Garrett Planning Network

This past September, my three-year term as a member of the Garrett Planning Network Member Advisory Board ended. It was a privilege to serve on the inaugural panel of advisors, whose role is to provide a sounding board for Sheryl Garrett as she steers the organization toward her vision to make competent, objective advice accessible to all people. I’m please to have played a small role in helping shape the direction of the organization.

Sheryl pioneered the hourly, fee-only business model in 2000, when she created a network of like-minded advisors around the country to offer as-needed financial planning services. She continues to lead the movement and champion financial education and consumer protection reforms.

Despite the success to-date, the hourly fee-for-service model is still in its infancy and hasn’t yet reached top of mind awareness with the general public. In fact, my clients are pioneers too for having recognized before most others the virtue of independent financial advice on an as-needed basis. In these troubling times, you can lend a hand to friends and family members by letting them know that help is available.

This summer I attended the annual Garrett Retreat, where members get together to learn from experts in various fields and share ideas to help better serve our clients. This was my seventh conference and I hope to attend next year, when the organization celebrates its 10th anniversary.

I have benefited personally from my association with the Garrett Planning Network, but what does this mean for you? First, even though I’m a sole practitioner, it means that I’m not alone. There are over 300 other Garrett advisors around the country (and internationally), who are willing to share there knowledge and expertise. We hold educational web-based seminars each and every month to expand our knowledge base and to make us better advisors for our clients. If I don’t know the answer to a client question, I can post a note to an internal message board and receive responses from experts on a specific topic.

This support structure also helps me to be as effective as possible in delivering services. This year, I designed a new low-cost program for new clients with less complex issues. I was also able to reduce the fee for past clients returning for reviews within a two-year period.

In addition if I’m not able to help clients due to geographic distance or because they need specialized services, my association with the Garrett group has given me the ability to refer people to other planners around the country. I’m confident when I refer someone to another Garrett planner that they will get professional service from a qualified advisor. I know many of them personally, and I can attest that you couldn’t find a more talented, passionate and caring group of people anywhere.