By Natalie Kleibert, Deputy Chair, Pro Bono Financial Advice Network
Pro bono financial advice sounds like a good thing to get involved in. Using the same skills you use in your everyday job as a financial adviser to help people in need, but not expect anything in return, is indeed a great way to contribute to the greater good. But what if there are other powerful benefits to generously providing your time and expertise through pro bono work, such as improved mental health, a renewed passion for your career, and that giving your time can give you time?
Recent studies have shown the positive consequences of generosity for givers. Generosity has especially strong associations with psychological health and wellbeing; such as greater quality of life, greater vitality, and self esteem. Volunteering one’s time and expertise may also change how people view the world, making them value cooperation, interdependence, and their own good fortune. Doing good for others who need help provides a natural sense of accomplishment and a sense of pride. The better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of life and your future goals.
Financial advice is a career that is dedicated to helping people. The numbers and spreadsheets are usually the easy part. The gratification is that you are building relationships, helping human to human. For the most part, your business proposition is likely focused on a certain cohort or demographic within the community, in which you have experience or specialty; which is great for business and building a strong reputation. Working within different communities, such as the MS community that PFAN supports, exposes you to new perspectives, issues, and challenges that may be remote from your experience. This is a great way to build awareness around the diversity of human experience and need. It can also stretch your thinking to more creatively hone your expertise across areas such as communication and the process of advice delivery. Putting a fresh viewpoint on how your skills can benefit others can help bring additional meaning and purpose to your life, and reignite your passion for financial advice.
Common questions around getting involved in pro bono work centre around how much time does it really involve? After all, just finding a happy balance between ‘normal’ work and life is a challenge for many. While the actual time that people have in a day cannot be increased (everyone gets 24 hours!), interesting research has found that people’s subjective sense of time affluence can be increased when spending time on others. This research compared spending time on other people with wasting time, spending time on oneself, and even gaining a ‘windfall’ of free time. It found that spending time on others makes people feel highly effective and capable. That same duration of time is perceived as longer when more has been accomplished, when it is ‘fuller’. So, spending time helping others, may make you feel like you have done a lot with your time – and the more you feel you have done with your time, the more time you feel you have.
We think it’s time you consider pro bono advice. And the time you need to devote to helping need not be onerous. Just taking on one case a year will make a life-changing difference to a person in need, and many advisers taking on one case a year helps a whole community.
For example, Australia’s multiple sclerosis (MS) community is in need. Every week, 10 people are diagnosed with MS, three in four are women and the average age is between 20 and 40 years old. Some of these individuals are not able to afford or access the valuable benefits that financial advice delivers. That’s why Pro Bono Financial Advice Network is dedicated to helping connect these individuals with the dedicated and generous advisers in our network who give their time to help.
Join us and our mission to improve the financial wellbeing of Australians living with MS through providing pro bono financial advice. The more advisers we have as part of PFAN, the more communities we will be able to serve.
Mogilner,C.,Chance, Z., & Norton, M. (2012), Giving time gives you time, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; Yale School of Management, Yale University.
Allen, S. (2018), The Science of Generosity, Berkeley University The Greater Good Science Centre
Deputy Chair, Pro Bono Financial Advice Network