Primary Role: President and CEO of the financial planning firm Freedman Financial in Peabody, Mass.
Financial Planning Philosophy: Freedman believe that in order to represent ourselves as CFP® professionals in a financial planning firm, we MUST provide ongoing financial planning advice as CORE services to our client relationships. Investment advice is a mere slice in the pie called financial planning.
What business or professional challenges were you facing before deciding to attend the FPA Annual Conference in Seattle last year?
As a small, yet very successful financial planning and investment management firm in Boston, I continue to search for new planners to add to my firm, but I don’t have the luxury of hiring “newbies” and training them. Instead, I seek ambitious planners who’ve got some seasoning (3-10 years) and are CFP® professionals. I’m also always looking to see how planners are utilizing new technologies that benefit both the client experience as well as their own business model.
What was it about the FPA Annual Conference that you found attractive?
The FPA Annual Conference is the only place where the focus of delivering financial planning advice is at the core of the conversation. And with the conference attracting both U.S. and international financial planners who seek to share, learn, network and laugh, the opportunity to hear how financial planners assess different client situations through the lens of their country’s rules and regulations is fascinating to me.
How did you engage with your peers at FPA Annual Conference? What type of interaction did you have that really stood out for you?
The entire core purpose, my conversational style and the methods I use to build the infrastructure of my firm are all a result of my involvement with FPA and FPA conferences. While the content and sessions are great, the best conversations I have had are in the hallways, at meals, cocktail parties and lounges in the exhibit hall. And if there’s ever a piano in the room, I’m apt to take a seat and start-up a sing-a-long. After that, you never know where the conversation will go next!
What do you hope will be the long term benefit of attending the FPA Annual Conference will be on you and your business?
I’ve been in the business for 24 years, and I recall starting out as a 25 year old “newbie” at my first conference in Toronto. Today, I use my time at FPA conferences to seek out newbies and encourage them to embrace this profession – to get involved and share their voice. I feel like I’m just paying it forward. Personally, my attendance has helped me realize that while I believe I offer great financial planning services to my clients, there are thousands of other financial planners who believe they offer great service – yet in a totally different manner than me. And yet, all our clients remain satisfied and willing to make a referral.
What advice or guidance would you give fellow FPA members about FPA conferences and why they should take advantage of them?
No matter whether you’re an RIA, affiliated with a Broker/Dealer, a hybrid RIA, or an insurance company – we all have personal biases in the way we run our business and the manner in which we serve our clients. FPA is the only true portal that allows all types of business styles to integrate, share, learn and find new ideas and approaches. The ultimate reward is that you leave the conference with renewed spirit, clearer perspective and a professional lens that’s a little bit more in focus.
Will you make it a point to attend the FPA Annual Conference again this year and in following years?
I’m going to conference this September, not just because it’s in Boston (my hometown), but because I love the energy of this meeting. I was the chair of the Annual Conference in Boston in 2008 when more than 1,500 planners attended while the Dow dropped more than 2,000 points. Remarkably, the vast majority of planners stayed, shared, commiserated and explored the right conversations to have with clients. It was among the most powerful meetings I ever attended.