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 Blandin, President and CEO, Investor Protection Trust
Don Blandin has taken coalition-building to new levels, and he's used that talent to benefit FPA.
In his nominating letter, John Comer, CFP®, discussed working with Blandin on the "How Can I Afford Retirement? Investor Education at the Hennepin County Library" program, a collaboration of the Investor Protection Trust (Blandin's organization), the State of Minnesota Commerce Department, Hennepin County Library, FPA of Minnesota, the Vital Aging Network, and Twin Cities Public Television.
"Don led his board of directors to conceive, develop, and promote the series of four retirement planning seminars," said Comer in his nominating letter. "He then worked with securities regulators, FPA chapters, and libraries across the country to deliver the presentations. Minnesota learned about the concept at FPA Boston 2008 and started work on a grant application. In addition to Massachusetts and Minnesota, the presentations have also been given in Washington D.C., Michigan, and Florida. Don is working with several other states and cities to deliver the content there."
The program allows FPA members to demonstrate their competence in the area of retirement planning. Also, it allows FPA to partner with other trusted organizations to expand the reach and enhance the reputation of financial planners in the community, leading to stronger relationships with the library, local public TV, and securities regulators. Blandin was the individual promoting the collaboration and the involvement of FPA in the process, Comer said.
"Acting with vision is a great way to describe Don Blandin," Comer said. "He saw an opportunity for the public libraries to act as a gateway into the world of finance with the expertise of financial planners and the guidance of the local securities regulators. He created that vision and then he made it a reality."
FPA talked to Blandin about his work and the Heart of Financial Planning Award.
FPA: What is the Investor Protection Trust's mission? Tell us about some of your programs.
Blandin: The Investor Protection Trust (IPT) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to investor education. We work with state securities regulators and other strategic partners at the state and national level to provide the independent, objective investor education needed by all Americans to make information investment decisions.
The IPT has undertaken numerous investor education and protection programs in addition to the "How Can I Afford Retirement?" program, in which the IPT collaborated with the FPA. Our recent programs include the Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation (EIFFE) Prevention Program and the Investor Education in Your WorkplaceTM (IEiYW) program. The EIFFE Prevention Program is training medical professionals through continuing medical education courses to recognize vulnerability to and victimization by investment fraud and exploitation in their elderly patients and to report or refer those cases appropriately. The IEiYW program provides quality online investor education courses to employees of credit unions and other select employer groups.
FPA: Tell us about the "How Can I Afford Retirement?" program. How did you decide that public libraries were a gateway to the public?
Blandin: The "How Can I Afford Retirement?" program is a seminar series designed for individuals aged 50-70 who are considering retirement or already retired. The series consists of four seminars focusing on issues such as retirement savings adequacy, investing for financial security, and investor protection. The non-commercial presentations are given by FPA members as part of the FPA Pro Bono program. The program also includes a presentation by a representative of the library on library resources and facilitated small-group discussions. Through the program, participating libraries also enhanced their investor education and protection collections. The program began in Boston at the Boston Public Library and has been replicated in Minnesota, Arkansas, Michigan, and the District of Columbia.
The Investor Protection Trust is dedicated to unbiased, non-commercial and objective investor education. Public libraries are long-standing, community-based institutions that provide opportunities for life-long learning. Their position of trust in the community and their reputation for quality makes public libraries a natural partner for the "How Can I Afford Retirement?" program. In addition to providing a safe and trusted environment for learning, public libraries offer many resources in their collections for program participants who want to continue learning about wise and safe investing and for those individuals who were unable to participate in the seminar series.
FPA: What is the program's message?
Blandin: The program emphasizes the need for investors to learn the process of investing. The process of investing is comprehensive and includes understanding the basics of investing, quantifying your current and future financial needs, learning how to work with a planner, doing your due diligence, and protecting your money. The secondary message is that it is never too late to begin preparing for a secure financial future. One of the seminars focuses on providing income and expense strategies to help baby boomers close their retirement income gap.
FPA: What kind of response has the "How Can I Afford Retirement?" program received?
Blandin: There were more than 1,700 attendees over the 20-month duration of the program at the Boston Public Library. Of the 699 attendees who completed evaluations of the program, 99 percent said that they would recommend this program to others. When we asked if they were considering changing their behavior as a result of their participation in the program, more than 90 percent reported that they were considering a behavior change in areas such as: matching their retirement lifestyle to their retirement income, adjusting their asset allocation, estimating their financial needs in retirement, and assessing their current retirement savings.
