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Meet NAPFA’s 2022 award recipients!

NAPFA’s 2022 award recipients—Mindy Neira, Abby Hasling, and Ann Coulson—answer questions about their careers and their involvement with NAPFA.

Mindy Neira, Inspiring Leader Award

Mindy Neira, CFP®, is a wealth manager at Modera Wealth Management and co-chair of the NAPFA Diversity Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Initiative. Her nominator emphasized that she has been a “huge advocate and champion of the NAPFA community and activities of the association,” as well as her many actions to promote DEI within the profession, NAPFA, and Modera. The nominator added, “Mindy has helped to support other advisors while simultaneously driving the profession to where it needs to go. To me, that is the definition of inspired leadership.”

What does this award mean to you?
This award is truly an honor. Receiving this award reminds me just how important it is to lead by example. Mentoring and sponsoring others has always been a passion of mine, and it is also a passion of mine to inspire others to become mentors and sponsors. This is so important as we continue forward, making our profession better and stronger by increasing representation not only at the staff level at firms but also in leadership positions.

Why do you do what you do for NAPFA?
NAPFA has been an amazing organization with great people. Since I joined, I have learned a great deal overall. This has helped me to advance my career, my ability to serve clients, and to make a positive impact on the profession itself. Volunteering with NAPFA allows me to give back and make a difference. It has also allowed me to grow my network of peers to lean on when I need support in serving my clients.

What is most rewarding about serving as a NAPFA volunteer?
I have dedicated my life to standing up for what is right. NAPFA has given me an opportunity to use my voice to make a greater impact where it relates to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the profession. Increasing representation within financial planning gives others role models to look up to, and it improves our ability to truly serve the public. There are many people who do not know about our profession and who need financial advice. By increasing diversity, we can better serve and reach the diverse client base around us.

What got you interested in being a diversity, equity, and inclusion advocate—and what would you like NAPFA members to do about DEI?
Throughout my life, I have witnessed and been subject to bias and discrimination. My personal experiences and the experiences of my loved ones have fueled my desire to be a vocal advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion over the years.

When we create a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable culture within our firms and within our profession, we can work to reduce and eliminate biases. We can all grow more efficiently and stronger together. NAPFA members broadly want to lift each other up and help one another. To make a difference with DEI, it takes everyone’s proactive contributions, and it takes empathy. Each one of us has a unique life experience and so do our clients. Take some time to learn about another perspective. Read news that is affecting underrepresented communities—there’s a high chance your peers, colleagues, clients, family, and/or friends are directly affected by this in some way. DEI is about constantly learning and unlearning. I am certainly not an expert in DEI, and no one on our committee claims to be. We are all also learning and unlearning every day. Just like continuing education courses for financial planning help us grow as advisors and better serve clients, so will our continuing education around topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Abby Hasling, New Professional Award

Abby Hasling, CFP®, is a wealth advisor with The Mather Group LLC (TMG). Abby joined TMG in August 2022 with the acquisition of HC Financial Advisors, where she had contributed in many ways, including improving workflows, becoming a go-to person for many parts of the firm’s tech suite, contributing to reevaluating the firm’s annual review process, training new employees, and completing the Chartered Special Needs Consultant® program. Outside the firm, she co-chairs the NAPFA Women’s Initiative, is president of the Texas Tech Alumni Advisory Board, and serves on the local Financial Planning Association chapter’s pro bono committee. Her nominator said, “I find Abby to be one of the most exceptional people I’ve ever worked with. I cannot wait to see what her future holds, but I know that our profession is better for having financial planners like Abby.”

What does this award mean to you?
I am extremely honored to be recognized by the NAPFA community. My heart has always been drawn to service and helping others. To be recognized for doing so has given me such an amazing feeling and shows that I have the support to continue pushing forward within my career and volunteer work.

I am passionate about supporting the next generation of financial planning professionals, as well as female advisors, and NAPFA has given me a platform to do both. Over the last three years, I have had the opportunity to serve as a member and co-chair of the Women’s Initiative and during that time helped launch our scholarship program for female college students and a mentorship program for women advisors in NAPFA. I am very grateful for all the amazing volunteers on the Women’s Initiative and throughout NAPFA who have supported our ideas and projects and helped us further our mission of developing women as leaders in the financial planning profession and raising awareness of the need for more female advisors.

Thank you to the NAPFA community for this amazing honor and the privilege to volunteer alongside each of you!

Why do you do what you do for NAPFA?
Serving as a NAPFA volunteer in various capacities and roles has provided me with the opportunity to make a positive impact and add value to the lives of new planners, my fellow advisors, and our community. Volunteering alongside other NAPFA advisors has also positively affected my own life, promoted my professional growth, and helped me expand my network and develop friendships with amazing women and men from across the country.

How do you recommend new planners get involved in NAPFA?
I highly encourage new planners to not only become NAPFA members but find an avenue to get involved. A great place to start is to reach out to other NAPFA volunteers/leaders from various initiatives, boards, and committees to learn about their experiences. This can help them to develop a better understanding of the time commitment and the work so they find what would work best for them versus jumping in completely blind. Once a new planner has a clear idea of where they may want to get involved, they should say yes to new opportunities and experiences within NAPFA, knowing that the benefits of doing so will far outweigh the risks. And remember that they are never alone. NAPFA is a community of passionate members who are here to build up our profession and support each other within our careers and as individuals.

Ann Coulson, Special Achievement Award

Kansas State University Professor Ann Coulson. Ph.D., CFP®, served as the NAPFA Board of Directors’ consumer representative from 2014 to 2019 and on the NAPFA Consumer Education Foundation’s board of trustees for a term ending in 2019. Her nominator said, “Dr. Ann Coulson has made major contributions to developing and establishing financial planning curriculum and inspired students to pursue financial planning careers. During her own career, she has taught and mentored thousands of future financial planners in her role as a professor at Kansas State University (K-State).” A former student agreed, saying, “I would describe her as the heart and soul of a program that promoted education, development, and a sense of belonging for all involved. She’s helped countless students take the first step onto a career in financial planning by helping them develop the skills and knowledge required to be successful. She is the reason I became a financial planner, and I consider her to be a mentor, a wealth of knowledge, and a dear friend.”

What does this award mean to you?
This award is very special to me because it is from NAPFA, an organization I very much admire. My time as the consumer representative on the NAPFA board was an incredible experience. I met so many fee-only financial planners who show real passion for the profession and clients. Working with NAPFA members made me a better academic—after every meeting and conference, I came back to campus with new ideas or a renewed zeal for teaching the next generation of fee-only financial planners.

Why do you believe in fee-only planning and NAPFA?
Fee-only planning and NAPFA have, since their inception, put the consumer first. It did not take laws or regulations or rules to make these financial planners believe that the interest of the client is what matters. NAPFA has had a consumer representative on its board, perhaps from the very beginning of the organization. I used to laugh and say that being the consumer rep on the NAPFA board was the easiest job because NAPFA members always put the client first.

Why do you do what you do for the profession of financial planning and NAPFA?
People need financial planning for many reasons, and this advice should be unbiased. It has been my pleasure over my time at K-State to teach some excellent students who share that belief.

As you retire this year, what would you like to think of as your legacy to financial planning?
My legacy, hopefully, will be the many students I have taught and mentored throughout the years. Having worked with these aspiring financial planners, I have great faith in the future of our profession.

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