When Penny Marchand thinks about financial planning, she thinks about people. She thinks about the clients who have been with her for nearly 28 years, how she’s been there to help advise them though so many phases of life. “It’s been so fulfilling to ride along with them,” she says. Though of course she enjoys the celebratory moments—the weddings, new babies, graduations, and retirements, she is glad she can be there during the difficult times too—through divorces, illnesses, or any other unexpected change of plans. “It’s like a giant extended family,” she says. Penny credits ACP for allowing her to develop these meaningful relationships with clients and build the practice she always wanted.
Penny got into financial planning a bit by accident. After getting married, she realized she and her husband needed some help mapping out their financial futures. She wound up going into John Hancock and getting hired. She’d always wanted to help people, and now she’d found an avenue to do just that. “People need someone to listen to them and appreciate their life goals,” she says. As much as she liked being an advisor, Penny realized quickly that there was a big conflict of interest in the world of commissions. When she heard about Bert Whitehead, an advisor doing comprehensive, fee-only planning, she got in touch.
In 1994, Penny got a job with Bert, working in the Tucson branch of his practice. This was just before Bert spearheaded the formation of ACP as an organization, but already the underpinnings of the philosophy were there. Penny’s evolution as an advisor happened alongside the growth of ACP itself. Eventually she bought out the Tucson branch. For the first few years she wanted a simple practice, and she focused only on keeping her existing clients. But she realized that was a dead end both for her clients and her equity. Instead, she decided to shift into growth mode. She relied on the ACP tools and methodology to help her turn her lifestyle practice into a large firm.
Now with seven employees, Penny’s practice is growing faster than she imagined. She’s positioning herself for retirement in the next few years, selling shares of her firm and mapping out the transition for her clients. She’s excited to see the progression of the next generation of ACP advisors. As she looks back over her career thus far, she sees what an integral piece ACP played. “Without ACP, I would not have the practice I have today,” she says.
Penny’s focus on people extends to the ACP community. She has felt so lucky to have a such a diverse group of peers who embrace the same ideas and help support one another. “The beauty of ACP is that Bert laid such a strong foundation that enabled other planners to come in and add their touch,” she says. “It’s not like McDonald’s; we don’t all have to flip burgers the same way. But our approach unifies us.”
Alongside the tools ACP provides, Penny has found the spirit of generosity among ACP members to be an incredible feature of the organization. “I feel like I could call anyone—even if we haven’t met yet—and ask them for help,” she says. She joined a study group with other ACP members who have similar practices, and they share processes and ideas. Since the beginning, ACP has fostered a community focused on collaboration and that holds true to today. “When I meet advisors who aren’t part of ACP, I always wonder how they do it,” she says.
Over the years, Penny has held a variety of volunteer roles with ACP, serving on the board and as ACP president. She’s been a mentor for new advisors and helped run the annual conference. Her dedication to the organization and willingness to support fellow advisors has not only helped to build the incredible culture of ACP, it’s added to her own sense of belonging.
For all you do for ACP, thank you, Penny!