The holiday season is the time of year for celebrating our many good fortunes and giving back to the community. Advisors and financial planners are no different donating their time and resources to the communities they serve. Here’s how a few are doing good.
Spreading Financial Literacy
One of the best way financial services professionals have found to give back is by teaching financial literacy to those who don’t have access to a financial planner.
Devin Pope, senior wealth adviser with Albion Financial Group in Salt Lake City, teaches financial literacy at the local YWCA where he educates students on topics ranging from banking, retirement planning, insurance to estate planning.
Pope said sharing his knowledge has been gratifying.
“It is great to be able to give back," Pope said. “All the employees like to help. It is also important to our clients as they appreciate us giving back to the community.”
In Houston, Financial Planner Ashley Foster and her colleagues teach lower-income families about CHIP, Medicaid and ACA markets, as well as literacy workshops for those who speak Spanish.
Foster said teaching the community has led to some impactful and memorable conversations.
“Helping those families not only learn about budgeting, but about avoiding sources of capital that are prevalent in those communities like payday lenders, really created powerful conversations," Foster said. "This was knowledge they would have never had access to."
One workshop about workplace retirement programs helped Foster realize how important her workshops had been to attendees.
“A participant did not understand what the match was in her 401(k). After showing her, she was taken aback and said she has been leaving money on the table for a year by not contributing. She then promised to increase that contribution to 3 percent so she could get the match,” Foster proudly said.
For Wealth Advisor Alexander Koury in Phoenix, the most gratifying experience isn’t teaching the classes itself, it’s giving people access to financial advice.
“I find it is important to let people of all economic statuses know there is help available,” Koury said, and to help differentiate a CFP from the rest. "Every financial advisor, insurance agent, etc., all have their place, but it is important for the community to know who does what.”
When advisors aren’t busy working with clients or teaching the community about the importance of financial planning, many are volunteering with their favorite nonprofits.
Paul Fain from Knoxville, Tenn., said his firm donates their time and money to organizations for different social causes.
“To reinforce ‘service’ as a corporate core value, we donate time and funds to community charities selected by our staff: water quality, adopt-a-stream; hunger, local food bank and wellness, Alzheimer’s Association and the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation."
Others, such as Chief Executive Officer at Blue Ocean Global Wealth Marguerita Cheng, have found a unique way of giving back.
“I’m a SoleMate or Charity runner for Girls on the Run D.C. I raise money to empower girls through running. I raised enough funds for 12 girls in wards seven and eight in D.C. to win scholarships,” Cheng said. “Crossing the finish line never felt so good because I know I’m making a difference in their lives.”
Pro Bono Services
Another great way advisors have found to give back is by doing pro bono work. Mitchell Kraus a financial planner from Santa Monica, Calif., has been doing pro bono work with local seniors since 2011.
“The seniors that come all have different needs,” Kraus said. “Some are destitute and are looking for a miracle. Many just want the reassurance that they are on the right track and are not making any huge mistakes. Most months someone has received conflicting advice from others and want a new set of eyes to look at the situation.”
Regardless of their needs, Kraus said the experience has been a rewarding way to give back to the community.
“I feel a sense of pride that after an hour conversation most of the seniors that come in will have some new tools,” Kraus said. “They will be able to move forward and create a better future for themselves. Their gratitude for what is often a few simple tips brings joy to the rest of my day.”
AdvisorNews Managing Editor Cassie Miller may be reached at cassie.miller@Adnewsfeedback.com. Cassie has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. Follow her on Twitter @ANCassieM.