10 Questions With Katy Bryan, Financial Planner at Skylight’s Cleveland Office


December 2, 2015

In the second of our “Making It Personal” Q&A series, we catch up with Katy Bryan and find out what motivated her to give up her career as a postdoctoral research fellow and research associate to become a financial planner, about her dream to star as “Annie”, her punk days and what’s most important in her life.

Your journey to becoming a financial planner isn’t particularly conventional, could you tell us a little about what led you to make the move from your career in science and research and if you have any regrets?
I’d been involved in the world of research for 12 years and I have to say I really enjoyed it.  I wasn’t, however, a big fan of writing grant applications and in the end, that’s what made me fall out of love with research!  I reached the decision that I wanted to do something that had more of a one-on-one impact on people’s lives and the idea of becoming a financial planner really appealed to me.  I saw Skylight as being a really nice fit for me as they specialize in special needs and I’d been an ABA therapist and so understand the biology of many of the various diagnoses, and my psychology background allows me to better understand the family dynamics of a special needs family and their needs.  I felt I could connect these families and individuals and it was important for me to be able to move to a job where I could help people in both a financial and personal way.

I have no regrets.  It was obviously a bit of a gamble but I’m really glad I took this journey.  I do miss the science itself.  I miss being at the bench and doing the research work but I definitely don’t miss writing grants and research papers!

What’s it like to be a female in the financial services industry?
Women are still in the minority in this industry so being female automatically differentiates me and being Asian even more so.  It works well for me! I think women bring a different perspective and this is particularly appreciated by clients in the LGBT and special needs community as women can be more compassionate and offer a holistic viewpoint.

Where are you from?
I was born in Pusan South Korea and was adopted at a very young. I then grew up in Medina and have since lived in different parts of East and West Cleveland.  I love Cleveland and like being close to my family.  I still see my extended family quite a bit and make the 45-minute journey to Medina fairly frequently.

Tell us about your home life and your family?
For my husband, Mark and I, my family is so important to us and we love spending time with our two sons.  Mark is a physician and researcher at the Cleveland Clinic.  I guess you could say we have a pretty busy life but we find time for what’s important.  Our kids are at that really great age now where they keep us laughing and totally entertained!

You’ve been known to take to the stage and give an impressive and confident performance of Sweet Home Alabama.  Is singing/music a passion of yours?
Yes, right from grade and into high school I was very involved in music.  I played piano for eight years, violin for 10 years and was in the choir also for 10 years.  And I was in a great show choir for one year.  Actually, my childhood ambition was to be a Broadway singer and I dreamed of starring as Annie. I still love musicals and my long-time favorite is Phantom of the Opera.  Unfortunately, I’ve no time for music in life for now so I jump at any opportunity I get to do karaoke!

What do you like to do for fun?
I love going for walks in the Metroparks. Basically, I like to be outdoors whenever I can, doing things like nature walks or sledging. Also whenever I get a chance, I like to go dancing in downtown clubs.  I’m a bit of a techno dancer at heart!  I’m also known to be a regular napper.  I guess that’s not really “fun” as such, but it’s something I like to do when I have the time.

Skylight is now in Ohio City.  What’s it like working in this neighborhood and where does a financial planner like yourself, like to grab a bite to eat?
It’s great being in Ohio City as it’s so central and easy to get around.  It’s great to be part of a vibrant and fast-growing neighborhood, in amongst the many families and young couples that live there.  It’s got a nice vibe and feels pretty relaxed.  It’s also safe and easier to park here than downtown!

I love to grab a bite to eat at Crop.  The food is amazing and it’s right in our building so it’s hard to resist.  My favorite dish there is the Cropicana Bowl which is a Mexican chicken ball served with things like lettuce, cheese, sour cream – it’s absolutely delicious!

You are very active in the community – what motivates you and how do you find the time to fit this all in?

I love being part of a community and think it’s really important to give back. I tend to pick and volunteer for organizations that will also benefit my clients. For example, I’m on the Executive Board of Connecting for Kids. Connecting for Kids does great work to provide education, programs, and support for families with questions or concerns about their child.

I serve on the Executive Board and as the Chair of the Institutional advancement committee for the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging and recently started the Young Professionals Council of Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging and recently started the Young Professionals Council of Benjamin Rose Institute. In addition, I serve as President of the Case Western Reserve Women’s Advisory Board for the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women at Case Western Reserve.

It’s not always easy to fit everything in, but I manage with the help of a very supportive husband and family. We work our schedules as best as we can as it’s so important to us both to support our community and find a balance for our family.

What’s the most interesting place you’ve ever visited and why?

I don’t know about interesting, but definitely, the most beautiful place I’ve visited is Monterey in California. It has the most amazing coastlines of the Pacific Ocean.  Funny, I wanted to be a marine biologist at one stage, so I guess you could say that I have a deep love for the sea!

Any little-known fact about you?
Hmm, that’s a tricky one.  I had spiked hair in Junior high which would surprise a few people.  Also for a short stint, I was a commercial model. It was great fun while it lasted!

Kathryn Bryan is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC Member SIPC. 2012 W. 25th Street, Suite 900, Cleveland OH 44113. 216-621-5680.