Slow growth is predicted for the U.S. economy the next few years, but the role of financial planners in advising families is more important than ever, according to experts at a recent workshop in Bryan.

Dr. Gene Nelson, senior professor in the department of agricultural economics at Texas A&M University and workshop coordinator, said the Strategic Issues in Financial Planning workshop drew large interest from a number of financial experts from across Texas. He said those in attendance specialized in advising individual investors, small business operators, clients with agricultural interests and estates and trusts.

“The goal of this workshop was to focus on strategic issues facing clients that call for dynamic planning to anticipate and adjust to changing conditions,” Nelson said.

Some of the key issues discussed during the workshop included strategies for funding children’s education, retirement and estate strategies, building strategic client relationships, and new strategic roles for financial planners.

Daron Peschel, Houston branch vice president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, said macroeconomic uncertainty prevails. Peschel said people are “risk averse” due to the recent U.S. debt downgrade, lower than expected economic growth, “stubborn” unemployment rates and foreign debt concerns.

“In business, we are seeing less hiring (due to the uncertainty).” Peschel said more than $2 trillion is on the sidelines as the uncertainty has caused many investors and corporations to hold back on spending and job creation.

Dr. Kerry Litzenberg, a Texas AgriLife Research economist, gave insight on how planners develop value-based relationships with customers. “Customers expect more depth and expertise than ever before,” he said.

Litzenberg advised planners to get within that “final 3 feet” of their clients, learning more about their personalities and investments needs to better serve them in planning their financial future.

“How a planner advises clients on various financial issues is just as important as how advice is delivered,” Litzenberg said.

Afternoon presenters included Janet Briaud of Briaud Financial, giving a presentation challenging the buy-and-hold strategy of investment, and Dr. Edward Swanson, a professor in the Mays Business School at Texas A&M, who presented his study results on investment strategies using short-sell information.

Dr. Tom Potts, a Baylor University professor and past president of the Financial Planning Association, concluded the workshop with insight on new strategic roles for financial planners.

Workshop sponsors included Bill E. Carter, Carter Financial Management, Thornburg Investment Management, Andrew Rice, Jaime Galvan and KMH Wealth Management.

For more information about this and future workshops, visit http://tinyURL.com/FPworkshop.