Cody Garrett takes a pair of 45-minute “Twitter walks” every day. He often will invite random followers to send him their phone numbers through a direct message.
The results provide insight into real-world financial problems — and great content for Garrett, an advice-only financial planner who owns Measure Twice Financial in Houston.
“I’ll just call some random person I’ve never talked to before,” Garrett said. “People ask me all the time, ‘How do you create so much content?’ I probably post something new and original on Twitter every few hours. I believe that the best form of content is simply documenting the conversations you have with other people.”
The Twitter walks represent an intersection of Garrett’s advice philosophies. He is committed to giving away financial information and to connecting with people via social media. His approach is even more unique and adventurous once you realize that Garrett is not managing assets.
“A client is only a client for three months, and then they’re gone,” explained Garrett, 33. “At the end of every year, I have zero assets and zero clients.”
That kind of advice-only model would seem to add up to more work and less security, but Garrett doesn’t see it that way. The work is not really work if it’s enjoyable and fulfilling, he said.
Plus, Garrett’s selfless commitment to connecting and sharing information is a fantastic lead generator.
“I have limited my personal capacity to working with only two clients per month, and 10 hours a week of work for financial planning,” Garrett said. “I spend the rest of my week just creating more educational content to give away for free. But that also means that I’m at full capacity for financial planning for the next 18 months to two years.”
Until recent years, Garrett was on a much different career path. He began taking piano lessons at age 6 and later graduated from the University of Houston with a bachelor’s degree in music theory. Garrett studied contemporary piano performance at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
That gave way to a successful music career both as a keyboardist and behind the controls as an arranger. Garrett worked in several different musical genres, and with artists such as drummer Steve Smith of the band Journey, Broadway legend Ben Vereen and American Idol finalist Will Makar.
Although Garrett was young, his music career became too much of a grind. “As a musician, you have to be multiple things,” he explained. “I was always working eight to five as a music director. Then I was kind of working five to eight on the flip side. I was playing either Broadway musicals at night or always playing weddings on the weekends.”
By the time Garrett married his wife, Marissa, in 2015, thoughts of a major career change were percolating.
“One of my metrics of success in both personal life and business life is I wanted to be able to eat dinner with my wife every night of the week,” he recalled.
The dilemma centered on the money. Specifically, how would the newly married Garrett replace the income he made, for example, earning $500 a weekend playing weddings? The couple had student loan debt and were following Dave Ramsey’s advice to eliminate it as soon as possible.
Ramsey’s Financial Peace University also preaches not investing in anything you don’t understand. So Garrett set out to learn about investments and investing, devouring books and podcasts.
“I became fascinated with personal finance,” he said.
Garrett’s mother suggested he speak with a family friend who had been a registered investment advisor for two decades. That friend was Joe Birkofer, principal and founder of Legacy Asset Management in Houston.
“He recommended I enroll in the CFP education program, just to drink out of the fire hose and learn a lot more about personal finance,” Garrett said. “That was the natural gateway to the CFP education program. Within two months of that I was like, ‘OK, I want to be a financial planner.’”
That was three-and-a-half years ago. “Four years ago, I didn’t even know what an IRA was,” Garrett said. “And now I’m at full capacity owning my own firm. That’s a fast transition.”
It started with the CFP program at Rice University and continued with Garrett earning his Series 65 license in 2019. By that point, he was working as a financial planner for Birkofer at Legacy.
“I saw an enthusiast,” Birkofer said. “That’s the best way to describe Cody. There are some folks who just show up and there are other folks who show up and they’re enthusiastic and they’re constantly wanting more.”
The youthful-looking Garrett had little problem connecting with clients right away.
“There was a little bit of a concern from clients at first because I’m this young guy with no experience telling them how to manage their own money, millions of dollars and even moving around millions of dollars,” Garrett recalled. “But I’m kind of giddy about personal finance. I love it and find it fascinating, the technical and the personal side of it. So that concern went away pretty quickly.”
It didn’t take long for Garrett to want his own firm. In fact, he wanted to start three businesses around the “Measure Twice” brand: Measure Twice Money, a blog; Measure Twice Financial, an registered investment advisory; and Measure Twice Planners, a concept in which Garrett will offer other planners insights on his processes.
The branding name plays on the carpenter’s axiom: Measure twice, cut once.
“Everybody has an estate plan. Everybody has a risk management plan,” Garrett said. “It might not be aligned with their personal objectives and values. So the family has already measured once, and what they do is they reach out to me as a financial planner to help them measure twice before making important financial decisions.”
Measure Twice Financial opened its doors in June 2021. Garrett charges $6,400 for a three-month, three-meeting process. He described his clients as having an investable net worth between $2.5 million and $8 million.
“They’re all do-it-yourself investors,” Garrett said. “But they want to have that level of financial independence within five years that they can work because they want to, not because they have to.”
Plenty of advisors are on social media. It is almost a requirement nowadays. Almost no one is posting the level of detailed, personal financial information that Garrett did in a series of tweets sent Feb. 26.
In a 24-tweet thread, Garrett outlined his family’s financial picture, including personal details such as how much the couple expects to pay in mortgage interest and how their equity investments are distributed. The unusual level of transparency earned Garrett a good deal of attention on a platform that sees many tweets pass with no replies.
Garrett regularly tweets long threads outlining asset allocation examples and tax-efficient charitable giving strategies. It’s all part of his unselfish, transparent approach to the business, Garrett said.
“The biggest thing missing from our industry is that most financial advisors act like they have this secret sauce, that there’s this kind of intellectual property that they have as a financial planner or financial advisor,” he explained. “And you’re only going to get value from me if you’re working with me and paying for it.”
While Garrett is a fee-only financial planner without an active insurance license, he recognizes the value of life insurance and annuity products within a holistic financial-planning relationship. A network of “trusted agents for life, health, disability, property/casualty and long-term care” help provide clients with appropriate coverages and risk-transfer planning, he said.
“I am grateful for the generous and transparent relationships within our industry, as insurance is an essential piece of the puzzle,” he added. “Most financial plans require insurance adjustments, whether an increase or reduction in coverage.”
Just because Garrett does not manage assets does not mean he is opposed to that financial advice model. Advisors just need to be better educated on the details and know what they want to be from the start, he said.
“You have to truly understand who you’re serving, and how you’re going to provide value to them,” Garrett said. “It kind of gets people in trouble if they start with compensation first as a metric of advisor success, rather than thinking about who they’re serving and how they’re serving.”
Garrett shares a home with his wife and their cat in what he calls “kind of a minimalist, simple lifestyle.” He spends much of his free time immersed in life as a financial educator and planner, as well as feeding his social media alter ego. Industry-related podcasts and audiobooks are his frequent companions.
“Anytime I have an interesting idea that I think would provide value to somebody else, I just write it down and then that becomes content,” he said. “I have way more vision for content than I have time to actually create.”