Posted on Apr 1, 2009 :: Small Business Spotlight
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Mike Otto, left, and Jason McGlone of Kerntke Otto McGlone Wealth Management Group, Appleton

It’s all about the clients. While most business owners may use that phrase casually, the senior partners at Kerntke Otto McGlone Wealth Management Group in Appleton really put their money where their mouths are.

The quartet of financial planners believed so strongly in better serving their clients that they left their previous firm – all were independent contractors with Ameriprise Financial – and teamed up to launch Kerntke Otto McGlone two years ago. Collectively, they have more than 55 years of experience in financial planning.

“We share a lot of the same values and the same approach to our clients,” says Mike Otto, a senior partner with Kerntke Otto McGlone. “Our approach is primarily driven by what is right for the client in all cases.”

Unlike financial planners who may receive commissions based on the products they sell, Kerntke Otto McGlone is a registered investment advisory firm – a business model they are confident works well for both them and their clients. Since they get no commissions, Otto believes it removes potential conflicts of interest.

“That was a big part of what led us to start our own firm,” Otto says. “As an independent firm, we have many more opportunities. It aligns our interests with our clients’ interests. We’ve been able to restructure portfolios without costing them money.”

Client Jeanine Blank, owner of Marko Promo, a promotional products company in Appleton, says that ability – along with the firm’s proactive approach – has impressed her. “I’m concerned with what’s happening with the economy,” says Blank. “And they were very proactive at the beginning of 2008 when there were just rumblings of things to come. They were extremely proactive in moving money around to a safer spot; I ended up losing a lot less. It’s like their money; that’s how they care for it.”

To that end, the partners use their trademarked LifeReach principle to help clients during both bull and bear markets. That approach allows them to clarify individual situations, integrating the advice clients may receive from other experts such as stockbrokers, insurance agents and accountants.

Otto says they noticed that “ongoing service was all over the board” and that “no one was overseeing it all.”

The four partners didn’t take their independent venture lightly. “We felt our move was so significant,” reflects Otto, who specializes in managed equities. “We sat down and talked about what made us unique.

“The cost of starting up was going to be a challenge,” Otto says, “but we felt confident in the plusses. We would never go back to our old situation.”

After transitioning clients, drawing up a business plan and getting computer systems up and running, the partners – who also include Peter Kerntke and brothers Jason and Jim McGlone – began in earnest building the relationships so vital to their business.

Amid a troubled economy, the firm’s unique all-encompassing approach to financial planning has them poised and ready to respond to whatever Wall Street may throw their way.

“Market conditions have definitely made this business more challenging,” admits Otto.

“What we can do is evaluate risk. We have to be aware of what’s around us and respond.”