Money Matters with Financial Advisor Kendra Korkus 

Listen now:

Let’s talk money, honey. As a Financial Advisor Kendra Korkus is passionate about all three. Kendra strives to help women feel empowered in taking control of their finances and understanding how their finances impact their life.

What you’ll learn:

  • Kendra discusses how she got her start in the financial industry from working in a bank
  • How to choose a trusted financial advisor 
  • She debunks common misconceptions people have working with a financial advisor, specifically at Northwestern Mutual 
  • Kendra breaks down the fee process when working with a financial advisor

Learn more at Kendra Korkus at kendrakorkus.com and follow her on instagram @Kendrakorkus

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Emily Merrell  0:04  

Welcome to the sixth degree Podcast, the podcast where we grill our guests about the things that make them tick and find out how human connection plays a role in their life. I’m your host, Emily Merrill.

I’m your host Emily Merrell. And today I’m excited to have Kendrick Orcus financial advisor at Northwestern Mutual on our show, Kendra, welcome to the show. Hey, Emily, thanks so much for having me. It’s so fun having you on a podcast, I feel like I get it, I get the wonderful opportunity to see you at a lot of our six degrees events. So this is a fun new platform, I guess to connect on. Yeah, this is so fun. I’m really excited to be a part of it. Well, Kendra, you are one of the most knowledgeable humans that I know, I feel like every time we’re paired on a one on one at six degrees, or I learned something more about you just holistically. But right now we’re going to focus on your career. And I want to know what makes you tick. So you are our financial advisor at Northwestern Mutual. How did you find your way into finance? 


Kendra Korkus  1:16  

Sure, well, first, thank you so much. That’s such a nice compliment. I appreciate that. So my journey to become a financial advisor definitely wasn’t something that I anticipated. When I got out of college. I graduated with a psychology and communication degree and really had no idea what I wanted to do when I was in school. Or when I graduated, I found out very quickly that with a psychology degree, you really need experience in the workforce in order to do something in that field. And I didn’t have that. And I wasn’t quite sure, if I wanted to pursue a higher education degree with psychology, I had considered school psychology and just wasn’t ready to make the commitment to go back to school. So what I did is I ended up starting at Chase as a teller and got my foot into the banking industry. And I was there in my hometown in Syracuse, New York for about a year. And then I met someone and decided to move to Buffalo, New York, where I went to another bank called Key Bank and worked in their call center there, worked my way up within their departments fairly quickly or I was working in customer service and then their loans department then went to their telesales department and then on to their retirement department within about 18 months, and at that point, I was really ready to move on to something else.

And so I went and started working with a family boutique investment firm. outside of Buffalo, I was there for about seven years. And I was an assistant to a few advisors, one, the president of the company. That’s where I learned all about wealth management planning, and received and studied for my series six and 63, I was doing trading, that was primarily what I was doing for the advisors that I was working for. And, and with that learn just a lot more about customer service, the client experience, you know, what their clientele really went through from start to finish of onboarding clients, and retention of a client as well. And then with that, I had decided to move outside of Buffalo and moved to New York. And I moved back into the banking industry, I worked for HSBC, and Brooklyn. And what happened there, unfortunately, is that the company as I was there for about six months, decided to merge my role into an unlicensed position.

I had studied for my life and health certification and insurance license. And so I had passed that and after about six months, they had merged the position. And so if you are not familiar with the insurance or investment industry, specifically with investments, you have a two year period where you’d have to be sponsored by a company to keep your licenses active. And so that time time clock was ticking, and I was looking for something internally, wasn’t really finding anything and ended up having a recruiter from Northwestern reached out to me to work in the Midtown office and become a financial representative of the company. And the funny thing is, is that I was already a client of Northwestern. I had a few friends that had worked for the company up in Syracuse and was introduced by a friend of mine from high school. And so I had been working with the company for a few years on the client side, and it just felt like a really great match.


Emily Merrell  5:00  

For me to start my own practice with them, and so I decided to do that. Oh my gosh, I have so many questions for you. I had no idea your story. I’m gonna start with the teller. I cannot believe that you started your career, like in your hometown, working as a teller. What was that? Like? Like? What was that like to see people, you know, kind of get like a sneak peek into people’s bank accounts of people you probably knew and surrounded yourself with growing up. Yeah, it was a really, honestly, I think it was just such a great experience in terms of customer service. And really getting your foot in the door of understanding like what the money world was about.


