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The future of pro bono financial planning is digital

The case for why an online platform is necessary to scale the impact of pro bono financial planning.

Everyone should have access to a great financial planner, regardless of what their bank balance is.

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I started working in fintech over 15 years ago because I wanted to make this happen. During that time, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to realize this is by scaling pro bono financial planning. And the way to do that is by bringing it online to dramatically expand who has access to this amazing service.

That's why I'm thrilled to announce that Advisers Give Back, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that I helped found, has partnered with two leading FinTech firms, @Steady and @EarnUp, who combined serve over 3,000,000 predominantly low- and moderate-income individuals.

The full press release is here, including a couple of great quotes from their co-founders. And to learn more about how Advisers Give Back is scaling pro bono financial planning and benefitting the profession through the platform we developed with @Dan Ariely and his team, visit:

Pro Bono Financial Planning

I know, from my experience operating Advisers Give Back and working alongside pro bono leaders, that the challenges with traditional pro bono financial planning are significant:

 

It takes a tremendous amount of effort to put on a pro bono event.
Events are neither convenient for the adviser nor the client.
Events are not designed to measure the impact of the advice provided.

As great and necessary as in-person events are, they have significant limitations, even when we’re not in a global pandemic. As Financial Planning Association (FPA) chapters have tried to pivot to virtual meetings, I have heard from people who are intimately involved with these efforts that set up and maintenance is a huge amount of work for a volunteer organization and possibly not sustainable for the long term.

Then there’s the issue of finding pro bono clients. How realistic is it for FPA chapters, or individual firms for that matter, to create ongoing marketing campaigns to inform people of pro bono services?  And finding pro bono clients is clearly the hardest part of the whole equation. Perhaps the main reason why pro bono financial planning hasn’t had such a widespread impact yet is that the efforts to let people know about this amazing service are diffused and largely offline. Without sophisticated, ongoing promotion and an easy-to-use virtual platform, pro bono’s impact will continue to be limited.

Consider pro bono financial planning’s potential:

90,000 CFP® professionals x 25 hours/year of pro bono service (50 30-minute meetings) = 4.5M pro bono client engagements/year.

In 2020, approximately 8,000 pro bono clients met with CFP® professionals affiliated with the FPA.

By contrasting the potential impact with the actual impact, in no way am I trying to minimize the tremendously valuable pro bono financial planning assistance that’s been given and continues to be offered. I know how much hard work is involved to reach even 8,000 people.

The point is that in order to move boldly towards realizing the vision of providing everyone with access to a great financial planner, there needs to be a platform-to-platform solution that takes advantage of what technology does best: scale. For FinTech platforms, Advisers Give Back’s platform provides an easy way to refer pro bono clients through a simple co-branded landing page, such as this one (https://advisersgiveback.org/advisers) or through a deeper integration using our REST API.

A FinTech partnership model that seamlessly passes pro bono clients from one platform to another platform enables scale. Millions of low and moderate-income Americans are already using apps to help them pay off debt, build savings and repair credit. These are all people who can benefit tremendously from talking from a trustworthy pro bono financial planner.

We know, from a recently concluded randomized controlled trial on the platform with Duke’s Center for Advanced Hindsight, that a single mid-sized FinTech partner with 400,000 users can easily drive over 1,000 sign ups each month. As we continue to build out our platform and add more partners, we will steadily help scale pro bono financial planning.

Learn more about how Advisers Give Back’s mission to close the racial and gender wealth gaps, while helping to advance the financial planning profession:

Pro Bono Financial Planning

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Virtual Platform
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Dedicated Assistants

All pro bono advisers are supported by a dedicated Advisers Give Back assistant who follows up with clients on their key tasks and share details on the progress clients are making.

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Ongoing Impact

Unlike one-time pro bono meetings, Advisers Give Back makes it easy for advisers to meet with clients multiple times and measures the impact that advisers are having.

Our Mission

Financial planning for those who need it most

Developed with leading behavioral economist, Dan Ariely, Advisers Give Back is on a mission to ensure that every low and moderate-income American can benefit from the power of financial planning.

Advisers Give Back is building a movement to bridge the racial and gender wealth gaps by ensuring easy access to pro bono financial planners who want to support their community.

Advancing the Profession

Three ways we help advance the profession.


Prove that financial planning is not just for wealthy people.


Increase access to pro bono for millions of lower income Americans.


Create new rewarding volunteer oportunities for financial planners.

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Frank Paré, CFP®

Advisers Give Back board member
2018 president of the Financial Planning Association (FPA)
President and founder of PF Wealth Management Group

Support our mission

Advisers Give Back depends on your support to improve access to pro bono financial planning to close the gender and racial wealth gaps.

