From the deception of sales to the helping profession


Financial planning has struggled to emerge as a true profession. Part of the reason is that some of the most powerful voices in financial services still prefer to relegate the practice as a means to the end of selling products rather than advice as an end in itself. Indeed, with the financial services sector cited As having some of the “most deceptive selling practices”, it has not been easy for financial planning to differentiate itself from, for example, selling life insurance, brokerage or banking products.

Yet, with Financial Planning Month upon us, I think it’s worth acknowledging that we’ve still come a long way. I mean, heck, we actually have a month now! Maybe soon we will be recognized as the official profession of a minor sport, who knows?

But seriously, over the past 20 years I have observed a number of notable evolutionary milestones for what is still a relatively young profession:

  • There are now many options for university degrees in financial planning, including up to a doctorate. (I graduated in 1998 with a degree in business administration and a concentration in finance which did not include a single staff finance course.)
  • There are many viable routes of entry into the profession other than going to work for a large bank, brokerage firm, or insurance company. (In the 90s and early 2000s, when there were certainly real financial planning firms out there, most of them couldn’t afford to hire new apprenticeship advisors. we have a client base that we could bring to a business to justify a professional salary.)
  • There is a recognizable title in the Certified Financial Planner ™, or PCP®, a name that seems to have become the standard within the profession. (It is not yet the barrier to entry represented by the passage of the bar in law or the CPA in accounting, but we are getting there.)
  • There are important associations that support the profession, such as the Financial Planning Association (APP) and the National Association of Professional Financial Advisors (NAPFA), which are gaining in influence.

Yet what impressed me the most was not the statistics that sound like legitimacy, but the informal vibe that has taken hold within the profession. Those who have assumed the mantle of leadership of this profession, both of his origins about 50 years ago until today, really embody a spirit closer to a helping profession than to a seasoned profession. And now the next generation is applying the power of technology to fuel a philanthropic project called Advisors give back.

Led by Executive Director Matt Iverson-Comelo, and “backed by industry luminaries such as Michael Kitces of Nerd’s Eye View, Former Chairman of the Financial Planning Association®, Frank Paré and Duke’s Behavioral Economist , Dan Ariely, ”Advisers Give Back is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit dedicated to providing free financial planning to those who can’t afford to hire a professional.

Powered by partnerships with fintech companies, Steady and EarnUp, Give Back Advisers will match pro bono clients with pro bono advisors backed by dedicated assistants for recurring engagements, all linked by a streamlined technology platform infused with the wisdom of behavioral finance (I took the tour and it’s beautiful).

After concluding a pilot program in August 2020 and entering their first wave of counselors in April of this year, their goal is now to raise $ 100,000 and inspire 100 new counselors to join the program in October, planning month. financial, that is to say: now.

I have often heard successful, well-meaning financial planners lament, “It’s a shame we can’t do more to help those who need it most. Well, here is an opportunity do just that. Take it.

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