Brian Fowler, founder and CEO of Revolution Partners, describes his path to entrepreneurship in financial service.
The idea began to percolate around 2009. I worked at Morgan Keegan at the time, which had a very strong entrepreneurial spirit. We were a first-generation firm, so I had access to many of the firm’s founding members. Their involvement and particularly their stories of the “early days” had a huge influence on me.
I’m certain what motivated me to take the leap. It was my family, particularly my father. He was extremely talented, and as a young man he could have pursued almost any professional route he chose. Briefly, he experienced unmistakable success – he was reported as being one of the youngest bank presidents in the United States at the age of 26. He was given a rare opportunity, and he was more than capable of making it his life’s work.
Despite his early success, he got off track. While I have no way to prove it, I have always believed the deep regret he felt from not following a personal dream led him to make decisions that negatively compounded over the years. Sadly, he died at the age of 51, never having reached his full potential. His life, and his early death, have had a dramatic influence on the commitment I have made to my life choices. I’ve always tried my best to learn from his situation.
I believe most everyone, if they’re honest with themselves, would love nothing more than to be independent, fully able to pursue a true passion, and to make a meaningful and lasting difference. My career interests have always been focused on finance, and during the years following 2009, the idea of building a new wealth management firm with colleagues I trust and admire began to completely consume me, despite how hard I resisted the idea.
Perhaps like you, I rationalized virtually every reason to avoid taking the leap – the timing wasn’t right, I didn’t want to risk financial security, my team at the time depended on me, I might fail, frequent flier points are awesome, etc.
Somewhere along the way, I stumbled over a Harvard Business Review article titled “The Top Five Career Regrets,” which caught my eye. To summarize:
1. I wish I hadn’t taken the job for the money.
2. I wish I had quit earlier.
3. I wish I had the confidence to start my own business.
4. I wish I had used my time at school more productively.
5. I wish I had acted on my career hunches.
After much soul searching, research, and evaluating the aftermath of the 2008-09 market crisis, I became convinced that the financial services industry was not evolving at a pace that was best for its clients and was becoming increasingly conflict-dependent. The timing was perfect to start a new firm to dedicate my professional life to individuals, families and the like-minded wealth management advisors who serve them.
While my father’s situation initially motivated me, research convinced me, and my wife and children’s encouragement ultimately was the final push that I needed. Starting a new company is definitely a family affair, and none of this would be possible without their support.
In his book "The Hero with a Thousand Faces," Joseph Campbell wrote that “regrets are illuminations come too late.”
I’m humbled to work with such an outstanding team, family and friends who equally share this idea and desire to build a firm for the future. I hope to leave the field with no regrets and encourage any investors and advisors searching for alternatives to give us a look. We're another year into Realizing Life's Worth™ at Revolution Partners, and the water is fine!