If you didn’t notice a new vibe at FPA Annual Conference in Chicago, you probably weren’t paying attention.

The event opened with a gospel choir. The young professionals attending the event were definitely front and center. Martin Seay, Ph.D., CFP®, age 32, was announced to be the 2019 President-Elect of FPA. Dr. Ajamu Loving dropped knowledge on attendees in his session about diversity. Alexandria Cole-Davis was announced to be the 2019 FPA NexGen President-Elect. There were more prominent planners of color than we can remember in the past five years. #MeetingsToo made a debut. The FPA interns were off-the-charts amazing hard workers.

This all speaks to one thing: the next generation of planning is not just coming, it has already arrived.

Here are some other key takeaways from FPA Annual Conference:

1) Diversity is no longer a feel-good issue. It’s essential to tackle for the future prosperity of the profession.

Ajamu Loving, Ph.D., quoted Wayne Gretzky: “Some people skate to the puck. I skate to where the puck is going to be.”
Diverse and marginalized groups are where the puck is going to be, Loving said, and the profession needs to skate to them.

“That’s what successful people need to do … so you don’t quickly become an antiquated company,” Loving said.

Loving discussed the growth of education and assets of marginalized populations and misconceptions they have about investing and how these populations are perfect future clients. He also said that only 35 percent of white planners acknowledge lack of diversity is a problem, versus 79 percent of Black planners and 42 percent of Latino planners.

“I thought it was remarkable how so few advisers find it a problem that there is a lack of diversity in the financial planning industry,” said Robert Castillo, one of four 2018 FPA Diversity Scholarship winners. “Related to this, I thought it was unfortunate that even fewer advisers see a growth opportunity by serving diverse communities.”

The fact that we’re having presentations like this at FPA Annual Conference shows that the profession is ready to at least discuss the issues of diversity.

“Inclusion of more women and diversity of professionals is so important,” said Alexandria Cole-Davis. “Having the discussion around changes with this is hard but we have to be committed to one another if we want to change.”

2) Behavioral finance and financial psychology are taking a more prominent role in the financial planning profession.

The 2018 Journal of Financial Planning Montgomery-Warschauer Award winners Bradley T. Klontz and Derek Lawson presented their July 2017 research contribution titled “Integrating Behavioral Finance, Financial Psychology, and Financial Therapy into the 6-Step Financial Planning Process.”

“Although this is not a new topic for me, it was nice to hear how advisers are actively using these strategies within their practices as opposed to just discussing them conceptually,” said Charles Adi, CFP®. “To be an effective adviser, I believe you must understand your clients’ money personalities and why they react in the ways they do. So, if incorporating behavior psychology leads to improved communication and stronger relationships, I am all for it.”

Both Best Research award winners at the conference were also behavioral pieces, one presented by Ray Sin, Ph.D., on how to overcome investor’s blind spots with behavioral nudges; and another presented by Sarah Asebedo, Ph.D., on how to plan for conflict in client relationships.

3) Our brains need an upgrade.

Perhaps explaining best why behavioral aspects of financial planning are so important was keynote speaker Daniel Crosby, Ph.D., who noted that we were built to be strong survivors, but the anatomy and biochemistry that make us strong humans, make us weak money managers. Our brain hasn’t had an upgrade in more than 150,000 years and is ill-equipped to deal with money tasks that it faces.

“The reason we outlasted every other humanoid species is because we were more scared,” Crosby said. “Homo sapiens made decisions that preserved life and avoided loss and risk. This is so important to us that it is actually hardwired to the brain.”

So essentially, our brains are outdated, energy-consuming, risk-averting and potentially serve as a barrier to our financial success. This is why it’s important to understand the behavioral finance aspects of how your clients are operating so you can best help them.

4) Your mindset is a majority of your success.

FPA Coaches Corner coach Stephanie Bogan said that mindset is 80 percent of our success.

“When you master your mindset, you learn to live in a state of flow; you know what you want with clarity and confidence,” Bogan said.

Living as a master of your own mindset will allow you five freedoms, Bogan said: the freedom to work with purpose on your terms; the freedom to do the work that you love; the freedom to work with people you truly enjoy; the freedom to experience financial success; and the freedom to live a life of happiness, fulfillment and contribution.

5) Your clients need help when it comes to navigating medical insurance.

Medical insurance is tricky and complicated, and you need to know how to help your clients navigate it so they don’t make financially detrimental mistakes, said Carolyn McClanahan, M.D., CFP®.

Some of the things your clients should know, McClanahan said, are the following:

  • When making an appointment, don’t ask “Are you covered under my plan?” Rather ask, “Are you in my network?” Then document who said yes they were in your network.
  • If you’re given a prescription, ask the pharmacist for the cash price of the prescription BEFORE you turn in your insurance.
  • Know what is covered when in the hospital and do not use any providers who are not in network.
  • Be armed with a list of your symptoms and family medical history when you go to the doctor. Make three copies. Give one to the nurse and ask her to give it to the doctor; then give one to the doctor; and keep one for yourself in the appointment in case anybody else asks for more information.

“This is what you have to do to protect yourself,” McClanahan said.

If you missed the FPA Annual Conference this year, and you’d like to experience a taste of the event, watch these top ten #FPAConf18 recordings that also qualify for 1 CFP® CE credit each. And don’t forget to save the date for the 2019 FPA Annual Conference in Minneapolis, Minn., October 16-19, 2019.

Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits

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