Gregory R. Sheehan, AIF®, Certified Financial Fiduciary®
Managing Partner / Financial Advisor
After high school, I knew I wasn’t ready to be a serious college student, so I entered the full-time workforce. It was during this year that I learned if I wasn’t going to further my education, I needed a skill set that would be in demand and transferable throughout my life. That’s when I decided to join the United States Air Force. After serving in support of the First Gulf War, I came back to Western Massachusetts with a renewed purpose and direction. Having been trained and licensed as a heavy equipment operator, I now had a skill set to fall back on as I pursued my college education. I had begun working full-time on the third shift at a paper mill, simultaneously becoming a full-time college student during the day. Shortly before I was set to graduate, my mother was notified that she was going to be downsized after 25 years with the same company. Her plan before that was to work five more years. Unfortunately, we all know that things don’t always go as planned. This news created immediate stress in my parents' household.
Thankfully, my mother had saved in her 401(k) plan. There was also a profit-sharing plan that was quite robust until hard times hit the company. My father was an entrepreneur who had expanded his business into commercial real estate in the late '70s and early '80s. The housing collapse in the late-1980s nearly wiped him out. Shortly after my mother was downsized, she was notified that she needed to do something with her retirement plan. I could tell that these major life transitions were worrisome to them both. Never having really engaged an advisor, they didn’t know if they had properly planned for the future. They were referred by a friend to a trusted advisor, where they learned that although not a planned life event, past years of disciplined saving and modest lifestyle would allow them to maintain their independence in retirement. I could tell there was a sense of immediate relief associated with what had been the stress of the unknown. It was at that point that I decided I wanted to work with people in a similar fashion. I began looking for opportunities in the financial services industry.
I transitioned from college graduate to a position with a MassMutual General Agency. During this time in the agency, I learned the ins and outs of life and disability insurance. I also discovered the importance of life insurance in financial planning. Wanting to learn more about the industry in general, I transitioned to Cigna Bank & Trust. It was at CB&T that I began working with beneficiaries of corporate-owned life insurance policies. In most cases, widows, and widowers. Most times, these people had no direction for moving forward. This is where I learned to appreciate a solid financial planning process. I truly enjoyed the gratification of helping people during one of the most difficult times of their lives. Although I thrived during my time at Cigna Bank & Trust, the one-hour commute each way began to take its toll.
Wanting to help business owners and families develop solid financial plans, I began looking for opportunities closer to home. After a short search, I transitioned to assistant vice president of investments and insurance for Peoplesbank in Holyoke, Massachusetts. This allowed me to work close to home and become more involved in my community.
Having formed many meaningful relationships with bank staff and clients, I was still searching for that missing piece. My entrepreneurial mindset gave me the confidence to transition out on my own. I had formed SFG, Inc, and began working in partnership with Pension & Benefits Associates, Inc. (PBA). It was during this transition that I would meet the love of my life and future wife, Heidi.
Heidi was an operating room nurse and had spent many years at Massachusetts General Hospital as well as at Mass Eye & Ear before accepting the same position at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton. Heidi and I would marry one year after meeting and begin our lives together. We began making plans for our future, and for the next seven years, we would both excel in our chosen professions. Life was good, and everything was progressing as planned.
We sold our condominium and bought our “forever home” in South Hadley. We rescued our dog, Maximus, from a shelter, and he became family right away. On June 2, 2017, Heidi was terminally diagnosed with cancer. On August 13, 2017, Heidi, my best friend, soulmate, and partner passed away in our home.
During the previous decade, my practice had expanded from wealth management to advising business owners on their fiduciary duties associated with their company 401(k) plans. In partnership with Pension & Benefits Associates, we were providing advice and education to more than 60 business and 3,000 participants.
To say Heidi’s passing would make for my most difficult transition to date would be an understatement. Tragedies often lead to an internal audit and review of priorities. I have spent the last year evaluating what is most important to me going forward. Where will I find the most purpose in my life? I’ve sought counsel from mentors, trusted colleagues, and close confidants. From this came an idea—and a decision. I would narrow my focus back to where it all began. From my parents' kitchen to Heidi’s passing, I have been reminded of the good work we do for people in transition. Whether it’s a wedding, a new home, a first child, a career change, or the passing of a loved one, we are always in a state of, or planning our next, transition.
Heidi decided on nursing after caring for her grandmother who passed from ALS. I decided on financial planning after my mother’s unexpected downsizing. Perhaps that’s why Heidi and I were drawn together, to help make people's lives better through our chosen professions.
Heidi and I had hoped for the best but planned for the worst. Proper planning is why my next transition is possible. It’s why I can share my story with you, and countless others, now and in the years to come. Planning for life’s ups and downs is why The Wealth Transition Collective was created. We hope you will think of us when you are planning for your next transition.
