Karen Cookston, owner, Vision Advisory Group

From an early age Karen Cookston, owner of Vision Advisory Group a Private Wealth Advisory Practice of Ameriprise Financial Service, Inc. has had a passion for finance and helping others. She first got involved in finance in 1980 at the age of 18 with her first job at Main Savings and Loan. She then moved to Bank One Trust and began moonlighting at a brokerage house under the wing of the owner “Chappy” selling muni bonds over the phone.

“While working in finance, I was also very involved with Girl Scouts of America. Specifically, I ran the organization’s Green Circle program which was focused on helping girls recognize and appreciate diversity,” says Karen. “The program also included a coaching element, which I loved.”

Karen quickly realized that while her position at the bank and with Chappy “scratched her itch” for finance, it did not provide the same level of personal interaction that she enjoyed through her work with the Girl Scouts and Green Circle. After a doing a “circuit ride along” with a good friend at IDS – now Ameriprise – she realized it was possible to blend her two passions.

“As a personal financial advisor, I could follow my passion for the stock market and money management while also meeting with people and helping them find ways to reach their personal financial and life goals,” she remembers.

Karen started working at Ameriprise at the age of 21, starting her own commission-based business and finding her own clients. She has grown her career into a successful practice, Vision Advisory Group with a team that manages well over 650 client groups, and she holds licenses in twenty-six states. Many of her new clients are referrals from existing, long term clients. And she prides herself on staying with clients as they move from the workforce and into retirement; helping them adjust their financial goals to fit with each stage of their life. Over 200 of Karen’s clients are over the age of 70, and many of them were her first clients when she started her practice.

“When I started my career with Ameriprise, less than two percent of the financial planners were female. I was very fortunate to have the help and support of several women – many of whom are in the Buckeye Lake Community – at the start of my career as a financial advisor,” she notes.

Karen served as a District Manager in the Ohio Valley Region for ten years – she was the first female to hold the position – while also maintaining her own practice. She also served as the Director of Marketing for the Ohio Valley Region.

Much like her love for finance, Karen’s passion for the Buckeye Lake Region runs deep. As a young child, Karen spent many weekends and summers at Buckeye Lake and she herself became a property owner at the age of 18, when she purchased a cottage in the Bounds Addition.

“I have always appreciated the unique qualities the Buckeye Lake Region has to offer. Whether you’re a resident, visitor or business owner this community has the potential for great opportunities.” Karen got involved in Buckeye Lake planning and zoning over 20 years ago in order to help guide responsible development in the Region. “I wanted to help guide development and manage the growth of the community.”

Over the last ten years, Karen has worked to turn the land she’s purchased at Buckeye Lake into community-centric areas that can be enjoyed by many. This includes building a community park, creating a protected wetlands area and cultivating a monarch sanctuary.

“As both a business owner and someone that wants to live and retire in this community, I want the Buckeye Lake Region to grow and flourish in a responsible fashion. I believe the local community should benefit from development,” says Karen.

That commitment drove Karen to get involved with the Buckeye Lake Region Corporation (BLRC) and to support the Buckeye Lake 2036 Community Vision. In addition to her involvement with the BLRC, Karen is also on the board of the Buckeye Lake Region Community Foundation and is a Champion of the Lake level donor. The Foundation provides financial funding to the BLRC, which is critical to help the organization accomplish initiatives that have significant regional impact.

“I would encourage other business owners to get involved with the Buckeye Lake Region Community Corporation, as I have. It is truly the business community – and like-minded organizations – that can make a significant impact on how the Region develops. You cannot be part of the solution if you don’t sit at the table,” she notes.

To learn more about how Karen can help you reach your personal financial goals, and her involvement in the Buckeye Lake Region, contact her directly at 614-496-7297 or e mail at karen.s.cookston@ampf.com . To learn more about the Buckeye Lake Region Corporation, visit www.blrc2036.org and to learn more about the Buckeye Lake Region Community Foundation, visit www.blrfoundation.org.