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Photo provided by UMB BANK
Photo provided by UMB BANK

A Conversation With ... Rhonda Sorensen

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Tell us about UMB Investments & Wealth Management.
Our department has a team of 11, and we function as a family (comprising) attorneys, certified financial planners, certified wealth management folks, and of course, we couldn’t do it without our support staff.

Where do you fit on that team?
My expertise lays in the private banking realm … be it checking, savings, CDs, customized loans for primary homes, secondary homes, aircraft, stock-secured art. We get to do things outside the box. But I work in conjunction with my partners in investments and wealth management – investment representatives, financial advisers, trust and estate planners – and we try to create a plan and a roadmap for our clients to achieve their goals, making sure that all the pieces (fit) together. (Private client managers) kind of call ourselves the quarterbacks. We’re the ones who actually get in the trenches with our clients (and) get to know about them, their families, hobbies, aspirations, dreams and we become part of their families. I’ve been to birthday parties, weddings, funerals. … We’re the ones who pull in the experts to help (clients) realize what they don’t know.

Who are your clients?
A lot of our clients are the CEOs, the chief financial officers, the chief operating officers. Anything with three initials usually needs our services, but it expands beyond that. A lot of my clients are in the medical industry, physicians, specialists, and attorneys and accountants – professions that are time-challenged. … That’s where we come in; we can take that time and give it back to them. They don’t have to come into our branches if they have a need. With a lot of my clients, we communicate and get to now each other via e-mail and phone, and at their family functions, because that’s when they might have five minutes to meet and talk. … CEOs get busy with their businesses, and they forget their personal business – banking, investing, estate planning – I can look at all the pieces.

So banking outside the box means you go to clients instead of vice versa?
If they want me to, but some of them like to come in here and take a break. But I’ve been to sign loan documents in the hospitals. I’ve signed checking accounts at Chuck E. Cheese. I actually met a client one time between here and Kansas City at the (QuikTrip) to help him process a check that he needed done. The nice thing about private banking … is you’re not chained to a desk, and you can do what needs to be done to make any transaction seamless for the clients.

Are there net worth or portfolio requirements for clients to work with you?
Yes and no. We want to be able to help every client, but we do find certain parameters (in which there’s) a need for what we have to offer. But we’re going to talk to everyone, and we’re going to look at their individual situation and see if they have a need. If they do, it may be that they’re not truly what one would consider high net worth today, but if we do our jobs right and they value and like our services, that’s something we can help them build and achieve. … We don’t put a number on it as much as looking at, “Does the relationship need our help?” Usually $100,000 to $250,000, somewhere in there is a starting range. A person who has $25,000 may not need our services in the private banking … but we still want to help them at UMB.

What are some financial and wealth management issues specific to your client base?
We’ve broken private banking and wealth management into several key areas: asset preservation, working with financial advisers … business succession, making sure assets are titled properly, and fine arts and collectibles – we have a specialized division and can store the art – education, charitable giving, estate planning. … Credit can be a challenge for our clients, but it’s not traditionally. I’ve had clients who have had things show up on their credit report in error, so we can help them fix that. And some are just too busy to get things paid in a timely manner, so that’s where we can come in and set things up automatically so it’s not an issue. Time is probably one of the biggest constraints for our clients … but I think everybody is concerned about the economy and the things that are going on with it. I don’t know that I hear worries, necessarily, but more awareness maybe.
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