On this week’s episode of You’re a Financial Planner, Now What?, I sat down with Evelyn Zohlen, CFP®​ (our current FPA President) and Martin Seay, Ph.D., CFP® (our FPA President-elect who’ll be taking over in 2020). Who better to discuss the future of financial planning than two experienced and well-rounded leaders?

In this episode, we talk about how financial planning has changed over time, what the FPA is doing for advocacy, what financial planning will look like years from now, and more.

How education and public outreach will impact the future

Financial planning is the name, but what’s the name — a profession or an industry? Often, you’ll see industry and profession used interchangeably, even though there’s a difference between the two. A profession often includes having education, specialized training, and experience requirements. In contrast, an industry is broader. It’s a collective group of companies who share the same business goals or types of service. 

If we’re going by these definitions, it might seem that financial planning as a whole is currently as the “industry” level… but we’re moving towards it being a profession. Both Evelyn and Martin agree with this. As a financial behavior researcher and Program Director and Associate Professor of Personal Financial Planning at Kansas State University, Martin had great insight into how we can move financial planning in the profession direction. As he put it during our chat, we need the right training, education, and programs to put aspiring students on the right path.

Evelyn agreed, and added that public outreach and pro bono activity can point financial planning in the right direction, too. Evelyn is the founder of Inspired Financial, LLC, a fee-only wealth management practice that specializes in serving women in transition. She’s also served in several community leadership roles in the past, so she well understands the value of raising awareness in the larger community. As Evelyn pointed out, the public’s perception ultimately decides if financial planning is a profession or not. Such a great point!

Financial planning has come a long way in 50 years

The CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct, CFP marks, new undergraduate degree programs: these milestones have taken financial planning far from where we started 50 years ago. So, where are we headed now?

In my interview with Martin and Evelyn, we discussed fiduciary standard of care early in the episode, which has been a popular topic of conversation lately. In Evelyn’s utopian world, she said, a consumer would know that, whenever they’re working with a financial planner, that financial planner is always serving them as a fiduciary. Regulations can be murky, and consumers don’t always know for sure what level of care they can expect. Fiduciary standard of care can clarify that for consumers. As Martin points out, fiduciary also requires high levels of competency. You have to know your stuff, and striving for that goal professionally can level up your game.

But I really wanted to know their opinion on one question: What does financial planning look like now, and what do we want it to look like in the future? Martin had some excellent current statistics on equality and diversity; for example, roughly 23% of CFPs are female and around 2% to 6% are diverse. It’s not reflective of the people we get to serve, and we can do better. 

One way to improve equality and diversity is to improve the number and quality of educational programs available. Martin said that students in current degree programs are bringing their unique talents and diversity to the profession, but Evelyn pointed out that we need more of those programs to build a better foundation for the profession.

Speaking of improving the profession for actual professionals…

What the FPA is doing with advocacy

In this chat, we also talked about the FPA as a community, as well as an active advocate for financial planning regulations and legislation. Martin shared that efficacy is a major focus for the FPA: making sure that the future of the profession and members’ interests are being represented when necessary, whether that’s at the state or federal level. Misconceptions of financial planning still exist, so it’s important to educate state representatives on the scope of the profession (so it’s no longer seen as just an industry).

Even if it seems like there’s smooth sailing on the legislation front, that doesn’t mean the FPA’s advocacy work is done, Evelyn said. Advocacy is an ever-present, constant challenge to stay in the loop. For example, Evelyn explained that when the SEC first released its draft regulations regarding Reg BI, the FPA and its coalition partners prepared a lengthy letter to the SEC to tell them it was a good step, but it needed more. Communicating with groups and state governments is necessary to building relationships, which in turn can have an impact on legislation.

Finding support in the financial planning community

Martin and Evelyn had a lot of wisdom to share with me on this episode, and one thing was very clear for me: we’re lucky to have these two as leaders in FPA! If you’re not yet involved with FPA, I hope their insight can convince you to check out your local NexGen chapter and connect with other members. At the end of the day, that’s what FPA is about: the community. As Martin ended the episode: “Find folks that will walk alongside you, because that’s exactly why other folks are here, too.”

