image credit: Blue Ocean Global Technology
Rich moderates a succession planning panel of industry leaders at The Philadelphia Foundation’s education symposium in Philadelphia, PA.
The inherent beauty of the financial planning profession is its applicability to all people. Financial planning is global, and it transcends cultural, social, and wealth boundaries. Blue Ocean Global Wealth recognizes the expanding demand for qualified professional advice. We are committed to providing objective insight and helping all Americans make the most informed decisions. In September of 2015, we launched a special interview series to profile industry leaders we believe to represent the very best of the financial planning profession. Our Blue Ocean Strategy is Education.
Marguerita Cheng: How did you find about the Financial Planning Association® (FPA)?
Richard J. Durso: Ten years ago, while working as a portfolio manager in the trust department of a large banking institution, I had aspirations of becoming a financial planner. A friend suggested that I research FPA. He shared that the FPA would be a great place to network and learn about the profession. I attended my first meeting and identified with its purpose and mission. The primary aim of the Financial Planning Association is to be the community that fosters the value of financial planning and advances the financial planning profession. Since 2000, the Financial Planning Association® (FPA) has been the professional organization for CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER (CFP®) professionals, educators, financial services professionals and students who seek advancement in a growing, dynamic profession.
Marguerita Cheng: What does the FPA mean to you?
Richard J. Durso: The FPA literally changed my life. I found my dream job with RTD Financial Advisors, a company that fully supports the mission and aim of the FPA. In fact, my company’s founder Roy Diliberto was the first national president of FPA after the merger of the Institute of Certified Financial Planners (ICFP) and the International Association for Financial Planning (IAFP). About seven and a half years ago I was searching for not only a job, but a career with a company that would fully embrace the financial planning process. I feel lucky to have identified this opportunity as a result of a job posting on the FPA Philadelphia Tri-state website.
I am fortunate and grateful to work for a company that is a huge supporter of FPA. RTD Financial Advisors allows and encourages me to volunteer and serve the FPA. Immediately after starting new role under Roy’s mentorship, I was afforded opportunities become more involved with the local chapter and support the profession.
I was particularly impressed with the education meetings I attended and enjoyed the sharing of ideas between practitioners, so I volunteered to join our FPA Philadelphia Tri-state education/programs committee. My goal was to increase member engagement and enhance the caliber of speakers presenting at our chapter meetings and symposium conferences. My mission as I led the education/programs committee was to find dynamic speakers without ulterior motives to ensure we provided consistent value to our members. The experience of interacting with potential speakers afforded me a better financial planning framework and expanded my knowledge base. It also provided me the ability to forge lasting friendship with exceptional educators.
image credit: Financial Planning Association
Rich offers perspective on the What We Do When We Do Financial Planning panel discussion at FPA Retreat 2015.
Marguerita Cheng: How have you benefitted from the FPA?
Richard J. Durso: There have been many benefits to serving on the local FPA board:
- Leadership skills – I am honored to serve and learn from many smart and dedicated board members over the years. Time and time again, I am genuinely impressed by the collective commitment and enthusiasm of our board members. This year as I serve as President of the FPA Philadelphia Tri-State our goals are: consistent brand messaging, 10% membership growth, 90% membership retention, enhanced membership value, and improved member involvement. Our leadership board has embraced these priorities and I am happy to report that we are on track to exceed our goals!
- Speaking opportunities – I was lucky enough to be asked by Elizabeth Jetton to serve as a speaker on a panel at this year’s FPA Retreat to discuss how my firm integrates financial planning and investments. Without being an FPA member, the opportunity to speak would most likely not have occurred.
- Getting involved – If I wasn’t urged to get involved, there is no way that I would have established a national network of quality professionals and friends. I now have FPA “resources” across the country that I contact when a need or opportunity to collaborate arises.
- Teamwork – To be part of a team with common goals and shared purpose is fantastic! I participate on various athletic teams, as well as committees within my firm (RTD). I appreciate how FPA provides elements of teamwork that I cannot access from other outlets. Although we share a common foundation of stewardship, each financial planning business is unique. This diversity helps me better address challenges and opportunities for improvement because I am able to assess several complimentary perspectives.
- Friendships – I would be remiss if I did not mention the many life-long friendships I formed as a result being involved with the FPA. On the local board we invest many hours together during meetings, conference calls, etc. We truly enjoy our time together. With our shared passion, we work diligently together to advance the chapter and the profession of financial planning. A positive unexpected result of volunteering has been forming friendships that have grow stronger with the passing of time.
Marguerita Cheng: Why did you choose a career in the financial planning industry?
