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Symposium Spotlight: Q&A with John Faustino, the Head of Retirement Products at Broadridge

At this year’s Symposium, we featured dynamic five-minute spotlight presentations delivered by Diversitas Sponsors, who passionately shared the driving force behind their businesses and advocated for choosing a career in financial services. Among these distinguished speakers was John Faustino, the esteemed Head of Retirement Products at Broadridge.

Earlier this month, we hosted our highly anticipated 2024 Symposium, featuring esteemed speakers from across the nation who shared their expertise in the realm of wealth management. From insights on networking to exploring unconventional career paths in wealth management, our lineup of speakers offered a wealth of knowledge worth delving into. Click here to access the recorded sessions and be sure to connect with these industry experts on LinkedIn for further engagement.

How did you get into the wealth management industry? What first attracted you to the space, and why have you stayed?

My first introduction to wealth management was interning for two female financial advisors before my sophomore year of college. They were the only two female advisors in an office of about 40 and were great mentors to me. I’ve always loved the idea of helping people achieve their financial goals. Another passion I’ve had is finding ways to use technology to solve problems. When I graduated college, I took a job at a technology consulting firm… but my summer working with financial advisors was always in the back of my mind. A few years after I graduated, I was able to find roles where I combined both of those passions: finance and technology. I’m a mission-driven person. Even though I’m directly working with individual investors, the connection I feel to helping others save, invest, and retire means a lot to me. That’s what keeps me in the industry. The fact that two women played a huge role in introducing me to financial planning and mentoring me, a poor kid from the south side of Chicago at the time, is part of what drives me to help under-represented groups join and advance in the industry.

What characteristics or traits do you commonly see among successful professionals in financial planning?

People often associate financial planners with good math and analytic skills. It’s true that those are important. However, some other skills are equally, if not more, important from my perspective. Just like doctors help people manage their physical health, financial planners help people with their financial health. A critical aspect of helping others is listening. Strong communication skills are the single most common trait I’ve seen among successful financial planners. They not only listen, but they do so with a sense of empathy. Giving honest feedback a client doesn’t want to hear can be tough. The best advisors do that directly and thoughtfully, guiding clients where they should and providing good explanations of why. Not every investor and financial planner relationship works out, and that’s ok. Some of the most successful financial planners ‘fire clients’ from time to time (even though it may not be in the planners’ best interest financially) to ensure they’re putting those individuals in the best position to reach their goals.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about financial planning?

One of the biggest misconceptions about financial planning is that it’s an elitist field that supports only the wealthiest individuals. There’s been great progress with technology and market forces driving broader access to fiduciary wealth management services. We need more young professionals to join our ranks and further access to quality financial services.

Another misconception is that the financial planning industry is only for old white men. Women and people of color prefer individuals who look like them to manage their money. There are free services that help investors find advisors of various gender, racial, and sexual orientation backgrounds. We need more financial planners of all backgrounds (including white men), but we especially need more diversity in our ranks.

Within financial planning, the role of fiduciaries is often mischaracterized. While fiduciaries are required to act in their client’s best interests, that doesn’t mean the advisors can’t make money delivering those services. Fiduciary advisors actually often make more money than non-fiduciary advisors. Being a fiduciary is all about delivering great value for a fair price. It’s critical that financial planning is profitable to end investors and also to the advisors that serve them.

What impact do you hope organizations like Diversitas will have on the wealth management industry in the coming years?

We need more fiduciary-minded professionals in financial services of all demographics. The need for more women and people of color is especially strong. Less than 5% of CFPs are Black or Latino, but those groups make up around a third of the US population. Women make up less than 25% of CFPs.

What are some of the “hidden” or “little-known” career tracks in wealth management, and why have they been under wraps for so long?

I’ve spent several decades in financial services without directly serving end investors. There are great careers to be made supporting wealth advisors and their home offices. My focus has been on developing technology and training solutions to help advisors improve the quality of their research and client service, as well as helping them scale. I’ve also recently started a consortium with leading asset managers and insurers focused on furthering the consideration of retirement income. The wealth management industry needs more financial planners, but it also needs more fiduciary-minded professionals to support those planners with technology, marketing, training, and other business-critical functions. Helping those who help working Americans manage their finances is a noble cause with many potential entry points. Based on the increasing demand we’re seeing for financial planners, I expect those with skills to help scale services (helping more investors with the same staff) will see increasing career opportunities in the coming years.

To check out what you missed from this year’s Symposium, click here to watch the sessions, and don’t forget to connect with John on LinkedIn.

John is the Head of Retirement Products at Broadridge. In this role, John leads a team charged with helping financial intermediaries profitably implement solutions that drive their clients’ retirement goal achievement.

Prior to Broadridge, John spent over 14 years at Morningstar, where he led global teams responsible for technology-based wealth and retirement plan solutions. Early in his career, John worked for Brinson Partners as a portfolio administrator for large wealth and retirement accounts and served as an officer on a closed-end bond fund.

In addition to his industry experience, John has a BS in Finance from the University of Illinois, an MS in Decision Sciences from the London School of Economics, an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, and an MSIT from Northwestern University.