We are thrilled to announce the appointment of Stephany Kirkpatrick, CFPⓇ, Founder & CEO of Orum, to the Harness Wealth Board.
As an experienced executive and entrepreneur, Stephany has spent the last decade building technology to optimize financial outcomes for individuals – first at LearnVest where she holds patents for the design of its financial planning software, and now at Orum, a B2B Fintech company that is powering faster payments.
In our search for an independent director, we sought an individual who would bring an operator’s perspective to assist us in building a category-defining business in the financial technology space. As an executive at LearnVest, Stephany helped pioneer a new model for the delivery of financial advice. At Orum, she is seeking to revolutionize the antiquated payment processing business. We believe that her ability to identify solutions to complex financial service problems and scale companies to address them will make her an extraordinary partner to Harness and our team.
Stephany is passionate about our mission to provide the next generation of tech builders the confidence in the path to their best financial future, and she is passionate about what we are building to achieve it. In her own words, Stephany shares why she is joining Harness.
Why are you excited to join Harness?
Harness is solving a critical problem of giving builders like me access to better advice, and they are building a compelling solution to solve it. In particular, I believe Harness’ unique insight around the complexity and importance of tax planning is very differentiated and powerful. I have known David for a long time and have loved watching David and Katie as they’ve built and grown the business, and now I am thrilled to join the Board and help guide Harness’ growth through the current inflection point and beyond.
Why do you think what Harness is doing is important?
As a Certified Financial Planner, my life’s passion is helping people with their finances, and seeing a tech solution that can address more than just how to save/invest is really powerful. One of the key unlocks for startup employees is thoughtful tax planning for their equity and crypto investments, and Harness has managed to bring tax to the forefront of their experience. Unlike a mass market TurboTax product designed to help you file taxes once a year, a tax advisor understands the complexities of an individual’s life and can advise on how to optimize and maximize things like K-1 income, REITs, ISOs, RSUs, charitable gifting through Donor Advised funds, and so much more.
“My life’s passion is helping people with their finances, and seeing a tech solution that can address more than just how to save/invest is really powerful”
Any stories or anecdotes on your own experience with equity – what mistakes did you make that you wish you’d have had Harness to help you with?
Early in my tech career I had equity in a startup that ended up having a very successful exit through an acquisition. Looking back, I had no tax guidance when my initial stock options were granted, and I wish I had known about exercising early — that tax benefit isn’t the right call for every financial situation but I wish I had been aware of the choice and the potential to have reduced my tax liability.
Fast forward to Orum and now as a founder, I am still faced with tax decisions on my equity. This time, the decisions are around how to best leverage the tax benefits of qualified small business stock (QSBS), and how to create tax planning and gifting strategies for my children around my QSBS. What I learned from my first equity tax experience was to get better advice and start planning right away. I made sure to properly file my 83b election when Orum was incorporated and funded, the first step in securing the optionality for QSBS treatment. Having tax advice from day one matters because you can’t turn back the clock on the early exercise window. Missing it the first time made me really aware of the importance of planning thoroughly now that I have a lot more equity and more complexity.