Local Financial Planner Connects
Perhaps Ryan Barker said it best when he talked of his father, Gary, making the move to Texoma.
“It was really a blessing in disguise,” said the younger Barker. “My father has thrived here; his personality fits with this community. The simplicity of life here is something that Dad has enjoyed. There are friends and neighbors everywhere; we are anchored here.”
Gary Barker, managing principal of Barker Investments Services, came from Fort Worth to Sherman in 1997 when wife Kathy’s career took a turn. She started work at Texoma Medical Center as a speech language pathologist and has been there ever since.
“I had been working in the industry for a few years,” explained Gary. “When Kathy was interviewing, I drove around and just loved it, so I thought we could make this work.”
According to Gary, the people were so ‘personable’ while they visited. Since he was born and raised in Oklahoma – not far from Texoma – he knew it felt right.
“It was laid back; a great feeling in the area,” said Gary.
Once Kathy accepted the position, Gary began building a clientele to go with the ones from Fort Worth.
“I’m in the financial planning business,” explained Gary. “I am associated with Commonwealth Financial Network but am independent. That’s the key; I have the freedom to deal with all the stocks, bonds and mutual funds.”
Gary added that he acts as an ‘independent agent’ but that Commonwealth provides resources for him to do the best job for his clients.
“I’m not loyal to any specific fund,” said Gary. “I ask what are your hopes and needs. Then, I say, ‘Let’s make that happen.’”
As an independent financial planner, Gary can work with any type of planning including insurance except property or casualty insurance.
“80 percent of my accounts are retirement,” he said. “We really work for those people.”
Ryan, who has come back to work with his father, believes the connection between clients and Barker Investments runs deeper than a business transaction.
“It is a friendship,” said Ryan, a financial planner as well. “Our clients are almost family to us.”
Gary used the recent closing of the local Folger’s plant as an example. He is working with many of the displaced employees.
“I’ve had a lot of response from them,” said Gary. “Even though I don’t do a lot of active marketing, we have done a lot with those workers.”
And that’s the way Gary likes it. He builds his relationships on referrals; you just can’t duplicate a personal reference from someone who has had a positive experience.
“That’s the way I’ve built my business,” explained Gary. “I don’t work to put people in debt, I want to help people realize their future.”
Gary knows first-hand how things can get negative in a hurry. He was working in the banking industry when the Savings and Loan crisis happened in the 1980s.
“Once those new regulations came down,” he remembered. “All the changes interfered with deals going through. That’s why I like being independent. I get to decide how we want to do it.”
While Gary is proud to be independent, he knows it is a difficult business world out there. He praised Commonwealth for providing ‘strength and security’ to his business and clients. One example is the ‘paperless’ office that Commonwealth provides. All transactions are ‘imaged’ and ‘secure.’
“We are totally mobile now; you can pull it up anywhere,” explained Gary. “We are more efficient and environmentally friendly; and all the clients have access to their files.”
It’s a great example of how Commonwealth helps the independent investment advisor.
“We have the ability to be innovative with clients,” he said. “We have partnered with the best. Commonwealth is the best in the business.”
According to J.D. Powers and Associates, Gary is right. Late last month, Commonwealth Financial Network was ranked “Highest in Independent Advisor Satisfaction Among Financial Investment Firms.” This was the first time that J.D. Powers had included independent advisor satisfaction specifically.
Commonwealth received five out of five Power Circle Ratings; something that doesn’t surprise Gary, who has been affiliated with them since 1999.
“Commonwealth provides us with the professional support in the industry so we can bring that strength to the public through personal relationships,” he said.
Ryan pointed out that Barker Investments has been with Commonwealth through thick and thin.
“Dad’s choice to stick with them has proven to be the wisest of decisions,” said Ryan. “It is a powerful commitment and connection.”
According to Gary, officials at Commonwealth, which has offices in Boston and San Diego, have deferred the praise to the individual investment firms such as Barker.
“They say we are the reason they got that rating,” explained Gary. “But they have proven themselves through trials and good times. They are a strong workforce for us; and ultimately, the winner is the client.”
Gary also explained that the work environment in the Commonwealth offices is such that it helps the local firms with any and every problem; and they will take the time to chat about the common enemy: the New York Yankees!
“It’s wonderful camaraderie,” he said. “They are our partners and they are involved with helping the clients get the best for their money.”
The combination of a strong national company and the local environment in Texoma provided Gary and his family with the place to be; not only for themselves, but for their clients, too. After years in the banking business, Gary decided to start his own business in 1992.
When he moved to Sherman, the office was in the former Sherman Steam Laundry Building and then he moved to a location on Travis Street for five years. Barker Investments has been at Bluestone Office Complex for about a year.
“We needed more room; and they had the space we needed for the future,” said Gary. “It has worked out well.”
Gary is also proud to say that those two children who were uprooted in high school to come to Texoma have returned to live in this area as well. Son, Ryan, and wife, Lindsey, live locally; and daughter, Kyndra, with husband, Jeff Reed, also live here.
Barker Investments is located at 2901 Overland Trail, Suite 200, in Sherman. For more information, contact (903) 893-5669 or visit BarkerInvestments.com