Saturday, March 17 , 2018, 9:55 pm | Fair 51º


Kate Silsbury Helps Her Clients Make Sense of Financial Planning

She tailors her services to the short- and long-term goals of clients

For many people, saving money for retirement is like flossing — something they intend to do but don’t like and don’t get around to doing as much as they should. Kate Silsbury strives to demystify the metrics and make financial planning easier than a trip to the dentist.

Raised in Carson City, Nev., Silsbury attended the University of Nevada-Reno for both her bachelor’s degree and eventually a master’s degree in education and microbiology with plans to pursue medicine. She then taught high school science for several years before deciding she wanted to move to Santa Barbara, a favorite vacation spot of her youth.

Silsbury became the internship director at UCSB while working on another master’s degree, in marine biology. A company that would later become American Express Financial Advisors explored with her a new profession in financial planning.

She was intrigued and decided to pursue the field. She took tax and accounting classes at UCSB as well as training provided by the company. Her first year working in her new profession, Silsbury received a stipend as an employee, then became an independent contractor and finally, with Ameriprise, a franchisee. She says that 25 years later, she still loves her decision.

Silsbury offers a variety of financial planning services — both short-term, such as saving for a specific item or vacation, as well as long-term, such as children’s college or retirement. She first asks clients to articulate their goals and then works with them to create a road map for achieving them.

“Most people have an idea of what they want to save or when they want to retire, but haven’t strategized how to make that a reality,” she said, adding that every client’s needs and path are unique and require an open dialogue so they can change — as circumstances invariably do.

Through her two decades of financial planning, Silsbury said she has witnessed several trends. She calls the decade of the 2000s two cycles of greed vs. fear. Starting with the technology bubble, people had irrational exuberance that led to impulsive stock purchases and unrealistic expectations. She adds that because share prices were inflated, many virtual companies gave people hopes of instant wealth that never came true. Another outgrowth of this time period was the real estate bubble.

“People thought the market would continue to rise indefinitely and overpaid for homes, which led to irrational despondency,” Silsbury said.

Knocking on her wooden desk, she said the economy and the stock market hopefully will stabilize. She has weathered the storms with her two employees and has recently expanded her downtown office space, adding an airy second-floor conference room overlooking State Street. She acknowledges that her profession requires a mixture of skills: knowledge of the markets, strong communication with clients and perseverance to help clients ride the waves.

With an eye on the long term, Silsbury counts numerous clients who have been with her since her start in 1985. She said she likes the challenge of the ever-changing variables and that she’s comfortable talking about money, which sometimes can be as taboo as talking about sex.

“My clients feel comfortable with me, and I try to make money fun,” Silsbury said.

She is heavily involved in the Santa Barbara community. In addition to teaching both investing and finance through SBCC Continuing Education, she also has held board positions for Women’s Economic Ventures, Girl Scouts of Tres Condados, The Fund for Santa Barbara and Valle Verde Retirement Community. She also does volunteer projects for the Rape Crisis Center and the Pacific Pride Foundation.

Silsbury offers a broad range of financial products and services, including mutual funds and certificates, as well as brokerage and financial planning services. Click here for more information.

Noozhawk contributor Jenn Kennedy can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here to see more of her work. Follow her on Twitter: @jennkennedy.

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