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Episode 9: Jon Kelly

Divorce is never something anyone wants to find themselves considering. It is a time when emotions are all over the place, and stress is high. It can be easy to feel alone with lots of questions. So, what are some typical stumbling blocks encountered during a divorce and how do you overcome them? Let’s sit down with Jon Kelly to find out.

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Transcript Edited For Clarity

Scenario: “I got the papers in the mail today. Twenty years, two kids, and a beautiful home down the drain. I don’t know what I should do now.”

Jon: Well this is Jon Kelly.

Enpo: Good afternoon. This is Enpo calling from “My Financial Coach – Live!”. I wanted to thank you very much for taking my call today, and I want to just start off by asking for you to introduce yourself and your firm Kelly Klee to our listeners.

Jon: Sure! Thanks Enpo. So, my name is Jon Kelly and my firm is Kelly Klee Private Insurance. We specialize in serving high net worth families with property casualty insurance and so our bread and butter is writing packages. Package policies include: residences, vehicles, high end collectibles, and umbrella liability insurance. We work with all the best coverage providers. Chubb, AIG, Nationwide Private Client, Berkeley One, Vault, and Cincinnati Financial and really are completely dedicated to our clientele which is the high net worth family.

Enpo: All right well thank you so much, Jon for giving us a high level overview of what you do over at Kelly Klee. So, one of the things that isn’t necessarily directly involved with your firm, but you do happen to have an idea of how to protect your assets and kind of take a look at finances holistically. So, you’re going beyond just the numbers, and something that is a little bit more personal in nature. As you know, over 50% of all partnerships now end into some sort of separation and often times there’s a lot of fallout both financial, emotional… sometimes even physical. So, just for our listeners, I’m sure you’d be interested in speaking more on this… from someone who is a financial professional and has, has actually given this some thought.

Jon: Yeah sure, thanks Enpo. I mean it is a very personal journey I think for everyone who goes through it. I got divorced fairly recently a few years ago. And, I’m at the age now where a lot of… I’ve seen a lot more friends have marriages that end unfortunately than the new marriages that I went to and attended when I was in my twenties. And so, there are the financial issues obviously. One of the most important issues along with the children then and the housing and living situation, and all those things. When I look at it, I’ve had a few years reflect on it and I think one of the most important things is advice that I got that: It’s a big change in life but it doesn’t change who we are as people and as we think about all the things that made you successful up to that point… those things are all still there. And so, I think a lot of times when people think about it as “well, it’s going to negatively change my financial situation right now” and that quite possibly true. But, the best advice I got was to take a longer arc, and to think well how might things be in five years or ten years and typically that’s going to be more the case that you’ll end up in you know roughly maybe a better situation than you were before.

Enpo: Okay John, I think I am starting to get what you’re trying to say in general. But, let’s say you dive a little bit more into the nitty gritty I mean what were some of the actual solid challenges that you found that really… either you personally struggled with or that you can imagine other people might have as a stumbling block. For example, did you find out that the paper work bothersome? Did you find the negotiations difficult? Did you find searching for legal counsel something that was just odd? I don’t imagine that people are shopping for divorce lawyers. So tell us a little bit more.

Jon: Yeah! Actually… I mean, I think most the people that would be listing here are people who are successful. Or, people who are advising people who are successful. It is actually…. you know, it almost feels like a second very important job that you have when you’re going through a divorce. And so, for people who are successful, they’re generally successful because they put a lot of effort into making good choices. You kind of see that across the board in terms of making a good choice of an attorney. For me it was (I think for a lot of folks) it’s word of mouth. Asking your friend who has been through the process before and asking your trusted advisors is super important. I actually think the most interesting and difficult thing for me in my situation (and I would think this would apply to a lot of folks that are out there) is a lot of our most valuable assets are very difficult to value. Right? And so, particularly private businesses and homes… high value homes, specifically are very difficult to value as well as other things like jewelry and art and other things that might be shared and so I think it’s one of those things that we don’t think a lot about but for me that was one of the most difficult things is that I run and have very strong ownership in a couple private businesses and particularly those businesses are in technology or less than ten years old because it’s very difficult to value those businesses. And so, I think that’s one of the things that I looked at and said “well, this is turning out to be quite a bit of work, to go through valuation processes independent of any kind of financial transaction.

Enpo: I see, well I mean that is actually a good point then you bring up. There is some sort of financial component to it that is very numbers based. For example: “What is the value of the private business?” and “What is the utilization of this specific asset to you?” I mean, the home is pretty much something that you can value and sell, but a business? That might be more difficult. A business without the owner, the main drivers of it… so absolutely a great point to bring up. So, for our listeners, if you could do it all over again in terms of the process. Not in terms of the relationship, whether the process. What would you have really wanted to tell yourself at the beginning of this.
Jon: That’s… I love that question, Enpo. The biggest one is to accept that it’s a very difficult and emotional time. And that it’s okay to slow down and take your time and to not be reactive. I think one of the things that I saw that I kind of learned over the course of the process was that… yes things can happen that seem unfair or difficult or like the “why do I have to do this” sort of thing. It’s easy to kind of get emotional about those things. For me, the technique that I developed that was very helpful for me was just to slow down and say: “okay, let me just take some time to think about this.” Not be reactive, you know. Wait a day, then see how I feel about something the next day. Take time to talk things through so I think that would be the biggest lesson I learned was to slow down a little bit, take my time and then let some of the emotional attachments and reactions fade away. Then respond when things calm down. The other thing I would say is super interesting is when you go through a divorce, you do a discovery process. You get asked a lot of questions both by your own attorneys, and the otherside’s attorneys. The other thing I would say is also kind of slowing down and really thinking things through to make sure that you’re remembering everything and being… you know, really understanding what the world looks like. When you see emails that you wrote two years ago, and three years ago, it can be surprising how much the world has changed in that amount of time and how you’re thinking has changed over time. So I think that was kind of an interesting learning for me as well, that we’re all very dynamic people and things change over time and when you kind of confronted with that, it can be it can be startling.

Enpo: Absolutely. Well Jon, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. As our listeners can probably tell, no one is a professional at going through a separation. So yeah, I am glad that we were able to get you on the line and share some of the things that you’ve learned through this process and hopefully our listeners are able to learn from this and I want to thank you once again for your time.

Jon: You bet, Enpo. Thank you so much for your time as well for bringing me on.

Enpo: Thank you very much.

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