Working as a financial advisor can be both financially rewarding and emotionally satisfying. By helping clients develop financial goals, creating a financial plan, and supporting the implementation and monitoring of the plan, advisors help clients live their best lives. But while new fee models have allowed fee-only advisors to reach an expanding range of potential clients, there are many Americans who could benefit from professional financial advice but might not have sufficient income or assets to pay for it. This gives advisors the opportunity to offer their services on a pro bono basis, and the Advisers Give Back platform allows them to do so in as little as one hour per month.
Pro bono financial planning refers to free, no-strings-attached financial advice and planning for underserved people. Most advisors are already familiar with many of the issues these individuals face, from setting goals to debt management, although the specifics might be slightly different given the typically lower incomes and wealth of pro bono clients. In addition to providing a valuable service to the community and serving as a meaningful activity for advisors, pro bono planning is also an important part of growing financial planning into a profession, similar to other fields (e.g., law) with established pro bono programs. Further, pro bono planning can help advisors develop their skills, whether it is working with individuals of different ages or incomes than their usual clients to practicing their empathetic listening and client meeting skills (which is especially relevant for more junior advisors whose primary functions may be focused on back office responsibilities supporting senior advisors, and who might not have as many opportunities for substantive one-on-one client interactions!).
Given the demands from running (or working for) an advisory firm as well as the time needed to research ways to offer pro bono planning, the non-profit group Advisers Give Back (AGB) has created a platform that allows advisors to participate in pro bono planning for as little as one hour per month. AGB allows advisors to meet with clients and develop recommendations while significantly reducing the potential friction involved in getting started with pro bono planning. For instance, AGB connects with pro bono clients so advisors do not need to spend time advertising their services.
Any advisor with the CFP certification can use the AGB platform after completing an online, 60-minute training session, after which advisors can set their availability for pro bono client meetings. The AGB platform facilitates multiple meetings with the same pro bono clients, allowing advisors to build relationships with their clients and to track their progress, so that both short-term stressors and long-term goals can be addressed. AGB also offers dedicated assistants who help with administrative tasks, communicating with clients and tracking their progress between meetings, which saves advisors even more time.
Ultimately, the key point is that the Advisers Give Back (AGB) platform allows busy advisors to engage in pro bono planning in as little as one hour per month. Which is important, because even though volunteering can offer advisors the personal satisfaction of offering a valuable service to the community, participating in pro bono opportunities is also a vital part of the business of financial advice itself becoming a recognized profession, and is an important contribution to the growth of financial planning as well!