Investing in a calm atmosphere

Kristi Avery is a registered principal and investment advisor representative with Financial West Group. She joined Kevin Paul Kelly & Associates in 2004.

TRAVERSE CITY — A quiet office atmosphere is part of the deal at Kevin Paul Kelly & Associates Financial Services.

The immediate goal of Kevin Kelly and business partner Kristi Avery is to help instill a sense of calm in their financial planning clients. They purposely located their office in a building that is easily accessible yet off the beaten path in Logan Cove, a development on the shore of Boardman Lake, tucked unobtrusively just west of Logan's Landing.

Visitors leave bustling South Airport Road, duck through the Logan's Landing parking lot, then follow a curving lane through a wooded glade to arrive at a commercial building that looks almost like a lakeside home. They step through the door into an office decorated in dark woods and muted tones.

Kelly, 62, or Avery, 32, then sit down with each client to calmly discuss how to best invest their money. Their clientele ranges from recent college graduates learning the basics of 401(k) retirement plans to community organizations and multi-million-dollar trusts.

The company website, www.kpkfinancial.com, features calming photos of nature, kayaking and a golf course. Even Avery's pet maintains a calm aura. Her dog nestles calmly and silently in a cozy bed in an office corner and notices a visitor's presence, but barely stirs.

"We feel it's a pretty loud environment in Traverse City in the financial field," Avery said. "We're quiet — and we do that intentionally."

That's because she and Kelly recommend an investment strategy rooted in long-term stability. Avery said they're not interested in day trading, in which people monitor the market's every twitch and try to respond by jerking money from here to there in a constant frantic battle to turn an instant profit. They're also not interested in computer programs that can automatically trigger investment changes.

"We're not robo-traders," Avery said. "We look at long-term trading trends."

Avery and Kelly prefer to craft a strategy for each individual or corporate client that measures in years, not hours. That kind of thinking leads to a more relaxed view of the market jitters that have become commonplace in recent years, she said. It's easier to roll with small bumps in the road if you keep your eyes focused far ahead.

"We have a lot of conversations about risk tolerance," Avery said. "We want to educate them (clients) so they're comfortable with the process."

Avery said Kelly likes to say they invest their clients' money "just like it was our parents'." Confidentiality is an important facet of the business, she said.

The big lesson they try to teach all their clients is that time is their friend.

"The best thing is compound interest," Avery said.

Kelly launched the business in 1983.