One response to the increasing fragmentation of the financial services community in recent years has been partnering among its various players. The benefits of such collaboration were thus much in evidence at this year’s annual meeting of the Society of Financial Services Professionals, held here earlier this month.
“The financial services community is still far from having a perfect understanding of all the competencies needed to deliver proper and sophisticated financial planning services,” said SFSP President Anthony Domino in an exclusive interview with National Underwriter. “Everyone knows what an attorney does. But many advisors don’t know there is a subset of attorneys who specialize in elder law-a huge and growing area that is completely misunderstood.
“Our intent,” he added, “is thus to raise awareness of our respective competencies and create a coalition to foster a better understanding among our members of the existence of these other professionals and their affiliated organizations.”
Also reflecting the collaborative spirit of this year’s forum was the second of two general sessions, a case study featuring a financial planner, an employee benefits specialist, attorneys possessing expertise in ERISA and estate planning law, plus an insurance professional, and an accountant. The various professionals explored issues relating to a hypothetical family business in transition.
The SFSP’s focus on multidisciplinary planning, Domino said, was much on display, as well, during an Aug. 5 meeting in Chicago, Synergy Summit, which brought together the society and other professional organizations. Among them: the American Bar Association’s Real Property, Probate and Trust Section; the ABA’s Tax Section; the American College of Trusts and Estate Councils; the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants; the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys; the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils; plus the society.
Domino said the various groups plan to establish an umbrella Web site, sponsors for which remain to be named, that will collectively represent more than 500,000 financial services professionals. The portal will promote each of the organizations and, where appropriate, provide a vehicle for airing jointly held policy positions.
“With respect to estate tax reform, for example, it would be pretty cool if there were not only a press release from each of the [organizations], but also a coordinated statement reflecting our collective thinking,” Domino said.
Near-term, such coordination will proceed without the participation of a key player: the Denver, Colo.-based Financial Planning Association, with its large contingent of CFP certificants. Asha Williams, the society’s vice president of marketing and communications, said the summit’s organizers wanted to keep the Chicago gathering narrowly focused on estate law and estate planning.