Like many recent college graduates, in his early 20s, Andrew Koerner threw a backpack over his shoulder and explored the world for six and a half months. His wife of 20 years, who is from the Dominican Republic, made a similar trip. When they met, they knew travel would play a big role in their relationship. Together, they have turned a passion for traveling into a passion for educating and giving back.
In subsequent trips to the third world, the couple always brought gifts along with them — school supplies, kids' shoes and vitamins — for the communities they would visit. But as time went on, they began to get more organized in their giving — and more ambitious. Having the opportunity and the wherewithal to do philanthropic projects the way he wanted to was part of what attracted Koerner to Wall Street in the first place, he says.
Eventually he and his wife helped several groups of Peruvian women in small towns outside of Arequipa set up sweater export businesses that earn them between $3 and $8 a day instead of the 4 cents a day they were making when they started out. Today, the Koerners are engaged in a much bigger project in the Dominican Republic, where, for over six years, they have been building a fully equipped school and working to get it accredited so that it can receive sponsorships. Koerner's hope is that this first school will be so successful that dozens of other school projects will follow. “This is the program we're really proud of,” he says. “It's straight education. It's the easiest for us to get to, where we can get the most hands-on and involved.”
Koerner says education is a big part of his financial advisory practice, too. One-third of his clients are professional athletes, many of whom are young and inexperienced at managing money. “I feel like I'm constantly teaching with these young NFL kids,” he says. In all, he works with only 60 clients, mostly entrepreneurs. Koerner spends just four to five days a month in the office. The rest of the time he is meeting clients in their home cities, socializing with them, or having them over to his house. “The center of my business is clients who have become my friends or friends who have become my clients,” he says.
Firm: First Allied Securities
City: Princeton, NJ
Years as a rep: 17
Years with current firm: 4
AUM: $180 million
Product Mix: Insurance 20%; Managed accounts 80%
Specialty: Business education
Licenses: 7,63,65, insurance