When it comes to money, there’s probably no more memorable movie line than “Greed is good,” as proclaimed by the ruthless money-loving Gordon Gecko in Wall Street. But since the 80’s, and particularly in the past 7 years, we’ve seen where that kind of insatiable greed can lead, and it’s not a good place!
We prefer rather to be guided by the words of a more inspiring role model, Nelson Mandela, who said:
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
This philosophy, which certainly defined the way Madiba lived, is a guiding light for us at Veritas: on Nelson Mandela Day and the other 364 days of the year.
There are many ways to give. You can make a charitable donation. You can give of your personal time. Or, you can offer your professional services on a pro bono basis. All are gratifying and all give you great returns on your investment, whether it’s made in time or money. For few things feel better than knowing you are helping someone in need.
All of us at Veritas are active in giving back, but one of the most rewarding experiences we’ve had took place this time last year: it was a pro bono series on financial planning that we helped organise in Cape Town. The two free seminars were targeted at two very different groups – 20-35 year olds and domestic workers – both groups which are vulnerable to bad advice and marketing hype. Many CFP® financial planners invited their clients to send their children and/or grandchildren between the ages of 20-35 as well as their domestic workers or gardeners, and many gave of their time, including a CFP® professional who is fluent in Xhosa, which was definitely an advantage. Other institutions were also generous, including Allan Gray, who donated the use of its auditorium and FPI (The Financial Planning Institute), who allocated funds towards refreshments.
What did Veritas get out of it? Nothing. This project was about giving back, something financial planners are perhaps unused to, but something we believe needs to change. The participating companies had an opportunity to interact with their client base, and show them their willingness to help their children and grandchildren at important stages in their lives. The presentations were also helpful to domestic workers and gardeners, in assisting them to become more financially literate and organised, an area where much improvement is needed in South Africa, to protect innocent consumers from unscrupulous financial services providers.
Within the field of financial planning, pro bono work is not about trying to find new clients. The objectives should be to do something good, and to create awareness that there are great financial planners out there, called CFP® professionals.
We live in a wonderful country with incredible resources – natural and human – as well as poverty and its resulting social problems. Whether you are a physician, a marketing professional, an accountant or an IT specialist, you have much to give that can improve the lives of others. By offering your time pro bono, you not only do a service for others, you do a service to your own profession, by showing that you and others like you care enough to offer 100% professional services with nothing expected in return.
Nkosi Tata Mandela
Note: We will be offering the free Financial Planning seminars for 20-35 year-olds and domestic workers again in late August, as part of 2014 Financial Planning Week. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll be sending out a newsflash with the relevant information. We encourage you to encourage those in your circle who could benefit from these seminars to attend.