Kendra Korkus  5:45  

There’s definitely some people that came in that were just, you know, regulars that you would see on an everyday basis, right business owners in the community, that were bringing their deposits in people that would come through the drive thru and like, you know, with their coffee, and like, say hi, every day, right, it was really fun to work in that environment.

And it was also, you know, challenging at times to write customer service, I think everyone knows is not always the best place to be. But I think that’s what makes you know, for myself really advocating for my clients in that way. Because I have a customer service background, and making sure that they’re getting the best experience that they can. And, you know, starting out in the banking industry definitely helped. For me to shape shape that part of my practice.


Emily Merrell  6:35  

I think that’s such an important lesson, the fact that you can start small before being where you are now and, and you’ve had so many your hand in so many different ways of thinking from like the customer service part to you, you were saying customer success or talking customer support, I think it was, yeah, and then also hedge funds, also assisting wealth management. So you’ve really had a spectrum of access into a very, very broad world. Do you have any recommendations for people who want to get their foot in the door of finance, but aren’t quite sure where to start? Yeah, um,


Kendra Korkus  7:17  

you know, I think there’s a lot of ways that you can start in this industry, whether it be in banking, or investments, I think the biggest thing is, figuring out what you want to do, or what you like to do, if being in front of clients is something that, you know, you like to build those relationships and, and do that, then you know, starting off as a financial representatives may be something that you want to consider. Or maybe you want to be more in that supportive role, and you want to be an assistant or, you know, just have some sort of operations background and managing a team. That’s another way that you can consider getting into the finance world. With banking, I think that you know, a teller is a great position to star or a banking banker position, where you are having that more customer service, servicing and sales background will help you to grow in that area. But there’s so many different ways to get in. I know a lot of people now especially in New York, if they want to get into the investment banking side, there’s a lot of there’s a lot of what’s that word, you want to do. Just some sort of like, you know, it’s an internship, it’s an internship, so they want to do an internship and kind of get their foot in the door, right and a certain company. And with that, they’ll be able to see if it’s something that they want to do.


Emily Merrell  8:47  

I also love the fact that you didn’t graduate with a banking or business or econ major, you graduated with communications and psychology. And I just think that there, that’s an opportunity for people who are listening and are like, oh, I want to get into finance. But I’ve never taken you know, I’m not a finance major, I can’t be in finance. And I think your story is a great way of showcasing that it is possible, if that’s what they desire.


Kendra Korkus  9:15  

Absolutely. And I feel that my psychology communication background just helps more on the people skill side of really, again with the customer service and providing your


Emily Merrell  9:26  

client experience, which is amazing. So then fast tracking, you now work at Northwestern Mutual, you said that you had worked with them as a customer, which I think is a huge advantage to be able to service your customers having been a customer yourself. But you also mentioned that there was a license you took for the life insurance, certification and AI How does life insurance and banking go hand in hand with one another?


Kendra Korkus  9:56  

Yeah, great question. So, for that role, All, I had to take the Life and Health Insurance exam through New York State, because I was essentially the path between the client and the financial advisor there. So in order for me to actually talk about insurance and investments, I have you been licensed in that role. And so that is the reason that I, that I took the course and pass the exam. But that just allowed me to be able to bring that on to an the more sales and customer service experience in the financial advisor role as well.


Emily Merrell  10:37  

I think that was definitely something that I didn’t recognize, I didn’t realize that like life insurance was part of financial, like was put under the same umbrella as financial advising or that you could sell life insurance. I always thought of like life insurance as someone knocking on your door and like an old timey video with this with a suitcase or a briefcase, and


Kendra Korkus  10:58  

you know, just like Groundhog Day, like yeah,


Emily Merrell  11:02  

yes, exactly. Is that what he sold? He sold life insurance is


Kendra Korkus  11:05  

a life insurance guy. Yeah, I forget his name. But yes, he was a life insurance guy. And that is like, like a, like a stereotype. Right? That’s, you know, there’s certainly some people like that out there. But that’s definitely not the norm now, especially as more women are becoming advisors and and getting into the insurance industry, for sure. But yeah, insurance is, you know, when when you think about financial advisor, you may not think of insurance, but financial planning, insurance is a big part of that. And so there are certainly areas where financial advisors may just focus on the investment side of money management, they may not do full financial planning, where at Northwestern, that is a big difference of our company, is that we focus both on the insurance and the investment side of your financial plan.


