Finding your purpose

Jeff Perkins found his purpose after leaving a career in sales to become a financial advisor.

For over 15 years, Jeff Perkins enjoyed a successful career in the pharmaceutical sales industry. But as time passed, he began questioning whether that was truly the field he was meant to be in.

“As I spent more and more years making good money, I kept feeling less and less fulfilled,” says Jeff. “I distinctly remember waking up in the middle of the night and thinking, ‘What am I doing with my life?’ I wanted to feel like I had a purpose and was making a worthwhile contribution to society.”

Jeff’s search for his next endeavor made him realize that he could turn his love for economics into a career.

“I was always good at planning my own finances, and my investing knowledge was high for a layman. So I thought, ‘What better way to spend the rest of my working life than helping people with their own finances, doing something I enjoy and making a living out of it.’”

Jeff consulted two of his good friends in the financial planning field, learning more about their day-to-day experiences and their approach to the business. One of those friends also happened to work at Raymond James. “I’d known of Raymond James because of the firm’s national reputation,” says Jeff. “But my friend also spoke very highly of it, and was certainly an advocate for it.”

After interviewing at a couple of other firms, Jeff decided Raymond James and its culture were the right fit for him. That’s when he also decided to enroll in the Advisor Mastery Program (AMP). Although he had previously completed highly respected corporate sales training programs, Jeff was impressed by his experience in AMP.

“I actually anticipated AMP to maybe not live up to other programs. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. I thought the training was outstanding. Not only did the program teach us essentials about building a business, but it also provided more granular lessons on things like time management and time blocking.

“AMP really broadened my horizons and challenged my assumptions and ways of thinking. I thought it was excellent. The quality of the trainers was also amazing. I was incredibly impressed by them.”

Jeff also appreciated that the program allowed him to develop his own voice. “I loved that there was a sense of autonomy. They gave people the freedom to choose how to phrase things and how they wanted to build their practice. It was very clear that AMP, and Raymond James as a firm, lets you be yourself while giving you a lot of big-picture wisdom.”

Additionally, there was a sense of solidarity in the program, and it was comforting for Jeff to know that he was surrounded by others who were in the same place as him. He also had the opportunity to hear about other advisors who had been in AMP. “When they brought in advisors, especially those who had been in our shoes, I couldn’t get enough of that,” he says.

Not only did Jeff apply the lessons he learned during AMP to his new role as an advisor, but he also relied on the knowledge he’d acquired throughout his pharmaceutical career. “When I was in sales, I would talk to doctors and surgeons and really challenge their thinking. Having that ability to talk to anybody, no matter their status, from my own area of expertise empowered me to speak with individuals who were already financially successful and ask them questions maybe they hadn’t considered.”

Jeff knew he could also rely on his AMP mentor for guidance. “I would go to my mentor and ask questions like, ‘What would you do in this situation?’ And while he would mostly reaffirm that I was handling things the right way, his input was so valuable. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to make certain decisions with as much confidence and conviction.”

Since graduating AMP, Jeff has acquired an ultra-high-net-worth client and is planning to further establish his niche while continuing to refine his craft. “While I do want to acquire another book in the future, right now I’m really focused on doing the best possible job for each of my clients, every single day.”

As for his advice to aspiring advisors, Jeff encourages them to be flexible and open-minded.

“You can’t commit to an approach that doesn’t work, and you may have to try different ones until you find the one that resonates with you. I had to adjust on the fly, be versatile and try new things. It’s important to be open-minded and know that you certainly don’t have all the answers.”

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, Certified Financial Planner™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP®(with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.