by Karin Price Mueller
Karin Price Mueller is a 2011 FPA Heart of Financial Planning Award task force member and a 2010 award recipient.
Don Pitti, CFP®, 2010 Heart of Financial Planning Award Recipient
While many professionals make an impact on the financial planning profession, few can claim to have been an integral part of formulating the profession from the start.
The late Don Pitti was a pioneer in the field.
Bill E. Carter summarized Pitti's accomplishments in his nominating letter, which is like a history lesson in the profession. Pitti served in every organization that predated the Financial Planning Association since the Society of Financial Counseling in the 1960s.
Carter said Pitti's role in those early years was substantial, and his influence on those around him was great.
"Serving with Don was like getting an MBA for free," says Carter. "His vision and outstanding leadership skills truly provided me an opportunity to learn from one of the most outstanding leaders I have ever known."
Carter shared that Pitti was constant in saying the CFP mark was the "ultimate expression of professionalism in financial planning."
Pitti died on Dec. 18, 2009. His work was honored posthumously with a 2010 Heart of Financial Planning award.
Clare Stenstrom, CFP®, with Bourne Stenstrom Lent Asset Management in New York and a member of the Heart of Financial Planning Award task force, shared her memories of Pitti.
FPA: How did Don Pitti's vision and leadership change the financial planning community?
Stenstrom: Don Pitti played a leading role in the financial planning movement and has been at the forefront of developing a standard of competence for the financial planning profession ever since. He had been a member of FPA and its predecessor organizations since 1969 when he was on the board of the International Association of Financial Planners. Don was chairman of the Society of Financial Counseling, which created the International Association for Financial Planning (IAFP) and the College for Financial Planning. He also served as president of IAFP. In 1984 at a speech to the IAFP in Atlanta, Don said, "The tide is rising for financial planning, for what it can do to improve the lives of every American family and for your and our association." His words still ring true today. He served as governor of Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards and chair of the Foundation for Financial Planning in 1988 when the Foundation became an independent charitable entity. Under his first year of stewardship the foundation raised $7 million from individuals and corporations.
FPA: Can you share a story of when Don and his work touched you personally?
Stenstrom: Shortly after the merger of the International Association of Financial Planners and Institute of Certified Financial PlannersTM that formed FPA, the first FPA Financial Fitness Day was held at St. John's University. The event was made possible through Don's relationship with the school. When I first met Don, our initial conversation was about the merger and how great it is for the profession. His passion for CFP practitioners and the CFP license made a lasting impression on me.
My next memorable meeting with Don was the result of the 9/11 attacks when the leaders of FPA and the chapters whose regions were affected joined together to see how planners could help. Don immediately involved the Foundation for Financial Planning to provide two full-page advertisements in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post announcing that we would provide pro bono financial planning for those affected by 9/11. He didn't stop there. He persuaded the Foundation to give a grant to FPA to start the national pro bono outreach. Going forward, Don provided the use of the Union League for the quarterly meetings of chapter presidents whose members were working with the families, victims, and survivors of the attacks, and he graciously provided dinner. But during those discussions, his greatest gift to us was his leadership, vision, and wealth of knowledge.
FPA: Don had so many accomplishments. Which do you think was the most important?
Stenstrom: One of the last projects Don was working on was getting the CFP designation recognized across the country and around the world as the only place to get sound ethical financial planning advice. Jim Pavia of InvestmentNews shared that Don was working with the CFP Board and the FPA Board to start a well-planned marketing campaign. His suggestion was to use the membership dollars from both organizations to hire an excellent marketing firm to create a slogan similar to the "got milk" campaign. He went so far to suggest that they do a take-off on it. Don never stopped promoting our profession. He always had time to mentor planners, even one of the incoming presidents of FPA of New York reached out to him to for guidance in his role to make the chapter more successful. He encouraged, pushed, championed, and raised the important questions. Don was a true leader.
FPA: What do you think Don would have said about receiving the Heart of Financial Planning award?
Stenstrom: In his P. Kemp Fain, Jr. Award acceptance speech at FPA's annual conference in Boston in 2008, Don said: "I remember a day about 15 years ago when I was sitting in a CFP Board trustees meeting and a young woman in her 30s was telling us about her financial planning practice and how she served her clients and her dreams for the future. I turned to the person who was sitting next to me and said, 'She is what we had in mind when we started all this. She is the dream come true.' And today as I look out at all of you, I can say with some pride and great satisfaction that you, the FPA, the CFP Board, and the Foundation for Financial Planning and this great growing profession are exactly what we had in mind over 40 years ago-Loren Dunton and Kemp Fain's dream come true- their vision realized."
Don was one of the kindest, most upbeat people I have ever met. Writing this and going through the information I gathered last year for his celebration brings tears to my eyes. He is missed. When I saw him at national or local events he always had a smile, a hug and asked, "How are you doing kid?" He called all of us "kid." He remembered everyone, some detail of what you had spoken to him about last week, month or year-he personalized every meeting you had with him and he always found time for planners.
Mark Clark, CFP®, 2010 Heart of Financial Planning Award Recipient
Teaching children about money is an admirable goal. Reaching out to underserved foster and young adult communities, making money education accessible to everyone and promoting financial literacy has been the mission for Mark Clark, CFP®, and that's why he was honored with a 2010 Heart of Financial Planning Award.
