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Try doing an act of kindness every day for a month in order to increase happiness Participants in a study at the University of Illinois tried it and reported an increased level of happiness by day 10 It can be something as simple as bringing coffee to a friend or raking the leaves for an elderly neighbor

How Financial Planners Can Help Uplift Communities

Providing ethical, competent financial planning is an immediate and direct step to help your community improve its financial resilience.

Across the country, communities are buckling down for a recession, navigating rising interest rates and inflation and managing a third year of the pandemic — all while handling their day-to-day lives and finances. The unfortunate reality is that many lack the financial guidance needed to weather these challenges or believe that they do not have sufficient wealth to benefit from financial planning services.

Providing ethical, competent financial planning is an immediate and direct step to help your community improve its financial resilience. That is one reason why I became a financial planner and earned my CFP certification. This career enables you to help members of your community achieve their near- and long-term financial goals.

Younger generations are in particular need of financial guidance. They have entered the workforce against the backdrop of the Great Recession and assumed financial responsibilities at a time of great economic instability. When looking for a financial planner, they want younger and more diverse professionals who they can relate to and who understand how dramatically money management has changed in the past decade. If you would like to help the younger members of your community plan for their financial futures, here are three items to keep in mind.


Communities will need help preparing for a recession.

During the Great Recession and other periods of economic downturn, financial instability has been proven to hit certain populations harder than others. For younger investors, understanding what current economic headwinds mean for their finances can be uniquely stressful. A recent study by Hartford Funds found that younger generations struggle far more to correctly define inflation compared with older generations and are more worried about its impact on their finances than older adults.

Financial planners can help ensure that a budget is established and followed while still aligning with an individual’s long-term financial goals. If you become a CFP® professional, it’s essential that you be your client’s accountability partner as they learn how to spend less than they make while still saving for large purchases and long-term goals. Creating a financial plan that aligns with your clients’ goals and values is key to a meaningful and effective relationship.


Navigating student debt remains a top priority.

First, some hard truths about the state of the student debt crisis in the U.S.:

  • The average student loan debt per borrower hovers at around $40,000;
  • Over 43 million borrowers have student loan debt, and 91% of it is federal; and
  • Twenty years after entering school, half of student borrowers still owe approximately $20,000 each on outstanding loan balances.

Given that such a large population of Americans have taken out student loans, and the significant time it typically takes a borrower to pay back their student loans, CFP® professionals commonly address student debt. For some, this crisis can be a debilitating, decades-long quest to regain control over their finances. Getting out from under such complex financial strain requires a plan — and a professional. As a financial planner, you can become well versed in the nuances of student loans and help clients map a path forward to pay off loans, live comfortably and save for retirement.


Clients want a financial planner who is representative of their background.  

We in the financial planning industry recognize that more work needs to be done to diversify the profession. Further, younger generations of investors want to work with younger and more diverse financial planners. There are countless opportunities for diverse individuals to have a high-impact, truly rewarding career. Diverse financial planners have cited the high degree of autonomy, the income opportunities and the ability to expand access to financial services as key motivators to pursuing financial planning careers.


Making the switch: Finding fulfillment as a financial planner.

Financial planners have a critical role to play in building financial resilience. Becoming a financial planner can provide a sense of fulfillment if you are one of the many professionals rethinking your career trajectory in favor of one that uplifts communities following the Great Resignation, pandemic and social justice reckoning of the past few years. 


Kim Hayes, CFP, is director of corporate relations at CFP Board.

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