Jayson Forrest is the managing editor of Money & Life Magazine.
Since June 2017, the FPA has been involved with the Cancer Council’s Pro Bono Financial Planning Referral Service. Kim Betts CFP® and Chris Craggs CFP® share their insights on being involved in this important pro bono initiative.
What motivated you to become involved in the Cancer Council’s Pro Bono program?
Kim Betts: I became involved in the Cancer Council program due to my own personal situation. My mother was diagnosed with cancer. I remember how difficult it was for her to deal with not only the emotional side of this disease, but then also having to make financial decisions. So, I was able to relate firsthand to this program.
However, I wish to clarify that I was part of the Cancer Council’s Pro Bono program when I was licensed with my former employer – Cooper Wealth Management.
I am now a representative of Mine Super Services, which is focused on supporting its members and the mining community. As a specialist with Mine Super Services, I provide financial advice to our members, to help them make the most of their hard earned money and work with them to achieve an exceptional retirement.
Although I’m no longer involved in this great service offered by the Cancer Council, anyone affected by cancer needing advice and support can still access the Pro Bono program. You can find more information on the FPA website or by contacting the Cancer Council on 13 11 20.
Chris Craggs: I have come to the point in my career where I am happy with the progress I have made. I can make more money, but to what end? I can take more time off, but I have plenty of time already. Or I can give some of my time to help out those whose life plans have not gone as they would have expected, through no fault of their own.
Kim Betts: I was involved in the program for around 12 months.
Chris Craggs: My involvement with the program has been for just over one year.
How many referrals have you received?
Kim Betts: I generally take one referral per month.
Chris Craggs: To date, I have received 15 referrals.
How is the program making a difference to the lives of your clients?
Kim Betts: I believe the true benefit of this program is that, as a planner, you can assist your clients by removing some of their financial worries, enabling them to fight the battle that may be ahead of them.
And as planners, I believe we can also assist these clients by providing them with suggestions around options that they may not have even considered.
Chris Craggs: When these clients come to the office, they are fighting for their lives. All of their energy, and that of their family, is spent fighting. We take a little of that burden from them, help them get through the red tape and take care of some of their administration. This enables them to focus on their fight.
I have had high paying executives sit at my desk unable to complete a Centrelink form or an insurance claim form; not that the form is beyond their ability to complete, but they simply don’t have the energy to do it. We provide this energy for them.
How has the program affected you personally and professionally?
Kim Betts: My involvement in the Cancer Council’s Pro Bono program has enabled me to give something back to the community, while personally allowing me to feel that I’m making a difference to their lives.
Having to deal with some of the issues that you may not normally encounter in your day-to-day role as a planner, has also helped me grow on a professional level.
Chris Craggs: By participating in this pro bono program, it certainly reminds you of your own mortality, that’s for sure.
We can help these clients with the financial planning aspect of their lives, but their health issues are outside my control. It still hurts when you hear that someone has been lost.
Personally, it has made me more aware that life is short; that bad things happen to good people. Regrettably, sometimes these bad things, which are out of our control, do happen and there’s no good reason why. So, dealing with the emotional consequences of this can be challenging.
Professionally, it has made me more aware that wealth accumulation, over and above the required amount needed to live a comfortable life, is somewhat futile. At the end of the day, we leave it all behind.
What advice do you have for other planners considering pro bono programs?
Kim Betts: If you are looking to grow as an individual and have a strong sense of achievement, then I would recommend joining this program as a pro bono planner.
I have met some wonderful people over my period of time assisting in this program, and people are genuinely grateful for your assistance.
There is simply nothing more satisfying than that as a financial planner. In fact, it’s what being a professional is all about.
Chris Craggs: If you feel blessed, share it. If you feel healthy and strong and capable, share it. It’s that simple!
About the Cancer Council Pro Bono Program
In June 2017, the FPA became involved with the Cancer Council’s Pro Bono Financial Planning Referral Service.
This nationally structured referral program helps families affected by cancer, by connecting them with financial planners who can provide their services on a pro bono basis.
By facilitating the provision of these services, the program aims to contribute to the wellbeing of people affected by cancer by reducing stress and financial burden. FPA members are encouraged to join this program. By donating their time, planners can assist cancer patients and their families with a wide range of financial planning services on a pro bono basis.
These issues may include:
Accessing Centrelink benefits;
Applying for early access to superannuation and attached insurance benefits;
Developing a strategy for investing lump sum insurance payouts;
Developing a budget and ensuring regular cash-flow; and
Planning for the financial future of their family.
Register for the Cancer Council’s Pro Bono Program at fpa.com.au via the FPA Community tab.