When Cole McClarren’s father, ACP member Jeff McClarren, gave him a copy of Bert Whitehead’s book, two things happened. For the first time in his life he understood what his father did for a living. And he knew he wanted to do that, too.
Cole’s principal areas of interest were psychology and business. He liked knowing what made people tick, but he didn’t want to be a psychologist. “When I read Bert’s book I understood the marriage of the two.”
During his junior year of college Cole interned with Bert and learned the ACP system at the foot of the master sitting in on appointments and listening and learning. The following year he volunteered at an ACP conference in Tucson, and he was sold on ACP. “All the people were so friendly and came from all walks of life. There were a lot of different personalities but they all were passionate about helping people with their finances. It was nice to see a community like that outside in the real world.”
At that conference he met Penny Marchand of Cambridge Financial Group in Tucson and she was hiring. Although his father offered him a position in his firm, Cole was ready to ditch Pennsylvania winters for a better climate and a bigger city. He said realized that he really couldn’t start anywhere else other than an ACP firm after reading Bert’s book and understanding what it is that ACP advisors do. “Reading Bert’s book you really understand that the ACP way is the way the industry is going to end up doing it at some point because it’s the best way,” he said. Cole has been with Cambridge Financial for nearly 10 years.
ACP advisors enjoy a unique balance in their lives that is missing in big name firms and that was also very appealing. Cole appreciates that ACP affords advisors the opportunity to be successful in their professional lives as well as happy and fulfilled in their personal lives. “I’ve seen a lot of different ACP lifestyle practices,” he said. Just as ACP advisors tailor their services to meet their clients’ needs, they can tailor their practices to meet their personal needs.
As ACP welcomes a steady stream of younger professionals, the community strives to make them feel welcome and supported. The recently formed G2 Committee addresses the concerns, challenges, and opportunities for second generation, non-founding members. The committee develops and presents content at the annual conference and retreats and hosts a monthly G2 social call.
Cole is the chair of G2. “G2 is an attempt to build the same kind of family as a lot of the founders at the conference and within the ACP membership for people that didn’t found their own firms,” he explained. “It’s nice to have a place to talk about non-founder related things.”
In addition to chairing the G2 Committee, Cole has also helped with the Advanced Planner Retreat and served on the conference committee. As the chair of the G2 Committee he feels comfortable representing his colleagues because he understands them so well. “It’s nice to meet other ACP members and feel you have some influence on it,” he said. “It’s nice to give back in that way.” He says he volunteers his time because he believes in ACP’s vision. “ACP is the right way to do it, so whenever we are helping other ACP people reach more clients. we are able to help more people.”
Cambridge Financial is preparing for a transition when founder Penny Marchand retires in a few years, and Cole and his partners are committed to a smooth transition. “By the time Penny has retired we will have four advisors,” he said. And the firm has a good support staff.
“I’m really excited about having Penny walk the walk,” he said with amusement. “We’ve been talking to people about retirement their whole lives so it will be nice to see her have a fulfilling retirement.” The most important thing for him is to see to it that all of her clients are well cared for.
After that the firm will decide if and how much they want to grow. Like most ACP advisors, demand exceeds their ability to offer services to everyone who wants them. Cole thinks that might be true for all financial advisors, but more so for ACP advisors. “ACP advisors probably feel it more so than others because we are so comprehensive and we do so much for people. We really have to understand a person in order to help them.”
Cole appreciates the positive impact ACP has made in his life and the lives of his clients. The opportunity to work with so many different clients and seeing the direct impact on their lives is gratifying. “And so many of them are so appreciative. You get to know the clients so well. It’s great to be able to add value to their lives.”