Happy New Year! t was great seeing many of you at the 2014 Annual Research and Training Symposium in beautiful Bellevue, Washington. The week was inspiring with lots of innovative programs and research shared. Most importantly it was a chance to connect with other professionals in various spheres from research, to education, to counseling.

Looking Ahead—This coming year, AFCPE will be involved in several new exciting programs and partnerships. These programs will create new resources and add to the financial counseling industry. Our vision is to further the financial counseling industry through promotion, partnerships, and a strong research base.

These initiatives include strong partners. For one, AFCPE will be part of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)’s National Financial Coaching project, which will require the AFC®designation. We will also work on new projects with partners like McGraw Hill Financial and Credit Builders Alliance. I encourage you to make sure you, your peers, your students, and others check out our new Career Center with helpful resources such as an interactive job board and helpful information for those interested in a career path in financial education or counseling.

Another tool that was introduced at the 2014 Symposium was the AFCPE Achieve online tool. It provides a resource to use when working with clients in and between sessions. We look forward to your feedback should you use it.

Accreditation—Perhaps one of our most exciting developments is our effort to achieve accreditation of the AFC® through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). This will further enhance the value of the designation that many of you have worked hard to acheive. It will serve as a signal to others of the value of the credentials. Once we achieve accreditation, AFCPE will work with members to increase consumer awareness.

Building the Bridge Between Research and Practice—AFCPE will work to further build the science related to financial counseling and planning education. Dr. Jean Lown of Utah State University will chair a task force focused on engaging our research community. This includes addressing subjects such as best practices for client engagement, better understanding of the determinants of financial behaviors, factors influencing financial vulnerability, and many other relevant subjects.

Stay In Touch—Your involvement in our organization and industry is invaluable to the leadership. We want to know more about what you think and what you need. We encourage reaching out to the board or engaging us on social media. For example, on Twitter you can use hash tag #AFCPE. Last year, we provided 20 scholarships to university students. We are very proud of our work in 2014 and excited for 2015. We look forward to working with you to create more awareness of the importance of financial education and counseling to families, partners, and other stakeholders.

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