Prior to pursuing her CFP® certification, Jessica Doll had not studied finances or financial services. After an old supervisor recruited her to the financial services sector, Jessie continually wanted to know more, dedicating herself to learning about finance, and ultimately becoming a CFP® professional. “There is a level of empowerment that comes with knowing how to run your budget and handle your finances”, says Jessie. When she started her financial planning firm in 2021 with her business partner, they knew they wanted to make giving back and pro bono work a central part of their firm, with a goal to make financial advice more accessible. “We work with high-net-worth clients in the day-to-day, and we wanted to share our knowledge with low-income folks. Financial mistakes matter a lot for people who don’t have a lot of resources, and we felt we could help.”
Jessie’s firm promoted volunteerism from the start, with Jessie and her business partner stepping up to provide pro bono services at an FFP grantee, Britepaths, a northern Virginia nonprofit that helps individuals and families in crisis with financial empowerment. In addition to leading workshops with recently incarcerated women and helping with a program for kids aging out of foster care, Jessie and her partner both volunteer with Britepaths’ Financial Mentorship Program, which pairs volunteer CFP® professionals with individuals for a 6 month-minimum mentorship. Over the past two years, Jessie has worked with two different mentees, most recently with Roshon. (Read about Roshon’s experience here.)
Jessie and Roshon began meeting twice a month in early 2022, focusing initially on budgeting and debt management as Roshon and her family were facing overwhelming credit card debt and high interest loans, and could no longer make rent. With Jessie’s help and guidance, Roshon built a plan to pay off the majority of her debt, learned how to feel empowered by her financial choices, and stabilized the family finances. They continue to meet monthly to discuss other financial matters that Roshon wants to focus on. “We’ve worked together for over a year because she keeps wanting to do more. She will hit a goal, like paying off her debt, and then she wants to set the next financial goal, like saving for her daughter’s college tuition, so she can continue creating a stable financial future for her family. Our sessions are ultimately about what she wants to talk about and what she wants to do. She is driving the process, which is so important to building trust – and that’s the heart of a financial planning engagement, regardless of a client’s income — being able to build a trusting relationship with someone.”
Jessie has found that the most helpful thing she can do for Roshon is simply show up and listen. “Giving her a safe space to talk about her finances, figure out what she wanted to do and how she wanted to do it, has been crucial. Generally, in our culture, we don’t educate people well about money, and it’s not considered polite to even talk about it. So making that space for her to talk about money with someone who is in the financial services field has been so beneficial to her.”
Jessie is so grateful for the opportunity to use her skills for good and grow her skillset. “It’s important for me as a person to find ways to continually help people, and as a financial planner, it’s been so valuable to work with people from different backgrounds and who have different resources. I know I became a better planner across the board because I learned so much through these engagements.” Jessie’s advice for other planners? “Absolutely do it. It’s one of the best ways you can use your time and talent as a financial planner. You can make a difference for people; just being present can be really helpful to them.”
“Absolutely do it. It’s one of the best ways you can use your time and talent as a financial planner.”
Planner helped client to:
- Pay down significant debt.
- Set financial goals to achieve further financial stability.
- Open up and feel comfortable about seeking help with her finances.