When Noel Maye founded the Financial Planning Standards Board, the organization in charge of CFP certification outside of the U.S., in 2004, more than a few people weren’t sure it was the best idea. “I believed it was, however,” says Maye, who had grown the FPSB to more than 203,000 CFP professionals by the end of 2021. Before Maye steps away from the global standards and certification organization that he started nearly 20 years ago, he reflects on the industry and the lessons he’s learned, edited for clarity and length.
How has financial planning changed from the time you entered the business to now?
I remember that when I talked about financial planning back in the mid ’90s, people would say, ‘What are you talking about? What is that?’ We’ve been able to normalize the idea that consumers have the right to financial advice that’s in their interest, and that they have the right to get it from people who are not only qualified and competent, but who can give them the whole integrated, holistic picture.
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How did the pandemic change the financial planning industry?
COVID, which was almost a world reset, has created opportunity. It has created a space for people to think about financial planning and to realize the value of having a professional advisor on your side. The idea has gone from, ‘I’ve got to drive downtown and park my car to go meet my financial planner’ to, ‘Nope, I can talk to my financial planner on my mobile phone, maybe even while I’m taking a hike.’
What advice would you give the Noel Maye of 20 years ago?
I would tell myself, ‘You found the perfect job for you. You’re not alone, so go for what you want.’ I would also tell myself to build a great team. There is so much involved in doing this at the global level, so it’s about keeping a great team connected, motivated, and passionate.
For me, it’s never been about retiring by the pool or on a golf course. It’s been more about having the freedom to make the choices I want to make, when I want to make them. I’ve always felt that I need to follow my heart in terms of work and the life I want to live.
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Caitlin Keating (@Caitkeating) is a freelancer at RIA Intel and based in New York City.