Eric Pyles, owner, Cambridge Financial Services.
Eric Pyles, owner, Cambridge Financial Services.
It might not have seemed like it at the time, but Eric Pyles
made the right career decision.
With a bachelor's in finance followed by an MBA from Arizona State University, Pyles
had some decent job prospects when he
was looking to begin his
career 14 years ago.
He thought about being a financial advisor or going the corporate finance route.
"I couldn't really find a good company to work for doing financial planning, so I was interviewing more with companies for a position in corporate finance," Pyles
"The funny thing is that I was going there to get a copy of my transcript and just was going through the job fair to get to my car quicker," Pyles
I had wanted for years to help people with their money and planning," Pyles
"I shocked everyone that knew me and knew the two offers I had and took the financial planning job."
Just as promised, he
didn't make as much money that first year.
"I worked so, so hard and it wasn't easy.
But I loved it and I was 100 percent dedicated to the business and never looked back at the job I didn't accept," Pyles
said, "Then, two-and-a-half years later, that big accounting firm went out of business behind a lot of scandals and problems that were all over the news.
Today, Pyles is a financial advisor and partner at Cambridge Financial Services in Chandler, Ariz.
is also the reigning Financial Professional of the Year for the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company
, an award he
earned in 2013 as a producer of both Penn Mutual and Hornor
, Townsend & Kent, Inc.
, Penn Mutual's wholly owned subsidiary.
The award recognizes a producer who has demonstrated the highest standards of continuing education, performance and ethics in helping clients achieve a lifetime of financial well-being.
To even qualify for the award, a producer must have earned the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) or Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation, and have qualified for HTK's Chairman's Club
or Leaders Conference.
has the designations covered - and then some.
In addition to holding the CLU, ChFC and CFP designations, Pyles
has earned the Chartered Advisor for Senior Living
(CASL), Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF), Registered Employee Benefit Counselor (REBC) and Registered Health Underwriter (RHU) designations.
"Eric is the kind of producer that others should strive to be like," said Bill Stevens, vice president of Career Agency Distribution for Penn Mutual.
"First, let me tell you that these designations have been very helpful," Pyles
has built his
highly successful practice at Cambridge Financial by specializing in working with small businesses and their owners on business succession planning strategies, developing employee benefit packages and personal planning.
knew when he
first started that he
wanted to work with business owners for a couple of reasons.
First, they thought like he did, as he has always thought of himself like a CEO of his own company and ran his practice that way.
"One of the biggest mistakes I have seen from many new advisors that have failed in this business is they came in with an employee attitude and not with an employer attitude," Pyles
says, noting that with an employer attitude you had to be willing to spend money in the beginning years of your practice just as you would starting up any other type of company.
"Those agents that were not willing to do this never made it."
The second reason he
wanted to target small business owners is because he
needed to stop working evenings so he
could be home with his
had one child and another on the way when he
started this business, and now he
wife Kim have six children.
"I knew working with business owners they would want to meet with me during the day," he
To accomplish this, Pyles started by researching companies within 20 miles of his home that met different criteria he was looking for, including owners he thought he could relate with and had the demographics he was looking for.
"I came up with a couple hundred of these.
I put 120 of them on a spreadsheet and committed to visiting 40 of them each month, so I would stop in each company at least once a quarter," Pyles
"The best thing we have ever done with our practice is to align ourselves with CPAs and other professionals, and this is now where we get the majority of our new clients," Pyles
But it wasn't easy.
"My partner and I would go lease space for months and even years from a CPA.
We have done this with several CPAs until we found a few that we really worked well with and believed in what we did, too," Pyles
"We have even bought office buildings together now with some of these CPAs and house together or put other agents in some of the CPAs offices.
This long-term approach really has paid off and has allowed the CPAs to get to know me and to know of my ethics and high morals that I have, and thus have the confidence to refer any client to me."
Natural migration to employee benefits
Moving into employee benefits was only natural for Pyles
after developing a client roster full of small business owners.
now does employee benefit plans for a majority of his
"I have since hired a staff to focus just on that," Pyles
"My partner and I have also started a totally independent property and casualty company with access to over 30 companies, and have staff in place to do this.
So this allows us to also offer our owners their business insurance, workers comp, etc., from us."
says employers today are really looking for plans that can help reduce their taxes.
"As our current government believes in taking from those that work hard and are successful to support others, the business owners I have been working with are feeling this pinch and are very interested in strategies to reduce that burden," Pyles
Meeting with clients
goes into every meeting trying his
best to get to know the person and their business.
doesn't have a formal process, and while he
has a short questionnaire, he
usually doesn't follow it.
"I just try to talk to them and get to know them, and through the process I understand their concerns and things that I can assist them with.
"Before I have even talked about what I do, I have walked and toured their plants.
As I show an interest in what they do, it will gradually come out what their concerns are and then I know how I can come in and help them, be it with business succession, tax savings, awarding key employees, etc."
It's safe to say it's working for Eric Pyles