In his nominating letter for Clark, FPA members Craig Uffelman, Lloyd Yamada, and Joanne Mungall called Clark, who founded MONEYdawg$olution$, a "serial volunteer."
"Cumulatively, Mark has presented financial education workshops to over 1,000 foster youth and young adults, provided L.I.F.E. coaching for 35 young adults and has mentored 10 college participating young adults successfully, all while the percent of foster youth has rapidly grown in California," reads his nominating letter.
We asked Clark about why he's so passionate about those he tries to help.
FPA: Why did you first get involved in the foster community?
Clark: In late 1999, my oldest daughter, Kimberly Clark, was an accomplished documentary film/video producer. She had just completed a project for the local County Office of Family & Children Services and the Bill Wilson Center. She wanted to get my opinion on the project. She invited me to vie it. It was so inspiring that before it was done, I asked for contact info. She already had it ready for me. She knew how I would react. At once I contacted the county and eventually the Bill Wilson Center. Our collaboration, discussion, and workshops were so numerous that no other team will ever match what we accomplished over seven years for foster youth. Now they are all adults and most are successful.
FPA: Can you share the story of one case that sticks in your mind?
Clark: Although there are many, this one is still amazing to me. Amanda is a single mom of two now. Then, she was a single mom with one, at a young age. She lived in Holister, California attending San Jose State University's school of nursing (about a one-hour commute each way). In 2009 she graduated, with honors. She was pregnant most of her last college year. She was working part time at a Chili's in Gilroy (30-minute commute each way) to help her finances. At the end of her senior year her daughter was born. The university postponed her finals for a week so she could recover. She took her finals and passed with honors. Her internships were at Lucille Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University Medical Center, O'Connor Hospital and Valley Medical Center.
Once graduated, she needed to take her nurse license exam for the state of California certification, and she passed without even needing to get through three-quarters of the questions. She was able to get into a program at Valley Med that she completed successfully. This led to a position as a full-fledged RN and she recently started full-time at a great salary.
I am so proud of her and still am amazed at what she has accomplished. I have known her since she was about 18 and is about 25 now. We still connect as her time will allow.
FPA: Tell us about MONEYdawg$olution$ and the MONEY Institute 4 L.I.F.E.
Clark: MONEY Institute 4 L.I.F.E. (Lessons In Financial Education) was started in association with the Bill Wilson Center Drop-In Center. It was funded under the Fatherhood Works grant over three to five years. This is not only for foster youth, but all homeless youth who do not have a place to hang for a while. They could be homeless and need a place for a shower, laundry, food, and some entertainment. We collaborated in using MONEY Wi$E/Consumer Action publications.
MONEYdawg$olution$ (MDS) is an entity that was actually created by me from a nickname I was called as a volunteer at the Bill Wilson Center/ILP (Independent Living Program). I was coined as the "money-dog" because of the many financial education workshops and one-to-one sessions.
MDS focuses on basic financial education resources in all facets. Ages range from 16 and up. We coach entering-college scholars on how to manage their grant or scholarship funds to make it last. There is discussion on emotional spending topics. Later years we'll key in higher return savings, investing, and retirement sources.
Concentration on the underserved is where I spend most of my community hours. Recently, I met with my first credit coach client through United Way. Now I'm focusing on low- to moderate-income families and individuals in the community-ones that do not have the mindset or resources to manage their money.
FPA: Why should FPA members nominate someone for the Heart of Financial Planning Award?
Clark: I feel that other members in ProBono or the [general] membership should be recognized for their volunteerism to the community that FPA serves. The impact from their service may be a life-changing opportunity for others that may not have the resources for a better life. Wanting to do something bigger than themselves is one of the main reasons why!
FPA: What does the award mean to you?
Clark: This award has been a validation of community service and how my volunteer time has impacted others-those age 16 and up-establishing great connections to monitor their success in life, transitioning to adulthood because their birth parents made poor choices on their behalf. No one person should have to deal with neglect, abuse, starvation, and homelessness as foster youth do. No one seems to want to make a difference in their lives. I do! I believe that most humans want to leave something behind for others to benefit from, a legacy or contribution. Especially when it keeps going long after you are gone. This just happens to be mine. I hope you influence someone else to keep it going.
Nominate, Recognize Your Extraordinary Colleagues
Tell us about your nominee and why that person should be considered for the 2011 Heart of Financial Planning Award. Let us know about those who have made an impact on the financial planning community and/or the public while upholding and promoting FPA's core values. It could be an FPA member, a financial planning firm, an FPA chapter, a business person, a professor, a journalist, or even yourself. Nominees will be recognized at FPA's Annual Conference, the largest gathering of the financial planning community.
The deadline for nominations is June 3, 2011. Download a nomination form or submit a one- to three-page letter that includes:
- Detailed description of what sets your nominee apart. Give specific examples of the nominee's extraordinary work.
- Show how the nominee's actions contribute to or give back to the financial planning community and/or the public.
- The nominee's excellence in demonstrating FPA's core values.
- Your affiliation with the nominee.
Send nominations to:
Heart of Financial Planning Awards
Financial Planning Association
7535 E. Hampden Ave.
Denver, Colo. 80231