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How to Volunteer as a Pro Bono Financial Advisor


Volunteering as a pro bono financial advisor is an opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of individuals and families who can benefit from your expertise. Numerous organizations exist that help match financial advisors with people who need guidance with managing their money. Doing pro bono work can also be an opportunity for you to network with high-net-worth donors who may be looking for an advisor to work with.

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What Does a Pro Bono Financial Advisor Do?

Financial advisors who work pro bono meet with clients to offer advice, but they don’t collect a fee for their services. As a pro bono advisor, you might connect with clients who need help with:

  • Paying off debt
  • Building emergency savings
  • Home-buying
  • College planning
  • Managing finances through a critical illness
  • Creating a realistic financial plan for the future

You may meet with clients virtually or in person on a one-time or ongoing basis. The scope of the work that you do and the type of clients you interact with typically depends on which organization you’re volunteering with.

Becoming a pro bono financial advisor begins with finding an organization to partner with, and then completing the necessary volunteer training. Note that you may be able to count volunteer training towards your continuing education (CE) requirements if you’re a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®).

Benefits of Volunteering as a Pro Bono Advisor

Sharing your time and expertise as a volunteer can benefit the people you’re helping as well as yourself. Here are some of the most important reasons to consider doing pro bono work.

  • It allows people in need to get trustworthy financial advice from a qualified professional versus turning to friends or family members for help.
  • Helping people gain control of their financial situation can have immediate and longer-term impacts if they’re able to develop healthy habits for managing money.
  • On a larger scale, pro bono advisors may play a part in helping to close wealth gaps for women and minorities.

Volunteering your services as an advisor can be extremely rewarding psychologically and emotionally. There can also be a tangible financial benefit if you regularly come in contact with wealthier individuals who are also doing pro bono work or volunteering in another capacity.

You may have opportunities to start conversations with those individuals surrounding their wealth management needs. They might be looking for a new advisor to work with or have peers in their network they might be able to refer to you, which could connect you with new prospective clients.

Volunteer Organizations for Financial Advisors

Several national organizations help connect pro bono financial advisors with clients in need. Reviewing the requirements to become a volunteer and the details of what’s expected from you as a pro bono advisor can help you decide which one might be the best match.

1. Advisers Give Back

Designed for: Financial advisors who have a CFP® mark

How it works: Apply online, get matched with clients and meet with them virtually

Advisers Give Back is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Oakland, California. The organization’s mission centers on making financial planning more accessible to consumers with low and moderate incomes. Advisers Give Back uses a pay-what-you-can model so that cost isn’t a barrier to getting advice.

It takes about 10 minutes to apply as a volunteer online and you’ll need to complete a 60-minute live training. Once approved, you can begin meeting with clients through a virtual platform. All volunteer advisors are supported by a dedicated assistant who handles client follow-up and provides status updates on their progress.

2. Foundation for Financial Planning

Designed for: Financial advisors who hold a CFP® designation

How it works: Create an account, view opportunities, connect with a nonprofit host and complete required volunteer training

The Foundation for Financial Planning operates, which helps Certified Financial Planners™ find volunteer opportunities. Once you create a free account, you can browse volunteer opportunities, both in-person and virtual, from vetted nonprofit agencies.

If you see an opening that appears to be a good fit, you can reach out to the nonprofit host. The host will review your qualifications and, if accepted, you’ll be asked to sign a volunteer agreement to start working with clients. The Foundation for Financial Planning may automatically cover you with errors and omissions (E&O) insurance when you begin working with a nonprofit host.

3. Financial Planning Association

Designed for: Financial professionals interested in serving at-risk and underserved communities

How it works: Complete pro bono training and connect with volunteer opportunities

The Financial Planning Association’s pro bono program exists to help those in need get access to financial advice from qualified professionals. You must be an FPA member to take part in pro bono work. There are different membership tiers to choose from, based on where you are in your financial advisor career.

Pro bono opportunities exist for Certified Financial Planners™ and other financial professionals who are interested in giving back. You can find volunteer opportunities through your local FPA chapter.

4. NAPFA Foundation

An advisor reviewing pro bono financial advisor opportunities.

