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Connecting Passion with Purpose

Cass Garner has a passion for unlocking the potential in everyone he meets— rescue dogs, skittish horses, and especially students.   

“My favorite part of teaching is helping students reach their potential,” says Garner. “Joining the Knopman Marks team has been great because that’s their forte. I love their white-glove approach with every student, so nobody falls through cracks.”  

Garner brings a wealth of experience to his new position as a member of the Knopman Marks faculty, including work at FINRA, Kaplan, and NRS.  

Ian Franklin, managing director at Knopman Marks, notes that Garner has quickly become a favorite with students. “We’re so happy to have someone with Cass’ expertise and enthusiasm join our faculty,” says Franklin. “He’s a terrific addition to our team.”  

Garner’s love for nurturing potential has influenced all aspects of his life. He has also renovated dilapidated homes, fostered stray dogs, and turned frightened horses into confident winners. Here, the native Texan discusses his interest in high-stakes performance, his own experience with test taking, and his drive to help change lives.  

What attracted you to Knopman Marks?  

I was drawn to their reputation for being the best. I knew that Knopman Marks consistently delivers the best pass rates in the industry. I liked their dedication to bringing a human touch and a sense humor to the rigorous process of helping people ace their FINRA exams. Teaching here has exceeded my expectations. I’m happier than I’ve ever been in any position in my career. I love the people. A lot of organizations give lip service to career development and diversity, but here there’s sincere follow through.   

“Helping Students develop their potential is what drives me.”

What was your first job right out of college?  

I worked for FINRA performing compliance examinations. The fun part was changing that initial feeling when we would show up that FINRA was the adversary. Nobody wants to see regulators walk in the door. But after working with us, people would realize we were there to help them improve their practices. It was a great introduction to the industry. Later, I worked as a bond trader on a trading desk before getting into exam prep. 

Where did you teach before joining Knopman Marks’ faculty?  

I taught for several training firms including Kaplan. Most recently I worked at National Regulatory Services (NRS), where I enjoyed diving into course development.  

You’ve said that teaching is like yoga. How so?  

I love teaching because it’s a rare opportunity to slow down and be fully present that’s also central to practicing yoga. It’s about being in the moment and creating a connection with students. Nothing beats guiding a student to an “aha” moment where things click, and they understand a concept. I’ve run into my former students years after they’ve passed their exam. You’re their best friend! You were there at a pivotal moment and helped them flourish. They don’t forget that.  

What helps students perform at their best on these licensing exams despite anxiety, lack of confidence or other challenges?  

These exams are high stakes, where careers can be on the line. Some students feel they’re up against the wall. I feel very invested in each student’s success. I enjoy guiding them on how to allocate their study time and optimize their exam prep activities. It’s rewarding to help students over hurdles so they can launch new life chapters and thrive. Helping students develop their potential is what drives me. 

“Nothing beats guiding a student to an ‘aha’ moment where things click, and they understand a concept.” 

How has your experience taking many licensing exams yourself influenced your teaching style?  

I am a compulsive test taker. I’ve attended many license exam study courses. I’ve passed the CPA exam, license exams for insurance and real estate, and many FINRA exams. While attending various study courses for these exams, I gained a student’s perspective on teaching techniques that are successful and those that are not. I have a real empathy for what students are going through. I’ve been in their seat and speak their language.   

Do you see a common thread throughout your life in helping others reach their potential?  

It’s true. I love helping scared, injured rescue dogs heal and become socialized so they’re stronger candidates for adoption. It’s always tough to say goodbye but I know I’ve helped save a life. It’s the same with helping horses overcome fears and become winners. There’s a similar joy in renovating a dilapidated building to serve new occupants. 

What’s the best part of your workday? 

My colleagues and the students I meet. I enjoy investing in others, so they realize their dreams. That’s why I love teaching at Knopman Marks. There’s a deep, holistic understanding of how to help any student achieve an ambitious goal.  





Suzanne Riss is an author and Director of Communications at Knopman Marks Financial Training. Previously the award-winning Editor-in-Chief of Working Mother magazine, she is a fierce advocate for issues facing working moms and an authority on work/life trends. Her expertise has been tapped in interviews by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America, the Today Show, and CNN. Suzanne's third book, Work Disrupted, published by Wiley, was released in January 2021.