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FPA’s Denver Conference to Kick Off Pro Bono Effort

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The annual conference of the Financial Planning Association (FPA) begins on Saturday in Denver, where members are gathering not just to attend sessions on topics that during the weekend will range from social media to values-based planning, but also to launch “Financial Planning Days,” a pro bono effort to bring financial planning to the general public.

The pro bono program, a joint effort with the CFP Board, the Foundation for Financial Planning, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, actually saw its first full day of action on Oct. 2 in Miami and Oakland, but the focus on the program at the FPA Conference on Saturday, planned alongside the usual conference sessions, was engineered to coincide with another day-long effort in Sunnyvale.

According to an FPA news release, “Financial Planning Days” is “a groundbreaking program involving city governments and hundreds of financial planners nationwide, in an effort to provide free financial education to Americans via a series of daylong clinics and one-on-one sessions.” Planners, who will not charge for their services, will answer questions on everything from budgeting and getting out of debt to foreclosures, income tax, and estate planning. They will not sell any services, nor will they give out business cards.

Marv Tuttle, executive director and CEO of FPA, said in a phone interview, the concept “morphed from conversations from a number of people about opportunities to provide planning services to those in need, and to expose the general public to financial planning.”

Saying that the “economic upheaval we all dealt with in one way or another” indicated that the timing was right for such a service, Tuttle added that, while this is the first year, they hope that it will continue to grow. Already, he said, 300 people have signed up in response to radio, television, and newspaper ads, and he anticipates more walk-ins on Saturday in addition to advance registrants.

On Thursday, the FPA provided more practical information for its members when it released the results of a compliance solutions study, conducted by FPA and ActiFi Inc. and sponsored by TD Ameritrade Institutional. The study examined key issues financial professionals face when dealing with compliance issues and developing their own systems and solutions.

The FPA-ActiFi Adviser Technology Reports: Compliance Editionshows that most advisors do not use compliance software in their practices. Of the ones who do, however, nearly all are satisfied with it (only 3.7% reported being “somewhat dissatisfied”), and the more they use it, the more likely they are to be pleased.

Favorable results ranged from such intangibles as peace of mind (68%) to more quantifiable results, such as improving productivity or saving time (64%) or improving the way advisors can help their clients (48%).

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