Do good, do good: the importance of giving back

Last month we talked about how advisors can build their business and personal brand. There were several questions you needed to ask yourself to start telling your story, starting with “Who are you?” “

As the year draws to a close, many advisers reflect on the year that has passed. Thinking about who you are, how you’ve helped your customers, and how your business is performing, you might ask yourself what more can you do.

We often speak of financial planning as a profession for caregivers and donors. It is also for producers, those who want to build on their personal and firm brand. There are many ways giving back can help you grow taller.

Give back

How can you give back? Giving back often requires people to give of their time, talent and / or treasure. When we’re just starting out, we often don’t have more than our time to give. Ultimately, our talent provides a precious gift that we can share with others. We also often have more treasures to share. Smart financial planners understand the power of capitalization, so this treasure and our ability to share it grows as we grow!

So giving back is really an opportunity to give what you can, when you can.

To raise awareness

How did you find your way in this profession? By accident? How soon would you have started if you had known that being a financial planner was a career choice? Raising awareness of the existence of this profession is not easy, but each of us has a role to play. Talk about what you do, how you help people. Everywhere you go. To everybody. Yes, be THAT person. Especially to those who haven’t been exposed to it – except for what they see in the media – and help shape a more realistic picture.

  • Take part in career days for your children, your nieces and nephews, the children of your clients. Volunteer to speak in elementary and secondary school or boys and girls organizations.
  • Don’t forget the people who have finished school. Talk to people who are changing careers or re-entering the workforce after raising a family or serving in the military.
  • Take the opportunity to expand your network and seek more diverse connections. Talk to students at HBCUs (historically black universities and universities) or MSIs (institutions serving minorities).
  • Volunteer at your local FPA, NAPFA or IWI chapter and become an ambassador for that career. If you are CFP, you can apply to become CFP Pro or CFP Advocate and share your story.
  • Create social media content that can reach beyond your customers. Create a blog or podcast to talk about financial education. We also need to help potential clients understand that financial planning is good for their well-being. And it’s not just for the rich and famous.

The power of pro bono

Many city planners have chosen this profession to help people. You do it every day when you show your clients a path to a comfortable retirement, the vacation home of their dreams, the smartest education choice for their children and grandchildren. Now imagine helping people who never dreamed that they could partner with a financial planner to help them make their dreams come true. Think of the family with a child with cancer, a military veteran who adjusts to life with an injury or a new profession, or a survivor of domestic violence, all looking to build their future. This is where the power of pro bono comes in. Providing pro bono expertise is one of the qualities that make us a profession. You can become a more empathetic advisor because you are helping people who may have very different situations than your existing clients. There are plenty of opportunities to give back, including long and short-term, virtual and in-person commitments. I have the honor to chair the Foundation for Financial Planning, who partners with non-profit organizations to provide pro bono counseling opportunities so I’m biased but you can also work with your FPA and NAPFA chapters and your local community to find opportunities

Build your community

No one can do it alone. The best way to help you grow your brand and your capabilities is to spend time with other planners. Especially if you are new to the profession, it is important to hear from those who have taken this path before. Three ways to be part of the community:

  1. Get involved in an association. The FPA, FPA NexGen, NAPFA, and NAPFA Genesis provide you with opportunities to network, understand the ever-changing regulatory environment, and learn how the profession operates and develops. There are opportunities for leadership development and being active in the financial planning community will also increase the strength of your network.
  2. Ment others and be open to being mentored. Talk about your career story and don’t ignore setbacks, which can help mentees forge their own path. Be there for motivation and development needs and tap into your own network to help mentees develop further. While you are at it, ask this network to help you overcome a challenge you are facing.
  3. Start a study group with planners you have met at a conference or through your alumni group. Building a team of like-minded learners can help you continue to hone your skills. By sharing ideas and challenges, and giving each other advice and support, members will all grow stronger.

As 2021 draws to a close, let’s all reflect on our luck and how much we each have to give back – to our clients, our community and our profession. Giving back allows you to continually improve the “Who are you?” Of your brand value proposition – and helping others at the same time.

Kate Healy is a financial services industry executive and NextGen advocate with a focus on building brands.

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