The biggest brands across the financial services landscape are calling on financial advisers to step up and help those most affected by the global pandemic by offering pro bono financial advice.
The campaign, engineered by the Foundation for Financial Planning’s Corporate Advisory Council, carries the endorsement of executives from 10 of the biggest brands in financial services, including Schwab Advisor Services, Fidelity Institutional, BlackRock, Goldman Sachs and T. Rowe Price.
A letter to be mailed Thursday morning to 10,000 CFP Board certificants asks for a pro bono commitment of at least 25 hours per year.
“This is the first time the industry has ever come together like this to underscore the importance of pro bono,” said Jon Dauphine, chief executive at the Foundation for Financial Planning. “What’s cool about the industry coming together is they otherwise compete, but they are coming together for this shared purpose.”
The letter follows a similar request put out by the foundation last fall that was signed more generally by the Financial Planning Association, the CFP Board and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.
Dauphine said the members of the Corporate Advisory Council agreed — especially in light of the widespread economic hardship resulting from Covid-19 — that a more direct and specific request was appropriate.
The letter reads in part: “Even before COVID-19 hit our shores, we had all heard the dire statistics about Americans’ ability to withstand economic shocks, perhaps embodied best in the Federal Reserve’s 2019 finding that nearly 40 percent of people could not afford a $400 emergency expense. This already-vulnerable group, and many others, are now experiencing the health and financial devastation wrought by the pandemic.”
According to the Foundation, as of October, more than half of U.S. households reported financial challenges caused by the pandemic, with 77% of those households struggling to pay bills.
“Many of them have nowhere to turn for expert, objective advice — whether to help them triage a financial crisis or rebuild their finances as things begin to improve,” the letter continues.
Dauphine said about two-thirds of CFP holders currently offer pro bono services, with an average of about 31 hours per year.
The executives who signed in support of the letter include:
- Bernie Clark, executive vice president and head of Schwab Advisors Services /TD Ameritrade Institutional (Council co-chair)
- Terri Fiedler, president & CEO, AIG Financial Distributors (council Co-chair)
- David Canter, head of the RIA and Family Office Segments, Fidelity Institutional
- Eric Clarke, CEO, Orion Advisor Solutions
- Gabriel Garcia, managing director, ETrade Advisor Services
- Mark Gochnour, head of global client services group, Dimensional Fund Advisors
- Ben Harrison, head of Advisor Solutions, BNY Mellon’s Pershing
- Steve Larson, head of Platform Services, T. Rowe Price
- Rachel Schnoll, head of FinLife Partners, Goldman Sachs
- Anthony M. Svach, managing director, BlackRock
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As our second lead editor, Cindy Hamilton covers health, fitness and other wellness topics. She is also instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers. Cindy received a BA and an MA from NYU.