Pro-bono financial planning/Planning for those in need?
I'm a senior in college. I have my life/health license as well as my Series 7 and Series 66.
Last year, I interned for a firm that sponsored me to get my 7 and 66. However, I left the firm because I was pretty sick about the things I saw. Just to give one example, I one day brought in my uncle and aunt as prospective clients for the firm. They don't have a lot of savings and they have nearly $25,000 in various debts and I was hoping I could help turn their situation around by getting them interested in investing in the market. After we performed an intitial meeting, my supervisors said that they wanted to sell them a permanent life insurance policy that cost $600 per month and that they clearly didn't need. I told them I refused to do this, and they said the only way they would bring them on as clients would be if we did something profitable.
There were several other instances similar to this during my time there that made it clear to me that all they cared about was profits as opposed to doing what was right for people.
I'm about to enter the workforce and here's what I see in the state of personal finance: most Americans can't survive a $500 emergency without going into debt and almost 90% of Americans over 30 aren't on track to fund a year of retirement by the age of 65.
What I'd like to know is this: Are there any firms out there that are interested in solely helping the people out there that truly need it, as opposed to just people that they can profit off of?
The short answer is absolutely yes. The longer answer is you do have to make money to stay in business to help people. As one of my client who owns a large automotive repair shop said, “if i make a little money providing the right solution on a lot of people, I don’t have to make a lot of money on a few”. Where I see the breakdown happening based on your case, it is better to provide some direction, not take them on as a client, and allow them to work through sensible advice and come back stronger in the future… then they can become a client. If there was a need for life insurance, term insurance could have been applied for with conversion options so permanent coverage can be evaluated longer term. Otherwise, they would have coverage to satisfy the need. Don’t lose faith in the industry. If you have a passion to help people and understand insurance and investments, you can serve clients well AND make a good living. All firms are not suitable for all people. You have to find one that is a good fit for you. I made the jump in 2007 into this industry from corporate america with the goal of helping people. There were some roadblocks I faced, however perserverance and determination led me to going independent and today I work with clients just starting out to high net worth. My only regret is not going into this industry sooner.
Press forward, find a firm that fits your ideals and goals. Get your higher level certifications (CFP® is a great one) and always do the right thing. Clients appreciate it, it builds stronger relationships, and it will help you sleep better at night.
I couldn’t agree more with “user-138391”. That is sound advice. Personally, I love pro bono work for the right person (someone that desires to make their life better and is will to follow advice), but as previously stated, you have to strike a balance. Also, I look at it similar to other types of community service in the sense that I volunteer on “my time” rather than “normal” working hours (I guess when I was starting out there wasn’t much “my time” and if I wasn’t eating it was working hours), but you get what I mean.
Best of luck to you. This can truly be a satisfying career and it’s a wonderful feeling knowing you have helped someone.