Exactly a decade ago, I left the security of the Big Accounting Firm to hang out my shingle. My wife, Linda, found a small office for me. There were no clients, there was no furniture, but there was a lot I wanted to do.
The Big Accounting Firm crumbled last year. Had I stayed at Arthur Andersen, my career might have crumbled with it. My dream was to build a financial planning business free of conflicts of interest, one that could outlive me to work with generations of clients. Even if I had managed to build such a practice at Andersen these past 10 years, I would not have owned it, and probably could not have kept it together after Andersen’s collapse.
The real risk lay not in leaving what seemed like security, but in staying for security. I was only 35 in 1993. If my business had failed, I would have found another way to support Linda and our two small daughters while she stayed home with them. Had I remained at Andersen, I might be starting over today at 45, with our eldest already looking at colleges.
My work brings me very close to clients and their families. I see my share of infirmity and death, help plan for it in advance and deal with it when it happens. But that’s the price of seeing the truly joyful things. Last year, two of our clients had miracle babies. I visited those two babies last month. If all goes well, I will still be working for them when they graduate from college. But I’m aiming to see their children.
I thank all of you whose support has made us successful these past 10 years, and wish you only wonderful things in 2003.