Gregory R. Sheehan, AIF®
Managing Partner / Financial Advisor
Money was tight when Jean Kelley was growing up, and she learned early on the importance of financial education and planning. When she was young, Jean's family found ways to have fun that didn't involve money, and Jean has fond memories of weekly picnics and camping trips with her parents and four siblings. But, as she grew older, Jean began to understand her family's financial limitations and realized that if she wanted anything, she would need to earn the money herself. As a result, Jean started working young, first babysitting, then delivering newspapers, then working at a local McDonald's while in high school.
Jean's parents married young and had five children to care for. Her father worked hard to provide for the family, and Jean (as the oldest) had a lot of responsibility as the big sister. Jean remembers that as each child graduated high school, they were required to pay a nominal amount for rent, to teach the kids a lesson in financial responsibility. Later, when each child married, their parents returned the saved money to them as a gift. Jean's father was able to retire at age 55, and Jean learned (somewhat to her surprise) that her father had understood the importance of regular savings, building a nest egg a little bit at a time.
Married for almost 40 years to Robert, the Kelleys live in Westfield. Bob is the contract coordinator for the Big E in West Springfield, his employer for more than 45 years. Their daughter, Katelyn, is a licensed realtor in Boulder, Colorado, a place Jean enjoys visiting. Like her mother, Kate learned financial responsibility early on; she worked while going to school, was disciplined, paid her bills on time, and built her savings. The result was that at the age of 25, Kate purchased her own condo, and as a self-employed individual, Kate takes advantage of available tax opportunities.
When not at work, Jean enjoys spending time at her home near the shore in Rhode Island, as well as their new home in Southwest Florida. She likes to play golf, even if she's not very good at it. Traveling with friends ranks high on her list of activities. Jean and Bob frequently dine out and enjoy trying new places; if you have any suggestions, she'd love to hear them. Jean has been an active volunteer at the Springfield Rescue Mission, having worked in their clothing shelter, cooking and serving in the kitchen, packaging meals for delivery to homebound and serving meals to the homeless around the holidays. She has worked for the Make-A-Wish Foundation as a Wish Maker, helping children's wishes come true. In addition, Jean has participated in Commonwealth's Cares Programs.
In 2001, Jean earned her CFM (Certified Financial Manager) certification from Merrill Lynch. She has been recognized for outstanding services to investors in Hampshire County and for her financial expertise and dedication to principles of sound investing. She holds all required securities licenses as an Investment Advisor Representative of Commonwealth Financial Network®. In addition, she holds her life and health insurance licenses. Jean has also been recognized as a Winner's Circle advisor in 2013 and 2014— a distinction based on annual production attained by just 26 percent of advisors affiliated with Commonwealth.
Caring about people makes servicing her clients easy. Jean wants her clients to be comfortable working with her and with the decisions they need to make. Jean stresses to her clients, "Wealth isn't defined by portfolio performance alone; wealth is defined by what's important to you." Knowing what's important to her clients is what helps Jean craft individual solutions, and it's probably why so many clients refer her to their family and friends.
Bill Kemple, AIF®
I learned from an early age the definition of “hard work” as well as how to live within my means. My mother specifically, was very responsible with money and that is something that I have honored and respected from an early age. My first “hard work” experience came at the age of 14 when I began washing dishes at the local pizza shop. My can do, will do attitude quickly created opportunity for me when I received my first promotion and transitioned to dough maker and shortly after that to waiter.
Implementing the money disciplines, I learned at home I was able to buy my first car with the money I had saved. A huge accomplishment at that age. This is when I first realized the power of goal setting and what it takes to achieve them. After graduating from high school, I transitioned to the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. There I studied finance and operations management. I quickly applied my work ethic and earned my first leadership role when I was appointed as manager for a local liquor store chain while attending college full time.
I was determined to put myself through school and graduate debt free. During my junior and senior years of college I earned the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant for an upper level finance course. It was during this time that I discovered my purpose. To take a consultative approach to educating local businesses and families to become financially self- reliant. To help them feel empowered by their assets, not paralyzed by them. This requires patience and a disciplined approach to the journey that lies ahead of all of us.
After graduation, Summa Cum Laude 2009, I transitioned into the financial services industry holding various leadership positions at John Hancock and most recently as an advisor at a local MetLife office. As I make the next transition in my career I am reminded to think about the “big picture” and in doing so that requires a people first approach in all aspects of my business. My latest transition is founded in my life’s purpose of helping people be financially self-reliant. If you are seeking a client centered relationship, I would ask for the opportunity to help you plan for your next transition.
Caitlin, a lifelong resident of the Pioneer Valley joined The Wealth Transition Collective in 2018, bringing more than 10 years of banking and financial services experience. Caitlin’s positive attitude, attention to detail and sincere desire to create a unique client service experience make her a great fit for the firm and our clients. Primary responsibilities as a relationship manager include managing the day-to-day service needs of our clients, and implementing the firms marketing plan.
When she isn’t delivering concierge service to our clients, Caitlin is the proud mother to her 5 year old daughter Quinn, and loving wife to her husband, Chase. When time allows, Caitlin enjoys walking the area bike paths, dining in her favorite local eateries and sipping some of the finest coffee the valley has to offer. Please reach out to Caitlin for any of your service needs…or a great coffee recommendation.