It was a hot summer day in mid-2009 when Billy G. White decided he had finally had enough. He couldn’t take it anymore. There needed to be a major change in his life and he was going to make sure he was in charge of it. A few weeks later, he founded Billy G. White & Associates, a financial services firm that provides counseling, credit repair services and financial seminars for individuals and businesses.
Working as a banker and financial advisor for almost a decade, White says that he simply had his fill of watching people being taken advantage of by banks and brokers who, he says, pushed products onto their clients. “Many people aren’t as well educated when it comes to their finances as they should be, and that’s not their fault, but financial firms have a tendency to take advantage of that,” says White.
Employed at a credit union, White says he came at odds with the employer because he was reluctant to push people into products they didn’t need. “I was meeting all of my numbers and doing everything I was supposed to do on paper, but I was thinking outside the box and offering real advice and they didn’t like that.”
From then on, White knew what he wanted to do. “Seeing people forced into taking out crazy loans and equity lines on their houses, cold call after cold call, was it for me. That’s when I decided I wanted to be that middle man,” he says. “Now, I don’t sell financial products, I sell a service that makes you a little more aware of what’s out there so you know all of your options.”
Venturing into business ownership in an uncertain time was something of a calculated risk for White. He had always wanted to own his business, but was never sure what that would be until his experience in the financial industry. “You could say I’m kind of in the right industry at the right time,” he says. “Business has been picking up ever since I started, thanks to relationship building and getting out into the community but also to the nature of the current economy – it sort of drives people to come and talk to someone like me when money is a little tighter.”
Even though he has slowly begun to cement himself as a financial counselor in East Orlando, many are still unfamiliar with what the term actually means. “The big difference between me and an advisor is that some advisors, not all, get to a point where they are selling to make the biggest commissions and not providing the client with the best solution,” White says. “They are trying to meet a quota or a number so they start to push a product like whole life insurance, for instance, that may not be the best fit for you.” White makes no money on the products clients eventually choose, he just tries to explain what’s on the table.
Not only has the financial counseling aspect of his business taken off, so too has the credit repair side. “You know, it’s funny, a lot of the credit repair stuff I am doing is not for people who have terrible credit and are up to their eyes in debt,” he says. “More often, I’m seeing people that are in dire need to get their credit together so they can take advantage of the housing market. In fact, the last five people I have spoken to just want to clean up their credit and get ready for that next step in the home buying process.”
As business continues to pick up, White says he is ready for whatever road he may travel on in the future. “Business ownership is a lot harder than a lot of people think, but I’ve loved every minute of it so far,” he says. “I’m doing what I want to be doing at the right time to be doing it, you know, so I can’t complain.”
Article by Corey Gehrold