Financial planning celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2009, and some of the pioneers in the movement and profession, including E Denby Brandon, Jr., and H. Oliver Welch, will be toasted at an event during the annual meeting of the Financial Planning Association (FPA), October 10-13 in Anaheim, Calif.
In 1969, a very small group of individuals who wanted to change the emphasis of the way financial services is delivered to a “consulting” relationship rather than “salesmanship” gathered to see how they could alter the way they worked with their clients, according to Brandon and Welch. They are authors of the seminal work that traces the evolution of planning, a whitepaper called, “A History of the Financial Planning Movement.” They have written a book together, “The First Comprehensive History of the Financial Planning Movement,” published this month by Wiley. (Royalties from the book will be split equally between the FPA and Financial Planning History Center at Texas Tech University.)
By “1973, there were 42 Certified Financial Planners in the world,” according to Brandon, one of the earliest CFP certificants. Now that number is “120,000 in 20 nations,” Brandon told Wealth Manager in an interview in late September. A lifetime student, Brandon was one of the first CFP certificants, graduating from The College for Financial Planning in Denver, in 1982. He is co-founder with his dad, E. Denby Brandon, Sr., of Brandon Investments in Memphis, Tenn. Now a third generation is involved with Brandon Financial Planning–Brandon, Jr.’s sons, E. Denby Brandon, III, and Ray Brandon.
In 1952, when the Brandons–senior and junior, (now 82)–founded their firm, it was affiliated with an insurance company–Equitable. Describing himself as a “lifetime student,” Brandon, Jr., pursued insurance credentials at The American College, attaining the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), and the Diploma in Agency Management. Even though the “insurance industry helped with research,” he became frustrated that, “it always added up to whole life,” insurance, sold on commission. This was, “not the best way to distribute financial services,” Brandon notes.
Brandon wanted a more independent model, one that was not tied to proprietary products and one that enabled him to “represent the client rather than the company.” He says that in the early days of the financial planning movement, then- “current forces tried to put the movement out of business.” But, of course, financial planning continued to grow, and Brandon says he believes that financial planning is a “better way to serve the public.”
“We are fiduciaries,” Brandon volunteers, a topic that is being discussed by lawmakers and legislators in Washington right now. The Obama Administration’s Investor Protection Act calls for fiduciary duty for all who provide advice to individual investors. Brandon adds that “the best is ahead,” for the planning profession. “People feel relieved to find a person they can trust,”
Comments? Please send them to [email protected]. Kate McBride is editor in chief of Wealth Manager and a member of The Committee for the Fiduciary Standard.