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Finding a Sympathetic Shoulder

Having people to talk to helps in tough times.

Veena A. Kutler and Annette F. Simon, 12/30/2008

This monthly series of articles describes the many steps and occasional missteps we have taken in building our financial advisory business, Garnet Group LLC. Currently, Garnet has eight staff members, more than 90 clients, more than $300 million in client net worth under advisement, and offices in Bethesda, Md., and Boston. Veena Kutler, CFA, and Annette Simon, CFP, are the managing principals in the Garnet office in Bethesda.

To badly paraphrase a popular song, these days it's hard out there for an advisor. With almost every asset class at or near 10-year lows and all of the bad news related to Bernie Madoff we are, at best, the brunt of many jokes and at worst taking much of the blame for the current financial crisis.

Even when times are good, it's human nature to seek support from friends, family, and colleagues. Given the events of the past few months, financial advisors especially need a close group of trusted comrades with whom to consult and commiserate. Many independent advisors work solo or in small groups with staff members rather than professional colleagues. We all need a bigger universe of people out there with whom to share our experiences.

Fortunately, there are more outlets for connecting with other people, both professionally and socially, than ever before.

Our Support Networks

Professional Associations
Associations have been around for years providing the members of a single profession with a forum for shared concerns and opportunities to meet and discuss the issues affecting their industries. Some associations lobby state and local governments on behalf of their members; others create standards and certification programs that define their professions.

As we have discussed in the past, both of us are long-standing and relatively active members of NAPFA. We attribute much of our success and business growth to NAPFA. We met each other and most of our closest business friends through NAPFA; over the years, we have vastly expanded our network of centers of influence by attending NAPFA events. Several of our clients have come to us either directly or indirectly through NAPFA. We feel that we have received much more from our involvement with NAPFA than we have put into it in terms of the time and energy we have dedicated to volunteer work.

NAPFA provides a variety of ways to build a support network:

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