 

 

 

What You’ll Learn:

  • How financial planning is moving towards “profession” status
  • Why fiduciary standard of care can help both clients and financial planners
  • How the FPA advocates for the profession on the state level
  • The reality of working with Capitol Hill
  • What important milestones we’ve reached in 50 years
  • Current statistics on financial planners
  • How financial planning can be bigger and better in the future
  • How social justice has impacted financial planning
  • What you’ll get out of joining the FPA community

 

Show Notes:

In this episode of YAFPNW, I talked to Evelyn Zohlen, CFP®​, and Martin Seay, Ph.D., CFP® about:

Want to follow Evelyn and Martin? You can follow Evelyn on Twitter at @emzohlen and Martin on LinkedIn

 

Show Transcript

Episode Transcript


Hannah: Today on the podcast, we are talking about the future of the profession. To have this conversation, I have with us Evelyn Zohlen who is a current FPA president and then Martin Seay who is the upcoming, he’s the president elect this year. He’ll be the president of FPA in 2020. So thinking of the future of the profession, I couldn’t think of a better place to go to than FPA. So thank you both for joining us today.

Evelyn: Glad to be here.

Martin: Thank you for having us.

Hannah: The word profession versus industry, I hear those kind of thrown around interchangeably, so I’m curious, what’s the difference? Are we a financial planning industry, a profession? What does that mean?

Evelyn: I think that we are on the road to becoming a profession. The challenge with saying we are a profession or are we not is that we actually only have so much control. We as practitioners of financial planning only have so much control over whether or not we are a profession, and I’m putting that in air quotes, because at the end of the day, it’s what the public perceives of us that is the final measure of have we arrived as a profession. So I think that we are doing many, many of the right things to move us toward that, but I don’t know that we are there yet. One of those things that we are doing that is moving financial planning toward becoming a profession is growing the academic community, supporting education and research in financial plannings. And so Martin, I’d be kind of curious, what’s your, as an academic on the leading edge of that, what do you think, industry versus profession?

Martin: Yeah, that’s a great question. And I always think of one of my favorite Dave Yeske isms where he says financial advice is pretty cool, but financial planning is magical. When I think about the financial services industry, I think about the advice industry and I think about the future of financial planning profession being about planning and driving that holistic advice to clients, and that’s separating ourselves a little bit at least in terms of the scope services that we’re providing. But to be a profession, you need a couple of different things and one of the things Evelyn was sharing about it is you need an academic underpinning. You need students that are coming through, getting trained, getting educated. You need degrees in financial planning where it’s an aspirational field and you go to your mom and you say, “Hey, I want to be a financial planner,” and they say, “Wow, that’s pretty cool. You’re going to do goo things for a lot of people.”

Martin: So you’re seeing the growth of programs, but then also you need evidence based practices that are based off of research, and that’s the other component that’s coming on pretty heavily right now to help provide that foundation for that profession to exist on top of. But Evelyn, the other thing that is part of profession is having individuals recognize and consumers recognize financial planners.

Evelyn: There’s a lot of public outreach and that takes so many different forms. Probably one of the greatest ones that I get most excited about is pro bono activity and improving financial literacy. I know that there are literally thousands and thousands of FPA members and broader members, not just those who belong to FPA but are practicing financial planning who care passionately about our profession and believe that financial planning changes lives. And part of the way that they become little personal advocates if you will for financial planning in the broader community is through doing pro bono financial planning activities, whether that’s financial planning day and sitting with folks who come in on a one on one basis or lecturing about changes in tax laws to something I love to do is I work with my local girl scout troop and helping them getting their personal finance badge.

Evelyn: So these are all ways that we are able to introduce what a real financial planner, a true financial planner does to the broader community and help raise awareness that not only can it help you personally, but for those girl scouts, you can bet I’m banging the drum that this is an amazing profession for women and “Don’t you want to come help?”

