Meet Mia Russell, AFC®, a financial educator who leads the content strategy for Wells Fargo’s Hands on Banking®financial education program. In this role, she’s responsible for the development and enhancement of financial education curricula, resources, and tools for all! The available resources cater to youth, adults, seniors, military, entrepreneurs, and anyone looking to teach or provide financial education.
AFCPE: What inspired you to enter this field?
Mia: As a college student, I landed an internship where I helped housing voucher program participants create budgets. I guess they thought a student majoring in business might have sufficient skills… but I learned more than I could have imagined. My first post-college position was as a credit counselor for a bank. These early experiences taught me about the importance of managing my money as well as establishing and managing credit. I’ve enjoyed a 20+ year career helping financially empower individuals and families that spans the nonprofit, educational (Cooperative Extension), and corporate sectors.
AFCPE: What does financial capability mean to you?
Mia: Often defined as attitudes, knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to make informed financial decisions, I see financial capability as the intersection of capacity and ability to become more financially successful. We know that having knowledge is important but we also need to build – and practice – skills as well as gain confidence to ensure informed decision-making and improved financial outcomes.
AFCPE: You are the Vice President of Content Strategy & Integration at Wells Fargo, working directly with the Hands on Banking® program. Tell us about the program and the resources that are available.
Mia: The Hands on Banking® program is a free, engaging, and noncommercial financial education program provided as a public service by Wells Fargo. Available in both English and Spanish, the Hands on Banking program helps learners build responsible money management skills and improve each stage of their financial lives; addressing topics from how to budget and manage credit to retirement planning. Our program offers online self-paced courses, resources, and tools for youth, young adults, adults, seniors, military, and entrepreneurs. In addition, we offer engaging and innovative lesson plans and curricula for K-12 educators, aligned with Common Core State Standards. Our resources are also appropriate for college and community-based educators. To learn more about Hands on Banking and access our resources, you can visit https://handsonbanking.org or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AFCPE: Sounds like an incredible program! We are excited to see this program expand and grow. Mia, what’s next for you? What has you most excited?
Mia: Entering my third year at Wells Fargo, I’m excited to continue working to help advance financial capability, nationally and globally. There’s always a new way to think about and approach our work – such as creating content to explain current trends and concepts, such as cryptocurrency to creating relevant content for specific audiences, such as the Disability Supplement Guide created in collaboration with National Disability Institute. Additionally, Wells Fargo has supported an AFCPE grant exploring the effects of financial coaching, education, and counseling. I’m excited about how this research will help financial educators, counselors, and coaches in the course of their work. I’m simply excited about the future of our field and the innovations that may exist as we consider behavioral finance and fintech advances.
Mia Answers the Friday 5
- My Why: Financial education is a life skill that changes the game… learning how to manage your money is empowering and has lasting effects regardless of sociodemographics.
- My Favorite Quote: Growth comes from stepping outside of your comfort zone (- Unknown)
- My Hero: My grandmother taught me important life skills and encouraged me to always be willing to take risks.
- My Favorite Personal Finance Resource: There are many resources that I personally find helpful, including powerpay.org and Money Habitudes card. And, of course, handsonbanking.org
- My Best Advice:
- For someone starting the journey to financial wellness: I like the quote attributed to Arthur Ashe, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can”. Stay focused but if you fall off track, it’s okay… every day is a new day.
- For a new professional entering the field: Love what you do and do what you love… your passion and action are key ingredients to making this work impactful for individuals and families across the globe.
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