Written by: Susan Schroeder, AFC®
Deputy Director of Nerighbors, Inc.
Professional development is an important part of being an effective Accredited Financial Counselor throughout your career lifecycle. These three tips provide guidance to help you continuously access relevant and productive development opportunities.
Many who start the journey toward becoming an AFC are established, personal finance professionals or students with primary understanding. Others who have “caught the bug” to help others improve their financial well-being, come from other professions and need more foundational support.
Regardless of where you are in your career the need for continuous development remains important to maintaining the high standards of accreditation through the AFCPE. Expanding your knowledge and skills also improves outcomes for the people you serve.
Make the Most of Your AFCPE Membership
There is always something for everyone through membership with the AFCPE. Webinars, Essential Courses, and the Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning are just three of the robust number of well-vetted sources of lifelong learning. For those new to the field, Member Meetups and the Mentor Connect Program provide access to seasoned professionals willing to share their experiences. Participating in a task force is a great way for seasoned pros to give back and for emerging leaders to develop skills. Visit ww.afcpe.org to learn more.
Follow the Leaders
There is a world-wide community of organizations that recognize the value of financial planning, counseling, and education. The AFCPE has a wide array of partner organizations that provide options for development throughout the continuum of your career. This strategy is also an effective way to learn more about the various backgrounds and cultures of your clients. Culturally specific organizations can help you connect and understand in more informed, and respect filled ways with the people you serve.
Check out the AFCPE® Calendar for a list of upcoming professional development opportunities hosted by partner organizations.
Expand Your Search
It is easy to fall into silos and forget to look to other sectors for learning options. Think about the people you serve. Are there other helping professionals working with your target market who can provide insight and information to help you better understand your clients? For example, recognizing signs of cognitive decline and knowing how to respond appropriately is an important part of working ethically with older adults. Alzheimer’s support organizations throughout the country provide training.
Professional development will always be part of your career path and will change throughout your years of service to others. Leaning into all the AFCPE has to offer, looking to industry leaders, and including your community partners can help you maintain your accreditation and differentiate you as a subject matter expert in specialty areas of personal finance. Ultimately, continuously growing equips you to help people and that is what it is all about!