Article from International Association of Registered Financial Consultants publication, “the Register.”
The story behind the name change according to the Kahans… Ben Franklin was born in 1706 and is known as the “father of American insurance.” We proudly continue this tradition of protecting people.
Legacy and transition are important concepts to those in Financial Services and are integral to a successful succession plan. From the client’s perspective, it means continuity and longevity in the guidance they receive during their financial journey. In this issue, we explore a generational consulting firm embarking on its own succession plan and coming out as a rebranded entity that serves the future. As the firm sunsets its former name Lang Financial, Founder Stacy Kahan officially passes the leadership reigns to her daughters, CEO Cara D. Kahan and President Alana Lang Kahan, under the firm’s new name: 1706 Advisors.
Register: First, give us the historical roots of Lang Financial. How does your father/grandfather fit in this picture?
Stacy: My father, Stanford Lang, started in the insurance business, as an agent, in 1959 with New York Life. After a number of years, he decided to open his own brokerage. He became an official entrepreneur by opening Lang Kruke Financial Group in Cincinnati, OH, with the goal of better serving corporate and individual clients as an independent agency.
I inherited my father’s love of and knack for insurance and took insurance classes as a business major in college. After graduation, I moved to Chicago and worked at a number of large insurance and finance houses for ten years. Then, I decided to open Lang Financial Chicago and run it as a sister company to my dad’s. While we never owned each other’s businesses, we were each other’s sounding boards for years.
In the early 2000s, my daughter Cara joined the business; a few years later, my daughter Alana joined as well.
Cara: We’ve been in business for over 30 years and are continuing to grow and modernize. 1706 Advisors is built on experience and constantly innovating. We have a modern approach to insurance, group benefits, and strategic planning that’s connected to what’s happening in the world today.
Register: Cara and Alana… Discuss the life lessons you have learned from your grandfather and mother that transition to helping clients.
Alana: My mother, we always said, is our grandfather in a woman’s body. They each have a knack for understanding the person in front of them and giving them their undivided attention. People feel special around them.
Feeling understood allows people to open up and tell us what is on their minds. With that trust established, we can help them put a plan in place for their personal goals and dreams and help them protect their families and businesses.
Register: Relate your own personal journeys on how you settled into a career in Financial Services.
Stacy: My father was my hero, and I always admired how he cared so deeply about helping others. He started every conversation with “How can I help?” which made a big impression on me. I followed in his footsteps to study insurance and began to make my own way after college. Working for some larger firms was a great experience. Still, I loved the idea of running an independent agency and being able to provide in-depth, personal advice and attention to my clients. There were ups and downs along the way, but I started getting repeat business, referrals, and more clients.
Then my father’s health started to decline. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and Dementia and eventually needed full-time care. It was such a gift to our family that he had planned ahead and had long term care insurance in place to help cover his care during an emotional and challenging time.
That’s one thing I love about what I do. I meet people and learn about their hopes and dreams, and then put plans in place to help them. Sometimes they never need the insurance or the benefits, but when they do, it can be life changing.
Cara: When I graduated college with a marketing and entrepreneurship degree, I was not sure what I wanted to do. I ended up working for a large family business in Chicago. And each day, I would see this family come together and work towards a common goal.
During this time, I talked to Stacy’s personal coach, Leo, as I was working to determine my career path. After talking and talking and talking, Leo told me to build a list of what I wanted out of a job and my life from that job. He said, “Ignore the day-to-day, but 30 years from now, what do you want to have done for people?” So, I created a list. On the list were things like – work/life balance, helping people, making changes in people’s lives, providing guidance to someone, etc., etc. Then one afternoon after work Leo and I talked about my list. And I will never forget the first words Leo said to me after reviewing it. He said, “Cara, I hate to tell you this, but I think the insurance business is your place.” I was shocked, and we continued to talk about what it meant to be in the insurance business and how it really was the perfect career for me.
Later that week, I met with my mom and said, “I know you are looking for a new account manager. Can I apply?” She was surprised, and the rest is history.
Alana: I have always been a numbers person. I gravitate towards the definitive and love the story that numbers can hold. But I’ve also always been a people person. I love to travel and explore other places, cultures, and experiences that differ from my day-to-day. From the beginning, financial services fit my personality – numbers-based yet relationship-based, and an ever-changing industry that allows me to meet people from all walks of life. It was and is a perfect fit. At the end of the day, we help people using financial tools. We allow people to follow their path and dreams while ensuring their eco-system and the overlap between their professional or personal lives are financially protected from life’s uncertainties. As insurance brokers, we get a peek into how people tick, what they value, how they operate, and what their objectives and aspirations are. This mix of math and personal relationships has allowed me to flourish, helping me and creating my life path and journey and helping those around me.
Register: What strengths do each of you bring to 1706 Advisors?
Cara: The 1706 Advisors leadership team is the perfect mix of personalities and strong attributes. Stacy is an entrepreneur in every way possible – a true visionary. She leads development, makes sure we keep growing, and finds the most modern yet strategic solutions for our clients and prospects. Cara is analytic – her ethos is driven by data, and she’s deliberate and organized in both her professional and personal life. All decisions are well-thought-out and backed by facts that put our clients and business in the best position possible. Alana focuses on ensuring our clients, their employees, and family members are taken care of with the most optimal solutions. She will go to bat for anyone, advocating on their behalf with insurance carriers so their stories are told, and they aren’t “just a number.”
