What Matters Most – 120th Anniversary Conversations with Kelly Effland

Today we speak with one of the newer associates at First United, serving in the Wealth Management area, Kelly Effland. Kelly talks about her background, why she chose to join the First United team, and what it means to her to join a company that has a history of 120 years of community banking!


​Announcer: Welcome to the “What Matters Most” podcast, presented by First United Bank & Trust. That’s my bank. Visit us today at mybank.com.

Eric: Hello, and welcome to “What Matters Most,” the podcast all about finances, community, savings, and security for you, your family, and your business. This podcast is brought to you by the helpful folks at My Bank, First United Bank & Trust. I’m your host, Eric Nutter, and in today’s episode, “What Matters Most” is First United’s 120th anniversary. And for this discussion, I am honored to be joined remotely today by Kelly Effland, wealth advisor associate, and one of our newer associates at First United. Good morning, Kelly, how are you?

Kelly: Good morning. I’m doing well.

Eric: Great. Well, thanks for joining me. We’re doing this series with current and former associates. We’ve talked with folks who have had years and years and years of experience here at First United. We’ve talked to former associates who have since retired from working here, but we also wanted to talk with folks who are newer here, and talk a little bit about your experience so far, and give us a little bit of background on yourself. So, let’s start by just telling us a little bit about Kelly, and you know, tell us a little bit about your background.

Kelly: Yeah. So, I actually got my start in wealth management when I decided to go back to school and pursue a degree in financial planning and business management. So, I did things a little bit non-traditionally. I had kids and started a family first, and then kind of decided what I wanted to do later. And that led me to Shepherd University, who has a financial planning program. And I went on to get my bachelor’s degree there, and was blessed enough to get a job two days after I graduated back in 2015, at a small local wealth management firm. And I spent about five years getting some experience, some great experience there, and, which led me to realizing that, although it was a wonderful team and I met some great people and got some great experience, that it was hard to grow and find opportunity for growth, working at a small business with eight employees.

So, that led me to looking around for something that maybe would be a better fit, and help me grow in my career. And that’s when, you know, I decided that I really appreciated my experience working in a small business, because it had that family feel. So, I knew that I didn’t want to apply somewhere that would be a large corporation. So, that’s kind of what led me to looking at small community banks. And when I realized that First United was hiring, I looked into it a little bit and did some research and talked to some folks, and I realized what a great reputation in the community, and how involved in the community First United is.

So, and then I also realized, you know, so many banks nowadays are, you know, they’re selling out and merging and all of these things. And First United has been able to remain on the smaller side and more on the, you know, community side. And I very, very much appreciate that, and that’s ultimately what led me to applying and interviewing, and being very interested in coming here, because it’s such a good feel to still feel a part of a family, almost, like you have a home, but also be a little bit larger than a very small business, where there’s leverage and support and opportunity for growth. And I think that First United has that.

Eric: Right. Yeah, we used to refer to it internally as “tweener size,” which, I never really liked that phrase, but like that, but it does represent kind of what we are. We’re not too big, we’re not too small, we’re kind of just that right size that we can help all your needs, but we also have that small community bank feel, because that’s who we are at the heart of our company. So, I appreciate that you recognized that when looking for a job. So, you had started your family. What drew you to financial planning? What led you back to that?

Kelly: Yeah, yeah. So, my dad actually was an accountant, and that’s what his career was in, but on the side, he actually did pro bono financial counseling, just to individuals and families. And so, I think that maybe that was my first experience ever with something, you know, along the lines of financial planning, and that was just as a kid. But then I actually helped my husband start a small business and started taking over the office and the accounting and the taxes and also the finance side, and helping with the financial planning with that. And then on the side, I started doing taxes for individuals and small businesses for a few years. And I just really liked the part of it where I got to meet people and, you know, doing simple tax returns was great, but I loved getting those small business owners that just had tons of questions, and I felt like I could really make a difference, you know, in really helping them out and going a little bit above and beyond just, you know, preparing the tax return. So, that’s ultimately what led me to it, but I needed an education in order to pursue it completely. So, that’s how it happened.

Eric: Awesome. Awesome. So, when did you actually start at First United?

Kelly: I started in March of this year.

Eric: Okay. All right. So, that was right at the beginning of all this mess we still find ourselves in, right?

Kelly: Yes. So, I started one week before COVID hit. And so, I got one week in the office, and then started working from home my second week here.

Eric: Oh my goodness. So, the funny thing about that is this podcast, or this version of the podcast, where I am the host of it, has the exact same story. We started recording a few episodes, and then literally a week in, you know, we went into lockdown, and so every episode since has been remote and over a phone. So, the podcast and you have the same anniversary date for First United. Yeah, so that’s cool. So, when you are in the office, you are in our Riverside office, is that correct?

Kelly: That is correct.

Eric: So, in Frederick. So, the Frederick market area is pretty big. How have you been able to grow and service customers here over these last, you know, 10 months, being remote? It’s certainly not been a normal scenario.

Kelly: Yeah. Yeah. Certainly not. But, however, because of technology at work, because we’ve been able to…well, as far as our, just immediate team that I’m on, we’ve been able to just do virtual meetings when we need to get together. And then with clients as well, we’ve done some meetings via phone calls and virtually. And then when we were able to start having meetings in person for the…and now, we’re back to not being able to do that so much anymore already, but I was able to sit in on some of those meetings as well, and meet some clients in person, which was nice. That’s, you know, one of my favorite parts. And then the team here has been great in involving me and everything. And I’ve just been able to do some administrative tasks, which has helped me get acclimated to some of the clients and the accounts here, which will be great because when we do open back up and when things are normal or the new normal, or whatever it’ll end up being, I feel like I’ll have…you know, I’ll kinds of know everyone’s names client-wise, and be familiar with their situation and accounts, and so I can have that going into it when I meet people for the first time. So, yeah, it’s been great.

