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AFCPE® Op Ed: A response to “Why Service Members Should Receive Financial Literacy Training”

July 30, 2015

[caption id="attachment_613" align="alignright" width="300"] Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Gordon, from www.taskandpurpose.com[/caption]

Marissa Cruz wrote an important article, entitled, “Why Service Members Should Receive Financial Literacy Training.” The article caught our attention for its urgent message and strong focus on the financial issues facing our country’s servicemembers and veterans. Cruz raises very valid points around the importance of providing financial literacy training to all service members, as well as increasing the strength and frequency of financial education. These statements are undeniable.

However, in the article Cruz also states “currently the military provides only general financial advice, out of concern that unscrupulous financial advisors would steer young, inexperienced service members into inappropriate investments.” The reality is that there are many incredible professionals, tools and resources available to our service members. The challenge is making the connections in a way that leads to positive and lasting financial behavior change, as well as effectively measuring success. While research shows financial literacy "doesn't work", we see the opposite and attribute that to highly skilled professionals who honor a fiduciary responsibility to the service members.

AFCPE® (Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education®) exists to support the career development and education of our financial professionals. Together, our shared mission is to improve the economic well-being of individuals and families worldwide, including our veterans, service members, and military families.

Creating the Continuum of Care
With over 30 years of experience as the standard bearer for financial counseling and education, we know that financial capability is created through a complete continuum of care, where financial literacy is the foundational component. In order for lasting behavior changes to occur, individuals must have access to education, resources, and interactive tools that they can implement in their daily lives. But, they also need professional guidance that goes beyond a prescriptive, packaged approach to address each unique financial situation, need and goal.

The good news is that many of these tools and resources exist. Our professionals are working in the trenches, to connect consumers with these valuable resources and offer unbiased, comprehensive financial guidance.

AFCPE’s Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC®), represents the highest standard of excellence in the field of financial counseling and education. There are currently more than 500 AFC Professionals who are working as financial counselors and educators on installations across the world. These certified professionals are qualified to help clients through a variety of complex issues, such as credit and debt issues, bankruptcy, and foreclosure, saving and create meaningful solutions to reach the client’s financial goals.

Their expertise goes well beyond general financial advice; they have the comprehensive knowledge and experience to meet a client where ever they are in their financial life and guide them to create successful strategies to achieve their unique and individual goals.

Resources Are Available Now
We are proud to work with organizations like FINRA Foundation, Department of Defense and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) who are conducting critical research and bridging access gaps to actively make resources and guidance more readily available to our troops.

There are several initiatives we would like to highlight that provide access to free, trusted and unbiased financial resources and professional guidance for our service members and veterans:

CFPB Financial Coaching Project: As part of the CFPB Financial Coaching initiative, all financial coaches are required to obtain the AFC® certification and financial coaching training through Sage Financial Solutions. CFPB Financial Coaches will provide one-on-one financial coaching services to Veterans and the economically vulnerable to help them take control of their finances proactively, and empower them to make better informed financial decisions. Access to an AFC CFPB Financial Coach is available at 60 locations nationwide.

Military Spouse Fellowship Program
Since its inception in 2006, the FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship program has awarded more than 1,300 fellowships to military spouses across the United States and the world. The fellowship provides a covers the costs associated with completing the AFC® training and testing and is designed to meet the unique needs of military spouses. Through this partnership, military spouses have developed rewarding careers while helping military families build brighter futures. Fellows offer services at the installation’s family support centers, local banks and credit unions, or nonprofit or credit counseling agencies.

Veterans Financial Coalition
AFCPE joined with Visa Inc.’s Practical Money Skills, Consumer Action, the Consumer Federation of America and Military Saves to form the Veterans Financial Coalition. The coalition is dedicated to serving the financial education and consumer protection needs of veterans and will offer free resources to aid the transition from the military into civilian life.

BBB MobileMi$$ion App
AFCPE® is proud to partner with the Better Business’ Bureau Institute, Moneythink, IDEO.org and CauseLabs to launch a financial capability tool designed specifically for transitioning servicemembers, veterans and their families to help them navigate their finances during the transition from active duty to civilian life.

The program helps Veterans meet their financial goals - from saving to paying down debt, improving your credit, being prepared for emergencies, planning for the future, and accessing government benefits. All mentors provided through the app are trained military spouses actively earning an AFC® certification. They understand the unique situations of our Veterans because they have lived it.

If you are a Veteran who has transitioned in the last 5 years or are a service member planning to transition in the next year, click here to learn more and to download the app.

Rebecca Wiggins is the Executive Director of AFCPE and holds a Masters of Family Financial Planning from Kansas State University. Search for an AFCPE Certified Professional in your area by using the association's search tool.

About AFCPE:

Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education® (AFCPE®) is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating, training and certifying financial counselors and educators. AFCPE offers rigorous certification programs in financial counseling and coaching including the AFC® (Accredited Financial Counselor) certification, nationally recognized by the CFPB and Department of Defense. Our programs provide professionals with the knowledge and skills to help individuals and families from all walks of life make more effective financial decisions.


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