Kristen Luke clearly is in the driver's seat at her firm, Wealth Management Marketing Inc.
And when she isn't there, she's in the pilot's seat. Ms. Luke has her private pilot's license and is qualified to fly under instrument flight rules. She's currently working to obtain a commercial pilot's license.
Day to day, though, Ms. Luke and her firm, which opened in 2008, guide registered investment advisers through the challenges of marketing their businesses. And this summer, it is merging with Angie Herbers Inc., a consultancy specializing in human resources and other operational matters.
Independent shops often don't have the bandwidth or expertise to promote themselves and to remain relevant to clients and prospects. Firms outsource their marketing duties to Ms. Luke and her team of nine employees, including a marketing director, copy writer and e-mail marketing coordinator.
Ms. Luke's insights, provided via her blog and industry publications, are especially useful to the broad adviser community now as RIA firms navigate social media-based marketing. Her latest blog entries have centered on using Yelp and similar ratings sites, as well as appealing to female prospects.
Ms. Luke doesn't believe in failures but in learning experiences. One notable experience: She opened a beach bar in Indonesia when she was 22. During her brief time there, she was detained and blackmailed by the police, had money embezzled, went to trial and was threatened with machetes. She packed it in and went home after nine interesting months.
"I realized I was never going to be able to win at a game where I didn't know the rules," Ms. Luke said.
She didn't set out to pursue a marketing career until she was in graduate school at San Diego State University, working toward her MBA. She took her first marketing class and, she said, "A light turned on ? this is what I'm supposed to be doing."
— Darla Mercado
Partner, Larson Financial