Like many ACP members, Wes did not begin his professional journey in the financial planning field. His career began, in what seemed at the time, to be a completely different field. While completing his Bachelor’s in Psychology at James Madison University, Wes connected with the previous program director of a therapeutic outdoor camp for at-risk youth. Having grown up in the Holston River Valley of Virginia, Wes had a love of the great outdoors, and this passion, coupled with his interest in human nature, prompted him to accept a position with the camp. Wes worked with youth ranging from 13 to 18 years old, building campsites and leading month-long canoe and hiking excursions. The experience was therapeutic for the campers and was immersive and rewarding for Wes. But after working 24 hours a day, five days a week, for three and a half years, it was time for a change.
Wes then moved to Washington, DC, and started working for a law firm. “I wanted to do something completely different,” he said. He enjoyed the professionalism of the firm and continued to work there for the next eight years. He met his wife, Christine, at the firm and had the opportunity to be involved with cases that drew national headlines, including the Enron bankruptcy proceedings. Simultaneously, he completed the MBA program at George Mason University. Through his studies and time spent at the law firm, Wes’ interest in finance flourished. “I discovered that I loved the ability to plan and look forward.”
Motivated by this interest, Wes left the firm and began working for an investment bank in their new advisor program. Wes was soon disappointed with the illusion of sophistication and obsession with “production,” an industry term for the revenue that an advisor generates for the bank. During the Great Recession Wes continued looking for a firm that shared his planning philosophy and was focused on putting clients first. At the same time, Wes completed his CFP and during the process met ACP members Fran Goldman and Claire Emory at the Dalton CFP program at Georgetown. Fran and Claire told him all about ACP and he was intrigued.
Wes eventually determined that if he wanted the career he was looking for, he may just have to forge his own path. He read Bert Whitehead’s book (Why Smart People do Stupid Things with Money). He liked Bert’s “straightforward” yet sophisticated approach and in September 2010, he decided to join ACP. “What sold me was the support from the ACP community. The professionalism, the substance, the depth of knowledge—ACP was exactly what I had been searching for,” stated Wes.
Wes attended Group Instruction in Denver and the knowledge he obtained there has helped him to adjust his business structure and his approach to planning, but he really did not come for the training, and he uses just a few of the ACP tools. “The people keep me here. ACP advisors are sincerely interested in you and in sharing their stories, resources, ideas, struggles, and solutions. This is the thing that keeps us together—the collective spirit is what perseveres. ACP is the advisor’s advisor. The further you get into it and the more you get to know people and the more connections you make—that value is unquestionable.”
Above all else, trust is key for Wes. The trust in his fellow members and the answers they altruistically provide have secured his loyalty to ACP. “The connection to the other people, what I learn from the other advisors [and] the assurance that if I have a problem… if I go to ACP and I see what somebody else is doing, I know that it’s likely going to be a good solution for me.”
Wes continues to grow his business and is a member of an ACP marketing study group. He has served as a member, and now chair, of the ACP Conference Committee. “The conference is what I am most passionate about, and I wanted to give something back,” he said.
He and Christine live in Arlington, VA, along with their daughter, Sadie, trusty 17-year-old canine, Rodney, and 12-week-old puppy, Maggie. In his spare time, Wes enjoys cycling, multi-day backcountry hiking trips, Pilates, and cooking.
For all you do for ACP, thank you Wes!