“We’re really glad you made all those mistakes.” This financial planner uses his five near-bankruptcies to help his clients manage risk.


Like many financial advisors, Rick Kahler runs a successful practice. But he is perhaps the only one to have been on the verge of bankruptcy five times. Kahler began as a fee-based financial planner in 1981, when it was one of his many business ventures.

From the 1980s, he operated several businesses at the same time. He owned a real estate company where he worked as a commercial and business real estate broker. He worked as a Chartered General Appraiser. And he owned a business that bought and sold seller-financed mortgages.

“I had two or three businesses at one time,” recalls Kahler, now 67. A serial entrepreneur at heart, he continued to see opportunities for expansion in related businesses that often revolved around real estate.

Some of these opportunities have deteriorated. Kahler bought a mortgage on farmland in Iowa that lost two-thirds of its value in a housing crash. He owned a strip mall at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota that suffered a major reduction in military personnel. He ran a factoring business in which a major client filed for bankruptcy. He even invested in a manufacturer of hardwood basketball courts where the managing partner had a nervous breakdown.

Although Kahler never went bankrupt, he came close. Throughout this time, he continued to develop his financial planning practice.

In 2010, he decided to devote himself full time to his financial planning practice. Now he owns Kahler Financial Group in Rapid City, SD Certified Financial Planner, he oversees six employees and says his company has approximately $180 million in assets under management.

Learn from experience

It might seem odd that an entrepreneur with such a checkered past could thrive as a financial planner. But for Kahler, his near-bankruptcies serve a valuable purpose.

“I’m pretty open with clients about it,” he says. “They are comforted by what I have been through. I tell them about all my warts and they trust me more. He remembers a client telling him, “Rick, we’re really glad you made all those mistakes so you can tell us what not to do. »

Given his penchant for risk-taking, Kahler is careful to advise clients to calibrate their own risk-reward ratio. He warns them to plan carefully before betting on a potential big win.

“I learned that risking has to be done with a lot of intention, awareness and education,” he says. It’s better than impulsively throwing money at a get-rich-quick idea. For example, Kahler is not a fan of cryptocurrency. “It’s obviously very risky,” he says.

In recent years, Kahler has become a Certified Financial Therapist (CFT-I). Developed by the Financial Therapy Association, this designation enhances its ability to help clients create healthy financial relationships and strategies to deal with problematic financial behaviors, usually driven by past trauma, so they can adopt healthy financial habits. and make sound financial decisions.

Pursuing an education in financial life planning and financial therapy allowed Kahler to work on his own relationship with money and gain a deeper understanding of the motivations and money scenarios that underpinned his entrepreneurial endeavors. . “I was so in debt,” he says. “I had huge anxiety around money. Now I almost have some sort of post-traumatic stress related to getting into too much debt.

Kahler is also more aware of the triggers that can fuel money-related stress. “I had a lot of anxiety in my body,” he says. “I was never really aware of it until I started to learn more about it. I did a lot of mindfulness therapy and meditation work.

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