A casual visitor to Van Pearcy's Web site could be excused for thinking the man runs a car dealership. The home page at vanpearcy.com is dominated by two photos — one of parking lot full of antique cars and the other of the tan Mr. Pearcy himself, looking for all the world like a purveyor of the high-end autos.
In fact, the 44-year-old Pearcy is a successful financial advisor who is happily blurring the line between business and pleasure. The photos of cars on his site are there to promote an annual car show that he hosts in the parking lot of his Raymond James-affiliated advisory practice. And while his passion for classic cars is readily apparent, it only takes a few minutes of talking to him about his Midland, Texas-based advisory practice to know he is equally excited by his more serious pursuit.
Pearcy's advisory firm, VanPearcy Financial, has been affiliated with Raymond James for four years. His approach to the business has been to grow his assets slowly but steadily, and he now manages $375 million in client assets.
He attributes his success to being a “financial planner before it was cool to be a financial planner,” noting that the buzzword status of “holistic” wealth management services is confusing some would-be clients.
“It's the hot thing right now, but I don't feel like a lot of people are really providing all you have to provide to be a real asset manager,” Pearcy says. “I think a lot of people are just jumping on the bandwagon, and they will be the first to jump off at the wrong time.” Resisting this temptation, he says, is one reason he has been able to consistently expand his business. “I have just inched my way up by knowing my clients and what they want and need,” he says.
Despite his focus on comprehensive financial planning, only a small fraction of Pearcy's 2,500 accounts are fee-based — good news, he admits, given Raymond James' recent troubles with fee-based accounts. (The NASD fined the firm $750,000 for improperly placing some clients in fee-based arrangements, and the firm is in the process of dropping its fee-based brokerage business.)
The advisory business is his primary concern, but there is little doubt that his car fixation occupies a prominent spot on his priorities list. It's also interesting to see how his business and hobby bleed into one another. Pearcy attended his first antique car auction four years ago with some friends in Scottsdale, Texas. One of the first cars to come up was a 1942 Lincoln Continental. After quickly rifling through a friend's car price guidebook, Pearcy saw the car, whose auction was stalling out at $19,000, was worth $35,000.
“I think we should buy this car,” Pearcy told his friends. He shot his hand up and eventually purchased a car that would end up being worth thrice its purchase price. Pearcy now owns seven antique cars, and even though all have grown in value since he bought them, he has not sold any and has no plans to. “I buy them to drive when it's nice outside,” he says.
With his business continuing to grow steadily, he can afford the big money hobby. But if things turn bad, he knows he has easy access to some capital.
“I never think of these as investments, but when you compare these cars' value over the last few years, and the way the market has been going, well, it's just funny,” he says. “Who would have thought cars even could be an investment?”