Kansas City has grown into a Midwestern financial services hub

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Downtown Kansas City

Don’t look now, Chi-town, but Kansas City – the “Paris of the Plains” – has you in its sights and is aiming to dethrone you as the U.S.’s Midwestern financial services hub.

With the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Windy City still employs many future and derivatives traders, and most big banks and broker-dealers worth their salt have a presence there. The Kansas City metropolitan areas has more than two million people, and it is growing quickly.

Big Four accounting and audit firms KPMG and EY both have a significant number of employees based in KC. Other sectors well represented in the city range from banks and tax advisory firms to asset managers and wealth management firms.

Here are some firms that are expanding there.

State Street

State Street’s Kansas City office is comprised of 33 different departments and sub-departments under two of its four major business divisions, including State Street Global Services, its asset servicing and custodial division, and State Street Global Exchange, which offers research, software, investment analytics and data management services.

The firm has approximately 1,300 employees based there – Kansas City is the second largest location in the U.S. outside of State Street’s Boston headquarters.

It's both replacing departing employees and growing headcount to support new business, said Steven Green, talent acquisition manager and vice president of global human resources at State Street Corp.

“We have hired for a variety of operational and support roles and for positions that are both technical and non-technical in nature,” he said. This is both entry level and experienced level hires.

“For entry-level roles, we look for talent that enjoys working with numbers, data and people,” Green said. “While many of our roles predominantly attract business, accounting, finance and economics majors, we consider all disciplines where candidates possess the interest and qualifications to serve our clients and shareholders."

Renaissance Financial 

Wealth management firm Renaissance Financial has clients in 50 states and four primary offices in the Midwest, including one in Overland Park, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City.

“The model of having a single headquarters didn’t fit our needs,” said Steve Kontz, the president of Renaissance Financial. “Technology has changed the game, and most independent investment advisory firms would have to have a trading desk and a benefits desk in each office, but you don’t have to anymore – we’re not letting geography holding us back.”

The firm opened its office in the KC area in 2007. Renaissance’s total headcount is approximately 165, of which 20 are based in Overland Park, including 15 financial advisers.

“We’re looking to have at least 20 FAs by the end of the year who will call KC their home, and if you count another seven or eight who are testing to become financial advisers, we will be around 30 total employees based here by the end of the year,” Kontz said.

“There’s a lot of wealth here, and a lot of well-run companies, which offers us a tremendous opportunity to grow,” he said. “Our goal is to triple or quadruple our size over the next 10 or 15 years.”

Renaissance mostly focuses on regional recruitment in the Midwest. Its target schools are primarily within a 300-mile radius of Kansas City.

“It’s going to be a big part of our future,” he said. “They have great universities nearby, including Mizzou, K-State and KU, as well as private colleges like Rockhurst and Creighton, with a lot of KC locals that go there, and we also hire people who went to school elsewhere but want to move back to KC.”

Kontz is well-aware of the aging population of financial advisers across the wealth management industry. Looking to the future, he aggressively targets recent graduates, early-career-stage professionals and people looking to change careers. He claims that the average financial adviser is 58, whereas the average Renaissance adviser is 32.

“We have some over 70, so we have the whole range, but on average we’re a very young firm, with half of our advisers under 35,” Kontz said. “We do tend to hire people who have no experience, we do hire career-changers, including some who move out of family businesses into our industry.

“We don’t focus too much on college major – we find young people extremely coachable, and with the industry changing rapidly, coachability is huge,” he said. “Even a kid with an econ or business major or a finance background, I don’t know if they’d have a huge advantage when it comes to advising and working with people, knowing how to communicate."

UMB

UMB Financial Corp. is headquartered in Kansas City and includes banking, payments, asset servicing and institutional investment management lines of business. The total headcount in its KC office is currently 2,780.

The financial services company hired 240 associates in the first half of this year. While it has been hiring to increase headcount in client-facing, revenue-generating roles in KC, the operations, compliance, risk, IT and retail business units have a larger skew in terms of priority than the others currently.

Rebecca Christie, vice president and talent acquisition advisor at UMB Financial Corp. said: “We always try to hire from the KC area and if the skill set needed for the job is not available that is when we go to other areas for our recruitment process,” she said.

Photo credit: RudyBalasko/GettyImages

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