What is the FPA Pro Bono Program?
The FPA Pro Bono Program is a way for eligible Financial Planning Association (FPA) members to give back to their communities by providing free, no-strings-attached financial planning advice to individuals and families in need or crisis.
Financial planning is a profession founded on hope and optimism, and FPA is committed to ensuring that the possibility of a brighter future is readily available to all who need these services but cannot afford or access them. The FPA Pro Bono Program connects passionate financial planning practitioners to individuals, families, and communities in need.
FPA’s nationwide network of chapters and state councils, in partnership with local community organizations, lead the way in helping thousands of Americans struggling to financially achieve their goals and dreams through a variety of community outreach programs. Pro bono programs target underserved individuals and families striving to build assets and improve their lives but cannot afford to engage a financial planner on their own.
Who is eligible for pro bono services?
The FPA Pro Bono Program targets underserved individuals and families, e.g., low-income individuals and families, military personnel/veterans, domestic violence survivors; people affected by natural disasters, serious medical crises, bankruptcy, etc., who lack the resources to retain a financial planner on their own, as well as nonprofit community-based organizations (CBOs) that serve this population.
How is pro bono financial planning defined?
A shared definition of “pro bono” helps the profession track and measure efforts. We believe an impactful definition of pro bono financial planning will differentiate it from broader financial literacy efforts. Collectively, with FPA, FFP, NAPFA and CFP Board, we define pro bono financial planning as:
Free no-strings-attached financial advice and planning for underserved people* provided by or in conjunction with a volunteer CFP® professional. These services are to be delivered through one-on-one engagements or through interactive group sessions on topics specific to an at-risk audience, with the option for personalized engagement to follow.
What is the difference between pro bono and financial literacy?
Pro bono financial planning goes beyond financial literacy by offering guidance that is: Confidential. Interactive. Personalized. Actionable. It emphasizes the importance of one-on-one interaction and supports deeper, personalized, and more meaningful interventions between volunteers and the individuals and families they serve. It highlights the ability of the pro bono client to meet one-on-one with a CFP® professional to obtain a framework for financial success and at a minimum, the ability for the client to ask questions about their private personal finances and receive accurate, objective answers to inform their choices.
How and why would someone access pro bono financial planning through FPA?
Financial planning is empowering. It provides a clear picture of your financial situation and how the right course of action can turn financial challenges into opportunities for a better path forward. And contrary to what some people think, financial planning is for everyone no matter how much money you have. What’s important is there are knowledgeable, experienced financial planners who care and are making their expertise available to those consumers who need the help.
The result of this work is tangible, impactful, and long-lasting. In 2021, more than 11,200 consumers across the country received pro bono financial planning or attended financial education workshops held by FPA members and chapters. Over 17,000 hours of pro bono financial planning advice was provided by our FPA members and chapters to help those in underserved and at-risk communities realize the power of financial planning. That represented an 18% increase in the number of volunteer hours provided from the preceding year.
Everyone deserves to feel hopeful and optimistic about their financial future. No matter your background or situation, there is a financial planner looking to help. See for yourself how pro bono financial planning can change your tomorrow.
Are you part of an underserved or at-risk community and could benefit from some pro bono financial planning advice from a volunteer financial planner? Through our nationwide network of local FPA chapters and a variety of national partnerships, there are a number of programs available to consumers looking for pro bono financial planning advice.
The best place to start is on the pro bono pages of our website: https://www.financialplanningassociation.org/advocacy/pro-bono-program/consumers.
Here you can find a link to a map of our chapters across the country and connect to explore what pro bono programs and activities may be available in your local community.
On the website you can learn more about some of our national pro bono programs, including:
- Financial Planning for Cancer program which helps families cope with the financial implications of a cancer diagnosis
- Homes For Our Troops which provides financial planning for severely injured post-9/11 Veterans
- COVID-Initiative which provide pro bono financial planning and advice to those negatively impacted by the pandemic
- Links for some of our partners who provide additional personal finance resources
Kristin M. Pugh, CFP®, is a private wealth manager at Creative Planning and chair of FPA’s Pro Bono Advisory Committee. Dennis J. Moore, MBA, CFP®, director of Wealth Management Operations at Mercer Advisors and 2022 president of the FPA Board of Directors
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