What could we accomplish if we were willing to step out in faith? As a business owner, it can be easy to have the desire to “do good,” but spend each week focused on getting tasks completed and reaching benchmarks, without truly considering the impact you have on your employees, clients, and community.
This blog is part one in a series about how you can build your business around a values-aligned mission and vision. We sat down with Co-Founder and CEO of OneAscent, Harry Pearson, to hear about his desire for a values-aligned business and how that led him to start OneAscent.
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Harry started his career in the construction business at 20 years old. After three years of working and saving, he felt like he had more money than he knew what to do with.
One Sunday, his church shared about their upcoming capital campaign and encouraged the congregation to give what they felt led. Afterward, Harry and his wife committed to praying about what they should give to the church and this fundraising effort.
A few days later, Harry felt as though God woke him up in the middle of the night. In this time, Harry realized that he did not enjoy his work and that God had more for him. If he did not make a change, it would only be about the money that his current job was making him — but life is more than money.
Harry knew he needed to quit his job but wasn’t sure about his next steps. So, he began to pray for wisdom. He started by finishing his degree in financial management from UAB.
Around this time, his parents had arranged for their financial advisor out of Dallas, TX, to meet with Harry and his wife. He helped them with their financial plan and started an education fund for their children. This encounter left Harry asking, “What about financial planning?”
It wasn’t until he saw an ad in USAToday that said, “Would you like to be a financial advisor? Call this number,” that Harry knew that was it. He made the call, walked away from his job in the construction industry, and began his journey to creating OneAscent.
Harry realized that he could combine his love for people, his passion for finance, and his desire to build a business that would serve people well. He remarked that the man who hired him once said, “To succeed in this business, you need to have the mind of a capitalist and the heart of a social worker.” If you don’t care about the people you serve, they won’t stay, and if you’re too afraid to ask for the check, your business won’t survive.
For Harry, financial advising was always a ministry to him. “I loved hearing my client’s goals, joys, deepest desires, and what was going on with their family.”
The question was always, “How do we do life, and how do we thrive in life?” In the first 12 years of Harry’s financial advising career, he was never taught how to integrate a biblical worldview into these conversations with clients. When he was able to truly center his business around these values, the new question became, “Who is the owner?” If God is the owner, we are the steward. So, what would be most pleasing to him?
Everything Harry did with his clients and his business focused on four things: stewardship, contentment, generosity, and faith. Money is just a tool. Instead of tracking each new dollar earned, they track what they call Positive-Generated Outcomes (PGOs). For example, if a client desires to give $10,000 to charity over the course of a year, Harry and his advisors would help them put a place in place for this PGO.
Before starting OneAscent, Harry owned a franchise of another financial advising firm. He loved this opportunity, and is eternally grateful for the people he worked with and the leadership team. During this time, he was part of the Christian Franchise Advisor Network, which started with 7 members and grew to over 650.
Although this group provided a great support system, they were still not able to use Scripture with clients, pray with them, build a process around biblical stewardship, and over investment opportunities that aligned with their values.
This really impressed upon Harry’s heart. “At the end of time, I will stand before the Lord. My company won’t be there, my wife won’t be there, it will just be me and Him. I didn’t want him to say to me, ‘I put this desire in your heart, why didn’t you step out in faith?’ I didn’t want to have regrets. I didn’t know all of the details yet, but I knew there were advisors like me out there who needed a Kingdom-driven partner.”
And so, OneAscent was formed, to be a place where advisors could be equipped and encouraged to meet the needs of faith-driven investors, and faith-driven investors could be supported and empowered to steward their money for an eternal purpose.
To learn more about values-aligned investing, or how your business can build a model around what matters most to you, reach out to us! Our unique financial process allows us to tailor a custom plan to your money style and values.
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