Getting to know Sean McPhilamy, AFC®.

AFCPE: When someone asks what you do, how do you respond?

Sean: I help individuals and families with improving personal finances, looking beyond behaviors.

AFCPE: Tell us a little about your professional journey. What or who inspired you to pursue this career?

Sean: Twenty-five years ago (after extending my first Coast Guard enlistment) I had the opportunity to become a Command Financial Specialist (CFS). This collateral duty provided me the chance to help fellow service- and family-members with overcoming financial challenges (such as getting out of credit card debt, buying a car, and going beyond living paycheck to paycheck). I really enjoyed the conversations, even the hard ones. I celebrated with clients who achieved goals, and I offered counsel when things seemed insurmountable. Later, I became an instructor for CFS classes and obtained a Bachelors degree in Financial Planning. This all led to setting a goal of becoming an Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC®), as most of the instructors and counselors with whom I was most impressed held the designation.

AFCPE: You recently transitioned from Military service, where you served as an enlisted member of the United States Coast Guard for more than 30 years. Thank you for your service. As you reflect on the last 30 years, what memories or lessons learned stand out most to you?

Sean: Thank you. My Coast Guard enlistment means a great deal to me, and now having separated from the service, I have the opportunity to continue helping others. This is one reason that I signed up to assist with the Yellow Ribbon Network (YRN) partnership.  One of my most vivid memories was circa 2007. I was a Command Master Chief and counseling a young service member and spouse about their finances. They had gotten into terrible problems with creditors (living beyond their means, compounded by ignoring the problem for too long). This resulted in the command processing the member for involuntary separation and ending his enlistment. But through it all, even with the paperwork “done” and his last day approaching, I continued to counsel the couple. By the end, they had a solid plan along with connection with an external support network. The light at the end of the tunnel was not an on-coming train. So most memorable to me was the note that I received, saying “thank you” for helping and for offering a lifeline when they felt like they were drowning.

AFCPE: What are you most looking forward to in this next chapter of your life?  What’s next?

Sean: I am beginning a new “career” as a full-time student, heading back to college. I will be attending the University of Alabama, pursuing a Master of Science degree in Consumer Sciences with a concentration in Family Financial Planning and Counseling. The program will be entirely through distance learning, and I am very much looking forward to this next journey.

AFCPE: As an AFC® why do you stay active in the AFCPE Membership community?

I don’t think I realized that I could have been an AFC without also being a member of the AFCPE. It just didn’t really occur to me. The membership (especially the fellowship and partnership) of our community has been tremendous. I have only attended one Symposium previously (coincidently in Norfolk in 2018 when I had just reported to my most recent and final duty station). After attending this year’s Symposium, I was reminded that we are truly a connected community. Even as a second time attendee, I was welcomed and engaged by 30+ year attendees, speakers and staff.

Sean Answers the Friday 5:

  1. My Why:  Just after entering the service (1989-1990), I had spent much more than I could afford including a new car (at 11% interest … I still cringe).  Someone helped me, slowing me down and helping me get on a corrected course.  Today, I have the opportunity to help others.

  2. My (personal) Quote: “If you feel like you’re drowning, call a lifesaver.”

  3. My Heroes: I have two.  First my spouse, Robin Krumm. She is beyond amazing and she is exceptionally patient. Second, a friend and former coworker, Betsy Longenbaugh. She teaches me every time we are together. I find that both have tremendous faith in our fellow human beings, and the world is a better place because of them.

  4. My favorite Personal Finance Resource: Enough by John Bogle

  5. My Advice to Others:
    • Know where you are now (if you don’t then ask for help)
    • Know where you are going (remember to set a course and follow it)
    • Know that time is never really saved, and almost always spent.

Connect with Sean on LinkedIn.

Sean McPhilamy, Accredited Financial Counselor

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