David Kinnear – Kinnear Family Wealth Management


You may not be in charge, or have direct responsibility over an outcome or for making a decision, but you can contribute and you should.

Though he is enterprising by nature and has nearly two decades of experience in wealth management, David realizes our most valuable resources are often intangible and don’t easily lend themselves to financial analysis. David understands that investing in people and communities–including the conservation of our natural world–is the true source of wealth creation.

David started his career at Morgan Stanley’s Private Wealth Management Group, joining the firm as an intern in 1996 and eventually serving as Vice President.  At Morgan Stanley, David built a reputation as a competent and trustworthy advisor and his work was highly regarded by Morgan Stanley clients and colleagues alike. In 2005, David and his clients moved to UBS as a Senior Vice President, Private Wealth Advisor. He joined his current firm in 2012, where he leads and oversees a team dedicated to serving Ultra High Net Worth clients.

David is deeply committed to supporting young cancer investigators, and works to ensure quality education for the children of Chicago.  He is a member of the Board of Directors at the Cancer Research Foundation and also serves on the Board of Erie Elementary Charter School, where he works to improve childhood education outcomes in the Humboldt Park neighborhood.

A lifelong conservationist and outdoors enthusiast, David is an active member of the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, an organization dedicated to securing the future of hunting, fishing and land management through programs of science, education, demonstration and communication. As a conservator of a property formerly owned by the Boy Scouts of America, David is also involved in conservation efforts which aim to preserve the woodlands and waterways of Michigan’s Western Upper Peninsula.

David lives in Chicago with his wife, Andrea, their two sons and wirehaired pointing griffon.

Where did the idea for your Ultra High Net Worth financial advisory business come from?

From an early age I’ve intuitively understood how investing in human and financial capital can create opportunities and empower individuals. As a sophomore at Bucknell University, I launched my first large-scale business venture as a franchise owner with College Pro Painters.

Each year of its existence, Kinnear Painting provided good paying jobs for 20 young people during the May – October exterior painting season.  It also paid for my college tuition, provided the down payment for my first real estate investment and helped finance my graduate school education at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

The early realization that the business efforts of entrepreneurs create so much value and good for our society has attracted me to these individuals.  Besides being innovators, they create jobs that allow people to take care of their loved ones, provide for their families, educate their children, and invest in their futures!

I try to surround myself with people who remind me of the future and the person I want to be – that is why I work with entrepreneurs.  The fact that some are so very financially successful hasn’t been the only source of my interest.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Day-to-day, I lead a team of financial professionals who work closely with business owners, entrepreneurs and executives. It’s less routine and more of a juggling act. Helping our clients protect and transition their wealth is a dynamic process that requires significant flexibility; we employ a complex CRM system to manage tasks, client contact, operating procedures and the team calendar. My daily work varies and is heavily influenced by client needs and market conditions.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Because I’m fairly goal-oriented in terms of my personal outlook and working style, I’m a big fan of George T. Doran’s SMART goal technique: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-Bound written goals. I find SMART criteria to be particularly useful in project management, or in any endeavor when measuring progress and quantifying performance is useful. I like setting goals for myself and the SMART mnemonic device motivates me to go through the process of making my abstract thoughts and ideas more firmly rooted in reality.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The trend of individuals and entities allocating capital to conservation efforts is pretty exciting. I really believe that conserving natural resources and our natural world is a major source of wealth creation.  In particular, the growth of sustainable business and restoration projects in recent years is something which gives me hope and makes me feel optimistic about the future. We are seeing more families, foundations and business organizations focusing on a better world and  return on investment by working to preserve our biggest asset: the natural world.

The accelerated pace with which scientific understanding and medical discoveries have improved the human condition in recent years excites me the most, however.  As someone who is committed to raising awareness and funding for cancer and multiple sclerosis research, and through my work on the board of the Cancer Research Foundation, I have had the privilege and fortune of seeing this work first-hand. Some of our most promising young investigators are working on projects that will impact the lives of millions. We need continued investment in young researchers to ensure this trend continues.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Because my work involves a number of moving parts and variables, early mornings are the only part of my day over which I have consistent control. As a result, I’ve learned to be deliberate and intentional in how I use and spend this period of the day. From experience, I’ve learned that the best way to set a productive tone for my day is by going to the gym. Exercising helps me clear my mind and help me look to the day ahead with a sense of purpose.

What advice would you give your younger self?