Eric: Yeah, I like that. I like that if we have to live through this, we might as well see the bright side of it and see it as an opportunity to use that time wisely, and understand clients better. It gives you a good opportunity to kind of get acclimated. So, that’s nice. So, we talked about community banking and that that was something that kind of led you to First United, seeing First United as a true community bank. And as you know, this episode and several that we’ve released over the last few weeks have been discussions with people celebrating our 120th anniversary. So, coming to an organization that is hitting this milestone of being in business for over 120 years now, what does that mean to you?

Kelly: Well, I can definitely say that I feel honored to work here and be a part of this organization. I’d say that that makes me feel proud to be a part of it, and looking forward to being a part of the team and a part of the community. So, yeah, definitely pride and honor to be a part of it all.

Eric: I would agree. I think it’s one of those things that it’s pretty cool to, when you have that realization, it’s that this company has been around for such a long time. And I mean, a lot of our ads and a lot of our promotions around the 120th kind of refer to that. My favorite of which is we’ve been here since before sliced bread, I think is my favorite. But it’s just kind of awe-inspiring to think that how long a company like this can not only stay in business, but to remain independent and to remain a community bank is pretty impressive in the mission that the company serves. So, yeah, I agree with you. And that is certainly how it feels. Is there something…I know that, you know, you only really spent a week physically in the office prior to going into lockdown, but is there something that you’ve come to realize as, you know, kind of the thing that you look forward to each morning, kind of getting up to go to work?

Kelly: Well, yeah. So, I definitely, well, despite working from home for most of my time here, I definitely look forward to just working with and connecting with my immediate team members, because everyone on my team is awesome, and we, because of technology, just are still able to, you know, connect and help each other out. And I love the team feel, where everyone has your back and everyone is so supportive. We have a team meeting each week, we’re always offering to help each other. And it’s just so nice to feel a part of things like that. So, I definitely look forward to coming to work each day, because I get to work with some awesome, funny, great people.

Eric: Awesome. Yeah. I’m so glad to hear you say that. You know, as a newer associate, it’s cool to…when we talk with people who have been around for a while, of course, we’ve experienced a whole lot of the culture of First United. So, for someone who’s been here for a shorter period of time to already feel and see those things that make this company the special company that it is, I mean, you’re talking about team, and that’s what we’re all about is our team, and the family aspect of the team and helping people. And I think those are the things that kind of when you boil down First United, that’s what makes it a truly special place. And so, for you to say that and have seen that in your short period of time here is really, I don’t know, it’s touching to me. I may be biased because I’m in the marketing area, but it’s something that means a lot to me. So, I’m happy to hear you say that. But that actually leads me to my last question for you is, you know, that is what First United is all about. It’s helping people. And whether that be internally with new associates, whether it be, you know, our customers, whether it be our shareholders, whomever that may be, that’s our mission is to help people. And we’ve been doing that for 120 years. So, my question for you, as for every guest that’s been on this series is what do you think is next for First United?

Kelly: Well, I think, well, hopefully, another 120 years. And, well, not hopefully, I think it will be another 120 years, confidently. So, clearly, it’s a great, successful organization, and I am just super happy to be a part of that next 120 years. And I totally look forward to just being able to help as many people with their finances as I possibly can during my time here.

Eric: Excellent.

Kelly: And I think this is the environment where I can do that, for sure.

Eric: Absolutely. Yeah. Well, and I’m happy to have you as part of the team. I’m excited to see what you’re able to do, especially once we can get back to whatever normal is. And I look forward to getting to meet you in person sometime. So, Kelly, I want to sincerely thank you for joining me today. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you and get to know a little bit more about you. So, thank you for your time.

Kelly: Thank you, Eric. It’s been great being here.

Eric: Yeah. Absolutely. Well, that brings us to the end of our show. You can always find more episodes by visiting mybank.com/podcast, or find us on your favorite podcast app. And the good news is we’re on pretty much all the podcast apps there are. So find us on your favorite one, and give us a five-star review and subscribe so that you can continue to hear stories like this, as well as additional helpful information that we’ve been providing over the last 10 or more months. You can also leave feedback, ask questions, or request a topic for us to discuss by sending an email to podcast@mybank.com. Thanks again for listening. We’ll be back next week with more helpful content. But until then, we wish you the best in focusing on what matters most to you.

Man 1: First United Bank & Trust was born 120 years ago, in 1900. A time before gummy bears, before the first big game, before sliced bread. First United was formed because we believed we could make a difference. Since then, we’ve delivered 120 years of community banking, partnerships, solutions, and most of all, trust. So we’re celebrating the people who call First United my bank. Help us celebrate at mybank.com/120.

Singers: First United, my bank for life.

Man 1: Member FDIC.

Eric: This recording is for informational purposes only. Any references in this recording to any person, organization, product, or service does not constitute or imply the endorsement, recommendation, or affiliation with First United Bank & Trust. First United is not responsible for your use of the information mentioned within this podcast. Please consult legal or tax professionals for counsel as needed.