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McKenzie Robinson | SBJ

2021 Trusted Advisers Accountant: Kristen Wannenmacher Bright

BKD LLP

Posted online

Certified public accountant Kristen Wannenmacher Bright has spent the vast majority of her 18-year career at BKD LLP, becoming a partner of the Springfield-based firm in 2018.

She works with the accounting firm’s auditing team, specializing in the construction and real estate industries, as well as nonprofits and governments.

With her clients and co-workers, she seeks to embody BKD’s motto of “unmatched client service.”

“My goal is to develop a strong working relationship with every person I encounter which will allow that relationship to grow in respect, trust and hard work,” Wannenmacher Bright says. “I view my role as a trusted adviser as a person that first listens to those around you, which includes both your clients and fellow team members.”

To further serve her clients and co-workers, Wannenmacher Bright aims to be a connector, a skill she sees as a natural progression of problem solving she loved as a child.

“To be a good connector, you must understand your clients and team members while acutely observing the entire business around you to find opportunities that fit them,” she says. “Sometimes those opportunities are obvious and natural fits, and sometimes they are not and hidden.”

An example of being a connector came amid the coronavirus pandemic, when Wannenmacher Bright and her team worked to help clients obtain Paycheck Protection Program loans, employer retention tax credits, grant awards and other assistance.

“Even during one of the most stressful years on record for everyone, I think our team was able to be a connector of resources while serving as a solid and constant financial services professional,” Wannenmacher Bright says. “I think the impact I made was bringing certainty in a time of uncertainty.”

Her work has been noticed by other executives at BKD.

Kim Hamm, a retired partner at BKD, says she has known Wannenmacher Bright for her entire professional career. Passion is one word that comes to mind for Hamm.

“Kristen serves her clients and colleagues with a passion rarely matched by others in the accounting profession. This is what gets to the heart of the matter,” Hamm says. “She has a positively contagious attitude and keeps her composure under pressure. She looks for innovative ways to achieve better and more efficient results for her clients focusing on how she can do things versus why she can’t.

“She serves as a mentor and role model for others in BKD, and truly works to help colleagues and clients be successful in their endeavors.”

Wannenmacher Bright is involved with myriad industry organizations, including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants. She’s also active with local nonprofits, serving as a board member in recent years for Junior League of Springfield, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks, Girl Scouts of Missouri Heartland and Summit Preparatory School.

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