Planners everywhere understand that time is one of a practice’s most precious assets. A quick search for CRM, portfolio performance reporting and other time-saving tools are proof of this.
Now imagine giving that precious time away. That is precisely what Lazetta Rainey Braxton, founder of Chicago-based Financial Fountains, does through the Union League Boys and Girls Club. Braxton volunteers with the Foundation for Financial Planning, which recently expanded a grant program at 15 Boys and Girls Clubs across America. The money helps fund Family Finance Night, a series of financial skills sessions followed by individual financial counseling of Boys and Girls Club members and students.
This is not a marketing gimmick to get referral business, Braxton says. Financial Fountains serves households with annual income between $75,000 and $250,000, decidedly higher than her pro bono interactions.
“People are still struggling to grasp the concept of financial planning,” Braxton says. “I’ve seen people with lots of money who have blown it. They have it and don’t know what to do with it.” On the other hand, some people manage without a lot of money during their lifetimes, but bequeath large sums.
Face time is also important, Braxton says. An African-American woman who grew up in rural Virginia, she did not encounter a lot of financial professionals who were ethnic minorities. She wants the people she helps "to understand that there are people of color who have been where they’ve been, and know what they’re going through,” she says.
The Boys and Girls Club of America is one of 15 non-profit organizations nationwide that will receive a grant from the Foundation for Financial Planning. The NAACP is another. That organization will team up with the foundation to present several Financial Freedom Call-in Days, during which the public can call a toll-free number and reach a financial planner for free financial advice.
It is easy to encounter a planner whose practice is focused on the needs of high-net-worth individuals and institutions. The segment is turning to fee-based business increasingly, bringing with it promises of growth for advisors who serve them. But for planners with energy to spare, pro bono work promotes the concept of holistic financial planning in compelling and, sometimes, immeasurable ways.