J.D. Perry of Baton Rouge, LA is a results-driven leader with over 20 years of experience in financial analysis, corporate cash management, asset management, environmental mitigation banking, and real estate. Mr. Perry focuses on minimizing risks and building relationships to drive continuous growth and profitability.
He is the former Chief Executive Officer of JP Global Capital Management, and the founder and President of ViaCap Partners, the parent company of Moss Point Financial and affiliated Moss Point companies. Prior to launching his businesses, Mr. Perry served in a variety of roles in larger trust institutions, including that of a Senior Vice President of Trust Division for First Commerce (now JPMorgan Chase), a $40 billion trust group servicing the Southeast US.
Before settling in Baton Rouge, J.D. Perry graduated from Lamar University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and received a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Houston. Notably, he is also the holder of the Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA) certificate among others.
Mr. Perry has served as a board member for various organizations, was cited in the Wall Street Journal, named Top 40 Under 40 Business Leader in Louisiana in 2005, and is a devoted husband and father. The secret to his success is striking a healthy balance between personal and professional life.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
How we started could be considered a slow becoming rather than having a burst of vision or some epiphany in this area. I come out of the trust banking market where I dealt with foundations, endowments, and pensions among other structures. I mention those account types because the protection of capital is a key part of the investment policy for those groups. As we continued to try to find ways to generate sound, solid, predictable returns but not risk the downside we came across the concept of viaticals. We tested the waters, and they really added positively to the portfolio. Fast forward 20 years and that market is now much more mature, and technology has allowed for many improvements in information flow as well as access so we determined individuals could benefit equally to large institutions and decided to establish a company to deal with this area exclusively. We like to help folks meet goals, we like to see them succeed and this is a major way to do that.
How do you make money?
Like many in the industry, we are a fee-based service company. However, we tend to be more transaction-driven so our fees are very straightforward and easy to see. By that I mean, we charge one fee, and that’s it. No series of smaller fees that are charged every time you do anything. It’s easier, cleaner and more understandable to charge one fee and be done with it. Our goal is not to maximize fees per se but rather to keep clients year over year.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time that you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle it?
No doubt, I think every person who has started a business has those days where they look out the window and think to themselves, we’re on a path of failure or I don’t know what to do. There are tough days, hard decisions and many times those hard decisions require you to abandon the very thing you want to abandon the least. It’s a truly rare situation where a business, be it an investment company like ours or any other, opens on day one and a group of ideal clients walk through the door ready to sign up and do business. Instead, it’s more like having to bend over backward one hundred times to pick up a single penny each time just to make a dollar. If that causes someone problems, they will have more bad days than good days and failure could be a very real outcome. Dealing with the bad days is hard but the answer is almost as hard, and there is no shortage of folks with thoughts on that front. For me, its all about having the right team. A team that is based on being realistic, energetic and tenacious. I don’t want unwarranted optimism because sometimes bad things happen and I don’t want to hear its all o.k., I want to listen to what happened, where we are and how do we fix it. I don’t want negativism that tells me all the wrong things but rather what happened, where we are and how do we fix it. Success does not lay in having no problems or absence of bad days; it lays in overcoming problems and bad days and moving forward. So, I want a team focused on banding together and overcoming any and all obstacles. In fact, it is my bad days that led me to one of my favorite quotes, “Smooth sailing never produced a skillful sailor” often attributed to FDR. That’s business, learn to navigate rough waters!
How did you get your first customer?
Slowly. Getting clients in today’s noisy world is hard. It takes persistence, being tenacious and on message. In reality, you have to think in the long-term. Build an engine that brings the right clients consistently over time rather than trying to find just any client quickly. Better for the clients, better for the company.
What is the toughest decision that you’ve had to make in the last few months?
I had to move out of a market I was convinced would be successful. We had spent money marketing in the area, had plans laid in terms of next phases, new investments in new areas based on the success of that market and then, crickets. Nothing. The difficulty was I developed the plan. So, abandoning the market was as much me abandoning myself as anything. But it was the right call, a needed call and the call had to be made. So, I did.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
These are hard questions because I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about myself. So, I rely on what others say on this front. Basically, I try never to forget what’s important. Regardless of how fuzzy the world becomes, how many conflicting pressures exist, staying focused on the most important aspects of your personal and business life gives you an anchor and a direction. It also keeps you authentic. Authenticity and clarity of goals are the two significant factors for me.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Every day I’ve made payroll. I know that sounds odd, but for me, it’s an acid test of our firm. What do I mean? I realize that our employees have wants, needs, and desires like everyone else. Having the ability to have products and services that help clients so that they are willing to pay for them and willing to pay to have you continue to provide the services to them generates the money necessary to pay the employees. So, payroll for me confirms we are serving clients well and meeting employees needs alongside the clients. That is a very satisfying thing for me.
What does the future hold for your business?
More. Bottom line, more. We have new divisions planned, new services planned and new markets to attack. However, nothing will unwind the core business we provide, it’s our foundation, but we are excited about what the future holds.
What are you most excited about?
The impact we have on people’s portfolios. Bottom line, we really like dealing with our clients and love to see the impact we have. Never gets old.
What business books have inspired you?
That’s a long, long list. I am a ferocious reader. Most recently, I really enjoyed Ray Dalio’s Principles. It is a great book. In the past I’ve really enjoyed Traction, The One Thing, Outliers, Today, Sometimes I win Sometimes I learn, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, The 15 laws of Growth, Start with Why and the list just goes on and on — virtually anything from Drucker, Maxwell or Friedman. Reading is key to succeeding in business.
Leave us with one point that few individuals know about your company.
Unmatched loyalty. We don’t move on, we stick. If something happens, we grind it out to fix and solve any problem before us. We are a rare combination of analytical thinkers, and out of the box thinkers so if something happens, we’re on it, and we will do whatever it takes to weather all storms. I don’t necessarily mean a mistake the company made, which we will clearly rectify, but I mean the events in life that hit someone, especially market-driven issues. Throw us your best and hardest pitch; we have a big catcher’s mitt.