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Foundation for Financial Planning Publishes Groundbreaking Report on Pro Bono Financial Planning Research

Foundation for Financial Planning Publishes Groundbreaking Report on Pro Bono Financial Planning Research

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Foundation for Financial Planning Publishes Groundbreaking Report on Pro Bono Financial Planning Research

Globe Newswire, September 19, 2023: Proprietary survey fielded in June 2023 makes a strong case for the power of pro bono for advisory firms looking to become an employer of choice.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: September 19, 2023 – Foundation for Financial Planning (FFP), the nation’s leading 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding access to pro bono financial planning for people in crisis or need, today published its inaugural The Case for Pro Bono Financial Planning” Report, a detailed look at the views of financial advisors regarding pro bono service in their profession. The Report is rooted in a research survey that reveals a compelling case for pro bono financial planning with strong moral, business, and professional development underpinnings. The survey is the most comprehensive ever conducted exploring the views of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals on pro bono service.

“The survey results show that the moral imperative of helping people in need is at the heart of pro bono service, with 99% of CFP® professionals saying this motivates them,” said Jon Dauphiné, CEO of FFP. “But the results should also make advisory firms and companies interacting with advisors take notice. With the war on talent the industry is experiencing, this study demonstrates the power of pro bono for employers. The data suggests firms that intentionally support pro bono have a significant competitive advantage with recruiting, engaging, and developing advisors.”

The survey found that almost half of respondents indicated they’d be more likely to want to work for a firm that supports and encourages pro bono financial planning. The percentage of advisors who agree with this statement jumps to 55% for respondents under the age of 35; yet, only 28% of advisors said their current firm encourages pro bono, revealing a major gap that employers may be able to leverage in stepping up their activity around pro bono.

Advisors strongly supported employer policies and practices that encourage pro bono service, including allowing some work hours for volunteerism (67% support); helping with compliance (67%); partnering with nonprofits advancing pro bono (59%); and taking positive notice of pro bono in performance reviews (52%). Advisors under age 35 supported these policies by even greater margins.

“Encouraging pro bono financial planning is a critical part of our efforts to build a culture of professionalism and to attract and retain excellent financial planners,” adds Jason Van de Loo, Chief Client Officer at Edelman Financial Engines. “Our firm is working to foster an environment that mirrors what the Foundation for Financial Planning sees in its survey results. We want to support our planners and give them opportunities to develop professional skills and access the tools they need to serve both pro bono and paying clients.”

The survey also revealed that CFP® professionals overwhelmingly believe pro bono advising helps them to develop a range of professional skills outlined in the “Principal Knowledge Topics” that they are held accountable to, including:

  • Financing strategies and debt management – 87%
  • Cash flow management – 85%
  • Principles of effective communication – 85%
  • Sources of money conflict – 74%
  • Client and planner attitude, values, and biases – 74%
  • Crisis events with severe consequences – 73%
  • Retirement savings and income planning – 73%

Respondents also agreed that pro bono service developed certain soft skills that can aid them in their broader careers, including “client communication and listening skills” (71% agreed); “interacting with a more diverse client base” (73%); and developing specific leadership skills and addressing new issues (56%).

The survey reveals the primary barriers to more advisors offering pro bono financial planning services included concerns about liability insurance (79%), access to pro bono opportunities (70%), training (62%), and compliance (62%). The report details the steps FFP is taking to remove or lower each of these barriers.

Respondents also indicated factors that would increase the likelihood of volunteering as a pro bono financial planner include: continuing education (CE) credits for service (78%), encouragement from firms (53%), and if pro bono service was formally recommended as part of advisors’ professional and ethical obligations (51%).

“We’re excited to see that advisors’ sentiments about pro bono financial planning align with the CFP Board’s recent resolution to encourage certificants to provide at least 20 hours of pro bono service each year,” continued FFP’s Dauphiné. “The case for pro bono planning is compelling, and the benefits flow not only to the individuals and communities served, but also to the volunteer advisors, their employers, and the profession at large.”

About the survey

In June 2023, Foundation for Financial Planning (FFP) fielded a survey on pro bono financial planning, collecting data from a random sample of 1,166 CFP® professionals. The survey was promoted through FFP’s database and corporate/RIA partners and through the outreach efforts of the CFP Board Center for Financial Planning, the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®), and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). Of those submitting demographic information, 61% of the respondents were male and 34% female. The breakdown by race is 79.7% White, 2.9% Black or African American, 3.4% Hispanic or Latinx, 0.4% Native American or Alaska Native, 4.1% Asian or Pacific Islander, and 9.4% Other/Not Specified. When split by age, 21% of respondents are aged 18-34, 37% aged 35-54, 33% aged 55-74, and 4% 75 or older.

About the Foundation for Financial Planning 

Foundation for Financial Planning (FFP) is the nation’s leading charity dedicated to advancing pro bono financial planning for at-risk populations, including active military members and wounded veterans, people with cancer and other serious illness, seniors and family caregivers, low-income individuals and families, domestic violence survivors and many more. Over its more than 25 years, FFP has provided over $9 million in grants to national and community-based pro bono programs; worked with partners to activate more than 27,000 financial planners to volunteer their time and talents; reached over 715,000 people in crisis or need; and acted as a leader and catalyst to foster a rich tradition of pro bono service across the financial planning profession. Visit FFPprobono.org to learn more.

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