Richard J. Durso: As a child I witnessed my parents struggle financially to raise their three children. I watched my father prepare the family budget on his yellow pad of paper at the kitchen table. As a result, I learned how essential a financial plan was to achieving goals and plan for dreams. I knew that budgeting, planning, and saving were crucial steps toward financial security.
In addition, by nature, I am a people person and genuinely enjoy helping and coaching others. A career as a financial planner allows me to do both. As a financial planner, I strive to reduce the financial stress and worry of my clients in order to provide them with clarity on what is most important to them. I take pride in knowing that my clients know that I am keeping an eye on their finances, while they are living their lives. I am passionate about developing financial plans that help my clients achieve their life goals. I especially enjoy ensuring that family wealth and values are passed down to future generations through proper estate and financial planning.
When I started my career, I quickly realized that I would have to further educate myself if I truly wanted to help others. I sought companies that would provide me with great training. I went back to earn an MBA in finance, and studied coursework for the CFP® exam.
I enjoy staying current with the latest trends and innovate financial planning strategies. FPA helps me accomplish that with “The Journal of Financial Planning”, by sharing ideas on FPA Connect, local chapter education meetings, FPA Retreat, and the network of peers and friendships as a result of my membership.
Marguerita Cheng: What are some of the challenges facing the financial planning profession?
Richard J. Durso: Two current challenges facing the financial planning profession are introduction of robo-advisors and clearly defining the fiduciary standard. I do not see robo-advisors as a threat and think that they will create price competition in the industry. Eventually many advisors will use robo-advisor platforms for certain clients to handle the rebalancing, downloading, structuring, and other tasks associated with portfolio management. Planners will need to work on their value propositions in order to differentiate themselves from competition. Academics and planners have debated the fiduciary standard for quite a while. I believe that there are good and bad people in every business model and it all boils down to the question: “Do you want to do what is in the best interest of your client?” Again, it may be an opportunity for planners to separate themselves from peers.
Marguerita Cheng: What advice do you have for your people considering this meaningful career path?
Richard J. Durso: My advice for someone considering a career in financial planning is to take the first step to learning and join the FPA. Immediately consider joining a committee. The most successful members derive membership value through their level of commitment, investment of time and relentless work-ethic. By working on a committee, you will develop connections and create value. In addition, while at the education meetings, do not be timid when it comes to networking. FPA members are very giving and helpful people! Ask for advice; offer to buy a new friend at a meeting a cup of coffee to simply continue the conversation. Maybe that person will agree to serve as a mentor for you. Having a trusted mentor as a resource is critical to developing your personal and professional self.
image credit: Rich Durso
Rich engages Jack Bogle, founder of The Vanguard Group, and hosts an FPA Philly Tri-State event.
Marguerita Cheng: Why should people be involved in FPA?
Richard J. Durso: Membership in the FPA allows for many opportunities:
- Professional education – To stay abreast top of industry trends and developments by attending local chapter meetings and national events such as Retreat and FPA BE.
- Networking – To meet and form connections with like-minded professionals that could turn into friendships, or even business partnership opportunities.
- Pro bono – FPA provides an avenue and the tools to do pro bono work in the community. FPA hosts Financial Planning Days throughout the country to help people who may not be able to afford to hire a financial planner otherwise. Our local pro bono efforts allow us to teach financial values to homeless young adults in Philadelphia, guide women who have gone through domestic abuse, plan for people who have suffered various tragedies in their lives, and help students to begin their professional careers on the right track.
- Advocacy – FPA helps us to organize our voices and represent the interests of our profession. In June, we went to Washington, DC to engage our legislative representatives and advocate on behalf of the profession on issues important to the national financial planning community. FPA was instrumental with organizing the day and scheduling meetings for the FPA leader attendees.
- Resources – There several qualified resources available on the FPA website that can help manage and grow your practice. I have served on various panels as a result of my work with the FPA. One was organized around providing career track information to younger planners and career changers. In another education engagement, I moderated a panel that discussed exit planning and succession strategies for business owners.
- Community – FPA serves as a hub for sharing knowledge on its website via “knowledge cafes” and FPA Connect. Each time prior to attending a national conference, I coordinated time with groups of FPA friends and chapter board members from around the country. At the Retreat 2015, I responded to a pre-organized fun golf outing before the start of the conference via FPA Connect.
To learn more about the FPA, RTD Financial Advisors or contact Richard J. Durso:
Richard J. Durso, CFP®, AEP®
Director of Financial Planning
RTD Financial Advisors, Inc.
30 S. 17th Street, Suite 1620
Philadelphia, PA 19103
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