My History in Finance: Ready for the Future

Personal Money Planning |

By Gary Silverman, CFP®

After getting through the Financial Crisis, the firm I had started 16 years previous was at a crossroads.

This is the continuing saga of how that firm, Personal Money Planning, got to the point of being able to celebrate its 30th anniversary this year. As I had mentioned a couple weeks ago, I had hired my first full-time employee, Michelle. Her capabilities were more than I even hoped for. This was critical as there are generally three futures for firms like mine. Many die when their founder retires. Some are sold to a competing firm. And others continue through internal succession.

The problems with internal succession are many. Is there someone who is capable of succeeding? How do you fund the succession? How do you get clients to accept the succession? …and a host of other issues. The thing is, I was trained as a planner (both industrial, HR, and financial), so this sort of planning was second nature. Plus, I felt a responsibility to our clients who allowed us to succeed. I wanted to leave behind a firm that I’d be happy to have manage my money as well as theirs.

That began a 15-year plan to get us to where we are today. No, I’m not leaving yet, but if my obituary runs at the same time as this article, there would be no disruption to the firm. Well, other than the sackcloth and ashes of mourning I’m sure the staff would be wearing due to my loss.

We’re even to the point where Michelle is working with her probable successor, Brittany, starting her own succession plan. I’d say they were both chips off this old block, but as they are both harder-working and a bit smarter than me, it’s more of an upgrade than cloning.

We’ve now come to the present. In these last six columns, I’ve left out hundreds of stories of the last 30 years. Many show my brilliance and likely more show my stupidity. That’s life, including the life of a business. Still, as I’ve pointed out a time or two, it’s not that the bad comes with the good, but quite often the bad leads to the good. So, I guess I’d change nothing.

Thanks for bearing with my trip through nostalgia land. If you’ve missed any of the parts of our story, you can probably find most of it at the newspaper’s website, or just contact me at and I’ll get the series to you.

See y’all next week.