Interview with Saundra Davis, Executive Director of Sage Financial Solutions
“My life journey has always been to make my corner of the world a better place”.
This week, we catch up with AFCPE’s financial coaching partner, Saundra Davis of Sage Financial Solutions. Saundra was recently honored for her work as an adjunct professor at Golder Gate University and shares with us some of the exciting initiatives she is involved with in the field of financial coaching. Learn how her mission and her “why” keep her connected to this important work.
AFCPE: Congratulations on being a recently recognized as a Distinguished Adjunct Professor at Golden Gate University!
Saundra: Thank you! This is quite an honor for me because I went to Golden Gate for my BS in management and returned 10 years later for my master’s in financial planning. I was the 2006 financial planning student of the year AND the 2016 adjunct professor of the year for the financial planning department. This is important to me because I value education and professional development which is the cornerstone of all of my work in the field. During this journey, I have created pro bono planning programs for CFP professionals to help them be more sensitive to the needs of low-income communities and have been diligent in making sure that the nonprofit sector increases the standards of knowledge and professionalism for their clients.
When I started, most organizations didn’t believe that poor people needed comprehensive financial plans, I am proud to say that now that message is out and organizations and communities are getting the message. Having less with which to plan does NOT mean you deserve less from a financial planner, counselor or coach.
AFCPE: One of the reasons you partnered with AFCPE® when designing the FFC® program is because you are passionate about the importance of a high standard in the field of financial coaching. Why are standards so important to the field and to the people that we serve?
Saundra: This really highlights my “why” for everything I do in this profession. So many people are struggling and simply don’t know what to do or whom to trust. Elevating the highest standard for professional services for ALL people has been my mission since I joined the field and it is good to see others coming to understand that mediocrity simply isn’t good enough. Partnering with the AFCPE allowed me to focus my attention on the coaching skills with the knowledge that the people sitting in the room had the financial competencies necessary to TRULY help people navigate their complex financial lives. The entire continuum of care for financial services should be available to all people irrespective of their income or assets. Before this partnership, my biggest fear was that I could be training someone to be an effective financial coach who didn’t have the financial competencies and ethical standards necessary to help clients manage their financial lives and all of the opportunities and obstacles they face.
AFCPE: In addition to teaching and program development, you’ve also been doing a lot of important training in the nonprofit community. Tell us a little about these programs. What are you most proud of and what are you most excited about in the months to come?
Saundra: There are too many to add here but I’ll share a few that really stand out because of the community impact.
Brilliant Baby is a children’s saving program in Oakland, California that provides a $500 529 account and a financial coach for families with new babies. The idea is to provide practical support for parents and honor the promise that each child holds at birth. We know that the parents’ needs can fall ANYWHERE on the financial lifecycle so we require that each coach hold both the AFC® and the FFC®.
The United Way Capital Corridor Region, which is in Sacramento California is a capacity building project that has been going on for 2 years during which time 50 members of community-based organizations participated in coaching skills and financial education basics. The goal is to build the skills of the local community by setting a high standard and training large groups to have baseline skills and support a smaller number, 10 in the first year and 5 in the second, to complete both the AFC® and the FFC® certification programs. We did this by web-based mentor sessions to prepare them for the AFC to meet the financial competency requirement for the FFC.
We are doing a similar project in Las Vegas, Nevada with 50 people from 4 organizations that provide housing support and career training (they do SO much more than this so visit their websites)*. Forty-seven of the 50 have now completed the Money Management Essentials course and 15 are going on to become FFCs!
Each of these projects demonstrates that by investing in the staff with training that includes education, experience, and ethical standards, the professional standards increase in the community and the ongoing professional development helps them continue to build their skills.
AFCPE: Our November Coaching Essentials training in Norfolk, VA is quickly approaching! What would you say to someone who is on the fence about attending?
Saundra: As financial professionals, we must ALWAYS hone our skills and knowledge. Adding coaching to your toolkit will enhance your ability to help your clients identify what is most important to them and create, in partnership with you, a roadmap to achieve their goals. The coaching approach is often more effective for the client and better for the coach.
Saundra Answers the Friday 5:
My Why: To be of service. My life journey has always been to make my corner of the world a better place.
My Favorite Quote: If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. – Maya Angelou
My Hero: My mother
My Favorite Personal Finance Resource: CFPB booklets
My best advice:
– For someone starting the journey to financial wellness: Breathe, start where you are, hold yourself and your money past without shame. Create for yourself a #NoShameZone about the financial past and focus on your financial future.
– For a new professional entering this field: Breathe, start where you are, focus your attention on the impact you want to have and don’t allow anyone to tell you “it has to be done this way” if your vision takes you in a different direction. BE EXCELLENT for yourself and your clients. Keep learning, strive to meet the highest standard in your knowledge, skill, and approach to supporting clients.
Follow Saundra at:
LinkedIn: Saundra D. Davis
*The 4 organizations that provide housing support and career training
Oakland Promise (Brilliant Baby Program) – http://oaklandpromise.org/programs/brilliantbaby/
Nevada Hand – https://www.nevadahand.org/
Nevada Partners – http://www.nevadapartners.org/
United Way California Capital Region – http://www.yourlocalunitedway.org/financial-coaching