When Randy Carver first became an independent advisor, there was one thing he found lacking: meetings with colleagues where he could network, recharge and share ideas.
So Carver, who thinks big, booked a cruise and invited a bunch of advisors to join him for a shipboard conference that included continuing education credits. Over the years, the conference has convened worldwide — Italy, Turkey, Mexico, Belize and Alaska, among other far-flung datelines. The 15th annual Carver Financial Advisor Conference will take place in January aboard Celebrity Century during a cruise of the Caribbean.
Randy Carver, President, Carver Financial Services, Raymond James Financial Services; Mentor, Ohio
What consulting partner Dennis Barba says about their Caribbean Cruise conference for advisors: “It puts you in a place where you have to attend class. You can’t sneak out to play golf. You can’t sneak out to go sightseeing. You’re at sea with a compelling combination of vacation and work. People that come, come for the right reason.”
For Carver, the novel conferences have yielded two important benefits: They’ve forced him to examine his own practice with a more critical eye and they’ve resulted in productive professional relationships.
“The biggest intangible is the friendships that develop. I’ve met some people on these cruises that I talk to monthly,” says the 43-year-old Carver, one of Raymond James Financial Services’ topmost producers. “When you’re independent, you don’t necessarily have that back and forth with other colleagues. The nice thing here is that the people who go are willing to share anything. It’s not as though we view each other as competitors.”
Over the years, advisors with Raymond James, LPL and Royal Alliance have cruised with Carver, whose firm, Carver Financial Services in Mentor, Ohio, has $668 million in assets under management.
Carver, whose gusto for life has made him a popular motivational speaker, has lived in a series of Big Moments. As a child, he survived a battle with cancer that has left him with a 46 percent lung capacity. “I didn’t think I’d live through 11th grade,” says Carver, who went on to get a doctorate in finance. “My parents were told to pray and get ready for a funeral. But I had a great surgeon who always said he thought he could save me.”
In the late 1980s, Carver ditched the small plane he was flying and broke his neck. He was in a bad motorcycle crash last year.
“I constantly stay busy,” says Carver, who expects his assets under management to climb past the $1 billion mark over the next couple of years. “It’s one of those ‘life’s short’ kind of things because of everything that’s happened.”
It was in his hospital bed, watching cooking shows on TV and reading The Wall Street Journal, that Carver developed twin interests that still occupy him: cooking and finance. An entrepreneur from the start, he began operating a catering business out of his family’s kitchen when he was 14, and at 16 he bought the first of two contracting companies. “My plan after college was to buy houses and flip them,” he says.