March 27, 2021

Randy Carver Overcame Cancer and a Heart Attack to Prevail in Finance

Randy Carver has gone through multiple setbacks in life to prevail in the financial industry….

  • Randy Carver has gone through multiple setbacks in life to prevail in the financial industry.
  • Carver started trading silver futures part-time in college before landing a job at Edward Jones.
  • He founded his firm, Carver Financial Services, in 1990 and manages over $2 billion in assets.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Randy Carver always says to question the experts. It’s an understandable philosophy for somebody who had a cancer misdiagnosed at age 12, which ended up involving multiple treatments and surgeries before having his left lung removed. 

That alone would’ve been plenty to overcome, but it has been that and so much more for Carver, who has managed to surpass huge setbacks to build a successful financial services firm in Mentor, Ohio.

Carver attributes his success to never giving up — even in the face of the smallest bump in the road. “Persistence is key,” Carver says. “You need to have a defined goal, but you may need to adjust your path to do things along the way.”

Carver’s persistence has continued to be tested. As an adult, he survived a crash of a plane he was flying with his wife and 14-week-old baby that left him unable to speak for a whole year (his child was fine, and his wife broke her collarbone). As an employee of financial services firm Edward Jones at the time, he was forced to communicate with clients with written notes.

But Carver again found a silver lining. “A lot of the times the biggest problems end up being huge advantages, even if its not really obvious at the time,” Carver told Insider. “Not being able to speak was the best thing that could happen to me because it made me a better listener.”

“I didn’t plan on being in a plane crash, but here we are. You can’t change the past and you can’t change what happens to you. But you can change how it affects you,” Carver said.

Six years ago, Carver suffered a heart attack. He missed one day of work. If anything, all of these experiences worked to give Carver a sense of what risks to focus on.

He left Edward Jones in 1990 to run his own financial services firm, Carver Financial Services. It now manages over $2 billion in assets. “People focus on taking the wrong risks,” Carver says on taking the leap to start his own firm. “But it’s never the bus you see coming that hits you.”

For Carver, the path to finance began with the first big hurdle that life brought him. When he was 12, he took a physical in order to train to become an instructor for the Outward Bound wilderness program. The doctors’ discovery of a huge mass ultimately saved his life. But the diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was a cancer he didn’t have.

Carver spent the next three years lying in a hospital bed receiving treatments of chemotherapy and radiation. Doctors took out all of his left lung, parts of his right lung, his spleen, and his thymus in seven operations before coming to the correct diagnosis – malignant thymoma, a cancer of a lymph organ that’s part of the body’s immune system.

Carver’s hospital had a subscription to The Wall Street Journal, and with not much else to do, he started reading — and becoming engrossed with — learning more about business and finance.  “I remember it [the WSJ] wasn’t lying to me,” he said. He was particularly struck with investing in options and commodities.

Years later, Carver was able to pay for his tuition at Oberlin, majoring in economics, by trading silver futures due in large part from his Wall Street Journal education. “I would borrow money from my professors, use it for the margin down payment and guarantee them money,” Carver said.

Carver’s prowess impressed his Oberlin professors, and he ended up teaching a course at Oberlin in his senior year. During a lecture, he brought in a guest speaker from Edward Jones — a move which got him in the door at the firm after graduation, which ultimately propelled him to starting his own firm.

For Carver, his life is an example for others to persevere.

“I think the biggest mistakes people make is that they’re so focused on the past that they lose sight of the fact they could change their destiny or future. But they’ve got to start today.”