Since the financial crisis, advisors have had to defend their businesses from wary consumers, overzealous legislators and sometimes even other advisors whose unscrupulous actions would cast good advisors in the same shadow as bad advisors.
There are those in the industry, though, that are working to build an industry that allows financial professionals to conduct business efficiently and protect consumers’ interests.
The people mentioned here are making an impact by working for an industry where neither the advisor nor the client suffers in the relationship; where advisors can provide the services their clients need and clients know their advisors are working for them.
At SIFMA, Chet Helck is looking closely at the way the industry is perceived by investors. “My most important goal for this year is to take on the issue of public trust and confidence,” he told Investment Advisor. “Trust and confidence in our institutions, in our markets, in our products and in our leadership has reached down to a level where it’s critical that we address it in order to restore that trust.”
That trust has implications beyond advisors and their businesses, too. “The markets can’t function in a healthy manner, the economy won’t regain momentum, employment won’t reach its target levels, and we won’t see economic growth until we have confidence in the future,” Helck said.
When reminded that this is the seventh year that he’s been named to the IA 25, Dale Brown was quick to give kudos to his entire team, noting that the Financial Services Institute’s success doesn’t hinge on his abilities alone. FSI’s staff, Brown told Investment Advisor, “sets priorities and makes sure those priorities are relevant to our members.”
Brown said one of FSI’s top goals this year is bringing more advisor members on board and “getting them personally involved in our advocacy mission.”
FSI is “working on the right issues; it’s challenging, but we’re getting results,” he said.
Eleanor Blayney took up the role of the CFP Board’s consumer advocate at the beginning of 2009, after several months of discussions with CFP Board CEO Kevin Keller developing the position before the “true meltdown” took place.
“It was almost coincidence that the position that we thought about in the middle of 2008 was more needed than ever,” she told Investment Advisor. “We both acknowledged that Americans needed to understand more about the financial planning process and needed to understand more about the CFP designation and exactly what went into it.”
In her five years at the CFP Board, Blayney has spent her time trying to reach out to consumers. “Many times, what’s needed is to make all of the complexity of personal finance more accessible, give it a human dimension,” she said.
As the 2013 chairman of the Financial Services Institute and president and CEO of Advisor Group, Larry Roth has a unique vantage point from which to view the industry. Of FSI, he told Investment Advisor “most of the big firms are now represented, as are mid-size firms and those that are privately held.”
The organization’s CEO and President Dale Brown does it, Roth explained, by having every member of the board sit on an operating committee, which makes sense: If you want to continually move things forward, be sure to leverage the leadership of people who run businesses on a daily basis.