Editor’s note: A version of this story also appears in the 2017 Wells Fargo Annual Report.
Ron and Tricia Kephart of Laurie, Missouri, were floored when they got the phone call no parents want to receive.
Their daughter, Rhonda Swanigan, had been killed in a car accident. The devastating loss thrust them into an unfamiliar world of courts, custody rights, and financial concerns as they stepped in to become the legal guardians of the divorced mom’s eight-year-old son, Bryce Kephart.
“It’s one of those things that should never happen as a parent, like when you are waiting up for them to come home as teenagers, and you get an unexpected call,” Tricia Kephart said. “Rhonda was just 30 at the time, and a passenger in the car.
“She had a good work ethic and had fortunately made some good preparations for Bryce financially.”
That included making sure she had life insurance. With that and settlement proceeds, the Kepharts headed to see Patrick Rowland, a branch manager at Wells Fargo Advisors, with a simple request: Help us design an investment plan for Bryce.
“This is a young man who has gone from being an eight-year-old to an 18-year-old,” said Ron Kephart. “Hopefully he has advisors and assets in case Grandmother and Grandpa aren’t there one day.”
The Kepharts joined their grandson for the first several sessions with Rowland, who helped the young man plot his financial future as the new owner of the investment portfolio and its assets.
“Ron and Tricia, whom I knew from growing up, had done a great job raising Bryce and talking to him about money and preparing for the day we’d sit down and talk and make that transition,” Rowland said. “When a client comes to me after a situation like this, or any other, I take the same approach: Evaluate the situation, develop a plan to help meet the goals important to the client, and seek to protect and grow the assets involved.”
Ten years later, their grandson is now a freshman at Missouri State University, taking the first step in hopes of owning his own business.
‘We sat down and developed a plan’
As Wells Fargo Advisors clients, the Kepharts used the Envision® investment planning process. Rowland helped them navigate the interactive tool, which adjusts to market moves and changing conditions so customers can see the potential impact on their finances now or in the future.
“We sat down and developed a plan for what the purpose of this money was for, and decided to focus on college and getting him started financially,” Rowland said. “We also planned for the transition later from college to career, and the next 10 years and beyond that.
“I answered every question Bryce had, walked him through all the steps, and explained the options.”
Bryce Kephart left the meeting with an investment plan in place that he continues to follow.
“I’m glad my mom had the foresight to begin planning for my future, and I’m thankful for my grandparents for taking me in when they didn’t have to and for loving me and for being there for me.” he said. “I am so blessed to have them as allies in my financial life.”
“I tell Bryce all the time about his portfolio: ‘This is love money. This is your mother. You need to remember that and not take it lightly,’ and he hasn’t,” said Tricia Kephart. “We’re very proud of him!”
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