Then & Now: Passion, love for the job sustain Kestner’s career

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 1,297 views 

Editor’s Note: The following story appeared in the July 22 issue of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. “Then & Now” is a profile of a past member of the Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class.


Troy Kestner is passionate about helping people. As a financial planner, he is clearly in the right profession.

For 25 years, Kestner has helped clients work their way through all the challenges that come with making long-term financial goals, and he has imparted his expertise on the best way to manage their finances in a responsible way.

It’s not a job he takes lightly.

“When somebody trusts you with their life, it’s a lot of responsibility,” he said. “It’s really a stewardship issue with other people’s money.”

Kestner, 48, spent the bulk of his career — 17 years — working for Lowell-based Arvest Wealth Management, the largest broker-dealer in Northwest Arkansas with 72 registered representatives in the region. He earned the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation in 2002, and his success was recognized by the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal in 2010 when he was selected as a member of the publication’s Forty Under 40 class.

This past spring, though, the financial planning team Kestner was working with made a significant career move when they left Arvest Wealth Management. Jim Ed Summers, Deena Wright and Kestner, all longtime Arvest wealth managers, now work for SWK Financial Planning Advisors of Raymond James. The SWK office also includes client relationship associates Kimberley Shepherd and Stephanie Lovell, who also worked for Arvest. Their office is at 3945 N. Vantage Drive in Fayetteville. It’s the fourth Raymond James office in the Northwest Arkansas complex, adding to existing locations in Fayetteville, Fort Smith and Rogers.

Kestner didn’t say much about what prompted the move to Raymond James, only that he feels the team now has more autonomy.

Kestner said the SWK team, who worked together at Arvest for more than five years, works collaboratively, shares strengths and expertise, and holds each other to the highest standards because so much depends on the advice, actions and professional guidance given.

He said engaging clients on multiple levels and asking questions helps crystalize what they are trying to accomplish.

“The planning is more important than the plan,” he said.

Kestner grew up on a farm in southeast Arkansas, a self-described country boy. He arrived in Fayetteville in 1989 to play football for the Razorbacks, earning letters in 1991 and 1992 and a business degree in 1993.

“I did a lot of practicing and a little bit of playing,” he joked.

Kestner began his UA studies as an art major with an eye on a career in graphic design, but found his real niche in the business school. A finance class especially piqued his interest, and that concentration was intensified when he decided to get married while still an undergraduate.

“I was figuring out if I could get married, support a spouse and a lifestyle, and that helped me realize I really liked planning, really liked finances, budgeting and planning for the future,” he said. “I credit my wife and my love for her for getting me into this business.”

When asked what advice he would impart to others interested in a financial planning career, Kestner said aligning with an organization that is committed to training and developing people is important.

And be prepared to work.

“There’s not a profession out there where the first 15 years aren’t all about being a professional and working a lot of hours and improving yourself, improving your education,” he said. “You’ve just got to do it.  And it’s got to be a passion. If it’s a passion it’s not really going to be work.”

Kestner is so passionate about his profession, the thought of retirement seems like an afterthought. He’s saving for it — as any good financial planner would — but doesn’t have the date circled on a calendar.

“I actually don’t see myself retiring. Why would you?” he said. “Why spend 40 years developing expertise and experience and then go stick it on a shelf? I don’t think I will be busy or as involved one day, but I just don’t think I could not help somebody who called me who wanted help with a financial decision.”

Kestner’s desire for helping people also extends to the community. He is an active member at Fellowship Bible Church in Fayetteville and serves on several boards including Freedom 5: one Ministries, a Fayetteville nonprofit that helps people with financial literacy. Kestner has also been a board member for the Elkins School District for the past three years.