XY Planning Networks leads charge to help furloughed workers during shutdown

Advisers respond by helping consumers access resources for getting by without paychecks

Jan 18, 2019 @ 2:03 pm

By Jeff Benjamin

As the partial government shutdown entered a record 28th day Friday, some corners of the financial services industry have started stepping forward to help the 800,000 furloughed government workers.

Sixty members of the XY Planning Network have signed on to offer free financial advice to furloughed employees.

"I'm based in D.C., and this is not the first shutdown I've seen, but it is the first since many of my peers and I have had small children, which has made me acutely aware of what people could be going through," said Kevin Mahoney, founder and chief executive of the advisory firm Illumint.

Mr. Mahoney said his efforts to help started in December with some social media posts about managing short-term income variability.

But as the shutdown became a reality and both sides dug in for what looks like a longer-term stalemate, Mr. Mahoney realized he wanted to do more than blog about it.

"I started seeing a ton of information online, and some of it was patronizing, like telling people to earn money walking dogs," he said. "I was no longer comfortable just throwing something up online."

Following his lead as an XY Planning member, the network put out the call to its 850 advisers and added a screening tool on its website to help furloughed workers find a volunteer planner in their area.

Alan Moore, XYPN co-founder, said the services he anticipates advisers providing will be less about traditional planning and investing, and more along the lines of directing consumers to available resources to help bridge the income gap.

"It will be a lot of focus on managing cash flow while you're missing paychecks," he said. "Every client comes to an adviser with a need and something that is stressing them out. For the furloughed workers, the need is they're not being paid."

With that in mind, Mr. Moore said advisers will focus on things like the best way to temporarily tap into retirement savings and how to adjust household budgets.

Another example of the financial services industry helping is Holbrook, N.Y.-based American Portfolios Financial Services, which donated $25,000 to a local community organization to help furloughed workers.

"We viewed this as a crisis, and we knew we wanted to do something," said Melissa Grappone, a spokeswoman for the independent broker-dealer.

The donation was made to Long Island Cares, a food bank, and the money has been earmarked for "federal government employees and their families who might be experiencing financial hardships as a result of the current government shutdown."

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