For Gary Schwartz, life has been a fascinating ride. Always an entrepreneur, he started his first business while he was still in college, working as a landscaper. After graduation, he opened a butcher shop in the Bronx, got married, and he and his wife soon adopted their two sons, Ben and Andrew, who are just six weeks apart. And while he loved the business and his family, Gary stood in his own way when it came to success. “At the time, I was struggling with alcohol and drugs,” says Gary. “I’m lucky the only thing I lost was my butcher shop.”
The shop failed, and Gary went into recovery. And though he’s been clean for more than three decades, his path to success wasn’t easy. “I’ve been lucky to have amazing people in my life who were willing to help, even when I least deserved it.” But help they did. With the help of a good friend, Gary entered financial services at MetLife, and while he learned the business there, it didn’t fit his entrepreneurial nature. It was time to start his own firm. “It sounds crazy, but I came into the business completely broke. What pushed me forward—every day—was having a mentor who believed in me. Luckily, I was at a point in my life where I was completely humbled, and I was finally ready to really to listen…and to learn.” His mentor, Bernie Mayer, took Gary under his wing, teaching him the business and even giving him rides into the city to save Gary the train fare. “I had no connections, but I had a passion to help people, and that’s what’s made all the difference.”
Gary opened the doors to Madison Planning Group in 1997, followed by the Syracuse office in 2007, then Boca Raton in 2008, and Long Island in 2013. Gary attributes the firm’s success to the fact he and his team are focused on one thing: managing the success of every single client. “For me, it’s all about relationships and helping people. The best part of my day is when a client tells me—or others—that I’m ‘family.’ I love teaching, I love helping, and I love seeing my work pay off for the people I care about.”
Of course, anyone around Gary will tell you that one of his greatest traits is his willingness to help others. But Gary doesn’t see himself as a hero. “Really, I do what I do for me, not for them. When I help someone out, it makes that little kid with no self esteem and no direction feel pretty darned good.” Yet everyone who talks about Gary has a story to tell of how he’s helped—and even changed their lives completely. “Everybody deserves redemption,” says Gary. “I believe there are a lot of people out there who just need a break to get back on their feet. Whether I’m helping someone get on a better financial path or a better life path, that’s why I’m here.”
As part of his personal commitment to financial education, Gary provides worksite educational seminars for employees of state agencies, unions , as well as financial workshops for employees of and private and public corporations. A Registered Financial Consultant (RFC®), a Certified in Long-Term Care (CLTC) designee, and a member of Ed Slott’s Elite IRA Advisor Group, Gary is also a proud member of Forum 400, Association for Advanced Life Underwriting (AALU), Million Dollar Round Table's Top of the Table, and Financial Services Institute.
Ed Slott's Elite IRA Advisor Group is solely an indication that the financial advisor has attended training provided by Ed Slott and Company. Ed Slott is not affiliated with Royal Alliance Associates, Inc.