This past April, as the stock market was just beginning to recover from its COVID-19-induced crash, Kendra Kett retired as an executive with a national child care provider. It was a period when many people were worried about their financial situations, but through the uncertainty, Kett’s retirement stayed on track.

Fifteen years earlier, Kett never would have thought the day would be possible. She got divorced with little savings in her early 40s and was a single parent. “I didn’t have a lot of savings. I was nervous about my future,” Kett says. “I had an incredible amount of anxiety about my financial situation.”

FINDING A FINANCIAL PARTNER

She started looking for help. The experience left her demoralized, as many advisors declined to work with her, saying she didn’t have enough money. The ones that did meet with Kett talked over her head, adding to her anxiety. “It made me feel like they didn’t believe in me or in my potential,” she says.

Luckily, a friend recommended that she meet with Jim Stinson, a wealth management advisor with Northwestern Mutual. “The thing that stood out for me the most was what a great listener he was. He really took me seriously and took the time to hear my concerns and emotions. He was incredibly patient and respectful,” Kett says.

BUILDING A FINANCIAL PLAN

When Kett first met with Stinson, she told him she wanted to make sure her budget was in a good place. She was nervous about her ability to save enough for retirement, and she knew she wanted to pay for college for her son.

“When we first started working together, we took a few steps to get Kendra on the right path to achieve her goals while still being able to live the life she wanted at that time,” Stinson says. That included a new budget, opening a 529 college savings account, looking at how to maximize Kett’s retirement options through her work benefits, and other steps like getting insurance to help protect her goals from anything that could go wrong.

The two continued to meet on a regular basis to update Kett’s plan as her life progressed. “At every visit, Jim would ask about what was happening in our lives and really take the time to understand how our lives were changing,” Kett says. “He knew all about Keaton’s baseball activities, he knew about my interest in art, trips we were taking and whatever else I was pursuing at the time.”

REACHING HER GOALS

As Kett got closer to retirement, she and Jim began to transition her finances so that she’d be able to use her savings to generate income for the rest of her life. That included putting a portion of her savings into an annuity to create a stream of income that isn’t affected by the markets and that she can’t outlive. They also set up a cash reserve to meet her immediate needs. The remainder of her savings were invested into a diversified portfolio designed to grow over time.

“This kind of a plan gave Kendra the flexibility and confidence to retire even as the markets had fallen due to COVID-19,” Stinson says.

In addition to her retirement, Kett’s son recently graduated from college — and (with her help) debt free. One of the potential career paths he’s considering is becoming a financial advisor. He recently completed an internship with Northwestern Mutual in Stinson’s office.

Now that she’s retired, Kett recently opened her own business, an art gallery in the northern Chicago suburbs. She has been passionate about art for a long time. Like so many business owners, Kett was able to quickly pivot during COVID-19 and put the art in her gallery online. The move was a success. “We ended up shipping art to customers on both coasts of the United States and throughout the Midwest,” she says. “As people spent more time at home, they realized the value of home and wanted to paint their walls, rearrange the furniture and buy new art.”

Kett is now focused on spending time with her son and building her business as she transitions into her second act. “The role that financial planning has played in my life has been absolutely critical to my success, confidence and happiness,” Kett says. “It changed my life.”

The testimonials presented may not be representative of the experience of other clients and are not a guarantee of future performance or success.

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