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At Free Financial Planning Days, Advisors Show Consumers the Way

Oct. 24, 2014
Personal Finance
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Thousands of consumers across the U.S. will receive free in-person answers to their financial problems from qualified professionals this Saturday—no strings attached.

The Oct. 25 pro bono events are called Financial Planning Days, and they’re taking place in 13 cities across the U.S. The public is invited to attend personal finance workshops and get one-on-one financial advice from certified financial planners.

The events are similar NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor platform, where consumers can pose money questions to verified financial professionals for free online. On Financial Planning Day, though, the interactions take place in person.

The focus is on consumer protection, says Marco Chavarin, co-chair of San Francisco’s Financial Planning Day. He notes that when San Francisco held its first such event five years ago, most people were in crisis mode. Today, he says, things have changed.

“A lot of our attendees are optimistic now,” says Chavarin, who also serves as the financial access and education manager at the city’s Office of Financial Empowerment. “People are planning for the future.”

This year, he is expecting record numbers of participants at the event, which is hosted through a partnership with the Financial Planning Association and the city and county of San Francisco. Advisors will meet with people on a first-come, first-served basis, and those who register online beforehand will get priority. The event is part of California’s Manage Your Money Week.

Because Financial Planning Days are focused on providing unbiased aid to consumers, advisors aren’t permitted to distribute marketing materials, and people who meet with them are under no obligation to meet with them again or hire them in the future.

“We help maintain that neutrality,” says Chavarin, noting that the city’s focus on providing unbiased financial resources builds trust among residents.

Volunteers from NerdWallet will also be helping with San Francisco’s Financial Planning Day, which will be held at San Francisco Public Library. The company shares Financial Planning Day’s focus on helping consumers make better, more informed financial decisions.

“We’re very aligned in terms of our goals,” says Cliff Goldstein, a senior associate at NerdWallet. Volunteer Nerds will be matching participants with financial planners based on their needs and questions.

To attend a Financial Planning Day, check the list of locations and register online. Workshop schedules are also posted. Bring tax returns, investment information and bank statements so when you speak to your advisor one-on-one, he or she can get a good snapshot of your financial health.

If you can’t make it to a Financial Planning Day this weekend, don’t fret. You can always get your financial questions answered on the Ask an Advisor platform.

“Ask an Advisor is basically a 24/7, 365-day version of Financial Planning Day,” says Goldstein.

Light at the end of the tunnel image via Shutterstock.