Charlie Dunn is an impressive figure in the community, especially given his age.

In fewer than eight years working for Northwestern Mutual in Colorado Springs, he has become a successful wealth management adviser with an independent practice; he has a family, a love for cycling and a penchant for community activism.

“If you ask any of Charlie’s friends or clients, they will tell you that he is a ‘go-to guy’ who can be depended on whether you just want to catch a quick bike ride or you have a pressing financial question or concern,” said Tim Duvall, district manager of Academy Mortgage Corporation.

But that hasn’t always been the case.

The 36-year-old started out in Illinois, where he spent much of his youth partying — unconcerned with the future that would eventually become his reality — and said he didn’t really start to focus on making a good living until after getting married at the tender age of 21.

After college, Dunn entered the workforce as a graphic artist during a time when he said the industry was struggling.

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“It was just a really poor time to enter the workforce — it was 2002,” he said. “That didn’t work out, but I needed work, so I took a job in construction and really gravitated toward the fine carpentry side of that.”

Going with the flow, Dunn received an internship with a fourth-generation German furniture-maker in Illinois, before moving to Colorado Springs in order to be closer to the mountains.

“My wife was teaching at The Classical Academy at the time, so I started a cabinetry business at age 24 with a zero-percent interest credit card and one job,” he said with a laugh.

Dunn committed himself to entrepreneurship for four years, until the birth of his first child in 2008. Frustrated with the state of the construction industry and the stress of running the business, he came across an opportunity that he had never even considered.

“I was just talking to my financial adviser … and he duped me into joining his team and becoming a financial adviser,” Dunn said. “And I’ve never looked back.”

Since joining Northwestern Mutual in 2009, Dunn has co-founded the financial planning firm Dunn Perrault & Associates with local financial adviser Mark Perrault and has become increasingly active in the local business community. He and his wife of 15 years have two children.

“Charlie Dunn is a rising star in Colorado Springs because he has experienced what it takes to be an entrepreneur,” said Carolyn Gust, CMO of Northwestern Mutual in Denver. “He lives his purpose every day and makes others better for knowing him.”

He has served on the board for organizations such as Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation, USA Pro Challenge (cycling), the Fostering Hope Foundation and the Children’s Literacy Center.

“Charlie is also a man of integrity and puts his character, values and relationships over profits,” Duvall said. “As a result, Charlie is a great representative for his company and a great asset for his clients, friends and our community.”