Broker Check
Karen Markstrom May

Karen Markstrom May

Investment Advisor Representative

For Karen May, working as a financial representative is the perfect way to combine her caring and outgoing nature with her business acumen. Karen and the team at Planned Financial Services help their clients sort through confusing and sometimes conflicting information to create financial strategies they truly understand. Since the practice includes individuals who hold the Chartered Special Needs Consultant designation, they're knowledgeable about assisting families with special needs on issues such as tax reduction strategies and estate planning, special needs trusts, long-term care provisions and how financial strategies should integrate with government programs. Karen and the team know the rules, the challenges and the fine points to help their clients create strategies that fit their needs and optimize their benefits.

Karen's outgoing personality makes her a natural networker and she's constantly looking for new opportunities for the firm. She's always had both an interest in business and an affinity for people, beginning with a degree from the College of Human Ecology at Michigan State. After college, she followed her mother's footsteps into financial services and began a career with Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), then moved on to focus on helping businesses implement and administer employee benefit plans for more than 20 years. A desire to work more with individuals on retirement planning led her back to the MassMutual agency, and then to a great fit on the team in Clarkston with longtime acquaintance Deanna Olsen. Together they not only work with each individual, they also conduct educational workshops for families and for organizations that work with families who have children with special needs, so they are fully aware of the financial aspects of this special market.

Karen has a special understanding of both the financial and the emotional dynamics of working with people with disabilities and other special needs and their families. Her own family faced horrific tragedy when her brother became permanently paralyzed in a car accident at only 20 years old and lived with this disability for 28 years. A settlement he received had to be managed for his care – and for any potential estate taxes. Understanding that a financial strategy including trusts and life insurance was critical to her own family gave Karen a deeper perspective on what she could do to help families with special needs have a way for support in what they face in their lives every day and looking forward.

Giving back to her local community is very important to Karen. She is a member of the Friends Advisor Board for Oakland Family Services, and has done volunteer work for the Women's Committee for Hospice Care. She was thrilled to serve as an Honor Flight Michigan Volunteer, accompanying World War II veterans so they were able to travel to the memorial in Washington, DC. Karen and her husband Gary enjoy an active lifestyle playing golf and socializing with their large group of friends – they love going out and meeting new people. Then it's right back to what she's always done; help her clients make educated decisions for sound financial strategies and a secure future.