FPA of MN Newsletter – January 2015

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President's Message - January 2015

Happy New Year and welcome to 2015! As the President of FPA of Minnesota for 2015, I wanted to take a few moments to give some well-deserved thanks to some key people who helped make 2014 a great success as well as make mention of some things on which we will be focusing as a Chapter for 2015.

For starters, a huge thank you to Julieann Schroeder, our 2014 FPA of Minnesota President who provided remarkable leadership over the past year in continuing to move forward the vision of FPA of Minnesota. Also, a big thanks to Jason Plank, outgoing Chairperson, for his five years of exemplary service on the Board, including three years on the Executive Committee. Additionally, thank you to all of the 2014 Board of Directors for their leadership and for helping to continuing to add to the vibrancy of our Chapter. And last, but certainly not least, a big shout out to Bonnie Stanley, our wonderful Executive Director, for 20 years of service to FPA of Minnesota!

As I look forward to the year ahead, I have a great deal of excitement in terms of what is in store. I’ve been very energized as I’ve heard of the ideas from the 2015 Board and their committees to make their programs and initiatives better than ever, from our monthly Chapter meetings and Symposium, to our Nexgen events, to our programs to work to engage new members of FPA Minnesota, etc.

Specifically in terms of the initiatives that I have laid out for the year ahead that are intended to relate to each of our programs and offerings:

  1.  “Ask – Listen – Respond” – A key to success for FPA of Minnesota is understanding our membership. A key theme, then, is being very intentional about each component of “Ask – Listen - Respond” for our members and for prospective members. First, what is of most value to you that FPA of MN provides. Additionally, what are the greatest challenges in your practices (“Ask.”) Second, it is very important to be mindful that we listen clearly to hear your responses (“Listen.”) Lastly, how are we then taking that information, synthesizing, and providing solutions to the challenges that you are facing (“Respond”)? To this end, please know that to the extent you are willing to take the time to provide your feedback in the coming year, whether through surveys or speaking with me or other Board members directly, it is very much appreciated and we take it very seriously.
  2. Empower FPA members to serve people of all income levels – As a key component of the FPA of Minnesota 5-year vision, this initiative stresses the fact that it is important that collectively among our committees, we should be intentional as a Chapter about the fact that we are empowering our members to serve the high net worth, people with low income, those in their “golden years”, Gen X and Gen Y, and everything in between. This doesn’t mean that each committee should try to be things to all people but rather that we should be intentional among committees in terms of determining which “segment” we best serve, focus on how well we are doing that and how we can continue to deepen that, and then assess to make sure that each “segment” is being covered and covered effectively to best empower you as our members to serve your target markets for your paid “gig” as well those populations you are passionate about serving on a Pro Bono basis.
  3. Leadership Pipeline – The lifeblood of FPA of Minnesota is our volunteers and our volunteer leaders. Having a leadership pipeline, then, to continue to grow and develop our leaders is essential. This leadership pipeline needs to begin at the committee member level, doing all that we can to connect with interested potential committee members and align what they are passionate about with opportunities for leadership.

 Once people have joined a committee, it is important that we engage their passion in tangible ways in leading initiatives, etc. To those who have an interest in leading committees, it is important that we equip them with the tools and support to continue to grow their leadership skills in tangible ways. As a part of this effort, in 2015 we plan to institute a Leadership Development Committee that makes this a focus. .

To the extent you have an interest in serving in a leadership role within FPA of Minnesota, please let me know – I would love to connect with you about it and hear about particular areas for which you are passionate.

Feel free to let me or any of our Board members know of any questions, comments, or concerns that you have. I humbly look forward to serving you and look forward to all that the year has in store!


Steve Gilbertson, CFP®
Accredited Investors, Inc.

Happy New Year from the New Member Committee

We are excited about the New Year and we hope you are too!

2014 was a great year for Membership and we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for helping us not only reach our goals, but exceed them! We could not have done it without so many in our Chapter helping out. Thanks to all the Chapter Guides, thanks to those who faithfully attended our New Members Socials and thanks to all of you who encouraged new membership in our chapter. We are grateful for your help!

As we look to 2015, we gladly take on the responsibility of recruitment and retention of new members in the first year of membership, and we continually strive to find creative and innovative ways to fulfill our mission.

Best to you in 2015,

Kathie Bortnem - Director
Brad Barinsky
Michelle Campbell
Craig Dahl
Brad Frane
Patti Mazzara
John O’Keefe
Patrick Redman
John Walsh

Alert from the Programs Committee

Variable Program Dates:
The old saying “like death and taxes…” the FPA of MN has brought you great speakers on the third Tuesday of each month. In 2015 and we decided to mix things up! Well, scheduling and quality programming dictated deviating from the Tuesday meetings on occasion, so stay tuned for updates and notifications from the team and mark your calendar accordingly. January starts our programing adjustment with a meeting on Friday, 16th. This is the last opportunity to hear outgoing Fed chair Dr. Kocherlakota. In the second hour, Dr. Stephanie Kelton will respond to the Fed’s policies and bring us her take on the economy. See you in January!

