Business Owners Report: Pavlov Financial Planning


Your name: Hui-chin Chen

How many years have you been living life in the Foreign Service?

4 years

Where have you been posted?

Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and Auckland, New Zealand

Briefly describe your career path:

My first job after earning my graduate degree in public policy was conducting economic analysis for a finance company. It started my career as a quantitative analyst specialized in building statistical models focusing on consumer finance. My husband’s entry into the Foreign Service coincided with my decision to look into different careers that would put me directly in touch with people rather than see them as a statistic.

What is the name of your business?

Pavlov Financial Planning

Briefly describe your business:

Pavlov Financial Planning is a Registered Investment Advisor that focuses on providing fee-only, comprehensive financial planning services to young people who are just starting to build wealth and make life transitions such as getting married, having children, starting a business, and moving overseas.

Why did you start this business?

I became co-owner of the business because both my partner and I wanted to focus on working with people who were facing the same challenges we were dealing with such as starting and growing a business and/or raising a family, all while moving globally.

When did you start this business?

1 January 2014

What makes you stand out from your competitors? What makes your business unique?

We stand out because we provide comprehensive planning and continuous support with a fixed monthly fee. This allows young professionals who have steady income streams but low or negative net worth obtain quality personal finance advice and begin to accumulate wealth to help them progress toward their goals. It’s like a gym membership that you can cancel anytime except that you get a trusted trainer who understands your financial health to help you implement a financial plan and keep you accountable. We are the point people for all of your personal financial needs.

In addition, our only compensation comes from monthly fees, so our clients can be sure that our advice is in their best interest rather than for our own financial gain.

The vast majority of financial planners or advisers only serve people who are close to retirement and beyond or those who have built up a minimum level of net worth. This is because financial advisers are traditionally paid through asset management fees or brokerage fees, so if you are young and just starting to save, you are out of luck; not to mention those who are still paying off student loans.

How does your business fit into the Foreign Service lifestyle?

As our clientele is mostly tech-savvy, we are able to operate entirely online and by phone, so we don’t necessarily need to be in a specific geographic location. Although the business is located in Arlington, VA, we have clients who reside in other parts of the country and so far there haven’t been any issues working with clients remotely.

What has been your biggest challenge with your business so far?

We are still trying to find the best ways to market ourselves among our target clientele.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?

Go through with the career change before knowing if it was all going to work, and continue blogging at Money Matters for Globetrotters.

What resources have been particularly helpful to you when you were starting your business?

My resource was my business partner! I’m still tremendously grateful that he took me on board. Finding a partner to start a business together may not seem the most straight forward path but if you have friends or family who have the same interest, it’s not a bad idea to have someone who can handle things in the U.S. while you are overseas.

Which resources do you use to maintain your business?

For non-industry specific ones, I use the following:

1. Skype, and particularly Skype Number since it allows clients to call a U.S. number to reach to me – wherever I am.

2. WordPress, plus all the plugins, for website and blog.

3. Mailchimp for subscription management.

4. Calendly for online meeting schedule service.

5. Inslightly for CRM.

Any advice for any EFMs thinking about starting their own business?

Trust your heart and keep going at it. You may not always know what the next step is. Sometimes you are totally in the dark. But you need to persist before knowing where things lead you. As EFMs we are in the perfect position to take risks. The worst thing is that the business fails. The opportunity cost is the salary of an EFM position you didn’t take. (I’m assuming if you have well paying job following you around the globe, you wouldn’t think about starting a business.) Your family’s financial security is not likely to suffer if your business fails, and will improve when your business succeeds. You can hardly find any investment like this in the world that only has an upside! (That’s the financial planner in me talking.) And no matter the outcome, the lessons you learn from going through all the hurdles are invaluable. So keep at it!

Where can we find you on LinkedIn?

See my profile here!


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