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Volunteer

Join the growing community of professionals who want to give back by providing pro bono financial planning through Advisers Give Back.

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Donate

The only way we can grow is with support from people and companies who believe that everyone should have access to a financial planner, regardless of assets. See below 😀

Getting to the Next Level

Michael Kitces on Advisers Give Back

"Our lives are busy. Even when we want to provide pro bono help, there's no fast and easy way to just do it. Which is why it's so important to make the logistics of delivering pro bono financial planning advice as easy as possible.

Advisers Give Back has created an impressive program to deliver pro bono financial advice in a way that's efficient for the client and the adviser.

But they need our support to get to the next level."

Michael Kitces, CFP®, ChFC, CLU, REBC, CASL

Advisers Give Back volunteer
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Buckingham Wealth Partners

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Poised for Growth

Ready to scale great financial advice for everyone

Over the last year, Advisers Give Back has:

Concluded our pilot program.

 

Welcomed our founding firms, who each made generous donations to Advisers Give Back, including Mercer Advisors, Wealthspire and Altair Advisers.

 

Developed the software and infrastructure needed to scale and onboarded the first cohort of advisers.

 

Announced new partnerships with leading FinTech companies serving lower-income individuals.

 

Now we need your help to take it to the next level.

We need to invest in our infrastructure to scale up, as well as bring on more dedicated Advisers Give Back assistants to support pro bono advisers and clients.

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October goals:
100 new advisers and $100,000 in donations for Financial Planning Month

Thanks to our partnerships with leading FinTech firms serving lower income individuals, the next stage in Advisers Give Back's growth is to:

    • Sign up 100 pro bono advisers
    • Raise $100,000 to build our infrastructure to support the increased advisers and clients.

We aim to accomplish both of these during Financial Planning Month in October of 2021.

We need your tax-deductible donation to make it happen.

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* Average individual adviser donation is $370.
** The average wealth management firm donation is $10,000.

How It Works

We Make Pro Bono Easy

For advisers, getting started with Advisers Give Back is as easy as 1-2-3.  And advisers ❤️  us for it.


Take 10 minutes to complete an online application.


Attend a live, 60-minute training.


Start meeting with pro bono clients.

"It’s incredible what you can help someone accomplish in a 30-minute conversation!

As an advisor, I’m amazed by the impact I can have through Advisors Give Back and with the virtual platform I can make it a part of my weekly routine all from the comfort of my own home."

- Jesse Pence, CFP®
Waypoint Wealth Partners


"My favorite thing about being a part of Advisers Give Back in a pro bono capacity, is that my efforts are targeted and immediately impactful. Advisers Give Back offers a robust platform where clients and Pro Bono planners are matched are ready to work together. There’s no guess work or finessing because Advisers Give Back does all the work behind the scenes. In most cases, the prep work has already been done. The time spent with the client is very specific to their pain point and we are able to assess and implement a plan of action in that one short meeting. I find this the most rewarding.

Planners, do not wait, raise your hand to volunteer. It will be the best use of your time and most rewarding. You determine your availability."

- Maureen Atieno, CFP®
   Fidelity Investments


"Everyone needs help with something in their life. Sometimes a quick call for assistance or a message of confirmation can get us back on the right track.

It’s a pleasure for me to work with Advisers Give Back and their technology platform that makes volunteering easy and fun. Getting feedback that someone has taken action completes a truly rewarding experience."

- Bruce Lorenz, CFP®
NewRetirement Advisors

"Our profession needs a way to reach more people and affect positive social change by changing one life at a time through the power of financial planning.

It's essential that we reach people one-on-one to help them with their unique situation in a way that is technology-forward, scalable, and has a great client experience that is empowering.

And that's what Advisers Give Back is doing."

- Alise Kraus, CFP®
   Mariner Wealth Advisors

Behaviorally Designed

Dan Ariely on Advisers Give Back

"We usually think that the best cure for bad financial decisions is financial literacy. Just teach people, and all will be solved. Sadly this is not the case, and even worse, the evidence is that financial literacy’s effectiveness is close to zero.

What we need is a system that takes the complexity of financial decision making, breaks it into actionable components, and coaches us on taking one step at a time.

This is what the Advisers Give Back process is designed to do.”

 

Dan Ariely

James B. Duke Professor of
Behavioral Economics at Duke University
NY Times Bestselling Author
Advisers Give Back product collaborator

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Join the movement

The time for more accessible pro bono financial planning is long overdue. Let's use today's technology to ensure that lower income households have access to the power of financial planning.

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Equity

The financial planning profession has an important role to play in closing the racial and gender wealth gaps.

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Community

By serving our communities, we can give back using our unique skills.