Kuntzelman takes on high finance at tea
2010 Women of Distinction - Banking
When Louise Kuntzelman moved to Fort Collins to become assistant vice president and marketing manager at First National Bank in 2002, part of her job was planning financial education seminars. She quickly noticed that women would rarely ask questions from the floor. They would instead wait behind to ask their questions of speakers individually.
“It appeared as though they were intimidated by asking questions in front of the men or in front of the group,” Kuntzelman said. “They didn’t want anyone to know they didn’t know the answers.”
She set out to design a financial education series targeted specifically to women. To make the first Women’s Series seminar appealing, she invited 53 clients and their guests to high tea at the Avery House. The space holds 30 people, and the waiting list was 27 people long.
After every tea, there would be a seminar covering topics such as Social Security benefits, estate planning, use of trusts, IRA planning, financial planning, investment products and insurance services.
“Women live longer and women make less, and we have to do more with less because we live longer,” Kuntzelman explained. “We make 83 to 85 percent of the financial decisions in the family but don’t necessarily know why we do what we do. Our family never talked about finances, most likely because we didn’t have very much. And the women who came to events, their families never talked about finance. Their husbands typically took care of it, and these ladies didn’t have any idea how much money was in their accounts.”
A year and a half later, the Women’s Series already had a mailing list 600 ladies long.
“When asked about the success of the program, the attendees consistently comment on the friendliness of the environment that Louise creates that enables them to feel open to discuss complex financial topics with other women,” says Jack B. Wolfe, the bank’s executive vice president. “It is Louise’s personality that draws people close, her out-of-the-box planning that provides memorable experiences and her classy style that puts a stamp of approval on every event she touches.”
While teas are still a key part of the series, it’s grown to include creative functions like a Kentucky Derby party at the Sylvan Dale Ranch.
“It wasn’t just about hats and pearls,” Kuntzelman says. “We ate the normal Kentucky Derby fare, and Suzie Wargin came from Channel 9 and told us about the history of the Derby and women’s roles.”
Kuntzelman is now in the process of planning Women in Business seminars for 2011 that will be held over breakfast or in the evenings so that more women have the opportunity to attend.
Barbara Albert of Albert Pit Barbecue, a Women’s Series attendee and enthusiast, says she’s already learned valuable business lessons from Kuntzelman. One seminar in particular, a presentation with local painter Barbara Moore, left a lasting impression.
“I attended because I wanted to learn about this local artist’s talent, but I came away with so much more,” Albert said. “By working with Louise, Mrs. Moore was able to share a lot about how she made her artistic talent into a profitable business while still keeping it a creative endeavor. I gleaned ideas that day that I was able to apply to my own small business.”
Kuntzelman believes we’re never too old to learn anything – that every time we learn, we teach and every time we teach, we learn.
“That is my vision,” she said. “(The series) gives the attendees an opportunity to grow in ways they didn’t know they needed to grow.”
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