Talk Less and Show Up

Daniel YergerFinancial Planning Leave a Comment

As we approach New Year’s Eve and the season for New Year’s resolutions kicks off, allow me to proffer a New Year’s resolution for the financial planning community: talk less and show up. This might be a challenge, even an affront to some, when read plainly. That’s alright, you’re an adult, and I believe you can stomach it. So let me explain the resolution.

In the financial planning community, both of financial planners and those adjacent, there is an enormous amount of “should” conversation. “Financial planners should-“ “Consumers should-“ “You should-.” There is a daily debate about fees on Twitter or LinkedIn, a daily argument for increasing access to financial planning, a daily jaw-jack for “much ado about nothing”, as Shakespeare would have put it. People have so much time and energy to discuss and engage with these things, particularly when the engagement is limited to the movement of their thumbs on their cellphones! Yet, FPA Membership has declined by 25% over the past several years. NAPFA Membership is up (almost solely by the merit of XYPN’s business development success) but with much love to my fee-only membership association, it’s list of professional community and regulatory accomplishments over the past several years are:


People love to laud the daily engagement and culture of the community of planners within XY Planning Network while simultaneously saying “yeah but what have you done for me lately? I’m leaving the network because I don’t get any value out of it. Oh, and while we’re still talking, buy my excel template.” While we’re talking about these associations and committees, let’s also say the quiet part out loud:  Being a Fintwit diva, committee or board member in resume-bullet-only, and finding time to take vacations and attend beach conferences while not showing up for your basic volunteer responsibilities, is not being an active member of this professional community. It’s taking credit for the work of others while you luxuriate. And yes, I know “you’re busy,” but it turns out, everyone is, and thus, no one cares.

Meanwhile, we talk -oh do we talk!- about needing to bring on more financial planners into this field, how sales-based organizations are evil and people shouldn’t be hocking life insurance or annuities to get started as financial planners, and how those folks at the wirehouses don’t do real financial planning anyway! Yet, Edward Jones alone (a firm that just now in 2024 is going to begin piloting a home office financial planning service) has hired more brokers in the past decade than the entire body of financial planning firms combined. Northwestern Mutual has more life insurance sales interns every summer than the collective of NAPFA firms hires annually. All the while, we talk and talk and talk about the moral superiority of financial planning over these sales organizations and not-real-financial-planning sales jobs. Yet we do nothing to move the needle for our cause. Instead, we talk.

So, therein is the resolution for the financial planning community. Talk less and show up. Join FPA and attend your chapter’s meetings, volunteer on a NAPFA committee or start a local group, donate time to pro bono planning, have a paid internship at your firm this summer and consider offering that intern a job when they graduate next year. Build in public, give away your precious ideas for free as the besainted Kitces does, and actually make a difference.

Don’t just talk about title protection, volunteer for a public policy advocacy day.

Don’t just complain about the CFP Board, volunteer for one of its many committees and programs.

Don’t just whine about the lack of talent, help foster it.

Talk less and show up. The profession needs it. Your community needs it. We all need it.

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