Journal of Financial Planning: September 2016
Rianka R. Dorsainvil, CFP®, is founder and president of Your Greatest Contribution (YGC), a firm dedicated to serving professionals in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. She serves as president of FPA NexGen, where she focuses on the cultivation of the next generation of financial planners.
Who will take charge and lead the way in the planning profession? This was my question to attendees at the annual FPA NexGen Gathering held in June.
As a NexGen’er, we constantly hear we are the “next generation of financial planners.” Yet, our time to lead within our firm or organization and profession is not tomorrow, it is today. Some ask, why the urgency? My answer is simple—similar to compounding interest, our best ally right now is time. The better our foundation, the more fruitful our experience within the profession and with the ultimate recipients, our clients.
Taking on a leadership role can come in many facets. It does not have to come with a title. It can come with taking the lead on a project within the firm, volunteering within your local FPA chapter, or simply starting to mentor new financial planners within your firm.
By volunteering nationally with FPA’s NexGen community, I’ve had the privilege to speak with many planners and professionals who support the financial planning process. A common emerging theme among us is that we are young, ambitious professionals who are determined to make an impact within our profession. I saw this spark and desire truly come to life during Gathering.
Gathering’s theme this year was “Lead Today,” which was inspired by intentional conversations around what it means to lead. This sparked dialogue around technology and tools to push firms into the 21st century, practice management (retention, culture, training), and forming mastermind groups, which are brainstorming groups whose members push each other to be better.
For NexGen readers: what is stopping you from leading today? For leaders who have NexGen planners in their office: what is stopping you from encouraging them to lead? There are so many intangible benefits of stepping up: advancing your career, acquiring new skillsets, gaining more clients, forging and nurturing new professional relationships, and making yourself indispensable to your firm.
Our Time Is Now
Young professionals are leading today in many ways. These planners are leveraging their strengths by acting as project managers, introducing innovative technology, and exploring best practices that bring value to their firms.
For young professionals to lead today, firms must attract, foster, and reward talent. It is essential that firms provide professional development and opportunities for growth to these planners. In addition, planners should continue to pursue opportunities for development inside and outside of their firms.
Your local FPA chapter is a great place to network and enhance skills. Members can join their chapter’s board and develop leadership skills that will aid their clients and firms. You can also volunteer at pro bono events, aiding and empowering consumers while building client relationship skills. Lastly, step up and mentor other professionals new to the profession, including career changers and younger planners.
For over a decade, FPA NexGen has been supporting young professionals. Many people who started out as local NexGen leaders went on to support the national program, serving on the national FPA NexGen Board in roles such as president-elect, president, chair, and secretary. Recently, we created four more positions to enhance the NexGen community:
- Local leader coordinator (NexGen directors/liaisons)
- Social media coordinator
- Membership coordinator
- Gathering co-coordinator
People sign up for the national NexGen Board because they are passionate about empowering their peers while enhancing their own professional skills. Having been on the board for two years of my three-year commitment, I can share that because of my role on this board, I have grown more comfortable organizing events, representing the profession on local and national platforms, working with diverse populations, and managing a team. If you are someone looking to give back while growing professionally, look at the descriptions for each NexGen position on the FPA NexGen website, OneFPA.org/Community/NexGen, and consider joining the team.
We have learned over the years that each FPA chapter has its own way of handling how NexGen leaders are represented within the chapter. Some NexGen leaders have a board seat with the title of NexGen director, or some fall under membership with the title of NexGen liaison. Whatever the title, it is so important for the early career planners to have a voice within the chapter. Allowing a NexGen planner to have a seat at the board table will allow chapter leaders to transfer knowledge of the chapter to a potential successor, hear innovative ideas on how to program (which may help with retention of membership), and to create a safe space for a NexGen planner to lead.
If your local FPA chapter does not have an official NexGen community yet, we have created a NexGen toolkit for how to get one started. You can download the toolkit at OneFPA.org/Community/NexGen/Pages/Local-NexGen-Communities.aspx.
If you wait for the right opportunity to raise your hand to lead, you will wait forever! Step up and take the lead on internal projects within your organization, volunteer to be on a tough client case that involves research, or be the lead on gathering the troops after a rough week at work for an office outing to build community. Make sure you embrace collaboration and illustrate your natural leadership abilities.
Stepping up will lead to you connecting with your peers, gaining professional skills, and uplifting the profession. The level of reward for your time will outweigh the investment of your time. Whether you decide to join a chapter’s board, national board, or mentor a peer, the professional development and best practices you gain will enhance you personally and your practice overall.
2017 FPA NexGen Gathering
FPA NexGen Gathering is unlike any other professional conference. There is no pre-set agenda. The topics discussed are determined through a process called “World Cafe” and voted on by the attendees. The learning and networking opportunities are unparalleled.
To maintain the intimate, conversational structure of Gathering, attendance is limited, so plan now for the 2017 event, June 23–25 in Chicago. More details will be posted soon at OneFPA.org/Community/NexGen.