Bill Carlson

Bill Carlson, CFP®, EA, Fog City Advisors, LLC

Long before Bill Carlson discovered ACP and the world of fee-only planning, he found himself naturally drawn to helping people and offering advice. After graduating from San Diego State and moving to San Francisco, Bill took a job at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), acting as the supervisor for administration and the maintenance crew. The employees who Bill supervised worked dangerous, high-paced jobs, and Bill found himself involved in helping them coordinate health care and long-term plans. Often, he found, as they edged into more personal discussions, many people sought his advice about financial matters. He was interested in finance and money, and he enjoyed being able to offer counsel to those who needed it.

Turning an interest in financial planning into a career seemed possible, but Bill was hesitant to leave his job behind. Unexpectedly, it was at his yearly physical with SFO that he got the push he needed. During the appointment, the physician asked Bill what he planned to do long term. The doctor had seen so many employees come through with health problems related to the work. “They chew you up and spit you out,” he said. Though Bill didn’t have an answer at the time, the conversation stayed in his head. When SFO prepared for cutbacks by offering a year salary to anyone who volunteered to be laid off, Bill saw an opportunity. This was his chance to kickstart his career in financial planning.

Though Bill started off working as a salesperson, he easily saw the conflict of interest and knew he wanted to go another direction. He earned his CFPÒ and established his own RIA. Soon he had enough revenue on the fee-only side to go independent. As he immersed himself in the fee-only world, he made contacts with ACP members while at conferences and trainings. Though the ACP model seemed to align with his values, Bill wasn’t interested in doing taxes, and so he didn’t pursue it further. It wasn’t until he met Mark Pingree at a conference that the value of the ACP model clicked into place.

At the same time Bill was thinking about his next move, Mark was looking to separate from his firm. The more they talked, the more they could see a professional future together. Mark was tax focused, and as they plotted out their next steps, Bill brought up ACP, which had the potential to pair their skills and interests within a framework that put clients’ needs first. After going through the ACP training, Bill got his EA. “I wish I would have done it when I entered the industry,” he says, lamenting that it took him so long to embrace tax-focused planning. “Now I like doing taxes.”

Shifting to the retainer model required Bill and Mark to sit down with their clients and explain the change. Most of the clients were happy to move to this new model. “They understood the added value,” Bill says. Any hesitation from clients around the change almost always turned to enthusiasm once Bill and Mark explained the details.

During this time of transition, Bill leaned on the ACP Success Program. Though during training, he was constantly questioning the guidelines, in practice he found it worked best to stick to the program. “As an experienced advisor I had to quiet that impulse to question everything because the structure really did work,” he says. Bill still leans on the ACP community, especially as his firm grows. “We’re really focused on providing a consistent level of service, and ACP allows us to do that.”

When asked why he stays a member of ACP, Bill talks about what it means to his clients. “The value proposition we provide is unparalleled,” he says. “Plus, it really differentiates us from other advisors. It shows we’re dedicated to providing holistic, tax-focused planning.” Bill is a firm believer in the power of ACP. “It gives you the resources you need to be successful,” he says.

Bill has been a committed member of the ACP community, taking on volunteer roles throughout the years. He currently serves on the Training Committee, and he’s developing a task force dedicated to creating a curriculum for transitioning CPAs. He will be taking on a trainer role and will be mentoring a new ACP advisor who has recently graduated. Bill is dedicated to passing on the ACP system to the next generation and he’s invested in supporting diversity within the fee-only financial planning industry.