Getting to know Delicia Carswell, AFC®
Delicia Carswell, AFC® assists individuals in creating and achieving their version of financial freedom. In this week’s Friday Follow, she shares her journey from FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellow to small business owner. Delicia offers excellent advice for other financial counselors and coaches looking to start a private practice.
AFCPE: Tell us about your professional journey. How did you learn about the FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship, and what inspired you to pursue AFC certification?
Delicia: After graduating college, I moved with my now Active Duty husband to the Hampton Roads area where he was stationed. At the height of the market crash, there were very limited job opportunities. I received an email about the FINRA Foundation Fellowship which piqued my interest. I applied and was very excited to be accepted! I’ve always had an interest in personal finance, but I had no idea what working in personal finance meant. I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn more about the military community, and it absolutely was. I’m grateful to have read and acted on that email.
AFCPE: You were a member of the 2008 Fellowship class. What did you enjoy most about being a part of the Fellowship program?
Delicia: First off, I enjoyed being mentioned in the paper! In October 2008 an article was published in the Virginian Pilot stating 14 locals were selected for the military spouse Fellowship, identifying us by name and explaining the program run by FINRA. It was a short article, but I loved it!
I came into the program with no experience in consulting or counseling. I’d helped friends with their finances while in college, but nothing formal. Being tasked with the requirement to complete 1,000 counseling hours was daunting, having no clue how I’d complete this task. After inquiring, I was referred to Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) Oceana. I absolutely loved my time there and have fostered relationships I hold dear to this day! I had ZERO knowledge about the military, in fact, until my husband, I had never met a military member. At NMCRS, I learned military lingo, how to read an LES (leave earnings statement), how to identify the needs of the military community, and most importantly, how to provide useful financial education. Pursing my AFC and the knowledge I gained from NMCRS put me on to a path I never considered, and it opened the opportunity to be employed in this field, serving the military community. Without that counseling requirement, I may not have gained the foundation I have.
Also, I want to mention the fellowship study groups & live classes were great! Be sure to sign up. If not, create one with fellow candidates; you’ll be glad you did!
AFCPE: You currently own your own business, Elite Financial Consulting. Tell us more about the journey to opening a private practice, and what you find most rewarding about this work?
Delicia: I never thought of becoming a business owner. I was content, at the time, working for a government contract serving members of the Department of Defense. I knew I wanted to grow but was unsure how. Being a military spouse, you dream of the future, but manage your expectation because things can change at a moment’s notice. One day, a co-worker and friend (my work sister) called me to share that she’s been listening to my sessions and complemented my coaching style. She asked if I’d ever thought of starting my own business, which I hadn’t. She spoke to me about the benefits of self-employment, introducing the thought that I could accomplish this dream. She believed in me! I took that idea to heart and took the leap to start Elite Financial Consulting, LLC.
Starting a personal finance consulting company is the greatest, most frustrating thing I’ve ever done. Not having the desire to own a business left me at a loss of knowing exactly what to do, but it’s been a great discovery process thus far. Through the AFCPE conference, I was fortunate to meet a fellow AFC, Dr. Dominique Reese, who has really helped me flush out my business mission, vision, and goals, identify my target audience, set pricing, prioritize tasks, and so many other pertinent things with her ‘How to Start a Financial Coaching Practice’ Course and her ‘Profitable Private Practice Mastermind.’ Investing in both of these resources has assisted me in navigating this path.
I thoroughly enjoy seeing different ways AFC’s use their certification. Everything isn’t about providing the same service to the same individuals. I love being pushed to think outside the box. One way I’ve been able to think outside of the box is in finding a niche. While I offer typical personal finance services, I specialize in Federal Security Clearance Assistance relating to Financial Considerations. I love this service! It’s so specific, but so important. It allows me the opportunity to marry budgeting, credit, and debt management skills with my personnel security and adjudications training! The reward in helping a service member or federal employee obtain or retain their security clearance while identifying their financial goals and setting them on a path to achieve them is an amazing feeling!
AFCPE: The road to building a business isn’t always easy. What advice would you give to others who are thinking about starting a private practice?
Delicia: There are so many resources in this AFCPE community.
- Utilize your fellow AFCs for guidance. Invest in their courses or business coaching/strategizing sessions.
- Know your motivation, your why.
- Set small goals and reward yourself as you achieve them. Take time to clap for yourself; you are going to have the primary responsibility of keeping yourself motivated.
- Never be afraid to fail. My husband says fail is an acronym – First Attempt In Learning
- Research as much as you can. Know that you will be consistently working ‘in’ the business and ‘on’ the business – try to get as much pre planning work done in advance.
- Get uncomfortable. I find that every time I push myself out of my comfort zone, it’s the best feeling(s) of the year.
- Create an encouragement group – a group of professionals who are in the process of creating something. It doesn’t have to be a financial coaching practice, just a group of people to share your experience and encouraging words.
- Stick with it!
These are things I’m sharing as a reminder to myself as well.
AFCPE: As you look ahead to this year and beyond, what has you most excited?
Delicia: I recently completed my first eBook ‘Asked & Answered: Personal Finance and your Security Clearance,’ – available on gumroad.com – and I’m in the process of writing two more on the topic. I’m excited to begin marketing these resources and am hopeful this will lead to new client registrations. I’m most excited about growing the security clearance assistance service; assisting the military and federal communities obtain and retain their clearances.
AFCPE: Anything else you’d like to share with the AFCPE community?
- Continue to be sharers of the information you have learned.
- Continue to think outside the box! I love to see all the writers, podcasters, bloggers, content creators, etc. expanding the use of the AFC certification!
- Thank you for all you do!
Delicia Answers the Friday 5:
- My Why:
My children are my why. I want them to see that hard work pays off, and I strive every day to make them proud. Anytime my daughter is asked what her mother does for work, she beams with pride and proudly states “she owns her own business! She’s a businesswoman!” That is amazing to hear, and it keeps me going!
- My Favorite Quote:
“Spread love it’s the Brooklyn Way!” – Biggie SmallsAs a native New Yorker, we get such a bad reputation of being rude. New Yorkers are kind, but not nice. We will help you bring your stroller down the subway stairs, but never acknowledge your presence after the deed is done. We will help you if you’re in need, but you will never know our name, nor are we interested in the back story 😉 Kind! But not nice! Acts like these are how we spread love!
- My Hero:
My grandmother. She took me in after the loss of my mother, her only child, and raised me. She was 55 and I was 5. I never understood what an undertaking that was until I became a mom. I’m exhausted at this age; I couldn’t imagine taking on a kindergartener at time she did! I thank and honor her always!
- My Favorite Resource:
Right now, Amazon’s Alexa! She’s my VA (virtual assistant).
- My Advice for Someone Who is Thinking About Applying for the Military Spouse Fellowship:
Do it! The AFC certification has opened many opportunities for spouses to make a meaningful financial contribution to their households, while giving back to the military community. Becoming an Accredited Financial Counselor shows you not only have an interest in personal finance, but also demonstrates that you have invested in yourself to complete what Dominique Reese refers to as the “3 E’s: Experience, Expertise, and Education.”
Connect with Delicia at her website: www.elitefinancialconsultingllc.com or follow her at @elitefinancialconsulting on Instagram or Facebook.