Leadership Profiles - FPD Turkey

Alparslan Budak

Alparslan Budak (bio)
Chair, International Forum for Investor Education;
Vice-Chairman, FPD Turkey

Relevant Sources:

FPD Turkey Web Site: www.fpd.org.tr

Web Site for Written Materials: www.paramveben.org

Web Site for Visual Materials: www.paramveben.tv

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/ParamveBen

Twitter: www.twitter.com/paramveben

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/paramveben

Interview with the IFIE’s Youngest Member: The Financial Planning Association of Turkey

Interview with Mr. Alparslan Budak, Chairman of IFIE and Vice Chairman of the Financial Planning Association of Turkey.

Could you please describe what the Financial Planning Association of Turkey stands for?

Financial Planning Association of Turkey (FPD) is established by a group of market professionals at the beginning of 2015. I believe we are the youngest member of IFIE.

As FPD, our purpose is introducing the financial planning profession to the Turkish financial system. Currently, financial planning does not exist in Turkey. There are no institutions or no professionals offering financial planning services to their clients. And we, as the founders and executives of FPD, would like to establish the profession in Turkey, in line with the global standards and best practices.

What is financial planning, then?

Financial planning is defined as the process of meeting one’s life goals through the proper management of the individual’s finances. Life goals can include buying a home, saving for child’s education or planning for retirement. It is a personalized financial advisory service for individuals.

Financial planning is a systematic process which starts by gathering information about the client. Then his or her life goals are determined. The remaining steps of the process involves analyzing the client’s financial status and developing a strategy to meet his/her future goals. The financial plan developed for an individual may include solutions on insurance, retirement, borrowing, mortgage, real estate, succession planning, financial investments etc.. The fundamental differences of financial planning from conventional investment advisory are; its focus on the individual’s future goals and its broad coverage of financial solutions. Financial planners’ main approach is how we can help people reach a life standard that they have been dreaming of.

You’ve mentioned that you are trying to establish a profession that currently does not exist in your country. How are you planning to achieve this challenging task?

The short answer is: through our collaboration with the Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB) and by implementing their standards and best practices. FPSB is the global body that develops and promotes international competency, ethics and practice standards for the financial planning professionals. FPSB extends the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation through its affiliations in 26 countries to professionals who meet rigorous certification conditions.

FPD is a member of FPSB. We are now about to launch our education program for market professionals who would like to get the Certified Financial Planner certification. Very soon, we are going to start working on the examination component. The idea is developing a community of professionals who are competent and committed to ethical values in order to provide the best service in the best interest of their clients. In other words, FPD provides education, examination, certification services to market professionals so that financial consumers can get better financial advice.

Could you please explain FPD’s role in financial education initiatives?

As a matter of fact, the idea to establish FPD came out during our work on financial education initiatives in Turkey. As you know, I was working at the Turkish Capital Markets Association (TCMA) until August 2015. In 2010, together with a group of volunteer market professionals, we launched the most comprehensive financial education program in Turkey, under the umbrella of the TCMA. That group of individuals are the founding members and currently the managers of FPD. FPD itself was born out of our investor education initiatives.

Despite being a very young organization, we have come a long way in a very short period of time. Our education program is already developed and ready to be launched, our standards and best practices are set, we contacted all the financial regulators in the market, organized several seminars and conducted various marketing activities to promote financial planning. During this period, we continued our investor education initiatives under the TCMA. Starting from 2016, in addition to working with the TCMA, we hope to become more active on the financial education front as FPD.

How does financial planning and financial education intersect?

financial planner, the financial planner informs the client about the available financial instruments in the market, ranging from investments to borrowing, from insurance to risk management tools etc.. The financial planner explains the client which of these options are suitable for his/her financial situation and why. Financial planning process is like a training program given by a personal financial coach to the individual.

On the other hand, having a better informed client about the financial markets, financial instruments and techniques is in the interest of the financial planner. Because they would be able to communicate easily, discuss their alternatives thoroughly and develop better financial solutions for the client. The outcome of this relation would be more satisfactory for both sides. Therefore, there is great support for financial education among the FPD’s members, as well as among the global community of FPSB’s members.

What does FPD expect from its membership to IFIE?

