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Carolyn Kling, Kling Partners

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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 anyone who wants to abuse their monetary well-being.

A Del Mar-based investment advisor, Kling's reputation for caution has served her clients – and her family – very well. After studying foreign languages and business at the University of the Americas in Mexico City, Carolyn returned to her native Denver in her early 20s, and then clerked for the Colorado 4th Judicial District Court.

"The reason that I am so cautious stems from the fact that I worked in the district court system," she said. "The advantage I had was sitting and clerking for civil and criminal courts cases for a high-profile District Court judge that involved significant litigation. I learned a lot about how people and issues can turn awry even though people may have the best of intentions.

"My parents were fortunate to own a prosperous family business and a significant family estate. Unknown to me, they didn't take the time to prudently select complimentary advisors to represent their business and family estate. When my father died at age 52, my mother certainly was ill-prepared and unfamiliar with the business and financial aspects of the business. Fortunately, I was able to easily identify the appropriate counsel and advisors to assist with unwinding the business and ultimately settle the estate."

Kling helped her mother sell the business, consolidate the estate, and vowed she would never be in the dark about her own financial situation. The experience set the stage for her career path. "I realized I have a skill for these types of situations. I like drilling down, assessing and analyzing governance and structure."

Kling enrolled in graduate courses in economics and finance from the University of Colorado. During a 10-year career with institutional Wall Street firms, she moved from Denver to Del Mar in 1986 to work with clients in Southern California. She returned to Denver in 1995 to join the executive management team for Colorado-based Portfolio Management Consultants, where she was able to specialize in portfolio construction, manager due diligence and analysis, and ongoing quarterly performance monitoring. She 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 for financial institutions.

"ICG was hired by institutional investment firms that manage assets for clients in a mutual fund or separately managed account structure. The experience was a great education into the investment side of the business," she said. "These were very large, very well-qualified pedigreed firms."

Kling's passion is helping individuals, businesses, trusts, estates and other entities safeguard their investments. She returned to Del Mar in 2004, where today she acts as steward for families hiring advisors such as attorneys, CPAs, investment firms, insurance advisors and other business and family advisors.

Even without her own website, Kling's reputation has enabled her to secure new clients through word of mouth via CPAs, attorneys, other advisors and current clients. Many of these are high-net-worth and private family businesses. "My role is to keep them from investing in the Madoffs of the world," she said. "Unless you're in the industry, you often don't know who they are until it's too late."

One of nine children, Kling learned about family-owned businesses from a young age. Her entrepreneur father encouraged his sons and daughters to be entrepreneurial as well. As a result, all have their own companies, she said.

Kling is involved in several professional women's organizations; however most of her mentors were men. "They were typically the CEOs of the firms I worked for," she said. "I started my investment career with Wall Street firms, and back in the '80s, when most industry professionals were men. It was the nature of the beast. However, I have always mixed well with both males and females and tend to spend a lot of time with professionals in the investment related industry. It is my business. "

Active with several nonprofit organizations in her community, Kling is past treasurer and president of the Del Mar Community Foundation, serving on its board of directors and investment committee. She is a past board director of the Greater San Diego Boys & Girls Clubs Foundation, and served on its investment committee. Current 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 workouts, the outdoors, cycling and hiking with her husband, Tom.

When it comes to finances, Kling has a few simple words of advice: "Hire the experts! If you go to a doctor, you want to hire the physician who specializes in a specific area of health care. 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."

1201 Camino Del Mar, Suite 203 | P.O. Box 340 | Del Mar, Ca 92014

*****

~ By Glenn Grant, The Daily Transcript

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2 UserComments
Christy Owen 5:51am April 8, 2013

Hi Carolyn, This is a great article...truly capturing the personal and professional "you"! I'm anxious to catch up with you and Tom. Exciting to think you're still focused on returning to Denver at some point! Talk soon, Christy

MaryBeth Brown 1:30pm March 12, 2013

Carolyn: Congratulations! We're thrilled you made this list and look forward to spreading the word to the financial community! MaryBeth