FPA: Why is it important to nominate others for the Heart of Financial Planning Award?
Blandin: There are many people who help others prepare for a secure financial future. Recognizing their extraordinary efforts and providing role models for others will help keep the "professional" in the profession.
FPA: What does the award mean to you?
Blandin: I am honored to have received this award. I share it with the many talented people with whom I have worked over the past 16 years to forward the mission of investor education and protection. As the population grows older and as con artists become ever more sophisticated, it is imperative that we work together to educate Americans on how to make wise and safe investment decisions and how to recognize and avoid investment fraud.
Keith Loveland, J.D., AIFA, CIDA, president of Loveland Consulting
A lifetime of service, and a nickname of "Mr. Ethics is what brought Keith Loveland, JD, AIFA, CIDA to the attention of the Heart of Financial Planning Award task force.
"Keith Loveland is Mr. Ethics because of his selfless devotion to the financial planning profession," said Jennifer Ragborg, CFP®, on behalf of the Minnesota FPA Government Relations Committee, the Minnesota Chapter Board, and FPA of Minnesota membership-at-large in a nominating letter. "His tireless and genuine passion in protecting the public is why he shares his time and talent freely with his brothers and sisters at FPA."
With 27 years as an FPA member-and now as a national board member-Loveland developed and taught ethics courses for the Minnesota chapter's annual symposium and monthly meetings, he's chaired and/or been a member of the chapter's Government Relations and Ethics Committee since 1992, and he enthusiastically mentors new and experienced FPA members, said Ragborg.
"[Loveland] is unfailingly generous with his time in answering questions from all of us who have come to rely on his wisdom and experience," she said, noting he exemplifies the FPA's Core Values of competence, integrity, relationships, and stewardship.
"Loveland recognizes our responsibility to act with vision, ever mindful of the effects of our actions on the future," Ragborg said. "For Keith, support of the universal fiduciary standard is an integral part of our stewardship to the financial planning profession. He supports it because 'it is good policy and the right thing to do.'"
Loveland wrote in his white paper, Beginning with the 7 Principles and Moving Toward an Effective Fiduciary Habit: "A strong desire to act like a fiduciary, the wanting to do it attitude, appears to me to be best reflected in those professionals who want to race to the top of their profession. These individuals do not whine and cry and moan and groan about how hard it is-they seem to be able to organize themselves and their practices around the actuality of being a fiduciary in each and every way, during each and every day."
We asked Loveland about his work and the Heart of Financial Planning Award.
FPA: How did your interest in a fiduciary standard begin? Was there one story or situation that spurred your passion for the topic?
Loveland: I became aware of the word fiduciary in a Constitutional law class taught by Emmett 'Doc' Davidson at the University of Minnesota Duluth when I was an undergraduate. Doc Davidson had the class read and discuss Benjamin Cardozo's majority opinion. You will remember Cardozo wrote: "A trustee is held to something stricter than the morals of the market place. Not honesty alone, but the punctilio of an honor the most sensitive, is then the standard of behavior ... the level of conduct for fiduciaries [has] been kept at a level higher than that trodden by the crowd."
I've been fascinated with making fiduciary real every since. During the time I served as a shareholder and Chairman of an SEC RIA, one of my missions was to operationalize fiduciary so that clients could feel our standard of conduct. The train of circumstance continued in November 2001 when I attended The Center for Fiduciary Studies AIFA® Certification Course at the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh. Donald B. Trone and J. Richard Lynch presented an elegant formulation of global fiduciary practices. I found a home and have continued to live and breathe fiduciary ever since.
FPA: Tell us about your work on the Government Relations and Ethics Committee?
Loveland: Serving on the FPA Government Relations and Ethics Committee has been pleasurable due to the dedication of FPA staff and committee members and due to the complexity of the cases we handle. It sometimes seems like we need the wisdom of Solomon in order to decide what the right thing to do is when handling disciplinary cases.
FPA: Have you ever nominated anyone for the Heart of Financial Planning Award?
Loveland: I have not yet nominated anyone for a Heart of Financial Planning Award; however, since receiving my award I realize how many persons are deserving of the recognition. I intend to nominate an individual this year who I believe has demonstrated an exceptional level of service to our profession.
FPA: What does the award mean to you?
Loveland: The award is a daily reminder that I am here to serve. I am motivated to uphold the high standards required of those who are award recipients.
FPA: Anything else you'd like to add?
Loveland: Thanks to all who travel the fiduciary road.
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