When clients know their “burn rate” Inna Kelly says she’s able to manage their money better. Regardless of what the market is doing, Kelly advises her clients to keep track of their monthly spending.
“Clients get too busy and don’t know how much they actually spend. Knowing that number sets the tone for all of their future financial positions,” said Kelly, a managing director and wealth advisor at Morgan Stanley in San Francisco, and a Forbes Top Women Wealth Advisor for the second year in a row.
She adds that clients’ burn rates are very specific to their household so she walks them through their lifestyle and their spending. “Sometimes their burn rate is a surprise to them,” she says.
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Kelly’s ultra-high-net-worth clientele is comprised of startup employees–mainly early hires of tech companies–that she calls her friends. And she also opens her business to their family members and friends. “I think naturally what happens in our business as advisors is we attract people that are similar to us. And I’ve been really fortunate to grow my book of business where my clients are my friends: we’re on vacation together; my kids are friends with their children,” said Kelly.
Kelly’s practice has an account minimum of $5 million, but she says she doesn’t always abide by it. For one, her business originates from the tech world and its abundance of startups. When tech-hires go to Kelly with private stock, she says “it’s all on paper and they’re not actually worth all that money.” However, she likes to be there from the beginning giving financial advice.
Her assets under management total $1.1 billion, and she keeps her client service team in San Francisco to accommodate Silicon-Valley clients while she works out of San Diego to be closer to her own family. Kelly, 45, has three daughters aged 14, 11 and eight and she’s been married to her husband, a former employee of the mobile payments company Square, for over 20 years.
Kelly’s inclination to work with the tech community, preferably engineers, is related to her own upbringing. She was born in Russia to a mother who taught biochemistry and a father who taught chemical engineering at the University of Moscow. The family moved to Moraga, Calif., just outside San Francisco, in 1979. Her mother worked as a biochemist for Bayer Pharmaceuticals and her father started his own engineer consulting business.
Instead of following in her parents’ footsteps, Inna gravitated towards the finance industry. While attending the University of California, Berkeley Inna interned at Morgan Stanley and later Smith Barney (which was acquired by Morgan Stanley in 2009) all before she graduated from university. After graduation, she joined the same team she interned for at Smith Barney.
“I worked on a team that specialized in 401k-rollovers. We would invest for clients that were 30-plus years with a company and looking to rollover their pension plan and their 401k,” said Kelly. “When I started getting exposed to more tech clients, I realized I was using the same skills as before – retirement needs are the same whether you are 60 or 30.”