16 Jul 2018
Pro Bono Financial Advice: the profession's commitment to the greater good of society.
- By Timothy Meggitt
“Pro Bono” comes from the Latin phrase ‘pro bono public’ which means ‘for the public good’ and, as you are no doubt aware, relates to professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment. As the definition implies, it is a program which uses the specific skills of professionals to provide services to those who are unable to afford them. It also a hallmark of the Financial Services industry. One that has a mandate to give back to the community and is at the core of its code of ethics.
Back in 2013, the Pro Bono Advice Board and Network was created as an initiative to provide a service to clients in need whilst remaining sensitive to their concerns. I was invited to become a board member when I was then Head of Investment Strategy at Zurich Australia.
An important impetus for the formation of this board was the desire to establish a formal pro bono program which would promote the financial services professional’s commitment to a culture of service to vulnerable members of the public. The compliance details and operational set up of this were complex, but were forged with strong principles and values of empathy and commitment to ensuring that financial services remains a leader in its field for financial advice whilst exercising our sense of civic responsibility.
The formation of the Pro Bono Advice Board has been successful. The board is now partnered with MS Australia which has begun piloting this program with MS Queensland and, in two weeks’ time, we will be presenting and promoting this work at MS’s National Conference. The Pro Bono Board now has 23 registered financial advisors who are actively exercising their professional responsibility and pro bono work is becoming interwoven into the profession and is implicit in promoting public service.
My appointment to this board has resulted in a satisfying and rewarding journey of understanding. The experience has profoundly affected my own choices about what kind of work I wish to do in the future. I have developed friendships and connections and a deeper sense of civic responsibility and empathy. I have personally visited the Wayside Chapel many times and met with the most amazing people and helped across a range of financial matters, John the CEO and pastor is an incredible person.
They have reached out after learning about our network and I am assisting with Centrelink and complicated disability trust matters.
Our network would be delighted to support any and all organisations and individuals that need our help which relate to a multitude of issues such as inadequate government supported financial services, constraints on funded aid and the response to changes in market conditions.
The very act of creating access to the provision of financial services otherwise denied to those in need is a responsibility we take seriously.
We are doing well by doing better.
Please see attached industry article here.
As always, if you have any questions, please get in touch with me.
Tim Meggitt - Senior Partner