Hannah: One of the topics that I hear often is the topic of fiduciary, and it is a huge conversation and has been, and rightfully so. So I’m curious, FPA’s vision statement is to elevate the profession that transforms lives through the power of financial planning. How does fiduciary fit in there? Is fiduciary the end goal that we’re targeting?

Evelyn: The short answer is yes. Yes and. The Financial Planning Association believes that financial planning should be provided under a fiduciary standard, period, mic drop. It’s very, and that is a very high level aspirational vision of what the environment would be that a consumer knows in the future in my utopian picture perfect world in the future, a consumer would know that whenever they’re working with a financial planner, that financial planner is always serving them as a fiduciary. There’s never a doubt in their mind at one point or another are they a fiduciary now or is it different with them right now.

Evelyn: So the aspiration is that financial planning would always be delivered under a fiduciary standard of care. And I have to give some props to the CFP board because with their new standards if a financial planning practitioner is a certified financial planner, then they are required to provide financial planning, financial advice under a fiduciary standard of care. But that’s that, I’ll call it narrow group of financial planners. There’s a lot of other, it’s a much broader world in the financial planning space and there’s a little bit of a patchwork of regulations and legislation that we all have to operate under and that makes it murky. That makes it difficult for consumers to know who do I have here and how are they going to care for me.

Martin: I would agree. But I also think we have to get to fiduciary. Fiduciary is a really important standard of care that makes our clients understand that we’re on the same side of the table as them. We are keeping our eyes on what the best advice, best recommendations, best actions are for them regardless of how that might tie to the way we operate, the way we’re compensated, the way we’re paid. But I also think that we also need to think beyond that. So fiduciary does require some level of competency to do that, that is to act as a fiduciary you have to know your stuff. You have to know what’s available. But to be a profession, I think we have to build and accomplish these standards beyond that. So it’s clear to be a professional within this space, this is how you’re going to operate. These are the body of knowledge that you need to know to operate within. And also similar goals in terms of what we’re trying to accomplish with our clients.

Martin: Fiduciary is critically important along the way and also I think we need to create a broader competency standard for our professionals moving forward. And like Evelyn said, the CFP board does that currently with the 76 learning objectives that are required for you to study and pass the CFP exam. And I also think if we go out 15 years from now, there’s going to be a lot more 76 learning objectives and there’s going to be a lot more information that’s required to really act like a CFP professional.

Evelyn: You know, Martin, I think that’s an excellent point. And as you were sharing that, I was thinking it should almost become table stakes. Almost like getting your CFP designation, becoming a CFP designee. My perspective has always been that it’s critical, but it’s the starting point. To be a true financial planner, you also must be a lifelong learner and so the fiduciary standard, while Hannah you asked is it aspirational, yes. Is it an end point? Well, until we get it, it’s an end point. But I look forward to the day that the fiduciary standard of care when delivering financial planning services is not a question. It’s just a given and we’ve moved past it because it was, it’s like, “Well, of course.” And then we move on because there are other even more important things that we should be focusing on as a profession and when we are serving our clients.

Hannah: No, I think that makes a lot of sense. And so I’m curious, FPA is the professional association for us as CFPs. And advocacy is a huge issue. And so i’m curious, can you tell me more of what is FP doing in the advocacy front? At the federal or at the state level to really help kind of push to elevate our profession?

Martin: Efficacy is really a major focus of the FPA. It’s really making sure that our members interests and the future of the profession are being represented wherever issues might arise that will impact our members as well as the future of the profession. So that’s at the state level. We host more than 25 state advocacy days each year where we go into state houses and share a little bit about what the Financial Planning Association and share a little bit about the importance of financial planning, and educate these representatives that oftentimes think we’re going to come in and give them a hot stock tip. They don’t really understand the diversity and the breadth that goes into financial planning.

Martin: So it’s at the state houses. It’s at the state regulatory bodies. For example, right now there are a number of states that are looking at different compensation methods and whether they should be allowed specifically dealing with retainer models for financial advice. They understand the AUM model when you’re tying the payment to the asset management. But some regulators are struggling to understand where the value is if it’s just an hourly fee. So we’re there to help them understand that a lot of financial planning advice has nothing to do with how you’re allocating your investment portfolio and there’s more holistic advice going on underneath that. And then it’s nationally. It’s being involved throughout the process with the SEC as they develop for API and move that through the process. That is at the DOL. First in the original DOL rule which is now vacated, but now we are curiously awaiting the new DOL rules to be shared so that we can be there, be involved for our members and move them forward.

