When was the last time you focused on the “how” instead of the “what” of your practice? 

As financial educators and counselors, we often find our practice revolves around providing answers and information to those we serve. After all, bad advice or inaccurate information could mean financial ruin for someone. We spend hours on research, professional and continuing education, or learning the intricacies of products we might offer and their uses. 

But when was the last time you reflected on exactly how you provided that information to its recipient? Who really are those recipients and how can you reach them best (in a knowledge building sense, not marketing)? When was the last time you reflected on your own skills as an educator of adults? 

Often it is our expertise and the knowledge of its application to our subject that we measure to determine our proficiency as an educator. Yes, we must deeply know our material, but our knowledge alone it is not sufficient to ensure its successful transference to others. I propose that personal financial education is adult education and we should all dedicate a portion of our efforts to being effective educators of adults and not just subject matter experts. 

So as you re-reflect on your new year’s resolutions, please also reflect on your educating. In the ongoing pursuit of excellence I suggest we all consider focusing part of our next continuing education, self-study, or formal training on the how of educating adults vs. the what. 

-Ryan Ritter, MBA, AFC 
Fort Leavenworth, KS

February 09, 2010

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