Edward Fulbright, CPA/PFS, Fulbright Financial Consulting
From his days as a student at Florida A & M University, to a position as a staff accountant for a Big 8 firm, and through a relocation back to his home town of Durham, NC, to work for IBM, Ed Fulbright knew he wanted to start his own business. He just had to figure out what type of business. As a CPA, it was natural for Ed to consider a financial planning venture, but “everyone I knew had to work for a living” he explains, and he thought commissioned sales was the only option. “How could I help the average person if my income depended on selling them investment products?”
So in 1989 Ed opened a full time CPA practice and essentially provided financial planning without the investment advice. He soon realized that his clients were getting charged twice, paying a fee to both Ed and a broker. “I had to learn the investment side and figure out a system to serve my clients in a more complete way,” Ed recalls, “then I saw an ad in an accountancy journal about tax-oriented financial planning.” Ed called ACP founder Bert Whitehead and says, “Bert closes a deal faster than anybody, and I found myself giving him my credit card number over the telephone!”
It all clicked for Ed when he realized he could save his clients more money than the cost of his services and provide real, comprehensive advice. In 1997, Ed began working with clients using the ACP system and he has been growing his business slow and steady ever since.
While the ACP system provided the tools for Ed to succeed as a financial advisor, the community is what sustains him. “My ACP member colleagues are my support system,” he explains, “I am a member of NAPFA and a host of other similar organizations, but when a question or issue arises, it is usually an ACP member that provides the solution.” Ed recalls “talking to at least half of the membership” when he was getting up and running. “I rely on them.”
Ed has certainly paid it forward over the years. He has held almost every volunteer position possible in the organization (including a stint as Conference chair), he is a mentor to new members, a frequent conference presenter, and an enthusiastic contributor to ACP discussion forums. When asked why he chooses to give back, Ed describes it this way: “Being active in the organization helps people get to know you, and helps you expand your network of colleagues and confidants. It is a win-win.”