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The Butterfly Effect?

Inside NAPA

I don’t know if you have noticed the shift, but everywhere I turn, I see it. I feel that nearly every article I read or discussion I have with a client is about helping employees find purpose and feel less stress. It’s refreshing that employers are more concerned about their employees’ well-being than ever before. And I like to think that our industry had a lot to do with it. 

Have you ever heard about the “butterfly effect”? It’s the idea that small changes or causes can have a big impact on something else. There are lots of examples that support the butterfly effect, but I can’t help but think that our industry was the butterfly that started a movement. Our shift in helping employees was a slight change that led to significant, different outcomes. 

Nearly a decade ago, our industry’s top advisors started to be vocal about helping participants not only with saving in their retirement plan, but also with financial stress. Articles were written, speeches were made and LinkedIn posts were shared about helping employees feel more confident about their financial situation. 

Fast forward to today and financial wellness is top-of-mind for most employers. It continues to be listed as one of the top three initiatives that employers consider when they evaluate their benefit programs. Not only are we hearing employers wanting more around financial wellness, they are wanting to talk about all their benefits in a more holistic manner. 

Take health savings accounts, for example. I look at HSAs as the bridge that connects the health and wealth discussions. I am confident that our industry led the charge with talking to our clients about HSAs, as well as student loan programs and other benefits that nobody was really talking about until recently. This is an exciting time for advisors who are willing to take a step back and look at how all the benefits are related. 

NAPA has provided so much content and opportunities to learn more about ways to add value to our clients. I think about September’s Nonqualified Plan Advisor Conference, which helped the hundreds of advisors in attendance learn about more ways to help their clients. 

We are not just retirement plan advisors anymore. We are in a great position to be consultative to our clients – and they are now more open than ever to having these conversations!

Read more commentary from Jania Stout here.

It was a busy summer, and it was great seeing so many NAPA members at two of my favorite events. We had the NAPA D.C. Fly-In Forum and a few weeks prior, the Women in Retirement Conference in Chicago. 

The NAPA Fly-In just keeps getting better every year. I see repeat attendees really starting to embrace our lobbying efforts, and I have seen the delivery of our messages on Capitol Hill get stronger and stronger. I have enjoyed getting to know my Maryland peers as we walk over to meet with our senators. We all join arms together and during those moments we are no longer competitors but peers working on the same mission. Also, one of the highlights for me was seeing the junior advisors who were sponsored to attend. If you have a junior advisor on your team, bring them! They will get so much out of it.

Last but definitely not least is the Women in Retirement Conference (WiRC). This year nearly 200 attendees gathered in Chicago. (The 2020 WiRC is in New Orleans, Jan. 15-17.) 

Trust me, WiRC is an event that every woman should put on her list of “go to” conferences for the year. The conference committee recruited speakers who helped us be better at our jobs – and be better people. WiRC is a gathering of like-minded women getting together to help each other grow.

At this year's WiRC, we kicked off our new women’s mentorship program, called Thrive. I am happy to report we have already linked up mentors and mentees, and hope to continue to see more apply. (Go to the THRIVE page on NAPA Net to apply.) 

As we head into the end of the year, this is a perfect time to set goals for 2020. If you want to get more involved with NAPA, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We have a lot of programs and ways to get involved. In my first President’s message, I mentioned my goal of trying to spur involvement from a broader base of advisors. I hope you raise your hand and reach out. It could have a big impact on your career! I know it has for me. 

Jania Stout is the co-founder and managing director of Fiduciary Plan Advisors at HighTower in Owings Mills, MD. She serves as NAPA’s 2019-2020 President. This column was originally published in the Fall issue of NAPA Net the Magazine.