JESSICA KEMP might have followed her parents into the financial services industry, but she did it on her own terms.
After graduating from Niagara University in 2004 with both an undergraduate degree in business commerce and an MBA, Kemp decided to put her finance career on hold to play professional basketball in Europe.
“Some of the advice my dad gave me, which was really invaluable, he said to go out and get some life experience first,” says Kemp, who studied at Niagara University on a full Division 1 scholarship.
“So after graduating with my MBA, I went off to Europe to play professional basketball for two years.”
When she returned, Kemp joined a company called Cintas and honed her sales skills – a move she believes helped her succeed in the financial services. When Kemp finally entered the advisory industry, she joined her parents at London Life, but after just a few years, she realized she was meant for something more.
“After two years in the business, I decided to incorporate my practice into Kemp Financial Group,” she says.
Kemp and her brother Michael, who joined her practice as a partner in 2013, are well-known within the Niagara community, mainly for their sports achievements.
“We wanted name recognition and branding for our company,” Kemp says. “And it made sense from a tax perspective to incorporate the business.”
Since its inception in 2011, Kemp Financial Group has welcomed a third member – a licensed administrative assistant – to its team. The wider plan, however, isn’t to hire more advisors and financial planners, but to add complementary specialists to the Kemp brand.
“We would bring in the clients and put them with the specific experts they need in the product or service that they want,” Kemp says. “Essentially, Mike and I would be the captains of Kemp Financial.”
Risk and reward
Leading her own advisory firm wasn’t the only challenge Kemp took on – she also purchased a commercial building in a busy part of the city.
“It was a big financial commitment, being young in the business and investing that much in a commercial building,” she says. “But it definitely ended up being the best thing we ever did.”
Kemp converted the former mixed-use building (which had a past life as a hair salon with residential apartments on the floor above it) to an entirely commercial one. Kemp Financial now operates out of the building, and rents out portions of the space to other businesses.
While the undertaking ultimately worked out, Kemp says she wasn’t exempt from the anxiety of such a big challenge. She could have backed out, but her deep-seated love for the industry helped her forge ahead.
“I just have a unique passion for our business,” she says. “All my clients see it; all my colleagues see it.”
Kemp has been able to share her passion for the industry through her work as a public speaker, a gig that started years ago when a colleague at London Life asked Kemp to address a group of new advisors. She did such a great job that the company invited her to speak at a number of its financial centres throughout Canada.
Kemp also has been asked to create motivational and educational videos for HOOPIS, an online training company. In addition to her traditional topics of confidence, sales concepts and building a successful practice, Kemp also speaks about handling objections and asking for referrals.
“Because I love what we do so much, it’s so easy for me to talk about it,” she says. “I get so excited about inspiring and motivating other people.”
Kemp says her athletic background also helped her develop as a speaker. Having competed at a Division 1 university while also completing her MBA, Kemp knows a few things about mental fortitude. She says that at its heart, the financial industry is no different from professional basketball.
“In any sales position, we have a lot of objections, sometimes negative feedback and rejection,” she says. “If we remain negative or we keep a bad attitude or if we don’t know how to handle that, this business can be daunting and very frustrating. You have to remain strong and positive and move on to the next prospect or the next client in order to enjoy what you’re doing.”