Martin: And then of course we’re also in the halls of congress, meeting with congressman, meeting with senators, helping to educate them about the issues that help shape a broader understanding of what the financial planning profession canon should look like.

Evelyn: What’s both an opportunity and a challenge for FPA and for our members around advocacy is that it’s not a one and done situation, that it’s an ever present, must be there, must be monitoring opportunity and even when it appears that nothing is going on, we still need to be there and be present. And because if you are out of sight you are out of mind, I’m thinking of this specifically in the context of here in California where our local chapters go to Sacramento every year in March and then every year in October we meet with our local assemblymen and senators in their home district offices. And not that we have much new to say normally after just having seen them six months earlier, but rather we want to be visible and present, and a reminder to them that financial planning changes lives for everybody in their community and we want to be a ready resource not only on legislative or regulatory issues that might come up at the state level or at the federal level, but also to be a resource for them in their own communities or when they’re considering other issues.

Evelyn: I’ll give you a for example that here in California about 18 months ago, FPA of California was contacted by the state treasurer’s office because they were putting together a task force to talk about creating a state offered 401k plan that could be adopted by small business owners that didn’t have the resources to put together their own 401k plan. And they contacted us specifically because we had been to visit them several times to say, “Hey, we would really love a member from the Financial Planning Association in California to sit on this task force and help represent that community in creating this 401k plan for small business owners.” That opportunity never would’ve been available if our members hadn’t been regularly going to Sacramento and regularly visiting in our elected officials’ home offices. And it’s a great example of how we can make a difference in so many different facets of our communities, our states, and our members lives.

Hannah: I’m curious. You guys have talked a lot about what the different things that FPA does. What does that look like? Are you guys actually going to capitol hill? I mean, with the Reg BI, like are you guys in those conversations?

Evelyn: Absolutely, we are. In so many different forms. For example, Hannah, when the SEC first released its draft regulations regarding Reg BI and the other regulatory changes that came along with it, the Financial Planning Association, along with our coalition partners actually prepared a very lengthy comment letter that we sent to the SEC to tell them that it’s a good step, but it needs more. We were very clear with them that we did not think that the proposed regulations went far enough in creating a fiduciary standard of care and when delivering personalized financial advice. But sending the letter is a very, very important step, but it’s not enough. There needs to be a lot more action going along with that to include visiting the SEC back in June. We actually met with senior staff from the SEC specifically to talk about this.

Evelyn: It’s connecting with them in maybe less direct but no less impactful methods. For example, for our advocacy summit that we had in conjunction with FPA’s Advocacy Day when we were in Washington DC last year. Commission Hester Purse came and actually spoke. I got to interview her as part of our advocacy summit. And this is an opportunity for us to build relationships with them so that when those moments come that we have ideas or feedback to share with them, we have a more receptive audience. That’s happening at the federal level. It’s also happening at the state level. It’s providing comment letters. I have another great example and then I’ll ask Martin to tell me what I’ve forgotten, but another great example is the state of New York contacted FPA a couple of months back because the state was interested in crafting legislation specifically around creating a fiduciary standard of care when delivering personalized investment advice and they asked FPA if we would help them craft that legislation.

Evelyn: Again, that invitation doesn’t occur without many years of relationship building through visits on the hill, through visits at home offices, visits at events where the elected officials are participating and letter writing campaigns. I know I’ve written many letters to my assemblymen and senator. And all of those touch points create an opportunity for us to engage and have an impact. What do you think, Martin? Did I miss anything there?

