practice, and what you did to get through it.

HJH: In looking back at some of the most difficult times in my practice they have always happened when my focus strayed away from the client toward outside influences that I could not control such as the markets, economy, political environment and competition.

The first step was to recognize what had occurred.  The second step would involve revisiting my goals and reasons for being in this business. Finally I would take action to make the client my primary focus again using various top of mind tools or simply mentally shutting the door on outside influences.  The future will always involve difficult times however experience has proven to me that the time involve in recognition and resolution of the challenge keeps shortening.

DMW:  Why do you think you do so well – and can other FA’ duplicate your success by embracing your philosophy?

HJH:  I think I do so well because for me this is not a job or even a career.  It is my passion and purpose.  If a new FA truly cares about your clients above all else the success will follow.

DMW:  What kind of culture exists in your organization?

HJH:  Our organization strives to create a feeling of family both internally and externally.  This is accomplished by establishing relationships that involve more than finances.

DMW: What 3 pieces of advice would you give to an FA who wants to realize…….

HJH:

  1. Find out if you have the internal desire for this business beyond the external gains of money, success, education etc…
  2. If #1 is true then cultivate that desire by enhancing your client relationships and in turn their experience with your firm.  (If not be honest with yourself and either accept you position in the field or do what you are passionate about)
  3. Surround yourself with positive influences both personally and in your business.

DMW: How do you go about marketing your business?  What has been your most successful form of marketing?

HJH: We market through introductions, workshops and client events.  Our most successful marketing is small client events where they bring a guest to introduce to our firm.

DMW:  Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?

HJH:  I would say solely based on recent experiences as a consumer I would say Starbucks and Ann Taylor.

DMW: Yeah, I have a nice Ann Taylor pantsuit … wait did I say that out loud?

Bonus Round

DMW: Do you have any idea what Poutine is, and do you think it should be legally recognized?

HJH: No idea, so I am not sure.

DMW: Did you hear that Governor Rick Perry signed a pledge against Poutine?

HJH: (laughing) No I did not know that.

DMW: Well he did, or at least he is pretty sure he did.

HJH: Well … Is that a bad thing?

DMW: Depends I guess on what your feelings are about complex carbohydrates. I don’t want to get all political on you, but the way I see it all carbohydrates are created equal.

DMW: Ever been to Canada?

HJH: No.

DMW: What? Are you kidding me? I thought for sure … you live in Minnesota?!

HJH: I know, but no, I have never gone.

DMW: Well there goes my next question … So, what’s your favorite part… of Canada?

HJH: I have a lot of dual citizenship clients, so I am going to say “wherever they are from, and wherever you are.”

DMW: Oh that’s sweet – and that’s going in the interview.

 

DMW: Okay where would you go if you went anywhere in Canada?

HJH: Honestly … I probably wouldn’t go.

DMW: What? We are your largest trading partner … we’re right here, we like you guys, and we look like you. Is it our liberal opinions and radicalized support for Poutine?

Leave a comment