Why Pro Bono Matters to Me

San Asato, CFP®

San Asato, CFP®

For those who are unacquainted with me, I am the Director of Pro Bono Committee (“Pro Bono”). I’ve kidded that I joined Pro Bono then signed up an assistant coach but then the head coach didn’t show up. So the turn of events has been a surprise. Although bureaucratic administrative activities, like writing this article and others, are least favored activities for me, I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy Pro Bono. So, why? Why do I enjoy Pro Bono?

To me, Pro Bono is about serving our communities through our profession. As a well established financial advisor/planner and a business owner, I am often invited to serve on boards of various nonprofit, community based organizations (“CBOs”). Due to everyday challenges of balancing personal wellbeing, business, family, and community service, I limit my CBO board service to 3 at any given time. Pro Bono is one of the three. Most likely I will be a member of Pro Bono in one capacity or another.

I gave a professional, rational reason for being in Pro Bono. How about emotional, personal? In the end, we remain in the profession of financial planning because we care and enjoy what we do. Pro Bono for me is an extension of who I am and what I do in my practice.

I’ve made a commitment in my practice to provide pro bono financial planning and consulting services to two sets of clients, the elderly and individuals and families of children with special needs. I have a soft spot in my heart for seniors and special needs.

I was raised by my grandparents during my early adolescence, from the age of 8 through 11. They were, are my emotional parents who gave me love, security, and family. I miss them. Truly, there’s never a day that goes by without I missing them, especially my grandmother. She was the matriarch and the rock of the family. I still recall fondly how wonderful Sundays and holidays were as all my uncles and their families came to my grandparents, my house without fail. I lived and learned all about what a loving family is, and what that means to a child from my grandparents.

That love has carried to my own children, and children and families with special needs. My youngest son is on the autism spectrum. He has what has been diagnosed as an environmental autism, aka an Eastern European orphanage syndrome.

He was abandoned at birth, spent his first 12 months isolated in a baby crib, and not allowed to establish sustained eye contact or physical bond, resulting in autism. We adopted him when he was a year old.

I would not be a financial advisor and planner if it wasn’t for him. I had transitioned from being a bond trader in investment banking to working with individuals. One day at work, I came across a pink paper that talked about special needs planning.

It was then, only then that I realized what I had been doing for my son, saving money for his future care, was wrong. (A child, and adult with special needs cannot have assets in excess of $2,000 before becoming disqualified from governmental medical and financial assistance.) Here I was thinking typically, money will solve all, just get enough of it. I realized that instead of caring and planning for for my son’s future, I was screwing up. That moment was the defining moment for me. I made the emotional commitment at that point to become a financial advisor and planner in earnest.

I realized that money doesn’t solve all things in life. I realized that I care less about managing and making money. I realized that I care more about doing the right planning, then and only then money comes into play.

These are the reasons I am in Pro Bono. I want to serve my communities of needs and otherwise directly through my profession. I want to serve, help those people who have mattered and matters to me the most in my life.

I hope, if you are still reading this and have a reason in your heart and time in your life to serve your own communities that matter, you will look to join the Pro Bono Committee and/or one-of or ad-hoc activities Pro Bono organizes. The former is financial counseling at events like Financial Planning Day of Twin Cities, Young Adults Mentoring through Jump$tart, Prepare + Prosper, CollegePossible, etc. The latter is financial counseling to individual requests received by our chapter. Such inquiries are matched and parsed to advisors with the closest office address.

Pro Bono’s future meetings are as follows. If you are interested in making pro bono a part of your professional life, please feel free to email me at SAsato@Comcast.net or call me on my cell at (612) 209-8342.

Mar 18th Live 10:15 – 11:15 following the chapter meeting
Apr 23rd Pro Bono Workshop:
Military Initiative
1:15 – 2:15 prior to the chapter meeting
May 14th Teleconference 7:30 – 8:30 Teleconference No: 866.876.6756
Code: 953 603 8023
Leader PIN: 8377
June 16th Live 10:15 – 11:15 following the Chapter meeting
July 21st Pro Bono Workshop: Special Needs Planning & Accounting 2:15 – 3:15 prior to the Chapter meeting
Aug 13th Teleconference 7:30 – 8:30 Teleconference No: 866.876.6756<
Code: 953 603 8023
Leader PIN: 8377
Sept 15th Pro Bono Workshop: Debt Management 10:15 – 11:15 following the Chapter meeting
Oct 20th No meeting Financial Planning Day
Nov 12th Teleconference 7:30 – 8:30 Teleconference No: 866.876.6756
Code: 953 603 8023
Leader PIN: 8377
Dec 10th Live: Holiday Party 4 – 6 Location TBD