If I could offer one piece of advice to my younger self, it would be this: remember that you can influence others without authority. You may not be in charge, or have direct responsibility over an outcome or for making a decision, but you can contribute and you should. Your thoughts, ideas and input are valuable. I would tell my younger self to focus less on academic achievements and more on developing skills related to persuasion and graceful debate. I’d tell myself to invest heavily in these interpersonal skills–they are just as important and have more practical import than academic endeavors.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?

When government provides things to people for free, the resulting products tend to be low quality, cost more than they should, and will be inaccessible at the times when they are needed most. Public education, free health care, welfare programs: who can genuinely deem these programs as high quality, reliable, and economical? I suppose these programs’ proclivity to waste resources is what I find most frustrating. For example, States and municipalities fund their technical and community colleges; thus, during the financial downturn and our recent recession, precisely at the moment when lots of people could have benefited from developing new skills, technical and community colleges had to cut their budgets, failing to serve what would have been an extremely valuable function. Political views aside, the sad reality is: when the customer does not pay, the product is rarely any good.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Make mistakes. Learn from them.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

The success of all my business endeavors have hinged on forming and maintaining strong client relationships.  Providing exceptional client service is a core value of mine; excellent service has no substitute. I always aim to become my client’s trusted partner, as opposed to viewing the relationship from the perspective of a vendor. My dedication to this human-centered quality is at the core of my businesses’ successes. The list below outlines what I believe it takes to become a trusted partner.

  • Be patient in building new relationships and resist indulging in disingenuous schmoozing. Take the time to get to know your client, and share a little bit of yourself. Most importantly, remember that your work for your client is paramount in building a relationship.
  • Get to know your client. Keep up with your client’s company as well as their industry. Understand what keeps them up at night, and cater your interaction and offerings accordingly.
  • Go the extra mile. The benefits of offering customized solutions are two-fold: 1) clients remember the times you came through for them and 2) it may open up additional revenue streams and new product offerings you had not previously considered.
  • Respond promptly. When a client emails, acknowledge the receipt of the email as quickly as possible, even if you do not have the answer they are looking for. You will give them comfort by simply acknowledging the receipt of their request and by communicating that you’re on it. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I often see relationship managers worry about having the right answer, and as a result, they forget to acknowledge that they are on the case.

Always summarize next steps. No matter how quick or trivial a client meeting seems, always recap the conversation with next steps.  Aligning on the same page with next steps prevents a lot of confusion down the road.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Riding the entrepreneurial roller coaster is invigorating, but it can also be depressing.  In the past, I’ve made the costly mistake of not prioritizing self care and my health. Because the rollercoaster of emotions and stress which entrepreneurs experience is unavoidable, having a prophylactic mental health strategy is a vital part of every business plan.

At an absolute minimum, this strategy should include:


Your body is where you live. You don’t have to run marathons–any exercise will do. Find a way to get moving for 20 minutes each day, ideally longer, and try to get outside. Go for a long walk, lift weights, or take a free online yoga class if you don’t have the time or money to do one in person.  For me, hiring a personal trainer and committing to a schedule has been the most effective.


Stay present and bring more authenticity into the conversation: talk less about business metrics, talk more about how you feel. Be open about your feelings and don’t mask your emotions–even at the office. Being emotionally honest makes it easier to connect more deeply with the people around you.

Admittedly, this one is challenging for me. I hired a coach (think Psychologist/Therapist) and it has been very helpful.

Depression is a pervasive health issue among entrepreneurs, and better strategies are needed than are currently available when it comes to dealing with mental health. I don’t have a fool-proof solution to this problem, but I learned the above lessons during my own entrepreneurial experience, and these things have since helped me navigate difficult situations.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

There will be a huge number of boomers and seniors needing services in the next 20 years. This growing population of “older adults” who are leading active, healthy lives will drive demand for services with this segment of people– the “Active Adult” population.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I recently hired a personal trainer and his services have been worth every penny!

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

The site, The Lonely Entrepreneur – one of the many excellent online entrepreneurial focused forums.  An additional resource for TAKING CARE OF YOUR MIND.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

“Red Notice”, by Bill Browder. Browder’s story of Russia’s leadership as a corrupt and punitive–force fascinated me. Browder’s true story touches upon concepts I find really interesting–finance, justice and resilience.

What is your favorite quote?

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” –Benjamin Franklin

Key Learnings

  • Surround yourself with people who remind you of the future and the person you want to be
  • The entrepreneur’s contribution to the welfare of society is significant
  • When something is free, the product is rarely any good.
  • Stay present and bring more authenticity into the conversation: talk less about business metrics, talk more about feelings and benefits.
  • Take care of your body and mind.
  • Make mistakes. Learn from them.