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McKenzie Robinson | SBJ

2021 Trusted Advisers Wealth Manager: Rhonda Christopher

BKD Wealth Advisors LLC

Posted online

Financial management centers on helping clients set and reach their goals. And Rhonda Christopher says that work is key when life throws a curveball.

“Life doesn’t always move in a straight line, though, so I’m there when the unexpected happens to work through the changes that might be required,” she says. “The relationship with my clients is personal and goes beyond basic financial matters. It involves caring about them and their families. It means understanding what keeps them up at night and includes helping to protect the legacy that they want to leave when they’re gone.”

Christopher says she worked with an older couple who asked her to develop a relationship with their out-of-town children to prepare for a possible health emergency. She says the couple later died within days of one another during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Christopher was there to work through the financial decisions and administrative tasks, and she has kept the children as clients to this day.

That relationship building and client-first drive has served Christopher well over her 27-year career with BKD LLP, the last 11 of which she’s spent as director of BKD Wealth Advisors LLC. She previously served as a senior manager over audit, tax and consulting services.

In 2020, Christopher had 84 clients with $294 million in assets under management. That’s an increase of 80% from just two years prior.

In her role, Christopher provides financial and estate planning to high-net-worth families through investment management.

“The financial planning process and investment management go hand in hand,” she says. “We’re able to monitor their progress toward their goals, such as retirement at a certain age, college for their children or grandchildren, gifts, family vacations, etc., and modify the goals when needed. My desire is to take away their financial worry.”

As a longtime BKD employee, Christopher is involved in some of the accounting firm’s company initiatives. She serves as the BKD SKY Champion for the Springfield, Branson and Joplin offices. The initiative has a goal of strengthening the diversity of BKD’s workforce by identifying biases and removing barriers. Christopher also served two terms on the firm’s national SKY Council.

“As SKY Champion, Rhonda has truly become a leader of influence within BKD,” says BKD Managing Partner Gary Schafer. “In only a few short years, the impact of the SKY program on BKD has been impressive, and Rhonda’s thoughtful, persistent and positive approach has been a big contributor to its success.”

Christopher also serves on the BKD Foundation Advisory Committee, reviewing and approving grant requests for local nonprofits.

In the community, she’s the chair of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks Board of Directors and has previously served on the boards of The Library Foundation and Leadership Springfield.

She also is heavily involved in industry associations, and is a member of the Financial Planning Association, Investments & Wealth Institute, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Association of Government Accountants.

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