Our business suffers from a repu- tation problem — yet we know thousands of advisors who positively impact their communities every
day. Why is there a disconnect between
perception and reality?
In a 2016 poll by the American
Institute of Individual Investors, 62%
of the respondents said they mistrust
financial advisors. My own observation
is that while the financial services world
has a few bad apples — just as any profession — advisors want to help people.
So how can we display that purpose?
Individual consumers often lack the
confidence and knowledge to make
important financial decisions, and this
makes them vulnerable to those who
would prey on them for financial gain.
I see an opportunity here, a chance
to help people take control of their
To address this need, BNY Mellon
Pershing has undertaken an initiative to
encourage advisors to deliver personal
financial education to schools in their
community or their alma mater. We
created a test partnership with EverFi
to promote this engagement. EverFi
delivers a broad menu of digital educational solutions to kids, with sponsorship from many financial organizations.
Topics covered in this program include
savings, banking, payment types, credit scores, financing higher education,
renting vs. owning, insurance, taxes,
consumer protection and investing.
Over the past few years, high school
learners increased their knowledge of
financial issues by 75%.
Prior to undertaking the EverFi part-
nership, I helped my former school in
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to imple-
ment a financial literacy class for high
school seniors. This idea has been rep-
licated by many other advisors around
the country. The results and the feed-
back have been tremendous — in fact,
we heard directly from students in the
program when nine teams presented
their best ideas to Gladstone School’s
superintendent, the lead teacher for the
financial education program and me.
Remarkably, three of the teams recom-
mended that a similar class be created
for their parents. Without a doubt, this
awareness of the importance of financial
literacy will help these young people
take control of their futures.
More financial advisors are undertaking their own initiatives to create a better understanding of financial choices.
Following are just three examples out
of scores of initiatives that I have heard
about. These programs do help the
industry’s reputation, but none of these
firms is doing it for bragging rights.
They are on a mission to give back to
their communities and to improve the
lives of others who are less fortunate:
1. Bob Swift, the founder of TCI
Wealth, created a foundation three
years ago to provide financial education to young adults of moderate means.
Called the Third Decade Program, Bob’s
foundation has been funded by his
wealth management firm. The students
pay no tuition. Bob believes that an
introduction to financial planning benefits young people as they enter the workforce. They can start to apply the lessons
to their everyday choices right away.
TCI delivers 10 hours of class, after
which each student receives $1,000 for
a Roth IRA. In April 2019 they had their
500th graduate of the program.
Now TCI wants to show other financial advisors how to deliver a similar
When Giving Back Means Lifting Up
How can you make a difference in your community?
FORMULAS FOR SUCCESS
By Mark Tibergien