For Gabriella Barthlow, 2015 is a year of firsts. Although she has worked as an AFC® professional for more than 7 years, this year she started a new role as a Financial Coach for the CFPB Financial Coaching project, became a member of AFCPE® and is planning her first trip to the 2015 AFCPE Symposium. Read on to learn more about your fellow AFCPE member and the work she is doing in our field.
Tell me a little about yourself and how you got started in the world of personal finance?
I fell into the field of financial literacy while teaching a local workshop on employment. The daughter of a woman who owned a credit education company sat in on one of my courses and convinced me that I would do well in the world of finance and credit education. Through this education company, I spent six years working with employees of the United Auto Workers (UAW). During that time, I conducted classes on topics ranging from mortgage readiness to investment financing to credit reports to managing your money effectively. When Chrysler was bought out by Daimler, the funding for my role was eliminated, so I went on to start my own financial/credit education business: Alpha Advisory Group.
What motivated you to apply for the CFPB Financial Coach position?
Even though I have my company, the economy can be tough for a small business. I enjoy working with companies that align with my belief system – organizations that focus on educating consumers and providing them with the needed tools and resources to become financially independent.
When I learned of the CFPB position from AFCPE, I felt like I died and went to heaven. The job description was my entire 17-year career, and my family comes from a military background. I grew up a Navy Brat. My Dad served 20 active duty years in the Navy, my ex-husband was in the Air Force, my oldest brother served in Vietnam and my nephew just served 11 years in the Marines. All 5 of my uncles served in the Korean War. My grandmother housed the service men through World War II and the Korean wars. With such a rich military history, it felt like such an honor to be able to work for and serve Veterans. I knew I was perfect for this position.
What do you enjoy most about your work with Veterans and their families?
I love working with Veterans and their families because I understand their challenges. This work provides me with an opportunity to give back to them for their service to our country, offering them the best coaching and education that can be provided.
If you could share one new technique or insight you have learned from your Financial Coach training what would it be?
My top piece of advice, while simple, is so important. Remember to “just be.” When you are listening to your clients, be in a space of love, kindness, empathy, and understanding.
This is your first year as an AFCPE member – what attracted you to join?
I’ve been an AFC professional for more than seven years, and during that time AFCPE has given me so much support, courage and patience as I have developed my professional reputation and honed my skills. I am currently employed through the CFPB’s financial coaching project, a connection I made through my involvement with AFCPE. AFCPE membership is a great addition to my career – and I love the CEU opportunities it provides!
Rumor has it that you are joining us for the AFCPE Symposium this year! What are you looking forward to most at this year’s Symposium?
I just booked my hotel and paid for my flight! I am looking forward to the networking, the education, and the feeling a part of something bigger than myself. Since 2003, I felt lonely in the world of Finance and Credit Education, and now I have the opportunity to meet my “family” – the peers and colleagues who have supported me from afar!
And lastly, what is your favorite personal finance advice?
Your financial issues do not define who you are as a person. Often circumstances come into our lives that are beyond our control. Temporary financial setbacks do not make you a bad person. It’s important to look up, get up and keep it moving! There is nothing that cannot be healed in your financial life with time and money.
AFCPE Members can connect with Gabriella, and find other professional members living in their area, by using the Find A Member search located in the MyAFCPE Membership Dashboard.