If you want someone on your team backing you up, Alana is the person you want.
Register: Let’s learn more about 1706 Advisors. It’s foundation of longevity looms organic. How does that impress your clients and prospects?
Cara: Clients want to be well taken care of. We have learned that an independent agency with strong partnerships gives the client the best of both worlds. On the one hand, we’re independently owned and operated, giving us the freedom to make our own decisions and provide customized solutions while offering the most personal client experience. On the other hand, we’re a Partner Firm of United Benefits Advisors (UBA), a nationwide community of firms. With UBA’s additional resources, brain power, and negotiating skills, we compete with large insurance houses, providing cutting-edge solutions to our clients.
Register: What changes have been made along the way and what key elements have stayed consistent?
Cara: Being the CEO and President of our independent agency allows us to be more nimble and malleable in the ever-changing insurance landscape. We always maintain a client-first philosophy, and that has never changed. We continuously adapt to industry and economic changes, so our clients are always getting the most up-to-date information, benefits, and choices.
Register: Explain why you feel insurance is much more dimensional than just policies.
Alana: Insurance is a multi-dimensional planning process that includes assets, liabilities, cash flows, debt, medical history, personal and professional goals, and much more. As advisors, we take a holistic approach to our client’s needs, wants, and objectives. Insurance is simply the tool we use to solve problems, whether it’s an employee retention tool, a family protection tool, or a business protection tool.
Register: Relate a story that has helped, healed, or saved clients by their policies.
Stacy: One, in particular, stands out. Joel is both our client and our friend and has a life-long relationship with our family. Years ago, we were working with him to protect his business, and he pushed back on getting disability insurance. We see this all the time – people think “it won’t happen to me.” Joel’s CFO at the time had a different opinion. He told me that I made such a compelling case that he got the disability coverage anyway, even though Joel hadn’t agreed. A few years later, Joel broke his neck in an accident and lost the use of his legs. Joel told me, “Because of your passion and persistence, I’ll never have to sell my house or rely on the generosity of friends and family – and neither will my children. I will be financially independent for the rest of my life, and I owe that to you Stacy.” Stories like Joel’s are why we find so much meaning in what we do at 1706 Advisors.
Register: What do you feel are why your clients stay with your firm? What do they value the most?
Cara: There are many reasons we have a retention rate of over 90%:
• First, we believe in straight talk and building authentic, genuine relationships with our stakeholders.
• We approach every client situation holistically, so all areas of a person’s life are considered and covered.
• We’re problem solvers! We find clarity in the complex and work tirelessly to find the right solution.
• We have a data-driven approach but believe in exceptional client service and personal attention.
• Our clients’ lives and businesses change over time, and we help them update or change their protection plans so there aren’t any coverage or benefit gaps.
Register: Daydream about the future of 1706 Advisors. What are your goals and aspirations for the firm?
Alana: To grow while staying client focused. We want to continue changing the insurance industry and how our clients relate to the industry. Our goal is to make people feel empowered by their decisions and know what they are doing here has more significant effects than they think. These decisions can make tremendous differences in people’s lives and their businesses.
Register: Moving to IARFC membership, what are the reasons that you became a Registered Financial Consultant?
Stacy: One of the hardest parts of the financial service industry is finding like-minded people with the same standards and values. When we found IARFC, I knew this would be a community of like-minded individuals from whom we could learn and grow.
Register: How important to you are the ethical standards of the Association?
Cara: In our business, we are nothing more than our reputation. And reputations are built on having an extremely high ethical standards. We take comfort in knowing that IARFC’s pillars are built around the highest ethical standards, and we will always have a professional association to align with.
Register: What can the IARFC do to help promote their members to the general public?
Alana: It is fabulous that everyone in the financial services profession knows (or should know) of IARFC. It would be amazing if we could continue spreading the word about the Association’s standards so when people hear “IARFC,” they immediately know it represents advisors of the highest caliber and ethical standards.
Register: On to family dynamics… How do you relate as family working together? When does business stop and family time start?
Alana: We are so fortunate to have business partners that are also family. There is an inherent trust that was first built around family camaraderie, and this trust carries into our business. We have one common goal, which is to protect clients. To do that, we know we need to maintain a strong business organization. We have worked very hard over the past ten years to create boundaries, and we know those boundaries must be protected, respected, and honored. We are business partners, mothers, and sisters – that relationship is sacred, and we work daily to support each other in all aspects of our professional and personal lives.
Register: What does a “time out,” “I disagree” situation look like?
Stacy: Of course, we are human and go beyond the normal business boundaries. But in those moments, we take a step back, pause and take a deep breath. In a professional setting, we are business partners first, and if we need to reconvene later as a family, we will do just that.
Register: Lastly, what are your hobbies, interests, passions that drive you outside of work?
Cara: We all love to travel, connect with family and friends, and enjoy the outdoors. To us, having the ability to ground ourselves and take a moment to relax and re-examine our successes and failures is imperative. We all love a great adventure and spending time together…I know it’s surprising; we really like each other!”