Ingrid Strauss is encouraging more women to become financial planners as the newly named 2020 board president of the Financial Planning Association of Minnesota.

With more than 900 members, Minnesota’s chapter of the nonprofit Financial Planning Association (FPA) already is among the country’s largest and most active, according to Strauss, a certified financial planner and partner at Cordis Financial in Minneapolis. The chapter offers professional development, networking and volunteer events for industry professionals, educators and students.

While the chapter anecdotally appears to be more balanced — it doesn’t collect gender data of members — women represent just 23% of certified financial planners nationally, Strauss said. So her priorities as chapter president include promoting the profession to women.

“We’re doing well in our organization, but how do we keep the momentum going?” Strauss said, noting that four of the chapter’s past five presidents have been women and that women this year chair five of its 12 committees.

While the chapter has strong representation in the Twin Cities, Strauss said, she also wants to recruit professionals and students in Duluth, Rochester and Mankato and surrounding areas.

Chapter events include Twin Cities Financial Planning Day with free financial workshops and individual meetings with financial planners, Strauss said. The chapter’s NexGen committee offers development and networking for students and early career professionals and this year will stage a volunteer community event.

FPA chapter membership is open to those who aren’t certified financial planners, Strauss said.

Strauss, who has a political-science degree from the University of Iowa, entered the profession in 2006 and joined Cordis Financial in 2011. Under Strauss and business partner and certified financial planner Jeanna Fifer, Cordis in 2018 began operating as a fee-only independent registered investment advisory firm.

Q: How much room does the profession have to grow?

A: There is so much room. Part of what’s nice about our community of financial planners is it doesn’t feel like a competition. We are open with our colleagues and have lots of study groups and share best practices. There are so many people who need our help and there aren’t enough financial planners to provide that service.

Q: What’s a common mistake people make in financial planning?

A: People think, “I don’t need a financial planner; I can do this by myself.” Or, “I don’t have enough to hire a financial planner.” Money is such a complicated thing but it’s something that every person has to deal with at some level. There are questions people have about creating a budget or understanding their paychecks. We believe that whatever we can do to increase financial literacy for all members of the community is going to help everyone’s life improve. It’s an area of your life that you can manage and master and feel confident in.

Q: Why did your firm switch to a fee-only model?

A: For us it helps eliminate as many of those conflicts of interest as we can. The way I describe it to clients or prospective clients is the only compensation we receive is from our clients. That is the right business model for the work that we do and it helps make things really transparent. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the [commission] model; there’s a place for it in the marketplace. For our business this is the best fit.

 

Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His e-mail is todd_nelson@mac.com.