Martin: I think you nailed it. I think the other thing that I often like to talk about related to activity is we are a member of the Professional Certification Coalition, and what drove that was legislation in a couple different states that would’ve barred individuals from using professional certifications that weren’t endorsed by the state. AKA, it would’ve been illegal for you to use your CFP marks in those states. We were able to engage very quickly on that and be in the room and meet with folks that had drafted that legislation to get that fixed. So it’s really important that FPA some times, as we get in our specific chapter and we’re looking around the landscape, sometimes it’s a little bit hard to see that bigger picture. But the beauty of having 85 entities is that 86 different chapters or communities, is that you’ve got people looking out for your back all across the country to be there when issues arise that may not affect you today, but they sure as heck will at the time.

Hannah: I think advocacy is such an important element and one of, for me it’s a huge reason why I’m part of FPA. But I’m curious, we’re talking bat the future of the profession and so with that, I’m curious what your guys’ thoughts are on where you’ve see the profession advance so far and where do you see the next big step that we’re going to take as a profession?

Evelyn: I think some important steps we’ve taken so far here, I’m going to take the easy what’s happened so far and then I’ll make Martin dust off his crystal ball and decide where we’re going in the future. But all teasing aside, I think that there have been a lot of really positive developments for financial planning as a profession. This year has been a particularly poignant one to reflect on that sort of thing because we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the financial planning profession and these kinds of milestones are a great opportunity to pause and say, “So, how far have we come?” And we’ve come a long way, baby.

Evelyn: One of the many multiple paths to competency, that question or debate on how do we become a competent planner, that’s been pretty well settled. The financial planning profession has pretty well coalesced around the standard of competence and ethics under the CFP marks. And whether you consider the marks the starting point or the ending point, and you know where I am on that, I think that’s a starting point and you go from there. It’s at least a common point. And I think that that is a very, very important mile post along the journey of becoming a profession, is that. I think also the standards that we’ve discussed. We just finished a conversation around advocacy and having standards of competence and ethics are critical in the evolution and growth of a profession, and I think that those on the code of ethics and standards of conduct under the CFP marks are an important step, particularly the most recent iteration of those requiring a fiduciary standard of care when you’re giving any kind of financial advice.

Evelyn: We already touched on the growing academic community. And I think that another that is a little less tangible but no less important is sort of the rise of financial life planning. You know, when those gentlemen all got together in Chicago back in December of 1969, they were creating a profession around very technical things, about the integration between investments, and tax, and estate, and insurance. And while that is still a very important component of financial planning, financial life planning is actually, I’ll call it financial planning 2.0. It’s really where we all want to be with our clients and gets to the hearts and minds rather than just the financial statements or even our own expectations and suppositions around what we think our clients are wanting or needing. So I think that these are all really important and valuable, like I said, mile posts along this journey that have brought us to this moment as a financial planning profession.

Evelyn: However, we’re not done. There’s a lot ahead of us still and Martin, why don’t you take a swing at that. I’ve got a couple of ideas, but why don’t you take a swing at where we’ve still got ahead of us.

Martin: Let me round out a little bit of where we’ve come and let’s talk about the future.

Evelyn: Okay.

Martin: I think it’s also, at the risk of being self aggrandizing, I think it’s important that next year I will be the first next gen age, next gen individual, the service president of FPA, will be the first that has received a four year degree in personal financial planning. That’s a big change. That’s a big journey from where we started 50 years ago, actually have these degree programs. Speaking of those, there’s roughly 104 universities that have undergraduate programs and personal financial planning that are registered with the CFP board. And there’s beautiful diversity among those. There are programs in the college of business, there are programs in the college of ag. There are programs in colleges of health and human sciences. And all these individuals are bringing their unique strengths to the table whether it be in technical expertise, whether it be in the ability to communicate, understanding family dynamics. This diversity brings breadth to the profession as it’s growing.

Martin: There’s roughly 85,000 CFPs. Let’s not forget about that. That’s quite an improvement and the new standards that will be, that have come forward, that will help to raise the professionalism underneath that. And then also there are now over 100 PhDs in personal financial planning. That’s pretty cool. Over 100 folks that are out there at different universities that have gone through the CFP coursework, gone through the CFP training and are taking that to the next generation of financial planners. And you see it paying off in the industry. At Kansas State University, we have a lot of firms that will only talk to us because we are graduating CFP students, that’s both small firms and some of the larger firms in the country that have recognized the value of CFPs and that well rounded education and financial planning, and want to get access to those individuals above anybody else.

