Young Professional 2016: William Wang
William Wang is a financial Planner at HFG Trust, Kennewick and owner/partner at Mustang Sign Group, Kennewick
Hometown: Sydney, Australia
How long have you lived in the Tri-Cities? Five years
Family: We have a baby girl named Blakely Rae and two dogs named Mowgli and Baloo.
Company background: HFG Trust is the first locally-owned trust company specializing in wealth management and retirement planning for affluent investors. We assist hard-working individuals and families identify and reach their financial goals and ensure that the things that they hold dear to them are well protected.
Tell us about your job/career and how you got into it: I was a business owner prior to Haberling Financial Group’s merger with Community First Bank and am an active board member and shareholder of the organization. I have been a financial planner for five years and worked my way up from an associate to completing my certified financial planner designation and becoming a partner. I help people and families of all ages with their financial plan and manage their retirement portfolios to ensure they are able to do the things they love in the future.
I am also a majority owner and partner of Mustang Sign Group with my wife. We acquired the business four years ago because an opportunity presented itself and we had a passion for marketing and branding. We have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of building an amazing team and growing together. We help small businesses develop large marketing campaigns and brands through a wide range of media outlets.
Business philosophy: My business philosophy is really quite simple. I view it in two simple ways. The people that I work with or work for me are my team members. They are critical to my success. This mentality may come from my basketball background but I am very aware of the power of team success vs. individual success. I think if your employees and team members know that you care more about their success than your own, they will give you an honest effort every time and so far I think both companies I have been involved in this has been true. As far as my clients, the concept remains similar in that there has to be trust and integrity. As a certified financial planner, we are required by law to put other people’s interests ahead of our own. Even if I didn’t have that requirement, my business philosophy would be just that. Everything else has taken care of itself.
Life philosophy: My life philosophy involves leaving a legacy where my family and friends can look back and feel that I accomplished positive things and enriched their lives one way or another. I think the only way you can do this is by bringing people together and sharing your success whenever possible. One of the primary motivations of building a company (Mustang Sign Group) and becoming more active in operations (HFG Trust) was to have the opportunity to help other people find their success.
Community involvement/community service: I am currently on the board of directors for the Kennewick Business and Marketing Committee (DECA). This program has been great to help young high school students prepare for their futures through business activities and projects. I am an assistant boys’ varsity basketball coach at Southridge High School and have been for the last five years. I was a volunteer with Amistad Elementary School helping students without father figures take ownership of their actions. Finally, I am also a volunteer member of the financial committee for Kennewick Kiwanis Foundation.
Who were your mentors and what did they teach you? My senior partner at HFG Trust, Ty Haberling, has been very much like a father figure for me both in my personal life and business. He has a world of experience and we share a very unique relationship. He has taught me key components to a successful organization and how to develop lasting relationships with new people. The other mentor I have is much closer to home, and that is my wife. We have the luxury to work very close together even though we run different businesses. I respect her opinion and understand her strengths. She has an unparalleled work ethic and I have the opportunity to watch her take care of our baby daughter and run a growing business all in one go. It motivates me to work late and give more because I know she is doing the same.
Toughest business/career decision you had to make or obstacle you had to overcome? The toughest decisions always involve other people. I think as a business owner and someone who is fortunate to make decisions, the most difficult choices involve the dismissal of employees because, frankly, they feel like family members every time. I believe that a cohesive team has unlimited potential and ceiling for success but sometimes having the wrong team member can be cancerous. Each time these decisions are made, they are always thoroughly thought through and all resources are exhausted to try to salvage relationships. I know that my decisions affect people’s lives and their families so they are never taken lightly.
My biggest obstacle was buying Mustang Sign Group and deciding that being a small business owner was the path to take. For the first year, I worked 12 to 14 hours a day for a year because we didn’t know if the business would make it. We would pay our employees wages but lived off one income so that the business could meet its obligations. This decision has obviously started a ripple effect of great experiences.
First job: I have been with HFG Trust my entire professional life. Prior to working at HFG, I worked as a janitor in college. I remember cleaning toilets and locker rooms at 9 p.m. at night after school and came to the realization that everything in life requires hard work. Regardless of whether you are cleaning toilets, running a marketing company or managing a portfolio, at the end of the day, your work ethic will define your success.
Least? The time commitment and the inability to take vacations when you want to. Small business owners don’t always have the luxury to leave when they want.
What do you like most about what you do? The new people I get to meet and lives I get to touch. The opportunity to remove burdens from people’s lives and watch them embrace financial freedom. In a world where the majority of Americans are in debt and struggling to make ends meet, I believe my profession allows me to change the course of families and generations. It’s really quite a remarkable thing when you consider the possible influence on parents, children and their grandchildren. Many times I have the opportunity to work with each generation.
Favorite book: “The Intelligent Investor”
What thing would people be most surprised to learn about you? That I was born in Taiwan, and moved to Australia when I was 5 and spent my first two years of college in Rexburg, Idaho, and finished in Hawaii. Now I live in the Tri-Cities and really enjoy the community and the people.
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