Your career path isn’t always as straightforward as you might think. Sometimes your family nudges you in a particular direction, sometimes your favorite movie inspires you. That’s the case for two up-and-coming financial professionals and community influencers in our Magnet Program.
Krystian M. Suber and Graham Clarke, both Directors of Wealth Management at KB Financial Companies, have a lot in common, including a drive and passion to be of service to their clients and communities. When it comes to the financial sector, they believe the market offers endless opportunities for professional growth and advancement – and they hope to help bring in the next generation of talent.
Krystian M. Suber Graham Clarke
How do your background and previous experience align with your initial interest in insurance?
KS: My passion was always music – I played alto sax and got a scholarship to Berklee College of Music. I knew I wanted to get into business, but on the artistic side of it. When I got into Sony Music, the music industry shifted, and there was an elimination of revenue streams. My mother has been in finance for many years, and she asked me to consider becoming a financial professional. She told me I could work with anyone in the industry, including artists and media execs, and I gravitated toward that. I took my skill set from music of being very entrepreneurial and being able to build contacts and network to Chubb. I was promoted rapidly, with great income, and I knew that was just the beginning.
GC: My story started a little before I pursued my education in finance. I was infatuated with the movie The Art of the Sale, and it definitely piqued my interest in finance. I graduated from State University of New York at New Paltz in 2007, as we were going into the recession. One of the few areas hiring was on the retail side of the financial sector. I sat down with someone in the industry to learn about the business, and it aligned with my goals and my passion for helping people. Ultimately, I took the job at AXA (now Equitable). I started studying for the Series 7, and being that I was a recent finance graduate, a lot of the material was familiar. I gained invaluable confidence – it put me on my path.
What made the Magnet Program a good opportunity for you?
KS: Our friend and client Crystal Davis attended a National Assembly meeting for The Links, Incorporated, one of the largest international nonprofit service organizations devoted to strengthening African American communities. At that meeting, Wes Thompson, President and CEO of M Financial Group, and Dr. Kimberly Jeffries Leonard, President of The Links, announced their partnership. Wes expressed a desire to have a more diverse pool of talent, and Crystal reached out to Graham and me. After meeting with Wes and speaking with Lucy Bosworth, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at M Financial, we joined the program. We felt it would be a great opportunity to be of service on a larger scale.
GC: What Krystian and I were building on a local level, in terms of our partnership with The Links, Wes and Lucy mirrored that on a national level. Joining the program seemed like a great opportunity to further our cause and propel us to make more inroads.
What motivates you?
KS: In one word, family. Being able to provide, pay our bills, and secure a future. We know we cannot be complacent. The time you feel like you’ve made it is the time that you’ve lost. You always have to be vigilant and optimistic in business. We want to make sure we have 6-12 months of expense revenue, so we don’t have to go into our savings – that’s on the survival side. On the thriving side, we want to be the best. We want to be millionaires, partners, and achieve in every field of human endeavor. We surround ourselves with people who do very well. Wes Thompson has become a mentor and sponsor. Some of our mentors are CEOs of major corporations, and we’re motivated to follow in their footsteps.
GC: Helping people is at the forefront of what we do. A lot of clients have become friends. It’s a rewarding feeling. The plans that we are creating will help them achieve their goals and make sure their families are safe and protected.
How does Magnet give you an advantage?
KS: We have access to great mentors. We have our Magnet Program Director, Jesse Woodcock, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and salaries paid for by Magnet. We had an excellent week-long class at the M Portland Headquarters, and the training there was extended; now it’s virtual with The Brooks Group. Not all companies have this much to offer, and this is a program that is truly investing in us.
GC: We have the right tools that ensure that we’re truly able to put the client first. Clients can see the difference, and everything we do is with them in mind. We’re really able to set ourselves apart.
What is your ultimate career goal?
KS: We’d like to be partners at KB Financial Group. There are three shops: the Wealth Division (both Graham and I are Directors in it), the Family Office Division, and the Capital Markets Division. We can work with small- to medium-sized businesses from beginning to end. We can help them start up, raise capital, assist with planning and valuation, and sell the business as well. There are so many opportunities.
How has COVID-19 impacted business?
KS: We’re in a very fluid environment, learning every day how to service our clients and be sensitive to their needs. We attended a CARES Act webinar and had a conversation with a mentor about doing business during a crisis. He suggested giving versus taking. Giving knowledge about the CARES Act and gaining access to liquidity. We’re actually going to be presenting to the National Organization of Minority Architects. We know the president of the organization and we went to him with something that would help the members. The great thing is, we don’t have to be experts, we have access to Nationwide and they’re going to come in and help us. We’re able to utilize these tools through Magnet and M.
GC: People are a lot more open to speaking due to the recent downturn in the market. They’re very concerned about health, their futures, and their families. Now, more prospects are willing to sit down and listen, and we’re capitalizing on that in the sense of bringing something of value to the table. This is a great time to be in our business. With chaos comes opportunity – if we learn how to manage that and work through it, we can all come out better on the other end.
In what ways are you able to give back to the community?
KS: We’re both member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated, and there’s a program within our fraternity called Kappa League where we mentor young male youth of color. We’re both mentors hoping to bring some of those young Kappa Leaguers into Magnet someday. We want to be able to take one of our mentees, bring them into program, and see them prosper.
GC: Our fraternity is a nonprofit charitable organization. Kappa League is our own internal endeavor, but we partner with a lot of other organizations that have the community in mind. Joining our fraternity in college gave us that foundation to recognize the importance of building up our community and other communities to help carve out a future for everyone. We joined our fraternity and this business to help.
What would be your advice to someone who is interested in Magnet?
KS: You have to be a self-starter, entrepreneurial, and involved in different organizations. An ideal candidate would be open minded and have a strong work ethic. You’re going to get a lot of “no’s,” but every “no” is one step closer to a “yes.” Being able to interact and network is very important.
GC: If you truly want to help build up your community, and you’re coachable, this could be a good fit for you. Magnet has some of the brightest minds in the business. The approach is different, it doesn’t seem like your typical shop. Magnet is a place where you can hone your skills and do good in the world.
The Magnet Program provides the education, mentorship, and tools to help financial professionals propel their success in the industry. If you’re self-motivated and performance-driven, and you have a strong desire to give back, learn more by visiting the Magnet Program for Financial Professionals.