Martin: Looking to the future, it’s amazing to think we’re only 50 years in from 12 people meeting in a hotel room at an airport to where we are today. It’s an amazing journey. But just imagine where we’ll be 50 years from now. We can’t imagine that landscape. Evelyn was speaking about fiduciary being the goal. I have to imagine in 50 years, probably even 25, I think less than that, fiduciary will be table stakes. I think that we’ll have moved past that and we’ll be pushing to professionalism and excellence for the financial planning profession. And that’s just going to be something that’s there. The other thing is as we go towards the future, right now roughly about 23% of CFPs are female and related to diverse populations. Evelyn, you’ll have to correct me, but I think it’s two to six percent that are of diverse. And that’s just simply not good enough. It’s not reflecting of the people that we are serving. I’ll tell you, programs around the country, it’s far more even in terms of the people that are in these classes getting out in the industry.

Martin: So now we’ve got to figure out how to support them and move them through so that we can serve clients wherever they might be, whatever their preferences might be. Because there are just some things that somebody like you can understand a little bit better than somebody that’s not. So Evelyn, those speak to me at the top. What else do you have?

Evelyn: Just one or two other things as I think about the road ahead and work still to be done. Martin touched on such progress around academic programs and that growth of the academic foundation of the profession, but part of one challenge we’ve had is we’ve got the programs but it’s still not many. Very few students graduating from financial planning degree programs compared to the marketplace, compared to the demand for them. And interestingly, many of those who do graduate are being recruited by financial services firms aren’t actually doing any financial planning. So it’s going to, the vast majority of CFP professionals continue coming through certification programs and I just don’t know that we can build a culture and professional identity on such a narrow foundation. And so as I look ahead, I am anxious and anticipating seeing a much more robust group of graduates coming out of these programs that are actually entering firms that are doing financial planning.

Martin: The one thing I would add to that, Evelyn, is we are seeing a lot more of those larger firms that are actually doing financial planning now, that have seen the value and the benefit of that. And that to me is a real mark of success as-

Evelyn: That’s encouraging.

Martin: That firms that, and in fact on campus this week, we had an individual that was from a very large life and disability insurance company that historically maybe didn’t operate within the financial planning space, but he shared his process with us and it was very clear, very clear that he was doing planning first. And then from that, he was deciding what the appropriate recommendations and products were for clients. And I think that’s absolutely perfect. It’s representative of where we’re headed that folks all over are starting to see the value of doing that financial planning.

Evelyn: I guess one final thought I have as I think about us as practitioners and looking ahead is that so many of us came into the profession because we are inspired and passionate about financial planning and the difference that financial planning can make in the lives of our clients. Not as many of us got into the business because we wanted to be an entrepreneur or a small business owner, or that we were experts in marketing. Or on technology. And yet all of those things have a direct bearing on the success of our businesses and candidly our ability to serve our clients well.

Evelyn: So I think that looking to the future, I look forward to us as professional financial planners also being better business owners and … start looking beyond the tactics of financial planning and thinking about longer horizons, strategy for our firms and how we’ll serve our clients. I think that the who we serve and what we’re doing that’s of value to them, we need to think harder about that so that we can maybe segment our clients and provide more specialized services. This goes back to CFP marks as a starting point as opposed to an end point, because the CFP marks take us to a baseline level of competency to provide financial planning and I think as we look ahead as a profession, we will need to refine those services and offerings to deal more specifically with the unique needs of different demographics of our clients, because technology is coming along and I think that if we ignore the difference that technology is going to make in our profession, it’s at our risk.

Evelyn: A few years back, there was a lot of brouhaha about digital investment solutions, robo advisors online and is that going to be the death now of financial planners, and I think that we’ve all moved past that crisis moment, I’m putting that in air quotes. And because the human relationship is still so critical in a financial planning relationship. However, that technology could be a powerful force multiplier when used by a human financial planner, and I think that artificial intelligence is also going to be a major disruptive force and not one that replaces the human financial planner but definitely could augment the human financial planner. So I think that there’s a lot of, the opportunity/challenge is technology ahead of us that we need to be looking at and determining how do we build that into a successful profession as well.

