Brent Peoples, a 25-year veteran of Raymond James Investments, relishes the up-and-down ride of his industry -- with an eye on fun and fundamentals.
Referring to a role that is practically extinct, Brent Peoples calls himself a “dinosaur in the business.”
Then he laughs.
Peoples shifts time between roles as both Senior Vice President of investments at Raymond James & Associates Inc., and branch manager of two offices in Melbourne and Viera. In the world of financial advising, such duality is no longer a regular occurrence. “If you’re an adviser, you manage and help your clients,” he explained. “And if you manage the offices, you’re focus is totally, 100%, on your employees.”
Peoples, however, also has a place on his resume that reads, “Dates Employed: November 1995 – Present,” with the same job titles. And he relishes the roles — one in which he collectively he manages some $1.5 billion in client assets and the other where he manages approximately 30 employees of Raymond James. In reality, Peoples noted, the jobs are different, but they’re also much the same in many ways. He sums his thinking up in one concept: service.
“When I’m helping my clients, the idea there is to give them great customer service,” he said. “And when I have my manager hat on, it’s very similar in that when I look at the employees — the financial advisers who work in the two offices – I think the same thing: What can I do to help them?”
Peoples further points to Raymond James, a company headquartered in St. Pete with more than 8,100 financial advisers nationwide, as well as Canada and overseas. It was founded in 1962 and has been public since 1983. There are approximately $896 billion in client assets.
According to Peoples, that longevity, success and broad scope didn’t happened by accident. “The firm, I believe, has done it right over the 25 years,” he said. “The company treats the advisers like it treats its clients.”
In relative terms, Peoples is a financial-services lifer, with a total of more than three decades in industry. Yet, the years preceding Raymond James were too full of changes. Stability came with his arrival to Raymond James. Not that Peoples doesn’t welcome a little industry turbulence. He describes that as “fun.”
Constant changes to regulatory environment, as fiduciary standards continue to be raised for financial advisers, is one example. But that isn’t a big deal to him because “in our world at Ray James for the past 20-plus years, we’ve been doing these things.” Then there’s the part that makes Peoples’ eyes light up — working with clients.
“That’s the exciting part for me in the business… There are no two days that are exactly the same. And there are no two clients exactly the same. “Helping clients through the crazy ups and downs of the economy,” he said, is an invigorating process.
Notably, Peoples made that statement just as the Dow stock market index was in the midst of a historic weeklong plummet, largely the result of a health scare, the Coronavirus. While no financial adviser can devise a cure for such a malady, or prevent a Dow freefall, Peoples believes client-focused fundamentals are always a steadying force. His prescription is problem-solving.
“Getting to sit down with somebody face to face and try to figure out what they’re looking for and then fixing their problem. That’s the fun part of the job to me,” he said. “It might involve insurance or stock investments or a bond portfolio, but those are just instruments to help solve the problem. It’s about helping people, the clients.”
“We don’t want to be the biggest, we just want to be the best. That’s probably an overused cliché,” Peoples said. “But every individual investor is different, and our goal is to find out what that individual investor really wants to get accomplished. And then our role is help them accomplish it. “Our advisers do amazing things. … They’re involved in [clients’] lives. We become that trusted person, not just as an adviser, but really almost to a point where we become one of the family and one of their friends.”