“Work-wise, there aren’t many things I would pay to do,” says Cliff Weddington, CFP®, ChFC®, CLF®, financial advisor, principal and district advisor for First Command, Colonial District. “I really feel like I make a difference.”
A Texas native, Weddington earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in business and history from Virginia Military Institute in 1996 and was commissioned as an officer into the United States Air Force, where he ran business activities for five years. He separated as a captain in 2000 and purchased a Maryland restaurant.
When his restaurant flooded in Hurricane Isabel, he was already a client of First Command. He was asked to become an advisor.
In the early 1950s, Air Force Lt. Col. Carroll Payne worked closely with families of crew members killed in training flights. He was burdened by the survivors’ financial difficulties and began laying the foundation for First Command, which he founded in 1958. The company’s goal remains: To improve the financial well-being of military service members and their families.
First Command has 179 offices worldwide near almost all military installations. It serves 278,000 client families, 74 percent active duty or retired/separated military. The international firm handles $27.2 billion invested in managed account and mutual funds assets; $59 billion in life insurance coverage and employs 484 financial advisors (eight of ten are veterans and military spouses).
Weddington began as an advisor at Dover AFB, then a principal at South Carolina and Georgia, managing nine offices for eight years. In 2013, First Command needed a senior in Hampton Roads and he was approached. Weddington’s Colonial District advises 7,000 client families.
“With the large concentration of area military families, First Command wanted someone with company tenure (20 years),” Weddington says. “I had a Virginia connection because of VMI and was considered a good match.”
Weddington’s district spans from the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel to Richmond and up toward Washington, DC. Two local offices (Oyster Point and Williamsburg) support this geographical area, with 15 advisor teams (most retired military pilots). Its non-advisory staff is mostly spouses who need jobs when they relocate.
Every advisor at First Command is a registered investment advisor (RIA). Each of First Command’s 60 district advisors oversees an area. Weddington works with Joint Base Langley-Eustis (JBLE), Camp Peary and Yorktown.
“I still use my military business background with JBLE and know a lot about how the base works, particularly the financial side of things,” he says. “I’m tied to the JBLE commanders who look to us for the right kind of advice.”
First Command’s vision is lifelong financial security for the nation’s military families.
“We believe in face-to-face lifetime service for our local military and non-military clients as they separate from service or retire,” Weddington says. “To know that a military spouse has someone who understands his or her situation, not just now but also going into the future? That defines us.”
When a client relocates, his or her file also goes. An advisor then calls and welcomes and works with the client. Weddington is notified when new military members move in, and he matches them with the advisor who fits their needs.
“This firm cares so much about military families. We are so specialized in military benefits,” he says. “We are the only financial advisor firm at every installation that specializes in understanding the military.”
Everything First Command does is through a financial plan. Its fiduciary standard requires examination of every option to discover what is best for its client.
“In the last 20 years, I have changed from serving my country to serving those who serve,” says Chuck McGee, Lt. Col (ret.), 20-year First Command Colonial District advisor and 22-year veteran. “There’s nothing more rewarding than helping a young family get started on their journey to financial security and seeing them progress over the years.”
Weddington’s mother and grandmother were English teachers, which gave him a love of writing. He has an identical twin brother, an older sister and older brother. The father of two sons, he is active in the Williamsburg Youth Baseball League and coaches the 12U Revolution Softball team. He loves to play golf and work out. When he has time off, Weddington and his sons visit the family ranch in Texas.
“I’m a quasi-workaholic,” Weddington says of his infrequent vacations “Not because someone wants me to, but because I love my work.” Other First Command advisors feel the same.
“First Command’s diverse expertise in military benefits and entitlements enables us to develop comprehensive plans that best position clients for a lifetime of financial success,” says David Shelton, U.S. Army CPT (Ret) and U.S. Army Reserve (CPT) and financial advisor for First Command and a 20-year client. “First Command positioned my family very well for life after the military.”
Weddington says, “We’re all at that point in life where we want to continue helping and mentoring the military the same way they were in the service. I love the fact that I’ve been a part of this for so many years.”
TO THE POINT:
First Command, Colonial District
Address: 11827 Canon Blvd., Ste. 100, Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: Cliff Weddington, CFP®, ChFC®, CLF®, financial advisor, principal and district advisor