It is then strange to see the amazing reluctance of those in our FP community to participate wholeheartedly and evangelize the merits of the profession and communicate the benefits to the public at large. What are we waiting for? Do we want someone else to do this job for us?
Let’s Stop The Blamegame
It is easy to blame but tough to galvanise into action. So, most take the easy route – blame FPSB India for not creating awareness of CFP certification and the profession, blame the media for talking to only a few planners, blame the public for their lack of foresight in not approaching hotshot financial planners ( like all of us! ) before investing, the lack of financial awareness among the investing public and their aversion to pay fees. Who will be one of the biggest beneficiaries when the profession takes off? The Regulators, Media, FPSBI ?
The regulators may get bragging rights for laying the foundations and engendering a financial planning industry. Media might take credit for spread of financial planning. FPSBI could thump it’s chest for bringing CFP certification, the golden standard for the FP profession into India and thereby kick-starting the profession itself.
The biggest beneficiaries in all this however would be the Clients and the Financial Planners. If we are one of the biggest beneficiaries when the FP profession starts taking off, should we not catalyse and facilitate that change. Do we not need to take necessary action to make this happen?
A Nonstarter Attitude
At an intuitive level, we even understand that we need to work towards making financial planning & advisory desirable and sought after. But, is it not the job of others? Why me? What will I get if I do something that is good for the profession? Will I get some clients for my effort? We will know only when we do put in the efforts.
It is true that if one conducts a workshop today, the participants may not approach immediately for advice. They may approach later or they may even approach some other advisor, in future. But, this kind of a market seeding operation is sorely required now for establishing the profession. Also, at least some of them would become clients. A more expansive attitude would work well for everyone. A polish proverb comes to mind – If you chop your own firewood, it will warm you twice!
RECLAIM THE HIGH GROUND
It is a pity that financial planning space is not fully dominated by financial planners. While there is a fair presence of Financial Planners in the media, the blogosphere has been ceded to others. Hence, you have sundry people, most of them not CFPs and nonpractitioners, talking on Financial Planning, how to choose a financial planner etc. Is it not an irony that someone else is writing about us and our industry? To rub salt in the wound, these guys have shown CFP Certificants in poor light, question our knowledge on even elementary things (like what is Fiduciary and difference between fee-based and feeonly model) and try to claim moral high ground with clients.
What they are doing is building a second business in our area, while holding day jobs. While we do not have a problem with that, we cannot be mute spectators while someone else is chipping away at the edifice we are trying to build. What is even more sad is that some CFP Certificants themselves have allied with them for perceived immediate gains.
Not everyone is playing such black roles though. Jagoinvestor is an exception, which is doing wonderful work with the public and is at the forefront of spreading financial literacy and engaging with others in a dignified way. We need to identify and work with those who further our cause. There are others as well.
What needs to be done is to fully reclaim the financial planning landscape and clear it of squatters and pretenders. For that, the real planners need to start communicating, be it with their blogs, seminars, articles, social media engagements, newsletters, columns in publications etc
We need to establish the profession. Like honeybees, let us build the honeycomb and build our colony. There would be honey for all. Honeybees had long realized that one honey bee cannot survive alone. They need to work in unison. Like them, we need to work in amity. We need to work
together to expand the reach of financial planning to the public. Only then, we will get to enjoy the benefits.
We are reaching critical mass now. We need to steer in the right direction and establish a trunk line with our clients. Reclaim the territory that truly belongs to us. Let us put down the flagpoles and let our banners flutter, establishing our suzerainty over this territory. Rest is easy. We have work to do. We have wood to chop – it will warm us twice!