The Financial Planning Association (FPA) recently honored Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society volunteer Liz Plot with its annual Diversity Scholarship. At its 2018 conference in Chicago, FPA awarded the scholarships, “in recognition of professionals who are working to encourage diversity in the financial planning profession and the population served.”

“I’m proud to be making strides to make financial planning more accessible to more people,” Liz said. “I’ve noticed that people want a financial planner who knows where they came from; someone who can understand their values and their culture and how that might impact how they approach financial planning. I hope to be part of the future where people of all backgrounds are comfortable approaching a financial planner.”

Liz built her career through volunteer service with the Society. “I always want to know more about things, and because of NMCRS, I learned about opportunities to expand my skills,” she said. Liz has earned the credentials of Accredited Financial Counselor, Chartered Financial Consultant, and Certified Financial Planner by taking classes in investments, taxes, retirement, insurance, and more, passing a six-hour exam, and logging hours as a volunteer caseworker with the Society. “It’s taken me a while to get these credentials because my husband was deployed, and we keep moving,” Liz said. “As military spouses know, we don’t follow a traditional path.”

When she began volunteering with the Society’s Whidbey Island office in January 2008, Liz expected she would simply be answering the phone and checking in clients who walked in. Elton Gifford, the Director of the office, encouraged her to train as a Caseworker, which she did. “I was really surprised how much it felt like a job and not like volunteering, in the best possible way,” she said. “We received training, there was wonderful camaraderie, and we had high expectations. Volunteers were valued members of the team. I liked that.”

“Then we moved to Cherry Point, North Carolina,” Liz recalled. “It’s a much smaller office, so when I volunteered there, I did whatever needed to be done, including serving as Chair of Volunteers, Communications Lead, and teaching the Budget for Baby Workshop. I’ve enjoyed every position. All of them have unique challenges and learning opportunities.”

When her family PCS’d back to Whidbey Island, Liz returned to the NMCRS office as a caseworker. Now they live in Monterey, California, nowhere near an NMCRS office, so Liz volunteers remotely.

“I’m helping the Society’s Training Division create sample scenarios for their online casework training,” she said. She also works full-time as a remote employee for Ballast Point Financial Planning. Liz hopes to return to volunteering as a Society caseworker when her family PCS’s again next summer, hopefully near a Society office.

Liz appreciates the depth and breadth of knowledge that her volunteer service and credentialing process have given her. “Being a Certified Financial Planner helps me see the whole picture and connects me to a network of financial planners and counselors with more resources for my clients. If I can’t help a client, I know who can. I have a network to help my clients be successful.”

By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso

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