Hannah: We’ve touched on, you guys had a lot that was in there. You talked about the diversity inclusion, how important that is. One of the things that’s been in the news recently is this Me Too movement has kind of hit financial planning. And so I’m curious, what are your guys’ thoughts on that or how can we as a profession address these issues in a better way?

Evelyn: I think the first thing is one that has already happened in that the first step is to, across the entire membership, across the entire profession, to say not acceptable and not tolerated ever again. And for anybody who feels like they’re in that position of an uncomfortable and unwelcome situation, that it is okay for them to say so and that they will have a receptive audience to help them navigate through this and make it onto the other side and feel secure knowing that they will be heard and protected candidly. So I think the first step was to make it known that it’s not acceptable and it will not be tolerated.

Evelyn: I know for FPA for the past couple of years, at all of our events we have a very, very … we have a zero tolerance policy on this and have gone to great lengths to publicize that it’s not acceptable and if you are seeing anything or hearing anything, even if it’s not you experiencing it, if you’re a witness or hear about it, that here is how you can contact a dedicated team of people who will make sure that it’s addressed immediately. So raising awareness and then putting resources and tools in place to help address it when it’s encountered. And then beyond that, it’s just doing what we’re doing right now, Hannah, is having a conversation about it and really … I’m going to say building it into the culture that it’s just, that it becomes almost, I don’t want to say a non issue, but it would be so stunned, that we would be so stunned that somebody would even consider it, that it just becomes part of the culture that it would never be accepted and that we are all respected and treated well.

Evelyn: And Martin, I’m sure you’ve got some to add on that. But as a woman, I wanted to jump in on that first.

Martin: I think you nailed it. For me, obviously being a white male, a lot of these issues, I personally just am exempted from or avoided, at least related to myself personally. I will say, though, for all these industry conferences, I take 18, 19, 20 year old females to these conferences and it’s incredibly important to me that they’re entering safe spaces. And we still have to have those conversations and it would be a dream world where you don’t have to have those conversations, where they know going in that it’s perfectly safe all around. And usually they are safe. But as Evelyn says, we’ll know we’ve made it when we no longer have to think about it at all.

Evelyn: Right. You know, Hannah, we were talking about this within the context of FPA and perhaps not perfect, but pretty good, I feel like we were quick to put a stake in the ground and to take action on it several years back as this was bubbling up in the broader media. But it’s not just within FPA. I mean, we are part of, a small part of a much, much broader profession and an even broader financial services industry, and I think that we can … while we can’t change what happens at other conferences or in other corners of the industry, we certainly can be a model for how it’s done well and a bright light for what the future could look like, where it isn’t a conversation that ever has to happen. “Oh, we never talk about that at FPA because it never happens.” Well, then people want that and want to be part of that. That’s the kind of profession, the kind of community that they want to belong to.

Hannah: Nobody has to listen to this podcast, but just by listening to this podcast, I know that the people who are listening are definitely interested and passionate about financial planning and really care about this profession and care about their career. And so I’m curious, what would you say to the listeners right now?

Martin: Yeah. First I would say thank you, thank you for leaning in. We very much appreciate you, we appreciate your passion. We surveyed our students here trying to figure out why they were interested in financial planning and 92% of them responded, “It’s because we want to help people. We want to transform lives.” So thank you for leaning in to this noble profession and pushing to make it better. I’d say FPA is there for you. We are there to help you along your career path from your first day out of school to studying for the CFPA exam and I’m sure acing it along the way. But then also it’s a dang hard exam, so we’re going to be there for you to be your support network and we’re going to be there for you to lean back in and take it again. And then we’re going to be there for you when you go from being the pair planner to the one that is driving clients. We’re going to have a safe space for you to have this conversation. We’re going to bet he place where you can get insight from people that have been there.

