FFP Survey Makes Case For Pro Bono Financial Planning

James Miller, Contributing Editor & Research Analyst, Wealth Solutions Report

Foundation Dedicated To Increasing Pro Bono Access Publishes Report Indicating Moral, Business And Professional Development Reasons To Encourage Pro Bono

Foundation for Financial Planning (FFP) published its inaugural report titled “The Case for Pro Bono Financial Planning,” which examines the views of CFP holders on pro bono service and presents moral, business and professional development cases for pro bono financial planning.

Supporting the moral case, 99% of respondents said that helping people in need is a key motivator for pro bono, while 74% said that giving back to the profession is key. In addition, 71% indicated that developing skills and practice was a key motivator and 57% pointed to pro bono’s positive impact on their businesses.

Establishing the business case for pro bono, 46% of respondents would be more likely to work for a firm that supports pro bono financial planning, and 55% among women and advisors under the age of 35. However, only 28% of respondents said their firm encourages pro bono services, which the report describes as a gap that could allow an employer to gain an edge in human capital.

Jon Dauphiné, CEO, Foundation for Financial Planning

Jon Dauphiné, CEO of FFP, said, “With the war on talent the industry is experiencing, this study demonstrates the power of pro bono for employers. The data suggests firms that intentionally support pro bono have a significant competitive advantage with recruiting, engaging, and developing advisors.”

The report also supports a professional development case. Respondents indicated that pro bono work develops the “Principal Knowledge Topics” prescribed by the CFP Board, with 87% stating that pro bono develops their knowledge in financing strategies and debt management, 85% indicating pro bono boosts their skills in cash flow management and 74% stating that it builds their abilities in the “sources of money conflict” topic.

In addition, respondents indicated that pro bono activities developed their soft skills such as client communication and listening skills (71% agreed), interacting with a more diverse client base (73% agreed) and developing specific leadership skills (56% agreed).

Jason Van de Loo, Chief Client Officer, Edelman Financial Engines

Jason Van de Loo, Chief Client Officer at Edelman Financial Engines, said, “Encouraging pro bono financial planning is a critical part of our efforts to build a culture of professionalism and to attract and retain excellent financial planners. Our firm is working to foster an environment that mirrors what the Foundation for Financial Planning sees in its survey results. We want to support our planners and give them opportunities to develop professional skills and access the tools they need to serve both pro bono and paying clients.”

The report indicates primary barriers to increased pro bono services in financial planning include liability insurance, which 79% are concerned about, and access to opportunities, which concerns 70%. Training and compliance are also issues.

“We’re excited to see that advisors’ sentiments about pro bono financial planning align with the CFP Board’s recent resolution to encourage certificants to provide at least 20 hours of pro bono service each year,” said Dauphiné. “The case for pro bono planning is compelling, and the benefits flow not only to the individuals and communities served, but also to the volunteer advisors, their employers, and the profession at large.”

James Miller, Contributing Editor and Research Analyst at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at ContributingEd@wealthsolutionsreport.com.

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