Emily Merrell  11:57  

That’s so cool. Yeah, I think that’s really important to be able to talk about both of those things and have a guided, have a trusted guide to help you sort through what you need. Speaking of trusted, what are the biggest challenges you see some of your clients are facing when they come to you?


Kendra Korkus  12:16  

Sure, yeah, I love that you were used the word trusted, because I like to think of myself as a trusted adviser. Right, having you know, that person in your corner that’s able to help you through whatever you’re dealing with. So in terms of, you know, things that clients are dealing with it really, it really depends on the person, but I think a lot of people will come to us with just not having the organization or the tools of really knowing where to put their money. So we put together a financial plan to help them with understanding all the different ways that they can save for the future. And I think the biggest thing is just providing education, on what those options are for them. So I would say lack of education is probably, you know, something that is a big challenge. But people who are willing to learn and see the value in the conversation and want the help, you know, are able to get that. I think also when it comes to just you know, people who are looking to invest, again, not really knowing where to put their dollars, understanding the differences of how accounts are taxed. And tax strategy planning is a big component of our services and our process. And so, you know, we aren’t CPAs we aren’t tax advisers, but we are helping in terms of understanding the different vehicles that are possible for that.


Emily Merrell  13:46  

I think it’s interesting that you, you know, you say that you’re not tax advisers. Because I feel like all of these things, I’m just having these, this like download moment of feeling like a financial adviser feels very grown up. And it feels like your parents generation, which is wild, because our parents were our age. And I have to remind myself sometimes that I am an adult, and I’m a parent and whatnot. But it feels very, very adult to have like a financial advisor. And it also feels like I’m a millionaire if I have a financial advisor, or like just came into huge inheritance. So at what point do you recommend someone seeks out the advice or the guidance of a financial advisor? Do you have to have a certain amount of money in your bank account? Or can someone who’s just not sure about managing their finances?


Kendra Korkus  14:43  

Ask for help. Yeah, that’s such a great question. And I agree with you, I think just not really knowing where to go or where to start is, you know, a big reason why there’s a lack of education and society. around money management, I would say, you know, there’s different requirements for different companies or different advisors. In general, at Northwestern, we don’t have like a minimum that you have to have in order to invest. There are certain types of accounts that you do need minimums for and so that is, you know, more part of the conversation. But in terms of just, you know, having the conversation, that’s, that’s where you need to start, right, understanding your cash flow your budget, you know, what you have available to you, that’s, you know, doable for you to save for the future, and just starting something, even if it’s, you know, $50 a month, you, you can see that as time goes on, that’s going to add up. And you’re going to be in a better position for doing something like that. And the purpose of that is really just doing a forced savings account, right. So whether it be you know, having it in a liquid savings or investment, really important that you’re just doing something, and that we can help you and on how to get there. I think that, you know, one thing that people don’t really think about is making sure that they have a liquid emergency fund available to them. And that’s the biggest component of having a strong foundation to a financial plan, having at least three months of expenses set aside in a liquid savings account that you have access to, if anything, that would be where you would start putting money aside to make sure that you have that available. And then once that set, then you can consider putting money into the market outside of what you have available at your employer like a 401 K or 403. B or whatever the retirement option is. But that is a conversation that you know, a lot of our clients need to have, they may not have an existing savings account setup already.


Emily Merrell  16:58  

Mm hmm. And I think that’s really great advice. What I think the other thing that feels intimidating about working with a financial advisor is is the fee. You know, a lot of financial advisors charge a large fee. What is it like to work with someone at Northwestern Mutual or specifically to work with you? Yeah, absolutely.


