FPA of MN Newsletter – March 2015

Back to Archive

President’s Message – March, 2015

Maximizing Your Membership Value – Get Involved in a Committee!

Greetings to All,
A constant focus of the FPA of MN Board is finding ways to maximize value for our members. As I reflect on my “FPA story” to this point and connect that to the FPA stories that I’ve heard from other members, a common thread is that a turning point in getting the most out of our FPA membership was when we decided to become engaged in a committee. For me personally, this was becoming engaged in the Pro Bono committee, which strives to connect planners within FPA of Minnesota with organizations providing services to low-income individuals.

Prior to joining the Pro Bono committee, my FPA experience primarily consisted of occasionally attending a Chapter meeting, getting some good technical content (along with CE), and at those meetings, typically sitting quietly at a table or with a couple of co-workers. After getting involved in the committee, FPA has become to me a place where I have created deep professional relationships and friendships with numerous members of the planning community. It’s been a place where I’ve been able to make an impact in working with Pro Bono clients throughout the community, which is a big passion of mine and has been extremely fulfilling. It’s been a wonderful place to grow my leadership and communication skills, which has already paid big dividends in my career. And now at Chapter meetings, there isn’t nearly enough time to talk to even a fraction of the people that I want to see. This is a common story for those that have taken the time to really get involved on a committee.

If you are wondering, then, how to get the most out of your FPA membership, how best to really get connected to the financial planning community, I would HIGHLY encourage you to consider joining a committee for an area about which you are passionate and become engaged accordingly. For an overview of each of the committees within FPA of Minnesota, please go to our Committees page.

If you are interested in joining a committee or in finding out more, you can contact me (contact information below) or reach out directly to the Director for any committee in which you have an interest (contact information on website at link above.)

As always, feel free to let me or any of our Board members know of any questions, comments, or concerns that you have. We strive to “ask-listen-respond.”


Steve Gilbertson, CFP®
Accredited Investors, Inc.

Member Media Training
Thursday, March 5 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Want to become a “go to” source for journalists?

FPA is hosting another all-member virtual media training on March 5th, 3:00 pm CST. Over the years FPA has become a ‘go to’ resource for members of the industry and mainstream media who are writing about personal finance and the financial planning profession. Once you have attended a FPA media training session, you are then approved to respond to the media queries which are sent out by the PR committee chairperson, Kristy Gusick. FPA members who are CFP® professionals and attend this media training program can participate in FPA media queries that are sent daily.

Each 90-minute media training program, conducted by FPA Director of Communications Ben Lewis, covers the essentials in working with journalists, including:​

  • How to pitch story ideas to reporters;
  • What you need to do to prepare for interviews;
  • How you can improve interview performance;
  • The tactics for ensuring you maintain a great reputation with reporters;
  • Representing FPA and the organizational messages; and much more!

Click here to take advantage of this member benefit.

Future training dates:
June 4
September 3
December 10

 FPA of MN Visit to University of MN-Duluth

On Thursday, February 5, FPA’s Career Development Committee took a road trip to University of Minnesota’s Duluth campus, home of the first CFP® board-approved Financial Planning Major program in the state. Mike Branham, CFP(r), FPA Advocacy Committee Chair, Sara Kantor, Director, Career Development Committee and Nitya Malik, Vice Chair, Career Development Committee represented FPA at the school’s first Financial Planning Club (FPA student chapter) meeting of the year.

The student directors of this club, Jordan Elling and Mitchell Smyth kicked off the meeting which comprised of 30 students approximately who were eager to learn more about the Financial Planning industry, the role of FPA, and the upcoming FPA Career Day on Friday, Feb 27 in Minneapolis. Mike shared FPA’s vision and goals and the benefits of joining FPA for a student and/or new professional. The group also talked about the opportunities available to students at Career Day – networking, insights from keynote speaker, Sabrina Lowell, CFP® and other round table discussions, and of course possible interviews with 10 reputable, local firms. The meeting concluded with questions from the students and a brief panel discussion with each Mike, Sara, and Nitya sharing how they entered the industry and a tidbit or advice for the students who are still exploring their career options.

A student leaving the meeting shared it was well worth his time to attend the discussion, even though he confessed he had initially attended to only grab some free pizza!

This event was the first step in building closer ties between FPA and its university partner programs.

Apply now for the 2015 FPA Diversity Scholarship!​


The Scholarship is awarded to financial services students and professionals who demonstrate and act upon an intense desire to promote diversity in the financial planning profession. Criteria for applicants includes:

  • Raising awareness of the profession in diverse communities;
  • Serving diverse communities with financWhy Pro Bono Matters to Meial planning; and
  • Increasing professional opportunities for diverse communities within the financial planning profession

Applications for the Retreat scholarship are due March 13. Those interested in learning more can visit the FPA website or complete the application.

