A Conversation with Owen Keith

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How did you get into financial planning and investing?

I was a newly minted college graduate in the mid-90s and had been dabbling in the insurance industry through an internship, which led to my first full-time job. My degree was in Risk Management and Insurance, but this was not exactly an attractive field for entry-level participants. So, I was looking through the employment section of the Sunday paper (remember when that was where we went to look for job openings?) and saw an ad for Financial Advisor-in-Training at Prudential Securities. I had seen the movie Wall Street thought it seemed like a fascinating career. I started their training program in September, 1996, got through my licensing examinations, and was off to New York City to train for a month before they set the new class of brokers out on our own.

What is your greatest career success?

I am going to cheat and say there is a tie for first. Certainly, becoming an owner of Telarray back in 2018 was one of the greatest rewards I have received in my career. But, as far as accomplishments go, earning my MBA in 2009, during the height of the financial crisis, with two young children at home, is an accomplishment I will always look back on with pride. There is no way I could have done it without my wife, Amy. She works in financial accounting and was holding down a full-time job while essentially being a single parent for two years. She made a great sacrifice for me to get my graduate degree, which she reminds me of from time to time.

What has been the most significant learning experience in your career?

 The lesson that really turned my job into a calling for me was when I realized every client should be viewed equally. When you are training to be a broker working on commissions, they train you either to be transactional or to go after the so-called “big fish.” Many years ago, when I realized that everyone is equally important because everyone’s financial life is important to them, this career became so much more rewarding.

When people you have worked with talk about you, what do they say?

I think most people say I have a knack for connecting with people. I am genuinely interested in other people’s experiences, and I love to find common bonds that make for deeper interactions with others. I hope my colleagues see me as someone who doesn’t take himself too seriously; I try to find a reason to laugh every day. An early mentor of mine once told me to find a reason to laugh every day at work or find new work. That has stuck with me for 24 years.

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