Carnick and Co. wraps up best year in 35-year history

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Carnick and Co., a fee-only financial planning firm based in Colorado Springs, is wrapping up what it says was the best year in the firm’s 35-year history.

The company has averaged 16-percent growth each year for the last 10 years. This year, that percentage jumped to 22 percent.

Founder and President Craig Carnick said there were several contributing factors.

“This year, our firm became employee-owned, which made a real psychological difference to our employees and helped drive our growth,” Carnick said. “It helps motivate people to do the best possible client-centered work.”

As part of the switch, Carnick granted 30-percent ownership of the company to a group of key, long-term employees.

Carnick said the move is part of a long-term succession plan. He intends to make a slow transition over the next 10 years.

“I’m having too much fun to quit (now),” he said.

Another factor to Carnick’s success is that the firm has been in business long enough to be working with second and third generations of its early clients.

“A multiplying effect has started to take hold,” he said.

Additionally, a “big shift in public consciousness” about fee-only financial planners helped.

“There clearly has been a turn in the public’s desire for the types of services we offer. They’ve decided they’d like to buy advice rather than products,” Carnick said.

Small biz index

The Vectra Bank Colorado Small Business Index for Colorado came in at 105.8 in November, up from a revised 103.6 in October.

The increase reflects a gradually improving state economy and more opportunities for businesses to hire workers.

Of course, not every indicator has trended positive. Colorado’s unemployment rate hit 8.4 percent in the latest month, up from 8.2 percent in the prior month. Twelve months ago, the rate was 7.5 percent.

In the past 12 months, total employment declined by 12,200 jobs. Historically high unemployment rates in the state and intermountain region have contributed to weak retail sales growth.

The unemployment rate is the most heavily weighted component of the Vectra Bank business index. But, somewhat counter-intuitively, a higher jobless rate is viewed — for business index purposes — as a positive contributor because it means small businesses have increased access to labor.

Other factors typically associated with a higher unemployment rate — for instance, lower income gains, less job creation and lower retail sales — pull the business index lower.

Still, there’s more good news than bad in the latest index figures.

“Colorado’s year-over-year measurement of job losses has declined for 10 consecutive months,” said Jeff Thredgold, Vectra Bank’s corporate economist.

“This strongly suggests that the state’s transition from painful recession to modest economic growth should take place during 2011’s first quarter.”

IRS update

The Internal Revenue Service has added more Twitter feeds to it repertoire of tax tools.

The IRS Twitter news feed, @IRSnews, provides the latest federal tax news and information for taxpayers. The feed will focus on easy-to-use information, including tax tips, tax law changes and programs such as e-file, the earned income tax credit and “Where’s My Refund.”

Anyone with a Twitter account can follow @IRSnews by going to http://twitter.com/IRSnews.

Another Twitter feed, @IRStaxpros, is designed for tax preparers. Follow @IRStaxpros by going to http://twitter.com/IRStaxpros.

Rebecca Tonn can be reached at rebecca.tonn@csbj.com or 719-329-5229. Friend her on Facebook.