Submitted by Lewis Walker, December 16, 2019
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the birth of financial planning. On a cold Chicago day, December 12, 1969, thirteen men gathered at a hotel near O’Hare airport with “a sense of shared mission: to raise the level of professionalism in retail financial services and to make ‘financial consulting,’ rather than salesmanship, the driving force of their industry.” (The History of Financial Planning: The Transformation of Financial Services, E. Denby Brandon, Jr., and H. Oliver Welch; John Wiley & Sons, 2009).
The meeting was organized by Loren Dunton, a seller of vacuum cleaners and encyclopedias who had transitioned into mutual fund sales and consulting. Dunton had a vision, a better way of providing financial advice, a consultative and educational approach. The thirteen pioneers saw the need for a profession that integrated knowledge and practices across the many fragmented areas of financial services─what we know today as financial planning. Concluding two days of meetings, the Chicago group resolved to form a membership organization and an educational organization.
The membership organization, open to anyone in financial services, became the International Association for Financial Planning (IAFP) in 1972. An educational entity was created, the College for Financial Planning. In 1972, the Certified Financial Planner designation (CFP) was introduced and forty men and two women graduated with the first class in 1973.
Since the IAFP was open to anyone in financial services, some of the first graduates from the College decided to create an alumni association strictly for credentialed CFPs, founding the Institute for Certified Financial Planners (ICFP). The IAFP And ICFP merged in 2000 to form today’s Financial Planning Association (FPA).
To celebrate and mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of financial planning, on another cold and blustery day in Chicago, December 12, 2019, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc., (CFP Board) hosted “One Small Step: Honoring the Past, Embracing the Future.” Festivities included an afternoon symposium and an evening black tie gala at the Adler Planetarium. SFA Advisors, Neal Solomon, CFP®, and Lewis Walker, CFP®, were among the several hundred invited guests.
Neal served on the CFP Board for four years, 2015-2018. During her opening remarks at the gala, CFP Board Chair Susan John, CFP®, recognized Lewis as an honored guest, citing his long years of service and contributions to the profession. Lewis graduated with the third class from the College for Financial Planning, attaining the CFP credential in 1975. He served on the national board of directors of the ICFP for eight years, including as national president, 1986-1987, and chairman, 1987-1988.
At the afternoon symposium, global futurist Chris Riddell opined that “the future is the reinvention of everything, not an extension of the past.” “Data is the new oil,” he said, proclaiming “the future is cognitive.” But in a complex and vexing world, “we need to be leaders when it comes to confusion.” We need to remember the human element, make the complex simple, “friction free.” Apple did not invent the microcomputer or the Smartphone, but made the products easier to use. Apple created simplicity at every step. “We need to create simplicity when it comes to client experiences,” Riddell emphasized.
Chet W. Sisk, futurist and author, “The Mind of Your Future Clients,” talked about what motivates the subconscious mind of those we counsel. “We ‘lean fearful,’” he said. Fear rules us and often advertisers use fear. The next market plunge…losing money…technological evolution causes some to fear they will become obsolete…economic inequality. But hope challenges fear. Our role is to instill hope in our clients, to be a visionary, champion, help them to see a better quality of life, envision a better world, a path to get there. We need to be a steady hand at times of crisis and anxiety, reimagining financial planning as a force for good. Planning so clients can see the life they seek.
Keynote speaker, economist Dr. Marci Rossell, former chief economist, CNBC, pegged 2019 as “the year of the recession that wasn’t.” She cited vast amounts of pessimism about the global economy─social injustice, climate change, income inequality. She noted recessions back to the 1970s through the 2008-2009 slump, stating that recessions are “the result of large negative shocks that are largely unpredictable.” Looking out over the next ten years she said, “The fact that we haven’t had a recession speaks to the strength of the global economy.” She ran through a list of “fears,” including the inverted yield curve worry. Normally, short-term interest rates are lower than long-term rates. But if you have extreme anxiety about an issue in the short-term (such as a trade war), but figure the problem is likely to be resolved, adjusted to, in the long-term, say, the next ten years, short-term rates may be higher than long-term. Her point is that the yield curve is not a good predictor of a pending recession. Rossell is “fairly optimistic” for the next ten years, globally and especially for America.
Loren Dutton died in 1992, but his daughter, Page Lambert, was present to talk about her dad and the fulfillment of his dream. She inspired the audience to carry on his legacy and make the next 50 years even more amazing and fruitful than the last fifty. December 12, 2069…the possibilities are mindboggling!