Kendra Korkus  17:20  

So I agree. Again, different companies work in different ways. In terms of Northwestern, we offer a complimentary service to have a consultation with no fee. Typically, when we walk our clients through the process, it is you know, having a conversation, and then we’re making recommendations based on where we see we can help you. And if we don’t see we can help you. Of course, we’ll you know, part ways, cordially, but wanted to make sure that if you do have a gap in your plan that we can make a recommendation and see if you want to move forward in that. In terms of fees, there’s there’s a couple different ways if you are looking to purchase insurance, right, you’re paying a premium for that, if you’re looking to invest money into the market, it depends on what type of vehicle we’re putting you into. So that could be either a brokerage account, where you’re paying an upfront sales charge, depending on where you’re putting your money. It could be an advisory platform where you’re paying, typically, it’s a tiered fee, anywhere from one to one and a half percent for active hands on management. Or you could be putting money into an annuity, which is similar to a brokerage account, you’re paying an upfront sales charge. And with all of that, you know, those are just essentially ad hoc services or ad hoc products that we can help you with. If you’re looking for more of a consulting conversation, then you know, eventually there may be some sort of fee but it really depends on the type of work that we’re doing. If you’re just starting out, you just know that you don’t have to pay a fee to speak with a financial advisor.


Emily Merrell  19:07  

Hmm, I think that’s a really great thing for anyone listening to know if you’re hesitating and you are sitting on some money or you’re sitting on $50 You want to figure out how to grow that 50 into something more. I think that is a friendly reminder to seek help and you don’t have to do it alone. And you don’t have to be a multimillionaire to hire somebody to help navigate this road with you. 100% which is great. So how can our listeners learn more about you and find out more specifically about working with you? Sure.


Kendra Korkus  19:45  

Well, I do have a website. You can find me at Kendra orcas.m.com. You can also email me at kendra.orcas@nm.com. I do have a Business page on Facebook and I’m also on LinkedIn, which is probably where I’m most active. So you can find me there and reach out that way as well. And I’m also on Instagram, I don’t post in terms of Northwestern there, but you can also find me at Kendrick Marcus on Instagram.


Emily Merrell  20:19  

I love it. You’re, you’re so lucky, you’re able to score your name on Instagram, I feel like that makes it easier to find. We are going to transition over into six fast questions. I love seeing what makes our our guest tick and understanding that much more about them. So my first question for you is, can you tell us an unknown fun fact about you?


Kendra Korkus  20:45  

Sure. So I love the sport of volleyball. I played volleyball, growing up all through middle school, high school and college. And I also coached volleyball for a period of time, and 13 year old girls, and we made it to the national championship. In Indianapolis when I did, coach, that was a really fun time. And yeah, just another thing that I love that I haven’t been able to play in a while personally but but otherwise, you know, a lot of us love watching the sport and love being involved in the sport.


Emily Merrell  21:22  

Oh, I love that I love volleyball, we were defeated, not undefeated, we were defeated. So we needed you as a coach to help us get better in high school. Who would be a dream person you’d want to be connected with? Oh,


Kendra Korkus  21:39  

that’s such a good question. And so hard to answer. I feel like but I would say I would love to meet Michelle Obama a wonderful, wonderful influence, I believe just in women in general.


Emily Merrell  21:56  

Is there a specific question you’d want to ask her? Oh, um,


Kendra Korkus  22:03  

I would probably ask her. If she could change one thing


Emily Merrell  22:11  

in her life,


Kendra Korkus  22:12  

what would that be? And what would she tell her younger


Emily Merrell  22:15  

self? Hmm. I wonder if it would be becoming the first lady was not as much fun. I also got that either because she wouldn’t be here. We wouldn’t know her in the public eye as much. Love that one. What show are you currently watching or recently have watched?


Kendra Korkus  22:36  

So I will admit I don’t watch too much TV.


Emily Merrell  22:41  

But or movie? Yeah, I see.


Kendra Korkus  22:46  

I just watched which, again, is very not common for me. But I just watched the Lucy Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz documentary that was done by I think Amy Poehler on Amazon Prime. I cried. It was like such a great documentary. Yeah, I loved it.


Emily Merrell  23:08  

You feel like you had like so much more appreciation for what they built. And I had no idea they will like studio.


Kendra Korkus  23:15  

Me either. And like just how much of an influence they have on TV today was really just wild to me. Really cool to see.


Emily Merrell  23:22  

Also, I had no idea that after I Love Lucy, that there was like that other show. They had created that other show about Lucy being a single mom and her husband had passed away.


