Louis Barajas knows there aren’t many financial planners like him in the industry.
The Latino advisor’s work to bring more diversity to those advising and those being advised is part of what got him recognized with an award from the Financial Planning Association. The FPA announced the winners of its top awards this week to be presented during its annual conference Sept. 20-22, BE Seattle 2014.
“I’d like to be able to go to the [FPA] national conference and see more people of color,” Barajas said in an interview with ThinkAdvisor.
Barajas also sees a deficiency in the population that receives financial planning services, adding that he thinks “we’re offering financial planning to the top 10% of Americans.”
“I’d love to see that somehow the industry creates some sort of business model for the underserved, beyond pro bono work,” said Barajas, who often works at least one hour pro bono every day to help the underserved. “Pro bono work is great, but it doesn’t work in some communities [if it’s needed long-term]. There are a lot of people in the country that need access to financial planning that is not product driven.”
Rick Fingerman is no stranger to pro bono work, either. Since 2008, Fingerman has led the FPA of Massachusetts pro bono coaching program at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, which has helped nearly 350 patients and families with financial advice and resources.
Both Fingerman and Barajas are being honored with the FPA’s 2014 Heart of Financial Planning Award, which recognizes individual professionals, financial planning firms and organizations that contribute and give back to the planning community and public through financial planning.
Fingerman acknowledged how this award has brought awareness to their cause, providing financial coaching to cancer patients and families.
“What’s great is I’ve gotten calls from people who say ‘I read about what you’re doing there and we’d love to do that at our hospital here,’” Fingerman said in an interview with ThinkAdvisor.
Or, he added, it gives people who know someone with cancer the opportunity to question whether something similar could be available to them.
Barajas, who is the son of Mexican immigrant parents, began his foray into financial planning after watching his father lose two jobs, start his own business, and struggle with finances, taxes and other aspects of owning his own business.
“I realized later how hard it was for him,” Barajas said.
Barajas became a CFP and worked at Kenneth Leventhal in Orange County, California, before eventually starting his own boutique practice, Wealth Management LAB, in the late ‘90s. With his father as inspiration, the fee-only financial planning firm gives advice to people of all backgrounds and income levels.
Barajas also provides educational work in Latino and other underserved communities, as the founder of Financial Literacy LAB.
Fingerman, who has worked in the financial planning industry for about 25 years, is the managing partner and co-founder of Financial Planning Solutions LLC in Newton, Massachusetts. At his firm, he specializes in working mostly with women that going through major transitions, whether they are widowed, divorced or going through job changes.
In addition to the Heart of Financial Planning Award, the FPA will posthumously honor Lynn Hopewell with its prestigious 2014 P. Kemp Fain, Jr. Award, which is given to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the financial planning profession in the areas of service to society, academia, government and professional activities.
“Hopewell was a visionary leader in the financial planning profession until his passing in 2006 at the age of 68, whose work continues to impact those in the profession today,” according to the FPA.
Hopewell, who volunteered extensively with FPA and its predecessor organizations, also served two terms on the Board of Governors (now board of directors) of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.
Hopewell’s lasting impact came through his contributions to the Journal of Financial Planning and increasing the profession’s body of knowledge. In addition to serving as editor of the Journal of Financial Planning from 1992-95, he published a paper in the Journal in 1997 titled “Decision Making Under Conditions of Uncertainty: A Wakeup Call for the Financial Planning Profession,” which introduced stochastic modeling and the use of Monte Carlo simulations for the first time.
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