Our team

When working with you, we take a team approach to the planning process. This means each client benefits from the familiarity of working with their primary advisor, supported by our whole team to give you the best service and input when making decisions. 

As Owner and Senior Financial Advisor, Jake leads our team in simplifying and bringing peace of mind to our client’s financial lives.  He has served in this role since 2011 when he and our founder and Advisor Emeritus, Karen Folk, partnered to create Bluestem Financial Advisors. Jake holds a Bachelor’s from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Agriculture and Consumer Economics and a Master’s from Kansas State University in Family Studies and Human Services... [Read More]

As Owner and Senior Financial Advisor, Jake leads our team in simplifying and bringing peace of mind to our client’s financial lives.  He has served in this role since 2011 when he and our founder and Advisor Emeritus, Karen Folk, partnered to create Bluestem Financial Advisors. Jake holds a Bachelor’s from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Agriculture and Consumer Economics and a Master’s from Kansas State University in Family Studies and Human Services... [Read More]

On September 1, 2016 Karen transitioned to Emeritus Advisor and began her retirement. While no longer involved in the day to day operations of the business, Karen is still an integral part of the firm, mentoring, educating, and doing occasional client project work. Karen has a Ph.D. in Family and Consumption Economics, holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation, and is a retired NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor.  Prior to opening Folk Financial... [Read More]

On September 1, 2016 Karen transitioned to Emeritus Advisor and began her retirement. While no longer involved in the day to day operations of the business, Karen is still an integral part of the firm, mentoring, educating, and doing occasional client project work. Karen has a Ph.D. in Family and Consumption Economics, holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation, and is a retired NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor.  Prior to opening Folk Financial... [Read More]

Josh attended Eastern Illinois University, where he earned a degree in Finance with a specialization in financial planning. After working for 3 years in the financial services industry, he joined Bluestem in early 2014 and discovered his passion doing fee-only financial planning. Josh is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor. As a Lead Advisor at Bluestem, Josh is driven to help clients remove worry from their financial lives through a hands-on.... [Read More]

Josh attended Eastern Illinois University, where he earned a degree in Finance with a specialization in financial planning. After working for 3 years in the financial services industry, he joined Bluestem in early 2014 and discovered his passion doing fee-only financial planning. Josh is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor. As a Lead Advisor at Bluestem, Josh is driven to help clients remove worry from their financial lives through a hands-on.... [Read More]

Emily began her career with Bluestem as a student intern while studying Financial Planning at the University of Illinois.  In 2015, she graduated with double majors in Agricultural and Consumer Economics, and Human Development and Family Studies. She is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. After graduating, Emily passed the CFP® exam while working at a Chicago area fee-only financial planning firm. In early 2016 Emily returned to Bluestem rejoining the team as an Associate Advisor.... [Read More]

Emily began her career with Bluestem as a student intern while studying Financial Planning at the University of Illinois.  In 2015, she graduated with double majors in Agricultural and Consumer Economics, and Human Development and Family Studies. She is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. After graduating, Emily passed the CFP® exam while working at a Chicago area fee-only financial planning firm. In early 2016 Emily returned to Bluestem rejoining the team as an Associate Advisor.... [Read More]

Joe is a central Illinois native who grew up in close proximity to Champaign-Urbana. He earned his Associate’s degree at Parkland College and a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting through Colorado State University’s Global Campus. Joe’s past work experience includes customer service, human resources, and accounting. Through this range of experience Joe has seen both the human as well as the numbers side of business operations... [Read More]

Joe is a central Illinois native who grew up in close proximity to Champaign-Urbana. He earned his Associate’s degree at Parkland College and a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting through Colorado State University’s Global Campus. Joe’s past work experience includes customer service, human resources, and accounting. Through this range of experience Joe has seen both the human as well as the numbers side of business operations... [Read More]

MaryBess’ role as Director of Client Services and Operations is to focus on you, the client. MaryBess works with the team to provide an exceptional client experience and ensures your needs are met satisfactorily and promptly. She also handles the daily and back-office operations of the firm. MaryBess received her Bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University and before joining Bluestem in 2014, spent five years as the assistant business manager for a local religious organization. MaryBess was born and raised in Champaign-Urbana and has a passion for community service, serving on several committees for local non-profits.... [Read More]

MaryBess’ role as Director of Client Services and Operations is to focus on you, the client. MaryBess works with the team to provide an exceptional client experience and ensures your needs are met satisfactorily and promptly. She also handles the daily and back-office operations of the firm. MaryBess received her Bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University and before joining Bluestem in 2014, spent five years as the assistant business manager for a local religious organization. MaryBess was born and raised in Champaign-Urbana and has a passion for community service, serving on several committees for local non-profits.... [Read More]


Why Bluestem?

Bluestem's name comes from native Illinois prairie grasses known for their extensive root system. We believe the key to financial progress begins with growing deep financial roots through comprehensive planning.


Our Services

Peace of mind comes from attention to all aspects of your financial life. While taxes and investments are key components of your personal financial plan, we take time to understand you - your goals, your values, your relationships, your personal history, every aspect of your finances – and our availability to you as part of your retainer helps us be effective, trusted guides during your life’s transitions.

Fee Structure

After we get to know you and the extent of your planning needs, we will quote you an upfront fee for our services - the First Year Retainer. Calculated based on income, net worth and individual complexities, this retainer covers services provided in our first year as we mutually develop and implement your financial plan. As financial planning is an ongoing process, most clients continue to engage us year after year under an Ongoing Retainer. After the first year creating your comprehensive financial plan, the Ongoing Retainer helps to keep you on track and make adjustments as life happens.


Our Clients

We enjoy working with a variety of client situations and life stages, but have developed unique expertise in helping clients in the following situations:

  • Prioritizing savings plans for the future (emergency savings, children's college, retirement, etc.)
  • Navigating financial decisions around life changes including starting a family, buying a home, or career changes
  • Cashflow planning and student loan strategies for advanced degrees and professional education
  • Insurance needs for protecting new and growing families
  • Simplifying and consolidating financial accounts and complexity accumulated over a lifetime
  • Determining resources needed to afford desired lifestyle in retirement and keeping goals on track
  • Navigating the transition to retirement, including creating a Retirement Paycheck from the portfolio
  • Planning and implementing a strategy for charitable and family gifting
  • Decision-making and evaluating career opportunities of tenure track and administrative positions
  • Coordination of retirement plans from various university positions, including expertise in the State University Retirement System (SURS)
  • Tax planning for supplemental income sources including book and patent royalties, honorariums, and consulting

If you are interested in comprehensive financial planning, we encourage you to contact us to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation to learn more about how we can help.