Kelly Deegan, BMO Private Bank

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Kelly Deegan, private wealth advisor, BMO Private Bank.
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What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?
As a private wealth advisor with BMO Private Bank, I have the opportunity to meet many fascinating clients and prospects. My job is to understand their financial goals, create a plan to achieve these goals, then work together to implement the plan. During this process I get to collaborate with brilliant colleagues within four disciplines — wealth planning, customized banking, trust and estate planning, and investment management. The rewarding aspect of this is not just meeting new people and working with a fantastic BMO team, but to see a client’s dreams come to fruition. 2020 has been an especially challenging year as an advisor due to market volatility, the global pandemic, and transition to virtual meetings, all thrown into an election year. We have been forced to adapt to change and be ready to pivot quickly when presented with new obstacles. It’s in times like this that our financial team is able to showcase our true value to our clients.

Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?
I have great respect for the entrepreneurs in our community. Their determination, perseverance, and dedication to making a dream into a reality are truly inspiring. Although it was before I was born, my parents owned a restaurant in Mississippi and I grew up hearing of the challenges of owning a business. They eventually sold the restaurant and chased a new dream of starting a family, but I learned early on to admire an entrepreneurial spirit.

What has been the high point of your career so far?
There have been many, but a unique experience that comes to mind is a month I was able to spend in Chicago to participate in a financial specialized training course BMO offered. I am extremely fortunate to work for an organization that values and encourages personal and professional growth. I was able to take over a month away from the office to dedicate to training in a specific skill set. The course work was grueling and challenged me both mentally and physically. It has been too many years since I’ve had to pull an all-nighter! I achieved an almost perfect score on our final project.

Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
I would remind my 21-year-old self that I will grow from mistakes. I will not always have the answer and one misstep will not define my entire career. When I graduated from college, I quickly learned that my time in class did not provide the same tools that experience in my industry would. I wish I would have learned sooner that mistakes are the best learning opportunities, not having all the answer allows the opportunity to collaborate with others, and a misstep may open the door to a new experience.

What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?
The “big city” opportunities with a “small town” vibe. I am always amazed by how welcoming and supportive my network is here in Madison. I’ve met so many great people through living, working, volunteering, and playing in this city. A former manager once told me that I excel in “work-life balance.” Madison makes it easy. We have ample opportunity for career advancement and equal opportunity to enjoy your downtime. The lakes, restaurants, parks and trails, entertainment venues, and university make Madison a city that can compete with the best!

Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?
I enjoy home renovation and design. This is a reluctant talent that was discovered after my husband purchased a “fixer upper” with a plan to renovate with little professional help. I had the opportunity to participate in everything from demolition (it was a complete gut job) to designing each and every detail of the finished product. We just completed our third house and are already itching to start the next project.

What are your guilty pleasures?
Hoarding dogs. I volunteer with a local dog rescue, Fetch Wisconsin Rescue, and one of my roles is fostering pups while helping them to find a forever home. The foster process involves welcoming a stray or surrendered dog into your home, making sure it gets all necessary vetting and care, and assisting with finding the perfect match in a forever home. It is rewarding to see a dog through the entire process, from arrival in Madison to adoption day. I have three dogs of my own so adding a foster pup, even temporarily, ensures there is never a dull moment in my house!

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