Name: William Carrington
How many years have you been living life in the Foreign Service?
We have been in the FS since 1993, so it’s been 21 years now. We were overseas for 16 consecutive years from 1994 to 2010. I started in financial planning in 2008 and founded my LLC in 2011. We were posted to DC from 2010 to 2014, which gave me the chance to become well integrated into the professional financial planning community.
Where have you been posted?
Tokyo, Japan; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Fukuoka, Japan; and Washington, D.C.
Briefly describe your career path:
I started as a Silicon Valley engineer/scientist and worked for US multi-nationals at the beginning of my wife’s FS career. However, my high tech career was not portable so I decided to pursue financial planning as this had been an interest of mine for many years.
What is the name of your business? Do you have a website?
Briefly describe your business:
My business is an RIA (Registered Investment Advisory). I provide comprehensive financial planning services to individuals and families. This includes retirement, education, insurance, estate, and investment planning. I also manage investment portfolios for some clients. I started specializing in FS employees and I am the only Certified Financial Planner who specializes in financial planning for this group.
Why did you start this business? When?
I started in 2008 because I wanted a career from which I would never have to retire, one that was portable, and also intellectually challenging. I also wanted more of a human element than was common to the engineering profession.
What makes you stand out from your competitors? What makes your business unique?
In addition to being a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), I am a NAPFA-Registered Advisor, and a Retirement Management Analyst (RMA).I specialize in providing financial advice to FS employees. This makes me unique.
How does your business fit into the Foreign Service lifestyle:
We just started a first overseas posting in many years since I founded my practice in 2011. So far, things have worked out very well. I was concerned that clients and potential clients would want me to be based in the DC Metro area, but that was not true. Clients do not care where my office is located. This was a huge discovery.
What has been your biggest challenge with your business so far?
The hardest part was starting from nothing and having to do everything myself, while working alone. The difficulty cannot be overstated. I had to believe in myself and take one step at a time, day after day.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
Finding a niche market in which to specialize is very important in financial planning. Most advisors never find a niche, but I have the FS community! I have worked with over 100 FS clients and have gained tremendous insight into the financial challenges and opportunities of the FS way of life. I have lectured at FSI about financial planning in the FS. I do a 2.5-hour, 90 slide lecture on “The Path To Financial Independence” using the FS benefits system.
What resources have been particularly helpful to you when you were starting your business? Which resources do you use to maintain your business?
FSI was very helpful in allowing me to speak there.
Any advice for any EFM’s thinking about starting their own business?
- Be realistic.
- Expect it to be difficult and at times, lonely.
- Don’t expect to make much money the first few years.
- Don’t have the attitude that State should help you somehow. This is a tough problem that you have to figure out yourself.
- Don’t ask others if it is a good idea. Just do it. Just start, the market will tell you if it is a good idea.
- Believe in yourself. If you fail, try something else. Don’t think about it, just start again. Don’t stop trying, ever.
- Fear is good. It means you are challenging yourself and that you will have less competition. Follow the fear, it will lead the way. Trust me.
- Choose a business you can do long-term, including after the FS. You may have to choose a business that requires a lot of time and effort to get going. For example, financial planning is particularly difficult because it takes years of education and experience to be any good at it. It is heavily regulated and requires a large amount of continuing education credits. However, it is a real profession and I can continue this after we leave the FS.