Leisa Brown Aiken, CFP®, CPA

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“The Garrett Planning Network does a great job fostering a sense of community that includes Garrett leadership and staff, resource partners and amazing members.”


Leisa Brown Aiken, CFP®, CPA is the founder of Veo Financial Counsel, LLC, a Fee-Only financial planning firm in Chicago, Illinois. After leaving the corporate world in 1998, Leisa’s goal was to draw on her analytical abilities, communications skills and financial expertise to make a difference in people’s lives. To pursue that goal, she began working in 2005 as a financial planner in a firm that offered hourly advice. She founded Veo Financial Counsel, LLC in 2009 to continue providing Fee-Only, hourly as-needed services to a broad range of clients. She continues to partner with her clients, providing specific analyses and recommendations tailored to their individual characteristics, needs, situations and goals.


We recently interviewed Leisa regarding her experiences as a Fee-Only financial planner and Garrett member since December 2009.

Why did you decide to open your firm under the hourly, Fee-Only business model and why did you decide to join the Network?


I chose to open my own firm as a Fee-Only, hourly practice because this model can accommodate the broadest range of client economic circumstances and I very much enjoy working with a diverse client group. Hourly planning and advice can make sense for clients who may later decide to select a comprehensive Fee-Only wealth manager who charges assets under management or retainer fees, or those who choose to hire a Fee-Only investment manager for all or a portion of their ongoing investment management.


Before joining the Network I worked in Fee-Only firms for several years and realized that continual learning would be required to serve clients well.   Garrett provides efficient access to new or unfamiliar information and client solutions.


How has your business startup been supported by the Garrett Planning Network?


The support I received from the information through the Garrett Knowledge Bank, initial training materials, resource partners and other Garrett members was invaluable.  I prefer not to reinvent the wheel and I’m not sure I would have tackled the administrative aspects (phones, technology etc.) without knowing there were resources for these things.   Also, during my startup I was the local coordinator for the Chicago NAPFA Money Bus stop so I was pretty busy with that project.  Finding information quickly helped me do both things during the same few weeks.


What are the 3 greatest benefits of membership?


I am a person who seeks community, so for me, as a sole-practitioner, this is the greatest benefit.  The Garrett Planning Network does a great job fostering a sense of community that includes Garrett leadership and staff, resource partners and amazing members.


Another great benefit is the exposure the Network gets through Sheryl, the founder, and others’ press exposure.


Finally, I have found trusted fellow members who have been willing to discuss challenging business and client related situations and decisions.


What are your short and long term goals for your business?


My short term goal is transitioning to the Garrett Investment Advisors (GIA) technology toolkit. For example, I was using NaviPlan Extended as my financial planning software and am now using Money Tree. My other major focus is regarding the changes that will result when I am living in Malmo, Sweden three-fourths of the time beginning in a couple of months (my husband accepted a position there for the next 3-5 years). Technology and my virtual assistant (found through a Garrett resource partner) will make this possible.


Leisa is active in her faith community by serving on the worship team and participating in activities in her community and abroad.  With her friends in the Progressive Pilgrims book group, Leisa reads writings from most of the major faith traditions.  Recently responding to a request from the American Heart Association to NAPFA, Leisa made a presentation in Spanish at the Mexican consulate in Chicago. Leisa and her husband Daniel (married 30 years) and their children Carmen Alicia ( age 24) and Mark (age 21) like to travel and experience other cultures and food. She and a long-term friend have a subscription for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra chamber series and the Grant Park summer orchestra series.  Leisa also likes leisurely bicycle rides (she recently rode down Pennsylvania Avenue in DC) and weather permitting, enjoys running errands and short trips on her bicycle.