It’s a resounding yes from Tim Meggitt, Senior Partner at PSK Financial Services. Like many financial advisers, part of the reason he got into the profession was to provide a valuable service to people when they need it. Working pro bono with individuals and families suffering financial hardship is simply an extension of that ethos – pro bono publico, for the common good.
It takes a village
It’s often said it takes a village to raise a child. It could also be said that it takes a network of trusted professionals to guide someone through the shock and worry of a health crisis. Among the many things they need to know is what it will mean for their financial future, and the answer starts with a financial adviser.
Financial advisers are more aware than most that all it takes is a natural disaster or a life-threatening illness to sink a family’s fortunes. It’s not just the immediate medical costs, the loss of income and expensive ongoing care can add to the financial burden at a time when many people aren’t prepared. An Access Economics report estimated the average lifetime cost of a cancer diagnosis is around $50,0001.
Meggitt says pro bono clients typically need pointing in the right direction at an extremely stressful time in their life, rather than ongoing advice.
Meggitt is part of the Pro Bono Financial Advice Network (PFAN) supported by the Association of Financial Advisers. PFAN launched a partnership with MS Australia in Queensland a year ago with plans to extend the service along the east coast. The Financial Planning Association of Australia has also launched a Pro Bono Service in partnership with the Cancer Council.
By partnering with an organisation like MS Australia, PFAN can support advisers with things like education about the disease as well as peer-to-peer technical support and training.
With MS you are often dealing with parents and sufferers who will live with the condition for a long time. At some point they may need to move into accommodation. A financial adviser can help navigate that process, showing the family how the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) works, and how to access Centrelink benefits and superannuation.
Navigating the financial maze
Families may also need help with a maze of unfamiliar financial jargon. “Mum and Dad may be successful, but they still need guidance”, says Meggitt.
PSK is one of many firms already offering pro bono services and Meggitt believes more are keen to do the same, but would like some assistance. He sees the role of PFAN as developing compliant and process driven mechanisms for advisers.
“Many professions, from accountants to lawyers and doctors offer pro bono services – it’s seen as part of being a professional body. Our industry wants to be recognised as a profession and this is part of raising awareness in the community of the good we can do”, says Meggitt. A win-win for advisers and clients.
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1 Cost of Cancer in NSW, Access Economics 2007, https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/costofcancer_summary.pdf
Important: This article has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial or taxation situation or needs of any particular individual. Before acting on the information, you should consider its appropriateness to your circumstances and if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice. Any information used in this article is for illustrative purposes only. PSK Financial Services is an external entity that is not a member of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia Group of Companies (the Group) and the content or any view expressed by PSK Financial Services and its employees does not represent an endorsement, recommendation, guarantee or advice in regard to any matter. CBA, nor members of the Group accept any liability for losses or damage arising from any reliance on external parties their products, services and material.