Tough love is something Erinn Ford learned at a young age, despite her folks owning their
own RIA, Pacific Financial.
Ford, now president and CEO of
KMS Financial Services, recalls that at
one point in college when she was short
of funds, her parents told her to “figure
it out” by herself, which she did by
selling her books back early and eating
“The last thing on my mind was
joining the family RIA,” she said in an
interview. But after graduating with
a communications degree from the
University of Washington back in 1992,
she couldn’t find a job and turned closer
She knew there was an opening for a
receptionist and asked her parents if she
could work there for a year. The answer:
She needed to apply like everyone else,
as well as get a Series 10 and a Series 24.
“I quickly learned I was the only
candidate who had those requirements,
… but it taught me you have to earn the
right,” Ford said. She got the job, and she
hasn’t left the business since.
She was at the family firm — working all parts of it, from back office to
front — for 22 years when, in 2012, Cetera
Advisors did a “representative introduction agreement” (akin to an acquisition),
and she ended up working for the firm
(which today has $30 billion of assets
under management). She was named
vice president of advisor relations, and
two years later she became president.
In 2018, she moved to KMS largely
due to wanting to devote more time to
her two teenage daughters. “I was trav-
eling 120 plus nights a year … and KMS
was this beautiful combination of being
able to be back in the hometown, only 12
miles away from the office … and being
able to fulfill a succession need at KMS
for both the president and CEO who are
retiring,” she said.
KMS is a Seattle-based advisory
firm with $16 billion in assets under
administration that’s part of Ladenburg
Thalmann, which was recently bought
by Advisor Group.
Despite the tough love she received
from her parents, Ford’s 82 year-old-mother stands out as her role model.
“She was such a pioneer because she
started in the business in 1975 — talk
about a male-dominated profession,”
Ford said. She remembers the impact
that situation had on her career, but her
mom had it even harder, she adds.
What did she learn from her mother
that has helped her in advisory work?
“The way that she would deliver hard
messages or hard information, so whether it was about regulation or change that
the advisors needed to go through, she
always did so with honesty as well as
compassion,” Ford explained.
Her mom also dedicated herself to
the profession by volunteering for organizations. “She had a work hard, play
hard mentality, so she taught me not
only how to have fun along the way, but
WOMEN IN WEALTH
By Ginger Szala
How ‘Tough Love’ Prepped Erinn Ford to
Lead Billion-Dollar Firms
Her mother “was such a pioneer” starting out in the advisory field in 1975,
says the head of KMS Financial.