Kendra Korkus  23:34  

Me too. I never I don’t I don’t know if they ever ran reruns of that I don’t remember seeing it. But I used to love watching I Love Lucy growing up. So it was really like very nostalgic for me


Emily Merrell  23:46  

to to watch that. Yeah, I completely agree and highly recommend that one. And I thought it was interesting. They also go deep into like their pasts and their backgrounds and how they made it to Hollywood. And yes, think about like, the gifts that we have nowadays with being on a podcast or like anyone can be a podcast or an influencer or whatnot. And like, there was no internet, they just had to find their way to Hollywood. Yeah. And I loved like, you know, doing their show in front of a live audience, which,


Kendra Korkus  24:18  

you know, like, I was thinking like SNL like how, you know, many shows do that now or, like reruns and


Emily Merrell  24:27  

very, very cool. Yeah, that’s a great recommendation. Well, I know you are all are also in a in a book club and a huge reader. So what books are you reading are currently recommending?


Kendra Korkus  24:41  

Sure. So we just got done reading this book called Sankofa and it’s by an author and I hope I pronounce her name correctly, but it’s true. She had been do a nguzo it was part of the Reese’s book club and So I really, really enjoyed that one. It was essentially about a woman who never really had a relationship with her father. And turns out he grew up in to be being this prime minister of this African country. And she ends up going there and trying to form a relationship with him. He didn’t even know that she was born just really like there was a lot of a lot of backstory about just, you know, racial tension, right? Having a relationship with a with a white woman and a black male. And you know, then there’s a lot of like classism, and growing up in like, essentially kind of a third world country. So it was just a really great book. I loved it, I would definitely recommend it to anyone who’s looking for something new to read.


Emily Merrell  25:54  

Oh, yes, I will add that to my list. That sounds wonderful. Though, taking a quick glance at your phone, what is your most used emoji? Okay, so let’s see here. I am going to pull up


Kendra Korkus  26:11  

my text messages.


Emily Merrell  26:13  

Say I think sometimes your favorite emoji can actually be different than your most used emoji.


Kendra Korkus  26:18  

Yeah, I probably use either the laughing emoji, the mouse, or the celebration emoji the most. Oh,


Emily Merrell  26:30  

I like maybe a heart to those are good three, one. Yeah. It’s funny, because I realized, once I asked this question, and I look, I’m like, I would say I used one more. And then I actually look at what I use. And I’m like, No, I, I use this one more. So this is interesting. My thoughts of myself are different. I love that. And my final question for you, Kendra, is Who gave you permission, or inspired you to do the thing that you wanted to do in your life?


Kendra Korkus  27:02  

This is such a hard question as well, because there wasn’t anyone in my family that that works in finance. But I would say in terms of just knowing that I could really do whatever I wanted. And giving myself the flexibility to do that. My grandma was a huge influence in doing that her and my grandfather actually had their own business growing up, and so it was really cool to see them, you know, do that, you know, on the weekends, or, you know, whenever they had the time to do it. And so I would say that she was definitely an influence of, of just having that entrepreneur mindset, and being able to go after my goals that way.


Emily Merrell  27:53  

Well, I love that what kind of business that they have.


Kendra Korkus  27:57  

They had an they called it treasured treasures and trinkets, and it was essentially just antiques that they would sell. Whether it be like furniture, or like, you know, China or just little, you know, little things here and there.


Emily Merrell  28:16  

That’s amazing. I, I went, I went to an antique store the other day, and I was just thinking like, this is someone’s job to find these things that might be a toss away for you, but might have value or hold value or meaning in to someone else, which is so, so crazy and cool.


Kendra Korkus  28:35  

Yeah. And I think they just they really enjoyed doing it. It was something that was fun for


Emily Merrell  28:40  

them. Did you have a favorite trick? Trinket or treasure that you found from their store? Oh my gosh.


Kendra Korkus  28:47  

I probably do but I don’t remember exactly. She she had a lot of like costume jewelry and things like that. So I probably have that scenario somewhere. Sitting


Emily Merrell  28:58  

sitting in a giant drawer. I love it. Yeah. Well, Kendra, thank you so much for joining us today on the sixth degree. It was so fun telling your story and having you here as a


Kendra Korkus  29:08  

guest. Thanks, Emily. This was so fun. Can’t wait to come to another six degrees event soon.


Emily Merrell  29:15  

Next week, I hope and listeners if you like today’s episode, make sure to follow like and share with your friends and give us a five star rating. And we will see you the next time on the sixth degree with Emily Merrell. Have a great day everyone

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