Ideas to make Financial Planning Week bigger and better next year
Financial Planning Week (26 August - 1 September 2013) is over for another year, and it's triggered some ideas on how it could be made even better in 2014.
Financial Planning Week is a great initiative by the Financial Planning Association (FPA), that promotes the benefits of obtaining financial advice.
Here are some thoughts and ideas on making this an even more successful event, next year.
Get creative with the name
The name, "Financial Planning Week", sends a message.
The good thing is, it's clear and concise.
The bad thing is, it also says, "this is all about me and not about you". And, let's face it, it's a little boring.
Instead, imagine a name that focuses on the target audience - the millions of people out there who haven't sought financial advice.
Here's one idea.
The idea? For financial planners across the country, to help 7,000 people in 7 days.
Now considering there's over 7,000 members of the Financial Planning Association (FPA), making it happen may not be as crazy as it sounds.
And do you see the change in focus? It shifts from being all about financial planner self-promotion, towards being about what financial planners can do for others.
It has a bit of intrigue; it comes with a giving goal; and has a potentially massively positive outcome for members of the community.
It also makes it more appealing to the media. It's a positive story. There is a concrete goal. And it challenges some of the misconceptions that people have about financial planners.
Make "Ask an Expert" a permanent fixture
In 2012, the Ask an Expert website got over 10,000 hits throughout Financial Planning Week. That is awesome and shows a need for the service.
Imagine if it was a permanent fixture in the online toolkit for Australians seeking financial advice.
No doubt, there will be logistical and compliance challenges in making that happen, but the benefits could be awesome.
The good news is, the FPA are already looking into it!
Here are a few ideas to refine it further:
Build Ask an Expert on its own domain name
Set up Ask an Expert on a separate domain, that is easy to remember, rather than the less than friendly www.askanexpert.fpadifference.com.au sub-domain.
Incorporate the blog
The FPA could integrate their blog into the Ask an Expert site. Take the lead from what Colin Williams is doing over at Humble Investors, and see how successful it could be with regular and value loaded posts.
And perhaps a rename of the blog is in order. "FPA blog" implies it's written for members of the FPA. But it isn't - it's designed for consumers.
Add search functionality
Keep the target audience in mind and add search functionality to the Ask an Expert site. Help people find what they are looking for, easier and faster. The reality is, most people aren't going to scroll through pages of questions and answers.
Also, allow the search to pull results from both the blog, and the Ask an Expert Q&A. Again, give consumers what they're looking for, as simply as possible.
Incorporate Find a Planner
Help consumers take the logical next step and incorporate the Find a Planner functionality. Once they've asked an expert, help them find one in their local area.
Ultimately, the ideas above are really about taking the existing consumer facing FPA site, making it more user friendly, and highlighting the elements that have the most impact for the intended audience.
Get financial planners out and about helping others
Much of Financial Planning week seems to happen from behind a computer screen. It would be awesome if more activities incorporated face to face interaction with "real life" financial planners. What a way to blow some of those public misconceptions out of the water!
Imagine if every financial planner spent just 2 hours out and about in the community, actually helping people. While financial planners know they help people every day, it is a great opportunity to make that work more visible, and to provide real value to others.
Here are some ideas:
Seminars for final year uni students
Many final year uni students, particularly at this time of year, will soon be experiencing a massive life change and moving into full time work. This change is often accompanied by a significant shift in both income and responsibilities, and represents a great opportunity.
Short sessions could be run on campus to provide valuable, actionable strategies around:
developing a healthy money mindset
learning how and why to automate the flow of money
establishing positive habits, such as depositing an extra $10 / week into their super fund or a First Home Savers Account (FSHA) i.e. the start small, build big message
setting plans now, for how to deal with pay increases in the future e.g. blow the first two pay increases; then 50% into FHSA, 10% into super, 20% into investments, 20% lifestyle increases (insert your own percentages and goals of course)
Set up a card table, get out and answer questions
Get a card table, a couple of chairs, set aside two hours, and position yourself in a prominent position in a local area with good foot traffic.
Answer questions. Build relationships.
Don't sell. Don't try to get people to book appointments.
Imagine the cumulative effect if this happened right across the country.
It could be a spot at:
the local shopping centre
a local church
the train station
a nearby school, particularly around drop-off and pick-up time
a quiet corner in the library
in the office of a local business (maybe someone from your centre of influence network)
Talk to kids (and their parents)
Take a look at what Jamie Lee from Kids at Switch is doing and get inspired. With the help of a classroom teacher, there are lots of opportunities to engage the younger generation, as well as their parents.
Perhaps it's a short activity with the kids, and then some time with the parents (either as a group or one on one). It's a great opportunity, particularly if there's already an established relationship with the school.
Tell more stories
Stories are a powerful way to communicate a message.
Imagine having stories in newspapers across the country, about local people whose lives have been changed by having a solid financial plan in place.
Stories about how smart financial advice helped people:
obtain a great standard of living in retirement
start or grow a business
protect their family from the impact of trauma or death
Focus on the real results of real people, and help people mentally make the connections between those stories and their own lives.
Well all this sounds like a lot of work
Will this take a whole bunch of effort? Yes.
Do the FPA or other industry associations need to do it all? No.
What is key is building the strategy and then empowering advisers to get out there and do what is right for their own communities.
The FPA could:
create templates and guidelines
share ideas and examples to get people going
Let's be creative. Let's make it bigger and better. Let's get crystal clear about the message. Let's help more people.