Which BD services are more important during the coronavirus?


Wealth management firms should define success by how well their operations perform under pressure, Kestra Financial COO Kris Chester says in an episode of Financial Planning’s podcast.

The veteran executive, who joined Kestra in 2018 after her time in Wells Fargo’s treasury management unit, now helps lead the private equity-backed firm of some 2,500 advisors. In an interview with FP Senior Editor Tobias Salinger, Chester explains how the Austin, Texas-based firm supports advisors across two IBD subsidiaries, an RIA M&A arm and a breakaway RIA channel.

Unforeseen events like the coronavirus pandemic will lead the business side of any firm to increase its appreciation for maintaining normal operations, Chester says, describing how more than 250 home-office employees rapidly moved to remote work in March when the firm found out about a potential case of COVID-19 among its associates.

Kris Chester, Kestra Financial
Kris Chester is the chief operating officer of Austin, Texas-based Kestra Financial.

Even in these strange times, though, advisors carry on running their businesses. Kestra CEO James Poer and Chester seek out support staff who can get to know the advisors by name and efficiently address their questions and requests, she says.

“Our promise to our advisors is to serve them well,” Chester says. “And it’s really important to have the right type of individual in those service and operations roles because, at the end of the day, that’s what defines your delivery. And they’re the ones who have to deliver on your promise to the advisors, because if you’re not able deliver solid operations and solid service then there’s really very little value that you’re able to provide to those that you serve.”