Charlie Dunn and Mark Perrault entered the wealth management industry with Northwestern Mutual in Colorado Springs from different paths and backgrounds.
They hail from separate states and came to the Pikes Peak region for different reasons. But eight years ago the two started their careers at Northwestern Mutual and sparked a friendship that would eventually turn into a successful partnership in wealth management: Dunn, Perrault & Associates.
“Setting the culture of teamwork and the camaraderie it takes to have a balanced team has been difficult because we were both Lone Rangers basically coming together — and our support staff had been taking care of one boss and now has two [co-founders],” Perrault said. “That part was initially the most challenging.”
Though the early stages of merging their teams were difficult and at times like “the merging of the Brady Bunch family,” Dunn said, their collaboration has been successful.
Their first 12 months was a record-breaking period — Dunn and Perrault served around 400 clients across 30 states.
“The first year in business together we had our best year ever. If you were to combine that and measure it by the amount of new dollars that we brought into the practice in terms of assets that we manage for our client base, it was, by far, the best,” Dunn said. “It was maybe two times what we’d ever done before independently.”
Dunn and Perrault credit similar philosophies when it comes to finance and wealth management as to why they work well as a team.
What are your backgrounds?
Dunn: I studied business administration and graphic communication. I went to Illinois State University. My first career, I owned a custom furniture and woodworking business here locally which is how I was introduced to Northwestern Mutual. My accountant introduced me to an adviser here in the office.
Perrault: I went to the University of Colorado Boulder to study business operations and Gonzaga [University] for grad school, and I was in the Air Force for four years.
What drew you to wealth management careers?
Dunn: I was recruited here to work on my adviser’s team. We had just built a good relationship and he thought I would be good at this.
Perrault: I have always liked financial planning. Even in high school I enjoyed keeping up with the stock market. I kind of liked the idea of doing it after the military.
What are the characteristics that make you work well together?
Perrault: I’m really good at getting people to the table, and Charlie is really good at explaining the details.
Dunn: The best way to describe it is at a macro level — our philosophies around financial planning and investments and insurance are the same.
What is one benefit of your merged partnership?
Dunn: One of the best things about our partnership, which is very unique in the financial planning world or financial services, is that there are two advisers. Our client base knows there is always a senior-level adviser in the office they can talk to.
What are some of the philosophies you share?
Dunn: We believe everything we do begins with a plan. It’s a plan-driven approach to financial services not a product-driven approach. We are free to invest our client’s money solely for their best interests. We want our clients’ financial planning experience to be comfortable and as fun as it can be. There’s a lot of heart in what we do.
Perrault: We were in Forbes for our psychology behind retirement income. There’s a lot of people in this community that have the luxury of having pensions because they’re military, but most people don’t have pensions so we focus on: How do we replicate as best we can the sense of security one has from a pension?
What are your goals?
Perrault: World domination. I’d like to raise more money again for local charities this year.
Dunn: If we could be more than $100 million in assets under management and if we could add two new team members, that would be the goal.