George Kinder, George D. Kinder Financial Services
George Kinder, CFP, remembers the feeling he had when he first stepped off the plane in Hawaii. I knew I had come home. I knew I had arrived where I was meant to be.
His reaction surprised Kinder, a Harvard-trained, Cambridge, Mass.-based fee-only financial planner. Id always thought Hawaii would be unbearable. Im fair-skinned. I sunburn easily and dont like hot weather, he says. And Id thought it would be filled with condos and tourists. Instead, there was beauty beyond my imagination and the friendliest people anywhere in America.
So Kinder kept finding ways to go back, which wasnt too hard since he was his own boss. Hawaii haunted me, he says. Id have flashbacks of jungle sounds and birdcalls.
As his visits became more frequent and lengthy, he realized he couldnt afford so much time away from work. Yet he didnt think opening an office in Hawaii would work.
In 1986, a Hawaiian friend disagreed and even offered her home as a venue for a seminar. Kinder took her up on it. At the end of the evening, he had two clients--one big enough to justify opening an office. Since then, he has spent four to six months of the year in Hana, a remote part of Maui.
Kinder doesnt enjoy Maui for the typical reasons of surfing and sunshine. The Asian culture of Hawaii and the essentially European culture of New England are very different, he says. Having both makes me feel more connected to the world, and gives me a better understanding of the global market.
Kinder has been somewhat of a maverick throughout his career. He never wanted to work for a big company, and was turned down for a job with a major accounting firm in the 1970s after he showed up for the interview wearing a beard.
He went into business for himself, doing taxes. As time went on, he saw many clients that had been ill-advised on investments. Often they hadbeen sold tax shelters they didnt need or high-commissioned mutual funds, Kinder says. So I got on a white horse and dived into financial planning.
Building a business in Maui has been easier than he anticipated. There arent a lot of good advisers here, and being fee-only gave me added cachet, Kinder says. About half of his business is in New England, 25% in Maui and 25% in other parts of the world. He clears through Schwab.
Kinder has a part-time employee at the Maui office when hes there. When he leaves, he shuts down the office and Maui clients reach him through an 800 number. The Cambridge office has three full-time and three part-time employees. While Kinder is in Maui, his staff meets with clients, and he speaks on the phone with the staff about five times a day.
The basis of Kinders client relationships is helping people get what they want. Often there is a split between money and what makes us happy, he says. Its possible to do a great job of planning if you know what people want out of life. He wrote a book on the subject, The Seven Stages of Money Maturity, to be published by Delacorte next month.
Kinder is single and admits his lifestyle would be tough for someone with a family. However, his choice shows that he practices what he preaches to clients: Live the life you want.