As the first African-American president of the Financial Planning Association, Frank Paré recognizes that he is stepping into the role during a time of great change.
Paradigms are shifting around client demographics, business models, fee schedules, investment products and how advisers engage with markets, he explains, and he sees his job as ensuring the FPA stays up to speed so its members can remain successful.
"Some of these forces are essentially requiring us to change," the 54-year-old Mr. Paré told InvestmentNews. "As an African-American and being in this space, this is not new to me. I think, if anything, I'm sensitive to some of that need and that understanding, but I'm also aware that some people aren't necessarily comfortable with change. So, I have to be sensitive to that as well."
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Mr. Paré said he approaches being FPA president with an empathetic mindset for both the people who would like to see the industry be more diverse, as well as those who find change challenging. He said it will be important to highlight the benefits that diversity and inclusion have on running a business and for the whole industry.
"Millennials are coming in and they are not looking for their parents' advisers," Mr. Paré said. "They are looking for advisers who are more diverse; planners who look more like them age-wise."
He also wants to change the minds of investment professionals that financial planners are more than just stockbrokers or product salesmen. By doing a better job communicating the impact financial planners have on society, Mr. Paré believes he can bring new people into the organization and help them reach new clients.
"I'm really going to be focused on trying to grow our association in the minds of potential members, as well as grow our association in the minds of folks who may not know what financial planning is," Mr. Pare said. "If could wave a magic wand, we would have a financial planning season just like we have a tax planning season."
Mr. Paré began his own career nearly three decades ago as an operations clerk for Charles Schwab and worked his way up to broker. He served as a compliance officer for another firm while getting his MBA and CFP designation to start his own firm. He is currently the president of PF Wealth Management Group, a financial planning firm in Oakland, Calif., and an instructor in the personal financial planning program at the University of California, Berkeley.
His hope is that by working in conjunction with the Certfied Financial Planner Board of Standards, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, the FPA can help address some of the major economic challenges of the time – like the wealth gap and a looming retirement savings crisis. While many traditional advisers still serve the wealthy, many are looking to the model set by robo-advisers to serve the emerging affluent and mass affluent markets as well.
"New business models are being invented across the financial planning profession to address these problems," Mr. Paré said. "I don't know if FPA can answer [all] those questions, but I do know that if we're part of the discussion with others, we have enough brain power to start putting together some answers."