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Carolyn Kling, Johnson Financial Group | Integrated Family Office

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Carolyn Kling

Fair warning to any would-be Bernie Madoffs or other Ponzi schemers out there: Be sure your targets aren't clients of Carolyn Kling. Her radar is on high alert for advisors who attempt to abuse investors' monetary well-being.

A Partner at Johnson Financial Group | Integrated Family Office, Kling's reputation for caution has well served her clients as well as her own family. After studying foreign languages and business at the University of the Americas in Mexico City, Carolyn returned to her native Colorado, where she clerked for the Colorado 4th Judicial District Court.

The factors that contributed to Kling's cautionary financial approach stems from her experience clerking for the judicial courts. The advantage of clerking for a high-profile District Court Judge and witnessing civil and criminal litigation trials first hand for several years, provided an education that Kling could not have experienced in the private sector. It was an education about people and issues that can easily turn awry even with the best intentions. More importantly, Kling learned about the value of transparency.

"My parents were fortunate to own a successful family business along with a portfolio of real estate holdings. Unknown to me at the time, my parents were too busy to take the time to carefully select advisors that would prudently counsel them through a successful business transition and estate plan. When my father passed away at the age 57, my mother was ill-prepared to carry on my father's legacy. Fortunately, I was well positioned to easily identify advisors that would efficiently guide her through the sale of the business and the eventual settlement of the estate."

Kling vowed that she would not follow in her mother's footsteps and the experience set the stage for a change in her career path. Her family experience, along with her role in the district court, made her realize that she had a natural skill for working through the challenges associated with prudent planning, exploring and researching solutions, and implementing the necessary governance process to mitigate potential risks.

During her subsequent 10-year Wall Street experience, Kling was transferred to San Diego in 1986 to work with her company's institutional clients. She returned to Denver in 1995 to join the executive management team for a well-known portfolio management consulting firm, specializing in portfolio construction, manager due diligence, performance analytics and performance monitoring.

When the firm was eventually acquired, Kling was one of four managing partners to form Investment Consulting Group (ICG), a privately owned firm that developed a proprietary disciplined investment platform across multi-strategies, including alternative investments and private equity strategies for financial institutions.

"ICG was hired by institutional investment firms that allocate assets for clients in a mutual fund or separately managed account structure, as well as alternative investments. The experience was a deep dive into portfolio risk and a confirmation of the necessity for portfolio transparency."

Kling returned to San Diego in 2004 to continue her stewardship working with attorneys, CPAs, investment firms, insurance advisors and other business and family advisors. Today, Kling's passion is working with families to safeguard their investments.

"My role is to shield investors from investing with the Madoffs of the world," she said. "Unless the due diligence is performed, you may not know what you don't know until it's too late." Kling brings her due diligence, analytical and governance skills to Denver-based Johnson Financial Group's Integrated Family Office.

Initially, the Chicago family lacked the sophisticated tools to wrap their arms around the complexity of their family holdings. The Family Office integrated analytical tools into a secure, robust customized financial engine that provides detailed financial transparency for family members and their advisors.

These tools provide efficient and seamless tax and estate planning tools for family members throughout multiple generations. Selecting trusted advisors who are solely committed to the best interest of investors can be a daunting task. It is absolutely essential to select the best advisors to mitigate investment risk, reduce cost of capital, enhance tax efficiency, and importantly family legacy fulfilment. It is a role that Johnson Financial Group does not take lightly.

Kling is involved in several industry-related professional organizations. "Most of my career mentors have been males, often the CEOs of the firms I worked with," she said.

"When I started my investment career in the 1980's, the greater percentage of professionals were men. It was the nature of the business at the time. I have always mixed mix well with both male and female genders, however, I favor protecting women investors. "

Active with several nonprofit organizations, Kling is past treasurer and president of the Del Mar Community Foundation, serving on its board of directors and the investment committee. She is a past board director of the Greater San Diego Boys & Girls Clubs Foundation, a member of the investment committee and is active with several community non-profits.

Current industry affiliations include North County Estate Planning Council, 100 Women in Hedge Funds, and Women in Pensions, California Hedge Fund Association and Family Firm Institute. She has earned the Accredited Investment Fiduciary Analyst certification through CEFEX, the Center for Fiduciary Excellence, and the Accredited Investment Fiduciary certification through Fi360, the Center for Fiduciary Studies. A former marathon runner, she enjoys cycling and hiking with her husband, Tom.

When it comes to investments, Kling has a few simple words of advice: "Hire the experts! You hire the physician who specializes in your specific medical issue because you want the best solution. It's the same with financial experts and advisors. Don't make the mistake of saving a dime at the risk of losing a dollar."

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Written by Glenn Grant, The Daily Transcript

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