Designed for: Fee-only advisors holding a CFP® designation

How it works: Become a NAPFA member and volunteer through a partner organization

The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) collaborates with several nonprofit organizations to offer volunteer opportunities for advisors. Current partnerships include:

  • Advisers Give Back
  • Building Homes for Heroes, which is designed for disabled veterans who are first-time homeowners
  • College Affordability Project, which centers on assisting families in need with advice around college planning
  • Savvy Ladies, which empowers women to make smart financial decisions

You’ll need to join NAPFA to participate in these partnerships. Again, all members must be fee-only advisors and you must have or earn a CFP® designation.

5. Savvy Ladies

Designed for: Financial advisors who are interested in helping women

How it works: Advisors meet 1:1 by phone with clients through the Savvy Ladies Helpline

Savvy Ladies matches women who need financial advice with CFPs®, certified public accountants (CPAs), chartered financial consultants (ChFCs) and other financial planning professionals for one-on-one phone consultations. Women can get free help with their finances and receive unbiased advice.

All Savvy Ladies volunteers are covered by pro bono E&O liability insurance. The organization also offers opportunities to participate in live, virtual panels on topics like divorce and retirement planning for women. You might consider volunteering to speak at one of these events if you’re looking for a new way to market your services.

6. Women’s Money Matters

Designed for: Financial advisors with an interest in serving women

How it works: Apply online to offer virtual financial advice

Women’s Money Matters is another nonprofit that’s dedicated to educating and empowering women to better manage their money. You don’t need to be a financial expert to volunteer with the organization, but financial professionals are welcome. Women’s Money Matters is particularly interested in working with volunteers who are:

  • People of color
  • LGBTQ-identifying
  • People with disabilities
  • Members of other underrepresented groups

If accepted as a volunteer, you’ll have an opportunity to offer individual financial coaching to women in need of help. If you’re unable to meet the time commitment required for coaching, you can also volunteer as a presenter to lead workshops and seminars on financial planning topics.

7. Junior Achievement

Designed for: Financial professionals who are interested in working with youth

How it works: Volunteers coordinate with local JA organizations to offer financial education in schools

Junior Achievement is a youth-focused nonprofit that aims to prepare kids K-12 for success as adults. Junior Achievement offers multiple ways to volunteer, including in-classroom teaching and job shadowing in local communities.

Time commitments vary, with classroom instruction typically lasting one hour a day for five days. Job shadowing, on the other hand, is usually scheduled to take half of a business day to complete.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is It Worth Volunteering as a Pro Bono Financial Advisor?

Offering your services on a pro bono basis can be extremely rewarding for you and the people you help. You can create a positive impact directly in your community if you’re working locally, and expand your reach even further through virtual volunteer opportunities.

Is Errors and Omissions Insurance Required to Volunteer as a Financial Advisor?

Organizations may require you to have E&O coverage to do volunteer work with clients. However, many nonprofits that offer pro bono advisory services automatically cover their volunteers, so you don’t need to purchase a policy separately.

Is Training Required to Volunteer as a Financial Advisor?

Whether you need to complete special training to offer pro bono advisory services depends on the organization you’re working with. It’s typical to have to complete some type of training, but it’s usually brief and you may be able to complete it online. If you’re a CFP®, your training hours may count toward continuing education credit.

How Do I Find Pro Bono Financial Advisor Opportunities Near Me?

A simple internet search can help you find local and state organizations that offer pro bono financial advisory services. If you belong to any professional organizations, such as NAPFA or the FPA, they may be able to give you recommendations for local nonprofits you could work with.

Bottom Line

Advisor preparing to offer pro bono financial advisory services during a virtual meeting.

Doing pro bono work is a chance to bridge the gap for people who need financial advice, but don’t know where to turn. Even if you only have a couple of hours each month to dedicate to volunteering, you could potentially make a lasting impact on the lives of the people you’re advising.

Tips for Growing Your Advisory Business

  • Developing a marketing strategy is essential for attracting new clients to your business. If your busy advisor schedule limits how much time you have to spend on marketing, you might consider outsourcing it to the pros. SmartAsset AMP, for example, partners with advisors to help them generate a steady stream of leads while leaving them free to focus on serving their clients. Schedule a free demo to learn more about how it works.
  • Volunteering locally can be a fantastic way to network and gain exposure for your business. Some of the ways you might offer your services can include teaching free financial planning workshops or seminars through a community college or senior center, sponsoring a youth sports and rec league, or hosting a fundraiser for a local cause.

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