Ben VerWys knew he wanted a career in finance, but he also wanted to make a change in our post-9/11 world. He knew he could come back to his finance career later, so he did a tour as a military police officer in the United States Navy.
His experience in the military gave him the discipline, attention to detail and perseverance needed to eventually run his company, Action Point Financial. Get to know Ben, how his experience in the Navy shaped him as a business owner and why he loves the finance industry.
How do you feel your military service prepared you to run a company?
Military service can do so much to change your outlook, not only for running a company, but for living life in general. This was certainly the case for me. I didn't set out to run a company and in fact, never anticipated that I would. The decision to found and build a company came from a place of opportunity that had developed in recent years to uniquely give investment advice. However, my military background yet again proved invaluable as it has over and again since getting out a decade ago. The discipline, persistence, attention to detail and thoroughness that the military requires of you are such valuable skill sets in running a company or as an employee doing high quality work in general. I do not believe my career (or company) would be where they are today if it were not for my time in the Navy.
Why did you choose to work and live in Grand Rapids?
My wife and I are both from West Michigan. Military enlistment kicked off five years of living in other parts of the country, but when we decided to have kids we knew that we wanted to be back close to family. We were living in Miami Beach prior to moving back, and while a lovely place to visit for a weekend, was not our ideal location to start our family. Having lived in larger cities, we developed a love for city life. The first place either of us ever lived outside of Michigan was when we moved to Seattle for our first military assignment, and we fell in love with it. Upon arriving back in Grand Rapids, we realized much of what we loved about Seattle we could find and access right here in Grand Rapids and we haven't left since. We work here, we play here. We're thrilled to truly call this place home.
Why did you go into finance? What do you love about being a financial advisor?
I was born to be in finance, and more specifically, investing. With regularity, I tell GVSU finance majors that finance isn't a job or even a career, but rather an industry. Within finance, you still need to decide what kind of work you want to do. For me, it was easy. I have loved investing and the stock markets for as long as I can remember. Being a professional financial advisor, however, is a different thing altogether. My motivation is sharing my investing knowledge to help people make better decisions. I learned early on in my career that many "Advisors" were simply glorified salespeople and that to truly make a difference, I had to do this work in a very different way. That was the start. Once I started helping people reduce investment fees, understand what they were invested in and deliver helpful guidance transparently, I realized how important that work is.
What does Veteran's Day mean to you?
Years ago, a wise counselor encouraged me to write down the things I am grateful for. One of the things I wrote down that day was that I was grateful to get to serve in the military instead of having to serve. That distinction was critical. To me, my time in the military was and is an honor. Veteran's Day represents a place (and all subsequent days in that place) where military service is a choice to be proud of, as opposed to an oppressive requirement or afterthought. We live in an amazing country, and in part because of the veterans who gave up far more than I had to.
What are you most proud of?
Wow. That is an interesting question. At this phase of my life, I am intensely proud of the company that I have built and the mission we are pursuing; to change the way that people in Grand Rapids receive, interpret and process financial advice in hopes to measurably improve financial security. I will continue to spend the rest of my life trying to help investors better understand what they are invested in and why. That said, I am also very proud of my children and who they are fast becoming. I'm proud of the path that my wife and I are demonstrating for them. Military service, entrepreneurship and a passionate mission are all part of that.