2015 Diversity Scholarship App​lication and Guidelines (PDF)​
2015 Diversity Scholarsh​​ip Applicatio​n and Guidelines (Word version)​​

Why Pro Bono Matters to Me

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

FPA Partners with LifeCare

Now recruiting for members to serve as Content Specialists

A new opportunity for FPA members to demonstrate their experience and knowledge of financial planning to millions of American workers.

FPA has partnered with LifeCare, one of the country's leading providers of work/life balance services to 61,000 American companies and over 61 million American workers. The partnership with LifeCare calls for both organizations to create an education hub on the LifeCare platform that their members can access to learn about personal financial matters. The content will be generated by CFP® members of FPA who will act as content specialists. These members will be engaged by the LifeCare team to develop articles, podcasts and on-demand webinars for their members to use. The goal is to begin generating this new content in the coming weeks.

We are now recruiting FPA members to serve as content specialists and could use your chapter's help in getting the word out. For a member to qualify for this opportunity they must:

  • Be a member of FPA in good standing
  • Be a CFP® professional
  • Have attended an FPA media training
  • Be comfortable with speaking and/or a solid writer
  • Be proficient in one of the key content areas we are recruiting for right now (see below)

The following are the key content areas where we need members to serve as content specialists. We are limited to recruiting four members per subject area. The subject areas include:

  • Financial considerations of preparing for a baby
  • Financial considerations of adoption
  • Financial considerations of raising a child (covering infant, toddler, preschool, school-aged children)
  • Special needs planning
  • Financial considerations for an aging loved one
  • Finances and Getting Married
  • Financial Planning and Divorce
  • Finances and Serious Illness
  • Financial Considerations of Moving/Relocating
  • Dealing with Financial Hardship
  • Dealing with Loss
  • Financial Planning and Military Personnel

Over the coming months we will be opening recruitment for additional content areas, but for now we are restricted to the content areas mentioned. Those who are interested in being a content specialist will be asked to work with the LifeCare team to dig into these topic areas to uncover all of the potential financial issues and develop content to educate LifeCare members. In return, members who participate will be promoted on the LifeCare platform. So this is very good visibility for participating members and FPA!

I am hoping to start collecting names of interested members ASAP. If your chapter would be willing to let your members know I would appreciate it. If you have members who want to participate, they should email me at blewis@onefpa.org with the following details:

  • Name
  • Credentials
  • Company
  • City/State
  • Chapter Affiliation
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Website Address
  • Link to Bio Online

Here is a link to a video that explains the LifeCare partnership.

FPA of MN at the 2015 STEM Expo

FPA of Minnesota was represented at the 2015 STEM Expo by members (Jason Kley, Karen Gemmill, Jeanna Fifer and Seth Tenpenny) of the Financial Education Committee. The 4th annual STEM and Career Exploration Expo is an event for all 6th grade students in the Minneapolis Public School system (~2,500 students in total) held at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Students are given the opportunity to explore a variety of career options that require an academic foundation in science, technology, engineering and math. FPA Minnesota was asked to participate in BestPrep's "Financial Alley." This portion of the event was designed to increase awareness of various financial literacy topics as well as to learn more about career options in financial services. Members of the Financial Education committee met with several hundred students throughout the day and introduced the concept of compounding using a simulation provided through the website bankrate.com. Many of the students came to the FPA exhibit with little or no knowledge of compounding and walked away with an understanding of the inputs used in compounding and how it can work for an investor and against a debtor.

In addition to a quick lesson on compounding, participants were given a brief description of what one can do in the financial planning field and an overview of skills learned in school that can be helpful for a success career in financial planning.

Recap: February Chapter Meeting - Top 15 Estate & Tax Planning Traps

The Top 15 Estate & Tax Planning Traps and How to Avoid Them – Speaker John (Jeff) Scroggins, from Atlanta, GA, little known to everyone, had to come a day early to Minnesota due to bad weather in GA. Luckily Jeff made it safe and sound and was able to give a very useful presentation with many take-away’s for our guests and members.

Due to the in-depth information, Jeff was not able to cover all of the 15 traps, but generously offered to be a resource for questions and clarification by giving out his contact information (www.scrogginlaw.com). This was a robust presentation and showcased how we can protect our clients and their families, by being aware of common mistakes and traps in areas where our clients have no do-overs. Jeff helped to clarify what advisors should be asking their clients in the estate and tax areas, and how important a role we can play by being thorough.

