Kim Kenawell-HoffeckerKim Kenawell-Hoffecker wants to bring harmony to families in divorce, and she’s using empathy to do it.

“Your expertise shines when everything goes bad,” said Kenawell-Hoffecker. “You can help [clients] through the good, but helping them through the bad -- that’s critical.”

Kenawell-Hoffecker employs hard-learned lessons from divorce, professional experience as a volunteer with her local fire department and the behavioral science lessons she picked up as a critical incident stress management debriefer during the aftermath of September 11. 

She became a certified financial divorce analyst in 2015 and later in 2017 she left Merrill Lynch’s Camp Hill, Pa. branch to start Avantra Family Wealth with several other former Merrill colleagues. She says she was attracted to the designation because she saw it as a way to help her provide higher-level wealth advisory services to clients.

Kenawell-Hoffecker added being the second wife to a previously divorced man with children gave her a unique lens that has helped her strive to help families work together, even when they don’t feel like it. “If there is a mistake to be made, I made it,” she said. “Been there done that – guilty!” She has a daughter and three stepchildren with her husband.

She wants to match those lessons with her CDFA designation to assist families going through a major life transition, a change she’s seen destroy families and unravel the most level-headed individuals. “If the only thing I can do for people is to bring a level of understanding, especially where the children are concerned, then I’ve done the right thing,” said Kenawell-Hoffecker.

Kenawell-Hoffecker’s certification and ability to empathize doesn’t stop there. On September 11, 2001, Hoffecker was sitting with her partner at their Merrill Lynch office when the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Merrill evacuated their offices in lower Manhattan as well as others, including the branch where Kenawell-Hoffecker worked. Later that day, as a critical incident stress debriefer, she was called to the site near Shanksville, Pa., where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in a field after having have been hijacked by Al-Qaeda terrorists and killed all aboard. Hoffecker went to the site to help emergency service men and women get through the traumatizing event. “I’m lucky to be apart of it, but I don’t ever want to experience it again,’ Hoffecker said.

The event led to Kenawell-Hoffecker increasing her involvement in community service. She now volunteers on the administrative side of a local fire department, she's served as a volunteer firefighter in the past. She said she’s even pushed for community service with her family and now her teenage daughter is a volunteer firefighter in the area, while her husband is the volunteer assistant fire chief for Hampden Township, Pa.

Her years of service to the community and her compassion for families are demonstrated at Avantra, she says.

“When I talk to clients about what I do, I say to them, ‘I am your life coach,'” she said. “I don’t want to be a sales person -- I really want to be their life coach and I want to be there for the good and the bad.”

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