Martin: And then let’s say you become a business owner. We’re going to be that community for you that’s going to have those folks who’ve been through that transition. We’re going to be there with the knowledge base that you need to succeed in that. And our goal is to be your partner and your support network throughout your career, while also worrying about the things that you’re worried about but don’t have the time to. That’s going to be us that are looking at all 50 states and looking at the issues that might affect you related to regulation. And we’ll be on the hill in the halls of congress and with regulators trying to help shape the profession for the future, for the benefit of us all. That’s my thoughts, Evelyn. What you got?

Evelyn: Yeah. As usual, you stole all my good stuff. I would say welcome. So glad that you are here and welcome to the family, because it is very much a community, a tribe, a family. You use your word of choice that describes this place where you come together with like minded people who will inspire you and challenge you to be the best version of yourself. That’s been my experience since I joined FPA back in, oh boy, October of 2002. I guess the other thing I would add is that glad you’re here and now let’s roll up our sleeves, because there’s so much work to be done still. And part of that is what we were talking about just a moment ago and as we look to the future of the profession, but then also as a leader within that, there’s hundreds of thousands of people who call themselves financial advisors and we in the Financial Planning Association are true leaders among that broad universe of financial services industry.

Evelyn: And being a leader means that you’re raising your hand to take the lead on initiatives, to share ideas. It also means that when you’re encountering things that you think should be better, should be different, or that you downright don’t like, that you lean in a little more deeply at that point to make it better. I’ve had a very exciting and challenging year as president of the Financial Planning Association this year as we’ve been taking on a big initiative for the association with the One FPA network. And where I have been most impressed is when I’ve encountered members who disagreed with me and said, “And I have an idea about how I think it could be better.” I wanted to give them a hug and say, “God love ya, let’s do this.” And that’s exactly what I’ve seen over and over again.

Evelyn: So for those listening to the podcast who care about the profession, who care about their clients and want to make a difference, that will be part B by being part of your membership association where you’ll find your home, but also serving your membership association because your opinions are valued and welcomed and you can make a huge difference here.

Hannah: Where would you suggest that somebody start? They hear all this, they’re like, “I want to be part of this.” Where do they go?

Evelyn: Well, the website is … Actually, certainly join FPA, but then so you join and then what happens? I actually would recommend you plug into community immediately. So if you’re a new planner or you’re not even a planner, you want to be a planner or learn more about being a planner, certainly plug into our next gen community and of course Hannah and Martin, you guys have lots to say about that. So I’ll be brief on that. But the other part I would suggest is that you engage in your local chapter. We have such a robust network of chapters full of passionate members and leaders who are excited about what we do and about welcoming people to the profession.

Evelyn: And then you could call me or call Martin and we’ll give you a tour of FPA because there’s so much under the hood here that we would love to tell you about. But Martin, I just scratched the surface. Do you want to talk about next gen a little more.

Martin: Yeah, I think really it is lean in. Lean in. So yeah, sign up, but lean in, because like many things in life, you’re going to get as much out of FPA as you try to get out of FPA. You’ll have great communities. Hannah of course facilitates FPA Activate for us, which is a Facebook community that allows for conversations to occur. And then best thing about FPA Activate is you don’t even have to participate to get good insights from other folks that are sharing their personal insights and experiences. So that’s one of the things I would recommend that you do, but also really get involved in your local chapter. Get involved with folks that are around you. Find a study group. That’s really what will separate your experience. My wife is a member. She’s a practitioner and she is planning, I think it’s her fifth girls trip with her study group. They met at a next gen gathering I guess five or six years ago and I guess since then, once a year they take a weekend away from being moms and from being … from the firms that they work at and they spend time thinking about each other, their professional development, and how they can be a little bit better. So find folks that will walk alongside with you, because that’s exactly why other folks are here, too.

Hannah: Absolutely. So if you’re looking for the FPA Activate group, go to Facebook. It is on Facebook and we will also include more resources in the show notes. So thank you Martin and Evelyn for joining us today.

Evelyn: It is a pleasure. Really nice chatting with you, Hannah.

Martin: Thank you so much for having us.

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