Outside-IN

Working to spark a global movement for pro bono financial planning

Many lives would be changed if pro bono financial planning could be brought to vulnerable people around the globe

Feb 14, 2017 @ 5:14 pm

By Jon Dauphiné

The United States has a long history of connecting the financial planning community to people in need. For 22 years now, we've helped fund vital programs that connect volunteer financial planners to underserved people who need no-strings-attached, objective advice. But what about other countries?

I was able to explore this question when the Dutch association of financial planners, Federatie Financieel Planners, invited me to come speak to them about the evolution of pro bono planning in the United States. (Both a membership organization and a certification body, the Federatie would equate to a combined Financial Planning Association and CFP Board in the U.S.).

The Federatie is the largest association of financial planners in Europe, with 4,000 members, and they are just beginning to think about harnessing the professional skills of their members to help the most vulnerable in Dutch society. Helping them along is Egbert Ludwig, a planner who recently started Pro Deo Planner (the Dutch say “pro deo” instead of “pro bono”), a group devoted to promoting pro bono planning in the Netherlands. Mr. Egbert noted that he was able to point to the success of the Foundation for Financial Planning in the U.S. to secure his first significant corporate grant, from Rabobank, one of the big three Dutch financial services companies.

The Dutch financial planning association underwrote my trip to deliver a keynote speech at their annual conference. During my remarks, I asked for a show of hands from the audience about ways they use their talents to help vulnerable people who can't pay for services, and about half indicated they provide advice for free to needy friends, neighbors and community members. Clearly, there's an appetite to help, but as of yet no long-term, sustainable pathway to channel it.

After my speech, Mr. Egbert presented on his new group. A short time later, he was approached by a Dutch corporate leader interested in providing funds to the effort. Mr. Egbert noted that this leader said hearing me talk about the Foundation's corporate support in the U.S. helped persuade him that supporting “pro deo” in the Netherlands could both drive a great mission and provide visibility for a company commitment to helping all Dutch citizens.

The Dutch are currently experiencing a societal shift similar to one we have undergone in the U.S., as government and companies transfer economic risks onto the shoulders of the individual. Dutch people, especially those aged 45 and under, are becoming more responsible for their financial futures as the “social contract” in their society changes. As in the U.S., levels of financial literacy are low, and the need for pro bono advice is large and growing. While the different health care and social support systems in the Netherlands help some vulnerable groups — such as people with serious illness — in a way that reduces their financial risks compared to U.S. counterparts, other potential target groups for pro bono planning are the same in both nations. These include unemployed people over 50 who need a job, divorced people and sole-proprietor small business owners.

Mr. Egbert's group is positioned for success. They have a close relationship to the Federatie and plan to become part of the Dutch “financial planning” professional ecosystem, as we have done with our strategic partners here to grow and nourish pro bono.

With a small team and with a domestic focus, the Foundation isn't able to do much on the international stage. However, when we have the opportunity to be a catalyst to help unleash the power of pro bono financial planning to benefit many thousands of people, we are eager to share what we have learned. And because learning is a two-way street, we plan to stay in touch with leaders in other countries who are implementing pro bono programs of their own — or who are just starting them — to share lessons and best practices that may apply. How exciting to think about the many lives that would be changed if pro bono financial planning could be brought to vulnerable people around the globe.

Jon Dauphiné is executive director at the Foundation for Financial Planning.

0
Comments

What do you think?

View comments

Upcoming event

Jul 09

Conference

Boston Women Adviser Summit

The InvestmentNews Women Adviser Summit, a one-day workshop now held in six cities due to popular demand, is uniquely designed for the sophisticated female adviser who wants to take her personal and professional self to the next level.... Learn more

Most watched

INTV

Schwab's Jeff Kleintop: Prep for volatility given China trade uncertainties

China could be considered a developed market in five to seven years , according to Jeff Kleintop, chief global investment strategist, Charles Schwab.

INTV

Young advisers envision a radically different business in five years

Fintech and sustainable investing are two factors being watched closely by some of the 2019 class of InvestmentNews' 40 Under 40.

Latest news & opinion

Advisers step up efforts to help clients manage student loan debt

As some Democrats campaign to wipe the slate clean, financial planners focus on limiting the amount students borrow.

Funding for Reg BI, other SEC advice reform efforts denied in Waters amendment

House likely to approve measure that effectively kills rule package, but it faces uphill battle in Senate

Wall Street lashes out at Sanders' plan to pay off student debt with a securities trading tax

Financial pros argue that a transaction levy will hurt mom-and-pop investors along with investment houses.

GPB paid B-Ds and reps steep commissions to sell troubled private placements

GPB paid commissions of 9.3%, or $167 million altogether, on the firm's private placements.

Give us a break, active managers say

Seven portfolio managers share their outlooks for the rest of the year, generally agreeing that it's been hard for active managers to stand out.

X

Hi! Glad you're here and we hope you like all the great work we do here at InvestmentNews. But what we do is expensive and is funded in part by our sponsors. So won't you show our sponsors a little love by whitelisting investmentnews.com? It'll help us continue to serve you.

Yes, show me how to whitelist investmentnews.com

Ad blocker detected. Please whitelist us or give premium a try.

X

Subscribe and Save 60%

Premium Access
Print + Digital

Learn more
Subscribe to Print