COVINGTON -- Covington businessman Brian Byars has been named to Georgia Trend Magazine's 40 Under 40 list.
The annual list recognizes outstanding Georgians making their marks in business, government, politics, nonprofits, the arts, finance and the military.
Byars, 39, is a co-founder and senior partner with Advanced Retirement Planning LLC, which maintains offices in Covington and Gainesville. Byars lives in McDonough. Founded in 2006, ARP offers investment, retirement, estate and legacy planning, tax and legal assistance, trust management, insurance services and assistance to veterans.
Byars said his business principle is "to operate on a level our competition doesn't know exists." As a result, Byars said his business hasn't suffered a down year due to the economy and 90 percent of his customers are referrals.
Byars attributes his success to customer service -- listening to what customers want versus trying to push them in a certain direction and finding the most effective and least costly way to get that for them. Or, as he put it, "God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason."
"If you listen, customers will tell you what they want," he said.
Byars was nominated by the daughter of a veteran for whom he helped secure veterans benefits, after the family was turned away by other financial advisors because they didn't have money to invest.
"We've always been committed to helping veterans no matter what their financial circumstances," Byars said. "We just feel like it's our responsibility to them and it's our honor to do it."
Byars said his focus is on the customer, not how much money they have. "At the end of the day, we pretty much work with everybody," he said. He was even once called upon to examine two estimates for roof repairs and advise a client on which one to accept.
Coming up, Byars will be hosting a series of seminars in Atlanta, Stockbridge and Gainesville aimed at educating consumers on upcoming changes to personal and estate taxes as well as tips on building wealth, preparing for retirement and protecting assets.
Outside his professional life, Byars volunteers as an instructor of defensive tactics and firearms as a Certified Georgia Peace Officer. He volunteers with police departments, founded the Georgia Tactical Officers Association and is vice chairman of the Atlanta Metro Medical Strike Team.