Attendees of last year’s symposium, left feeling inspired.

  • Inspired to build upon the professional relationships they made.
  • Inspired to put acquired knowledge into immediate action.
  • Inspired to share new ideas with professional friends, clients and colleagues.

But perhaps one of the most unexpected results from the event, was a new affinity and a dedication to choose “broccoli” as a method for attaining knowledge to support your practice.

For those who did not attend the 2015 AFCPE® Symposium, the broccoli analogy was the brainchild of AFCPE Member and Texas Tech Associate Professor of Personal Financial Planning, Dr. Sandra Huston. “Knowledge attained through scientific research is like broccoli.”

As financial counselors and educators, you have many choices of information to use to support your work – some are more appetizing, others are more readily available – but if you want to have a healthy practice, and ultimately, healthy clients – then it’s important to commit to making the healthiest choice.

Broccoli, similar to research, is oftentimes perceived as bland or unappetizing. So how do we make it palatable? When establishing best practices, we must choose the healthy option – scientific-based research – and then we accompany it with intuition, tradition or personal experience. Now we have cheesy broccoli or broccoli pizza, but broccoli is at the core of the work that we do.

Financial Literacy Education: Building the Foundation

Research is the foundation of AFCPE, and our certification curriculum. It poses questions, draws conclusions and provides a foundation to affect policy, improve education models and better serve our clients.  Building upon our health analogy, we take a look at an important commentary published in the Journal of Financial Counseling & Planning (JFCP).

FLM1In Volume 26 (1), Dr. Huston builds upon the connection between financial & physical health in the with a discussion on “Using a Financial Health Model to Provide Context for Financial Literacy Education Research.”

“How do we get people to maintain or improve their physical or financial health?” Dr. Huston asks.  “I conceptualize that it is a production process that requires continuous awareness, education, habituation, examination and adjustment, and is not a direct result of financial education.”

Measuring Financial Health

Evidence from a 2014 research study, “Financial Literacy, Financial Education and Downstream Financial Behaviors (Fernandes, Lynch, Netemeyer) found that financial education has little to no impact on financial outcome. The study looked closely at education timing and decay, weak linkage between education and behavior, and the need for improvement both in terms of education programs and research design. Dr. Huston praises the research, but suggests that “there are critical diagnostic issues that impede both financial health provision and research agendas when we assume a direct link between financial education and financial health status. Experiments that focus only on evaluating the success of financial education based on financial health status ignore the process that leads from knowledge to outcome.”

The truth is, financial education and the path to creating lasting financial behavior change is often unique to the individual, and it’s based on a number of factors, both external and internal. So how do we draw upon the important conclusions of this research and draw practical implications that can be used to advance policy, education and practice?

Financial Awareness vs. Financial Literacy Education

Dr. Huston notes, the “lack of distinction between financial awareness and financial literacy education may be contributing to the decay detected between financial education and outcome.” She goes on to define a system that is at the heart of AFCPE® and financial counseling and coaching. “If the curriculum focuses on the system of the recipe rather than memorizing the steps, then when missing ingredients are encountered the learner will know where and how to find appropriate substitutes when putting the recipe into practice.”

Coming Full Circle. Building the Bridge

“As with our physical health, financial health needs change throughout the life cycle and we need to provide unbiased, quality opportunities for all stages and ages.”

Her recommendation is well aligned with our mission – to enhance the financial wellbeing of individuals and families worldwide. We do this by creating a continuum of care and building a “financial health community.”

As a membership consisting of a diverse group of financial professionals – from research to education to practice, we have the opportunity to unite and create this community: a community that openly discusses finances in the home. A community that teaches financial education as early as Kindergarten. A community that provides financial counseling in the workforce and helps our young adults make educated financial choices to help recognize their life goals and build financial security. A community that makes financial literacy education and counseling accessible, regardless of socioeconomic situation.

Dr. Huston confirms that the research of the Fernandes et al. (2014) study is a “wakeup call” to devise “a common framework and nomenclature… so that appropriate interventions, treatments, and research will be valid, relevant, and helpful in aiding individuals and families maintain and build their financial health.”

So this month, we encourage you to eat your veggies. Practitioners and Researchers, connect with one another. You are at the front lines of the education and counseling happening in our field. You bring insights and ideas that are ready to test. Policy makers, use this important research and let us work together to create a financial health community and define and improve the continuum of care.

  • Connect with Fellow AFCPE® Members: Use our Find A Member search to locate AFCPE members in your demographic area or to network in your area of interest or expertise.
  • Join the Research Task Force: It is not just a task force for researchers, but one that represents the totality of our membership and helps us bridge these important conversations. Interested members, please email Board Liaison for the Research Task Force:

Next Monday, April 11, we’ll take a closer look at the health-wealth connection.

April 04, 2016

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