Nicola Beswick

The Pro Bono Financial Advice Network has partnered with Pancare and MND Victoria, further expanding the range of illnesses it offers pro bono advice services.

Pancare supports people affected by pancreatic and upper gastrointestinal cancers, while MND Victoria helps those diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.

Financial adviser and PFAN chair Nicola Beswick tells Professional Planner the two charities came from referrals from within the industry.

“MND was a connection through a BDM who knew someone at FightMND,” Beswick says.

“They then introduced us; it just went on and they connected us to the MND chief executive in Victoria.”

According to MND Victoria, the disease causes muscles that enable people to move around, speak, breathe and swallow to not work normally.

“The more I speak to advisers and people within the profession, it resonates with so many people as well,” Beswick says.

“Being able to have more advisers on board to then help more people is great and then being able to people with terrible illnesses is really amazing as well.”

The Pancare connection arose because the organisation’s support coordinator formerly worked with MS Plus, one of PFAN’s current partners.

“The Pancare opportunity was a case of fortunate timing, they reached out to us to see if we could provide some assistance,” Beswick says.

“[They] knew the work we did with the MS [multiple sclerosis] community so it was that full-circle moment.”

PFAN already works with MS Plus (which covers NSW, Victoria and the ACT), MS Australia and MS Queensland.

According to MS Australia, the disease causes the brain to stop interacting with other parts of the body, resulting in a range of symptoms that can include a loss of motor function.

“MS is one those illnesses people can live with. It impacts their lives, but illnesses like MND and pancreatic cancer are essentially terminal,” Beswick says.

“The MS community has been the founding charity that we’ve worked with and we’re providing assistance to the community through advisers, webinars and information sessions for a number of years.”

The organisation was formed in 2014, after a presentation at the Professional Planner Licensee Summit showed the potential an industry-wide pro bono collaboration could have to help those suffering a personal health crisis.

Professional Planner and Conexus [Financial, parent company of this publication] have been a supporter from that start,” Beswick says.

“Because we’ve managed to build our advice network, get more advisers on board who want to give back, we’ve essentially been able to help more people. That’s always been one of our long-standing goals, to help more people.”

Beswick says the group’s intention is not to focus on a specific illness and long-term wants to help the wide community as much as possible.

Advisers registered with PFAN are given the opportunity to take on one pro bono client per year.

“The only way we can do that is by getting more advisers on board,” Beswick says.

“We only ask advisers to take on one case a year, so we’re not asking a lot. If each adviser in Australia did one case a year… that would be a number of people we could help.”