Kling to lead panel at Del Mar Foundation’s free educational financial seminar

By Claire Harlin

In her more than three decades working as a financial consultant, Carolyn Kling has seen her fair share of unethical asset managers for whom overcharging and risky investments are commonplace — and now the Del Mar resident has taken on the role of being those money managers’ worst nightmare.

As an investment advisor, Kling specializes in the due diligence that many investors skip — performing thorough investigations and assessments of every firm, institution, strategy or combination thereof that makes up a client’s investment portfolio. On Feb. 5 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Del Mar Powerhouse Community Center, the founder of Kling Partners will be offering insight she hopes will help people avoid putting their money in the wrong hands.

A Del Mar Foundation board member, Kling will moderate a panel of four experts in the free seminar, “Who’s Managing Your Money?”, part of the foundation’s Tax and Estate Planning Seminar Series. Panelists include: Herb W. Morgan, CEO and chief investment officer at Efficient Market Advisors; Carlee Harmonson, senior vice president and regional director of trust and estate services for The Private Bank at Union Bank; Paul Spitzer, founder of Advanced Practice Advisors; and Carolyn Taylor, president of Weatherly Asset Management.

Kling takes on an objective role in her practice, not telling people what to invest in but what not to invest in. Like an auditor, she assesses a client’s portfolio inside and out, performing discussions with every money manager involved and evaluating every cost and fee to make sure the investor is benefitting from the highest level of performance and not falling victim to any form of financial abuse.

Even those who have chosen to be their own money managers, buying and selling their own securities, have sought out Kling Partners to assess how they are doing.

“I don’t care how well invested you are, you can always improve upon your portfolio,” said Kling. “One of the biggest mistakes people are making is they are not rebalancing; they aren’t making changes on an ongoing basis … Investors need to have someone thoroughly review their portfolios a minimum of once a quarter.”

Not only is the financial landscape always changing, but so are people’s lives, Kling said.

“For example, when people start having children they must start putting away for college,” she said. “If they are getting older and retiring they need to reevaluate their portfolio and their trust and how they are funded because trusts are useless if they are not appropriately funded.”

Just like technology, progress in the financial world brings not only more opportunity but more risk and a greater learning curve, Kling said.

“It’s a frightening world today because technology and institutional traders are buying and selling all day long,” she said. “We are able to invest all over the globe, but there are a lot of risks involved with investing in other parts of the world.”

Kling also said that a lot more people are seeking out investment advisors such as herself because investment scandals such as that of Bernie Madoff have become more and more prominent.

“He’s just one,” she said. “In my industry I hear of cases like this all the time.”

Kling has a personal passion for saving investors from financial mishap, and her dedication is rooted in a family hardship she endured about 40 years ago when her father passed away at the age of 52. Working as a legal clerk in the district courts at that time, Kling was only in her early 20s but jumped feet first into helping her mother sell the family business and consolidate the estate.

“I went in and hired the right advisors,” she said. “Fortunately I worked in the courts and I knew who the best lawyers were.”

Once resolved, Kling realized she never wanted to end up in the same situation as her mother, who was in the dark about family financial decisions and at a total loss when her husband passed.

“My quest to educate myself also became my career path,” Kling said. “That experience was the catalyst, but I realized I had a knack for it … I like the analytics and I like to tear everything apart and analyze it.”

Kling then went on to earn a graduate degree in economics as well as the appropriate licensing for investment and insurance consulting, the tools she would need to proceed into a fruitful decades-long career. Beginning work at a large estate planning firm in the 1970s, she progressed to work at a large investment firm in New York specializing in pension and institutional investments, and then moved to Del Mar in 1986. She moved away in the mid 1990s when she landed a position in Colorado heading up marketing efforts for a major institutional investment platform, but returned to Del Mar in 2004 when she started Kling Partners.

Her years of experience working alongside financial managers led into her current role of policing those managers. She also participates in a number of speaking engagements, mainly about due diligence relating to alternative investments such as hedge funds, private equity and real estate.

“I am just educating people to be careful and hire the right people to manage their money,” she said.

To reserve your seat for Feb. 5, contact the Del Mar Foundation at (858) 635-1363 or by email at