Kane Brolin has been blind since birth and is very proud that he’s a financial advisor with his own firm. And he feels strongly that disabled individuals should be given a chance to succeed and prosper in whatever career they choose—

including the financial services industry.

Two years ago, Brolin launched Brolin Wealth Management in Mishawaka, Ind., where he is an investment advisor representative affiliated with Commonwealth Financial Network. Before that, he spent 14 years with American Express Financial Services.

Brolin, who is a certified financial planner and is studying for the Chartered Special Needs Consultant designation, says his practice consists mainly of traditional retail clients who come to him through referrals. “The fact that I am blind and a successful planner makes many people think I must be better than my competition. If some
are put off by my condition, they don’t become clients.”

In July, Brolin was a member of a panel assembled by The American College of Financial Services to mark the 26th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The panel concluded that the financial services industry, while it is now reaching out to more women and minorities, isn’t doing enough to encourage the disabled to become financial professionals. And that could be the industry’s loss.

“If you have somebody who has had their own struggles, you probably have a person who has an easier time empathizing with somebody else’s issues,” Joseph Mallee, CEO of MassMutual Eastern Pennsylvania, said during the panel. “That’s usually the recipe for being a great advisor.”

That thought was mirrored by Adam Beck, director of The American College MassMutual Center for Special Needs and moderator of the ADA panel. “We must focus on products and services that improve life and financial security for people with disabilities, and part of that includes having a profession that includes people with disabilities who bring so much to the table,” he said.

In addition to stepping up recruiting efforts, the ADA panel said the financial services profession should create marketing materials and internal tools that are more accessible and make it easier for people with disabilities to prepare for and take tests, which is a critical requirement for anyone interested in financial services.

“Being a financial advisor gives a disabled person a tremendous potential that few other businesses can achieve,” Brolin says in an interview, adding that his chosen career lets him work where and when he wants. 

“If you can empathize with people and tailor products and services to their needs and deal with folks on the ground, you can be a financial planner,” Brolin says. “This is a way that many of us in my movement can gain freedom and prosperity and help other people like us to realize we have power to live in the world.”