Torn apart by a bloody and bitter civil war, the country of Liberia in West Africa is recovering slowly and painfully. Formed by freed U.S. slaves and just now emerging from an outbreak of Ebola, it is a nation devastated by years of war with significant needs of every sort undermined by a fragile infrastructure. Heeding the call for help, R. J. Kelly and his wife, Vymean Noy, will be packing their bags in 2020 to serve the needs of the country by providing leadership training in the business and political communities and assistance with healthcare and social services.
As Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of Wealth Legacy Group®, Inc., a San Diego based company specializing in the diverse needs of closely-held business and professional families, R. J. and Vymean, Chief Operating Officer for the company, are already making preparations for their one-year sabbatical in Liberia driven by the desire to make a lasting difference in some way. R. J. and Vymean, herself a survivor of the killing fields of Cambodia and a social worker for 15 years, deeply honor and respect the Liberian people and for them it will be a labor of love. “The true reality”, explains R. J., “is that Vymean and I will walk away with much more than anything we could ever give to the Liberian People.”
“Our values are as much caught as they are taught”, believes R. J., whose mother instilled in him a deep and abiding faith and spirituality. He watched her as a servant leader in action, exemplifying the importance of giving back to others less fortunate. “She lived out philanthropy but was extremely humble,” he recalls, and she will always remain one of the greatest heroes of his life. Her personal philosophy, which he “caught,” has shaped his life and led to a calling to make the world a better place. From that has come his life goal to facilitate – directly or indirectly — $1 billion for charitable causes.
To that end, R. J. along with two friends formed a non-profit organization that he continues to direct with Vymean’s help and an amazing volunteer board he calls Actionators. “Our mission through The Center for Wealth and Legacy™ is to ‘Connect – Inspire – Challenge’ others wishing to make a lasting, positive impact in their world,” he explains. He does this by creating a community of fellow dreamers and doers and challenging them to discover and carry out that which they feel called to do in serving others. By providing a Mentoring Program, volunteer opportunities, impactful speakers and an annual Lasting Legacy and Inspiration Award™, the Center is committed to connecting and developing exceptional business, philanthropic and thought leaders to enhance and inspire their communities.
Business Through Vision and Connection
Since 1977, R. J. has been active in the financial services industry and is nationally recognized for his technical skills in estate planning, business succession, life & disability insurance, wealth appreciation, executive benefits and charitable tools. In many ways, the core values upon which his nonprofit is built, provide a unique and multi-disciplinary planning experience to clients of his company, Wealth Legacy Group®, Inc. Their vision, according to the website wealthlegacygroup.com, is to provide a roadmap to ensure that wealth (including financial, relational, mental, emotional, physical, family and spiritual wealth) is protected through all stages of the business life cycle. R. J. believes that his involvement with nonprofits has contributed greatly to the success of his business. “I have been referred into some significantly-sized companies and individuals,” he notes, “simply because I am the guy that can help them address philanthropy in their business and personal lives.” Having the CAP® designation is “another tangible demonstration that I am committed to helping advise others in their philanthropy by taking the time to specifically study the subject.”
Citing a 2014 study of high net worth individuals, R. J. reveals that 92% of clients expect their advisors to bring up philanthropy by the second meeting. As a result, he knows that philanthropy is something advisors need to be knowledgeable about, but also need to incorporate into their personal and business lives. As the client begins to disclose more about the causes they hold dear, he describes the “psychic income” that comes from these moments. “It’s not just client and advisor at that point,” he remarks. “It is an individual or couple … wanting to make a lasting difference in some way, and a new friend coming alongside helping them bring their dreams to reality. It doesn’t get better than that!” R. J. maintains that typically his clients share his high ethical standards and professional integrity, caring more about others than themselves.
As a consummate networker, R. J. has developed the ability to connect others with recognized needs. This has led him to hold in-house networking events with non-competing professionals and business owners for the purpose of sharing what they do, why they do it, and who would be the ideal referral for them. “Often people will walk away from these events with one or two referrals,” he says. “If nothing else, they have met some truly wonderful people who can become potential referral sources for them.” R. J. finds great fun doing this knowing that he was their first connection. Having now finished his 40th year of practice as a financial advisor, he feels he is emerging into the multi-dimensional planner/advisor he has always wanted to be. R. J. is confident that he and his in-house team of professionals along with outside trusted strategic collaborators have the knowledge and ability to address any client issue. “No one has a corner on all the good ideas – as much as I strive to know as much as I can. The best client outcomes come from having a high-quality team in place where no one cares who gets the credit.” Holding these in-house networking events helps to find the best team players, and begin to size up their technical abilities in a low-key and enjoyable setting.
On CAP® and The American College
- J. has long supported and endorsed The American College of Financial Services and has earned the MSFS degree and the CLU®, ChFC® and RICP® designations in addition to his CAP® designation. As an avid proponent of the CAP® program, R. J. has high praise for the curriculum and the benefits of the collaborative approach to philanthropic planning. “How great it is for simple people like me,” he states, “to be able to have access to extraordinary thinkers and visionaries like the faculty of CAP® and the other superb programs of The American College.”
For others thinking of taking the CAP® program his advice is simple. “Don’t put it off! It’s like the person who waits a year to begin their retirement plan or to save money,” he explains. “It’s … the compounding effect of the 10th, 20th, 30th year which can be massive.” He is also a huge believer that having the CAP® designation provides opportunities to collaborate with other talented, committed professionals for future joint efforts or just to share “best practices.”
Personal Philanthropic Mission
Always interested in learning and experiencing more of the world around him, R. J. seeks out opportunities to make a difference. He is moved to action when, in his words, “the ‘how’ begins to emerge after we are clear on the ‘what’ and the ‘why’.” He believes it is incumbent upon us “to be recognizing all that we’ve been given and the fact that if we wake up in America we are in the top six percent of the wealthiest people in the world.” He feels that if we can move that thought from our heads to our hearts and to our hands, it would move us to be compassionate. Because of his deep personal conviction, R. J. has raised over $35,000 to help Cambodian landmine victims and a school in Phnom Penh. Also as an avid marathoner, he has raised nearly $45,000 for Leukemia-Lymphoma research through his running. Traveling the world, he has served on humanitarian projects in Guatemala, Mexico, Myanmar, Cambodia and Russia and other countries, each a transformational experience for him. Closer to home he is equally committed to his family, community, church and performing in a Christian band.
- J.’s colleagues at Wealth Legacy Group®, Inc. feel a similar commitment to philanthropy, and they share this outpouring of charitable engagement by participating on a quarterly basis in philanthropic initiatives as a team. “Our world is an extraordinary place,” R. J. observes, “and it’s full of great stories all around us that we get to celebrate. One neighbor helping another neighbor. I know that, I’ve seen that.” R. J. has found the music in his own soul that he wants to sing through his charitable works. By inspiring and enabling others to do something that aligns with their own value system, his mission to make the world a better place will continue. “That’s just the way it is with God’s generosity,” he affirms. “We receive so much more than we can ever give away. I don’t want to just be a vessel holding the water, but a conduit that takes that water and moves it along to others.”