Brent Perry, CFP
Piedmont Financial Advisors
For Brent Perry, being a fee-only financial advisor has a personal resonance. After losing his dad at nine years old, Brent watched his mom navigate the financial complications of losing a spouse. She wound up finding a local advisor who convinced her to invest in movie production companies. Though as a kid it was neat for Brent to see the pamphlets with the movies these groups were producing, looking back he can’t help but wonder why the advisor picked these investments. “I don’t think he was doing much to help my mom,” Brent says. “I think he was probably doing what he could to earn a commission.” After graduating from Indiana University, Brent knew he wanted to go into advising. “I knew that there were people out there who weren’t necessarily wealthy but who really needed the help,” he says.
Before making the move into financial planning, Brent laid the groundwork by taking positions that allowed him to establish himself financially and begin to sharpen his skills. He served as a business manager for a nonprofit and in the asset management division of a large insurance company. When he began to plot his path into financial planning, he thought the only way he could get into the industry would be by starting on the lowest rung. He took a job as an assistant for a CPA with the hopes that this position would set him up for future success. However, two years in, there was still no plan for him to take on a client-facing role, and he began to look around for new opportunities.
Attending the NAPFA conference in 2006, Brent learned about ACP. This allowed him to see a new path forward. Instead of trying to climb the ranks at another company, he could venture out on his own. After considering the possibilities, Brent decided to take a risk on himself. “I’m financially conservative, so I gave myself a long runway to get started,” he says. “I wanted the business to be able to support itself within two years.”
Opening his doors in 2007 meant that within the first year Brent had to face a recession. “The phone wasn’t ringing, and the people I did talk to didn’t want to talk about their finances,” he says. “But I knew that even though it was a hard time, people would still need to make plans.” Luckily Brent had a healthy reserve to lean on and he was able to weather the storm. Soon the economy began to stabilize his roster of clients grew.
Being an ACP member gave Brent the framework he needed. “It allowed me to feel confident that I could immediately help clients,” he says. After thirteen years, Brent finds ACP to be as important as ever. “Having such an open and like-minded group of people to lean on has been so beneficial,” he says. “No matter where you are in your career, you come across situations you haven’t seen before or things you don’t understand; ACP members are always willing to help. There’s no other place quite like it.”
Brent has served on the Tech Committee for years, recently taking on the role of committee chair. He appreciates being part of a volunteer-driven organization, where so many people are willing to step up and contribute. Volunteering not only gives Brent the opportunity to apply and share his knowledge, it allows him to build meaningful relationships. “By taking a deeper dive in this role, I’m learning more, and I’m becoming a better advisor,” he says.