• President, Branch Manager
  • Southwestern Investment Group/Raymond James
  • Franklin, Tenn.
  • Number of Advisors: 21
  • Branch AUM: $1.2 billion

In college, Jeff Dobyns spent four hot, humid summers selling books door-to-door in the rural southeast for Southwestern Co. After graduating, he and his colleagues dove into the financial services sector—a career with air conditioning.
Working at his Ohio CPA firm four years later, Dobyns saw a way to connect the two worlds. In 2002 he moved near Nashville, Tenn., and founded Southwestern Investment Group, a financial services arm of Southwestern Co. and an affiliate of Raymond James.

"I started this company because so many of these guys left [Southwestern] to go into financial services," he says. "This business is a great business if you can serve well, communicate well, and follow up well."

The first year was a fresh challenge for the former CPA. Dobyns had no names in his book and no employees. For all their hard-earned sales experience, most of the legacy Southwestern sales representatives had limited financial services knowledge. Of the 21 advisors that are currently at Southwestern Group, none came on board with an existing book of business. "It's all been organic growth," Dobyns says.

One day Dobyns called Dave Ramsey, the financial talk show guru. Ramsey's people agreed to endorse Southwestern locally for financial planning services. Referrals flowed in.

Dobyns brought on another partner that first year and established a mentorship program to develop young talent. Now business is growing faster than he can add advisors, he says.

"The advantage of that [mentorship program] is that it helps get good people and has a high probability for them to do well," he says. "The disadvantage is that it does limit your number of new people you can handle, because we're not having a classroom- style training program."

The office has won Raymond James' award for top producing branch for five years running. "That was a big deal," Dobyns says. "We don't have these old guys who have been in the business 20 years or something. We've had to grow a team."

ROLE MODEL: Can’t point to one individual

MANTRA: “If you do the right thing when you’re working with people and serving them well, it surprisingly works out both from the client perspective and with the guys on our team.”

FIRST JOB:  Sold books in college before starting his own CPA firm out of school

HOMETOWN: Wilmington, Ohio


HOBBIES: Hunting and fishing