In 2005, when the decision to establish IFIE came out during a discussion at one of the meetings of the International Council of Securities Associations, I was there! Technically, I have been involved with IFIE since its inception. In 2009, I proposed my previous organization –TCMA- to become a member of IFIE and since then IFIE helped us in a lot of different ways. We learned how to identify our target groups, how to develop a program, how to reach our target groups, how to engage them, how to measure the effectiveness of our programs and all sorts of priceless information. We also had the opportunity to share our experiences, successes and failures with the IFIE community. I can confidently say that our discussions at IFIE greatly shaped our financial education program in Turkey.

As FPD, we see IFIE as an invaluable source of information regarding financial education all around the globe. We expect to continue benefiting from the wealth of experience concentrating around IFIE and contribute to its work as much as we can. More specifically, we expect to learn the best practices of investor education in other jurisdictions.

You have been recently elected as the Vice Chairman of IFIE. Could you please share your views about the future of IFIE?

First of all, I am deeply honored and grateful for the confidence of IFIE members for electing me for this position. Considering how quickly IFIE developed into a respected organization in the global arena, I feel the pressure to keep up the wonderful work of previous leadership. I also consider myself very lucky to be working with the current leadership team. It is still surprising for me to see the ambition and enthusiasm of these people when we are discussing financial education and IFIE.

I envision IFIE as the global leader of financial education initiatives, recognized, respected and consulted by the regulators, governments and international bodies. The first two goals; recognition and respect, has already been sustained! So, there is not much left to achieve the rest!

IFIE’s cooperation with IOSCO is extremely valuable for both institutions. In addition, relations with OECD is developing on the right track. During the IFIE conferences, I am very happy to see the growing interest of non-member regulators and the representatives of international organizations. Especially after the 2008 global crisis, the importance of investor education became more evident. Governments and regulators recognized the need for investor education. IFIE took the right steps during this period and strengthened its relations. In the future, we will remain committed to maintaining and developing these relations.

Do you have other suggestions for IFIE?

To strengthen the image of IFIE globally, I would like to make a couple of suggestions, which I believe could be discussed among the whole IFIE community. First one is positioning IFIE as the global standard setter in investor education. To achieve this, we need to revise our already existing principles of investor education and promote it globally. When we were developing the national investor education strategy in Turkey, our first step was determining the principles of our investor education programs. Likewise, whenever a government is developing a national strategy, or whenever an organization is developing a new program, and especially whenever we are evaluating our current programs, I believe those principles would be extremely useful.

My second suggestion would be introducing global awards in different categories; such as the most creative program content, the most innovative delivery method, the most effective program evaluation method, etc. Categories can be determined by the IFIE members. Applicant organizations/programs -which need not be IFIE members- can be evaluated by the IFIE members. Winners can be announced and recognized during annual conferences. These awarded innovative solutions may reach a wider audience through the media attention and spread around the world as good examples.

My third suggestion is launching the global short movie contest. It is easier and less costly than it seems. The idea is that, voluntary IFIE members will launch their “national short movie contest” in their jurisdictions. The topic, determined by IFIE membership, will be the same everywhere. The language or subtitles of the movies will be in English. Each IFIE member will announce a standard invitation for the competition. Movies will be sent to the relevant IFIE member in that jurisdiction. Each IFIE member will pick their top movie and send their national winner to IFIE members’ evaluation for the global contest. IFIE membership can vote for the global competition and pick the top 3. IFIE will announce and honor the global winners during its annual conference. The intellectual rights of movies will belong to IFIE, upon the consent of the participants, and we will be able to use them at our future events, on our web site or in any other media.

My fourth suggestion is enriching the content of the current IFIE Newsletter by getting contributions from IFIE members. We may ask IFIE members to send short updates on their initiatives in their jurisdictions to be published on the IFIE newsletter. By this way, we can share our activities with other IFIE members and also learn from others. It facilitates regular information sharing among the members during the year. We do not have to wait for the annual conference to discuss our activities with each other.

For me, a longer term idea that is worth exploring is encouraging, and possibly funding, field research on investor education. The World Bank has been regularly doing field research about financial inclusion in more than 40 countries. IFIE can try to be a partner in World Bank’s studies or explore other partnership opportunities to conduct and fund research. I am aware about the limited resources that IFIE has, but I believe this idea could be discussed as a future goal.

Thank you very much! Do you have a message for IFIE members?

I am very happy to be a part of this community. We generate and share ideas to improve people’s lives. What can be more fulfilling than this? I enjoy every minute I spend for IFIE and investor education. It is also encouraging to see that other IFIE members are sharing the same enthusiasm.

Thank you very much again for giving me the opportunity to have this interview.