Jeff also added a personal component with stories he shared of client experiences over his 36 years as a CPA and Tax Attorney. The handouts provided gave both traps and planning opportunities that advisors can implement immediately to assist their clients to add value and cement relationships. In addition, Jeff’s website has tools advisors can print off to use in their practice. Overall the presentation was interesting and useful.

If you missed the meeting, this is one that you should consider purchasing as a Virtual Seminar.

Recap: First Year Member Social

We kicked off the new year with 38 members attending a very successful First Year Member Social at Bonefish Grill, West End. Our socials always have great food, great wine and they are lots of fun! Attending them is a quick way to get to know the Board of Directors and fellow new members. Don’t wait to R.S.V.P. for the next Social. We will fill up quickly.

View the Photo Gallery

FPA of Minnesota’s Second Annual Advocacy Day

On February 24th, more than 20 members of FPA of Minnesota participated in the second annual Advocacy Day at the State Capital in St. Paul. It was another successful venture. We were very fortunate to have a presentation by representatives of the Minnesota Department of Commerce. FPA of Minnesota members also met with State Representatives and Senators to educate them on the mission of FPA of Minnesota and to offer the financial expertise of FPA of Minnesota members as a resource in helping Minnesotans improve their financial situation.

Four of the people from the Department of Commerce did a panel discussion. The panelists were Marty Fleischhacker, Assistant Commissioner, Brian Edstrom, Asst. Director of the Securities Section, Annette Minor, Principal Examiner, and Lois Durenberger, Senior Examiner. The panelists discussed various aspects of the Investment Adviser Examination program, and generously submitted to a lengthy question-and-answer session.

Other members of the Department of Commerce in attendance were Deborah Knooihuizen, Senior Investigator, Annie Overfors and Donny Wynia, Examiners, and Peter Brickwedde, Director of Government Affairs.
Our warmest thanks go to Commissioner Mike Rothman and his team for helping us with our Advocacy Day. We have invited them to participate in Symposium 2015.

Prior to the Department of Commerce panel, attendees were provided advice on what to expect when interacting with their elected officials from Professional Issues Committee Director Scott Nelson. Scott distributed ‘leave behind’ brochures containing information about FPA. Follow-up ‘Thank You’ cards were also distributed.

Our session with our regulators helped build personal connections with FPA of Minnesota so as to improve future communication between regulators and Financial Planners.

The Professional Issues Committee will begin now to plan next year’s Advocacy Day. We know it is an obvious point; however, we don’t want to only focus on FPA of Minnesota’s relationship with state officials one day per year – we know that is not enough. The impetus for Advocacy Day was the realization that FPA of Minnesota needs to engage state officials on a regular basis. Regular communications are necessary in order to be involved in shaping relevant financial issues before they become law. Advocacy Day participants know that our experience and expertise is welcomed by our regulators and elected officials. This year’s Advocacy Day showed again that FPA of Minnesota members can make a positive impact when we act together.

Recap: Career Day 2015

The FPA Career Development Committee hosted its 9th Annual Career Day on Friday, February 27 at The Doubletree – Minneapolis. As in years past, we had an engaged audience comprising of over 30 students and career changers. Attendees participated in round table discussions, mock interviews and resume reviews throughout the day while participating employers conducted interviews. The keynote speaker was Sabrina Lowell, CFP®, CFO of Mosaic Financial who shared her career path and offered great insight into the industry for anyone looking to explore career paths in planning, whether student, career changer or employer. The lunch panel discussion comprised of Ben Wacek, CFP®, Wacek Financial Planning, Ellan Krubsack, Fure Financial, and Amanda Moore, Cornerstone Wealth Advisors.  They shared their experiences of their first years in the profession and offered career advice.

The Career Development Committee thanks the following employers – JNBA Financial Advisors, Clifton Larson Allen LLP, Carlson Capital Management, Waddell & Reed, Financial Designs, Inc., Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, Lawing Financial, MetLife Premier Client Group of the Upper Midwest, Heritage Wealth Architects, and Ameriprise Financial.

Thank you also to the following FPA member volunteers for taking time out of their day to help nurture the next generation of financial advisors.

  • Denny Bennett
  • Michael Branham, CFP®
  • Andrea Eaton, CFP®
  • Jeanna Fifer, CFP®
  • Steve Gilbertson, CFP®
  • Ashley Murphy, CFP®
  • Katie Noel, CFP®
  • Greg Prokott
  • Tiffany Rovaina, CFP®, ChFC
  • Julieann Schroeder, CFP®
  • Elizabeth Shaw
  • Laura Seymour, CFP®