FFP CEO: Yes, You Can Change Lives

Julius Buchanan, Managing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

FFP Announces 2022 Impact Of Its Pro Bono Initiatives; CEO Dauphiné Discusses How To Get Involved, The Benefits Of Pro Bono To Company Culture And Changed Lives

The spirit of helping the less fortunate is alive and well in wealth management. The Foundation for Financial Planning (FFP) recently released its 2022 Impact Report, detailing the many successes the pro bono organization achieved last year. 

Jon Dauphiné, CEO, Foundation for Financial Planning

Among other achievements, last year, FFP activated 1,750 volunteer financial planners who delivered 18,700 service hours of pro bono work, valued at $3.74 million. Its financial capability workshops, webinars and one-on-one planning sessions reached over 124,800 people.

In addition, the firm provided over $855,000 in grants for other pro bono programs, while the number of CFP professionals on its matching platform exceeded 1,800. It also launched a skills-building webinar series and formed its first formal partnership with the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

We caught up with Jon Dauphiné, CEO of FFP, to ask how busy professionals and those without a CFP designation can get involved, the benefits of pro bono to workplace culture and the ways their work changes lives.

WSR: Busy advisors, planners and other professionals may think they don’t have adequate time for pro bono work. Describe some pro bono activities they can fit into a busy schedule and the time and resource commitments involved. 

Dauphiné: We recognize that advisors have limited time and varied interests, so FFP works with our nonprofit partners across the nation to post opportunities for pro bono volunteerism on our matching platform, ProBonoPlannerMatch.org, that are diverse in time required, population served and types of engagement (virtual or in-person). 

For example, an advisor can sign up for FFP’s Retirement Resilience Program, conducted with AARP, where we require only a one-time, three-hour commitment to help at-risk seniors, or she could sign up with our grantee, Savvy Ladies, and commit to only one hour a month to help underserved women. Advisors can register on ProBonoPlannerMatch.org and browse what works for them. Even a small time commitment can make a big impact! 

WSR: How can people who aren’t advisors or planners but working in an adjacent role, such as the back office, home office or a specialized service firm, get involved in pro bono work? 

Dauphiné: Individuals (such as paraplanners, students and other colleagues) are welcome to assist in pro bono financial planning efforts as long as they work in conjunction with a qualified CFP volunteer. As FFP cannot vet each volunteer individually, we rely on and require the CFP credential to signify that each volunteer has achieved specific educational, experiential and ethical requirements – and that they will act as a fiduciary with each client. 

Additionally, some of the programs we support also have volunteer roles for non-CFPs. Finally, people who want to advance the cause of financial literacy more broadly than providing pro bono advice can often find opportunities by checking with area nonprofits that help lower-income families, or can try VolunteerMatch.org, noting that their skills are “Education & Literacy,” which includes “Financial Literacy.”

WSR: Tell us how a firm can develop teamwork and encourage employee retention by incorporating pro bono activities into its work culture. 

Dauphiné: We strongly encourage firms to adopt a pro bono culture, as this can help drive positive results in their human capital and DEI strategies. Research shows that highly sought-after workforce segments such as women and younger planners are more likely to volunteer if their employer actively encourages it. 

A serving team bonds together

Additionally, allocating some work time for pro bono volunteerism, partnering with FFP or a local nonprofit, and assisting at-risk individuals with great advice can bond a team and engender a shared purpose for the greater good. 

Joining FFP’s RIA Impact Partner group – comprised of leading RIAs committed to advancing the pro bono movement – is also a good way to demonstrate corporate commitment and secure early access to certain pro bono opportunities with our partners. 

WSR: In recognition of Financial Literacy Month, tell us about the pro bono activities FFP conducts for financial literacy and how that’s making a difference in the lives of persons in need. 

Dauphiné: Pro bono has helped struggling people achieve amazing things, like moving past a terrible debt spiral to actually being able to afford their first home. Our 2022 Impact Report has the best recent overview of our work. Each year, we fund or provide volunteers for many different types of nonprofits serving vulnerable groups, including domestic violence survivors, people with cancer, disabled veterans, people wrongly convicted of crimes and many others. 

Real-life impact

We go beyond financial literacy because our volunteer CFP professionals don’t just teach financial concepts, they provide personalized, actionable advice during confidential, interactive engagements. We encourage readers to learn more about the real-life impact of this work by exploring the many stories of pro bono clients and the volunteers who help them. 

Julius Buchanan, Managing Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at jbuchanan@wealthsolutionsreport.com.

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