Some financial advisers travel far and wide to meet with clients. But Jennifer Kenning's work sometimes takes her to East Africa.
In December, Ms. Kenning — accompanied by a 29-year-old client — went to Kenya and Uganda to explore opportunities in impact investing and evaluate progress on philanthropic ventures. The financial advice business has a lot of unanswered questions about philanthropy and impact investing (the proactive backing of a project or firm engaged in an effort important to the investor). Are there good investment opportunities that align with investors' values? Are superior returns achievable when clients invest with their hearts? How do you structure charitable giving to ensure it's achieving the intended goals efficiently?
But perhaps the most important question: How do financial advisers get paid for cultivating this expertise?
As a young wealth manager, Ms. Kenning is working around the clock and the globe to answer those questions. In fact, she is the youngest board member at Aspiriant, a family-office-style registered investment adviser.
"I've been speaking up about impact investing and the future of philanthropy, and why we should be playing a role in that space," she said. "Even though we don't understand it as a business, we should educate ourselves to understand a topic that doesn't fit in our traditional business model."
Ms. Kenning said younger investors with growing pools of wealth and a less compartmentalized view are driving interest in values-oriented investing and rigorous philanthropy.
"I'm surrounded by people in their mid-20s who are amazing; they're doing great things globally, and that inspires me," she said. "I think we as advisers need to be ready to serve that generation. Let's pioneer it — let's build the ecosystem."
— Trevor Hunnicutt
Partner and director of research, Pinnacle Advisory Group