December’s Two-Part FPA Chapter Meeting Recap: “The Connection Between Our Investment Beliefs and Assumptions and The Standard of Care” and “Analyzing Asset Management Firms”

Tom Brakke challenged the audience to be very clear about their investment beliefs, since it is those beliefs which is the foundation for the investment advice which will actually be provided. Specifically, Mr. Brakke urged the audience to go deeply into such investment beliefs as efficient market theory, various meanings of risk, momentum, mean reversion, relative and absolute performance, so that each one of us can explain to prospects and clients how our core beliefs are embedded into the advice we give.

Mr. Brakke has been on the institutional side of the investment business for most of his 31-year professional career. His perspective was very different from those in the audience who serve primarily individuals. His perspective is rooted in personal experience and access to information on how asset management firms are actually functioning. On the client-facing side of the business, we rely heavily on the marketing representatives (wholesalers) of the asset management firms. A financial planner’s “independent” research is often limited to a third party provider (i.e. Morningstar) and that provider’s proprietary rating system. Mr. Brakke, with his comprehensive description of the organizational structure, culture, philosophy and numerous other important elements of asset management firms, introduced the audience to a much higher level of due diligence in evaluating asset management firms.

Tom Brakke, CFA is a consultant, writer, and investment advisor. He works with organizations on investment process, research, due diligence, organizational design, competitive advantage and the communication of investment ideas. He is the author of the e-book Letters to a Young Analyst, publishes a newsletter The Prudent Fiduciary and blogs (www.theresearchpuzzle.com).

Professional Issues Committee - A New Year’s Resolution

As we face the start of a new year, I find myself contemplating resolutions for 2015. Sure, I could stand to lose a few pounds. What I find myself looking to improve beyond my physique, is my understanding of the assumptions that I take for granted in my practice of financial planning. It was December’s chapter meeting that sparked my initiative to take a closer look at the fundamental assumptions in my practice. The speaker for the December chapter meeting, Tom Brakke, reminded the attendees of the FPA Standard of Care and that “Acting with due care and in utmost good faith” meant among other things, really understanding the calculations behind the software reports and the decision process of one’s asset managers.

Sure, much of this research will be a rehash of the work done in the initial evaluation. For better or worse though, we live in constantly changing times and the assumptions that we made one or five years ago need to be constantly evaluated for continuing validity. In other words, take a look with a fresh eye.   What we lean on daily to serve our clients has probably evolved since we learned it in the first place. Software is constantly being updated. Correlations constantly shift. Market forces make investments less effective.

As I spoke with a couple of very competent and experienced advisors after Mr. Brakke’s presentation, they agreed that while there was much they should review, they doubted it would help them control the uncertainty that our clients face. They are correct that there is only so much we can do about interest rates, the markets and client behavior. They joked that the only tools for coping with the specter of an investment blowing up in a market downturn were “prayer and alcohol”. I don’t expect this process to result in better portfolio returns or more concise reports, but I do expect it to better equip me to discuss these things with clients. To better educate them on what we can control and what we cannot. We all owe it to our clients to walk into every meeting being able to fully explain how a number was calculated or why an investment still makes sense in a particular portfolio.

This resolution probably does not sound anymore glamourous than doing pushups. Anyone who has physically trained with a goal will tell you though that the pushups are not so much about seeking perfection as they are about building confidence in your abilities. Building and maintaining confidence as a professional is no different.

Advocacy Day 2015
A reminder to save the date of Tuesday morning, February 24th for the second annual FPA MN Advocacy Day at the capital. We are looking to meet with officials from the Department of Commerce in particular to learn more about how they go about regulating securities and financial professionals.

Book Club
An invitation to join us on January 6th at 4:30 for the FPA MN Book Club at 7500 Highway 55. We will be discussing the book The Rational Animal by Kendrick and Griskevicius which is a deeper exploration of the human instinctive forces that underlie many of the biases associated with behavioral finance.

Reason to Belong to FPA

CFP Professionals should belong to FPA to support its advocacy for our vocation. In 2014 FPA has presented comments to the House Ways and Means Committee on Fiduciary Standard Care, User Fee Legislation and the DOL Proposed Rules on the Fiduciary Standard. Professional organizations can have a greater impact on Congress than individual constituents.

Sponsor a Student at Career Day

FPA of Minnesota wishes to make the 9th Annual Career Day accessible to college students and career changers. To keep costs limited for attendees, your contribution of $50 can help keep registration affordable. If you wish to give back to the profession and help those entering the profession, please consider sponsoring a student. Visit the FPA MN Store to sign up.