Military Transition Lessons Learned With Wealth Management Advisor Donald Pearson

Donald Pearson is a Wealth Management Advisor at WestPac Wealth Partners and a Registered Representative (RR) & Investment Advisor Representative (IAR) of Park Avenue Securities.

Upon graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 2016, Donald commissioned into the United States Marine Corps. He served as a Financial Manager responsible for all resources allocated in support of Marine Corps activities in Central and South America. It was here that Donald found his love for finance and complex problem solving. As a history major in college his skill set is in reading, analyzing, understanding, and telling stories. Donald’s favorite story to read is his clients story, and loves nothing more than writing it with them.

Donald is a proud Las Vegas local and is dedicated to the continued success and growth of the community and city. He finds great fulfillment in the fact that his clients trust him with the decisions and recommendations around their financial lives and businesses. Donald most enjoys working with energetic, passionate, loving families and business owners that are growing and dedicated to making sound financial decisions to set their families and businesses up for long term success.

He is a lifelong learner and understands the value that a good coach can bring. Donald is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, Retirement Income Certified Professional®, Chartered Financial Consultant®, and Wealth Management Certified Professional®. Donald has found a love for teaching and tutors college undergrad and post-graduate students in finance as well as aspiring Financial Advisors in their securities licensing.

Donald and his wife, Arianna, are proud parents to their daughter Chanelle and two fur babies Lila and Lola. They enjoy hiking, yoga, home improvement projects, and spending time at their cabin in Southern Utah. They are die hard Navy Football, Golden Knights, and Las Vegas Raiders fans.

Outside of marrying his 7th grade sweetheart and being a father, his most proud achievement is being a part of the Naval Academy football team that boasted a 4-0 record against Army and finished the season in the NCAA Top 25 rankings his Junior and Senior season.

When you transitioned from the Marine Corps what were you most afraid of during your transition? And how did you work through those fears?

When I transitioned from the Marine Corps I was terrified of the fact that my family’s wellbeing was no longer backed and guaranteed by the US Government. There was a real risk of failure and the possibility of losing an income. What I realized though is that when you lose the crutch of a guaranteed income and a guaranteed job there is a fire that is lit inside of you that fuels you to work harder and be more creative than ever before. Being solely responsible for your family and your lifestyle is a tough wake-up call but once you use it as a catalyst for growth there is truly no ceiling for your potential. 

What did you do well during your transition? 

I became hyper-focused on what I wanted to do. I got on the phone with anyone that would talk to me and tried to learn through others’ journeys and successes and failures. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in personal wealth management so I tried to learn everything I possibly could. I became a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, Chartered Financial Consultant, Retirement Income Certified Professional, Wealth Management Certified Professional, got my MBA with a concentration in Finance and passed my Series 66 and Series 7 License Exams all before getting hired by my firm. It was not enough to say that I was a veteran and had the intangible qualities that veterans embody, I walked into my career knowing I did absolutely every single thing that I could in order to be an asset to my company, not a liability. 

What did you do poorly during the transition and more importantly what did you learn from that  failure?

I did not anticipate the emotional toll that it would take on my family. We spent the last year that I was on active duty apart in order to sell a home and purchase a new one in Las Vegas, NV. We had a great plan on paper, but a great plan on paper does not mean that there will not be hard days and weeks. Change is scary for anyone and moving on from the military world to the civilian one is something that my family prepared for practice, but emotions trump all logic and practicality any day of the week. Be ready to have open and honest conversations about fear and anxiety with your loved ones because whether you verbalize it or not, they are there. 

What do you miss most about the Military? And do you stay connected to the military family?

The comradery of the military is such a cliche, but any cliche is just that because it is true. The military is a tight-knit group, and even tighter if you went to a service academy. They tell you that the bonds are for a lifetime and that becomes more apparent every day. I can pick up the phone and call anyone I went to the Naval Academy with and pick up right where we left things off in Bancroft Hall.  

What advice would you give to someone who desires to work in financial services?

If you want to work in financial services, there are so many licenses and designations and education that you can do before you start your career. It is truly how you separate yourself. Most people come in asking what the company can do for them, be different. Stand out and say I have already invested in myself. Companies appreciate and see that as a bonus in hiring you. You become the hunted not the hunter.

Anything else you would like to say to a soon-to-be transitioning military member?

Transitioning is scary, and finances are one of the scariest things about it. Having a solid plan in place and working with someone that you trust that knows what you are going through can make it feel less daunting. My company and I specialize in working with people in transitions. Whether it is buying or selling a business or moving on from the military life changes are stressful and intimidating, and it is comforting knowing that there is someone in your corner cheering for your success. I am dedicated to helping veterans make smart financial decisions and am here to be a resource in any way that I can be.

Since leaving the military you have made a number of  career changes; are there some tools/techniques you have used to successfully make those changes?

I played football my whole life and was fortunate enough to play football at the Naval Academy. I always excelled in football. But looking back on it now I realized that’s because I spent a decade-plus of my life being coached. Having a good coach propels you to new heights. I understand the value of a good coach and I want to be a coach to others when it comes to making sound financial decisions. 

I see that you are a Veteran Transition Mentor, Can you talk about some common mistakes that you frequently see in transitioning service members.

Being a Veteran and a Service Academy grad does not entitle you to anything. You have to bring an applicable skill set to a business. Companies will open the door for you because of what you have done but it is up to you to put yourself in a position to be a great hire for that company. 

 Tell me about your work at WestPac Wealth Partners and how that benefits service members and business leaders?

WestPac Wealth Partners is a financial services firm that is dedicated to changing the way financial advice is given. We want to empower our clients to make informed and sound financial decisions that will not only impact their families but the generations to follow. We are uniquely structured in order to provide unique and tailored solutions to business owners, families, and service members. 

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