I began my candidacy for Accredited Financial Counselor® in the Winter of 2020. With gratitude, I am a scholarship candidate, which is such a blessing for those of us who feel called to help people in their financial journey but don’t want to do it in a way that isn’t financially prudent. 

The whole program has been amazing and I have felt the thought, care, and support that the AFCPE@ provides to its candidates as they seek to acquire knowledge and pass the knowledge test and then obtain their ethics and experience hours. Getting the experience hours is where the struggle was for me as my current career is not in the financial industry. A thousand hours doesn’t sound like much over a 3 year period of time, but it is when it takes forever to get any experience hours because you work outside of financial field. 

I flailed around for the first 18 months of my candidacy doing volunteer stints locally, here and there. All told, I think I could only acquire about 100 hours despite a deliberate effort. It took me until getting connected to an AFCPE@ mentor to find out about the Coaching Capability Experience Program and joining the AFCPE@ membership for the hours to really rack up. 

Coaching Capability Experience Program is an amazing program that allows for candidates, or even already certified members, to hone their skills and practice the necessary components of an AFC®’s role in a client’s life. The best part, for me, was the Triads in which candidates learn through practice scenarios how to message, job requirements and roles, and how to deal with conflict or dilemmas. This is all under the safety of the Coaching Capability coach Andi. She is an amazing teacher with a wealth of experience in helping us candidates develop our skill set. 

One of the others in the program, Manuela Gonsalves, shared her experience. Initially, participants spend about two weeks focusing on the relational aspects of coaching a client in practice counseling sessions, where you are learning to build trust, become more familiar with the client and their personal situation; and through questions, learn what is important to them and why they came. There is a different focus throughout the program which happen about every two weeks. Besides using the triads, a workbook complements practical learning. The workbook consists of two main parts: The first is an Introduction with specific assignments that help to ground the counseling process. In addition, we focus on developing questions to help understand the client. The second part of the workbook consists of reality-based client scenarios that cover a wide swath of financial situations. For Manuela, the workbook was challenging, and it is where she gained the greatest value. Working through the various case studies helped her to internalize her learning.

This experience program allows for AFC@ up to 250 supervised hours, under the 1:1 coaching or counseling category. This means the hours are very high value, both for the force multiplier (1.5 for every hour spent ) and for the directly applicable skills teaching. The Presentations section is so helpful for developing good presentation and public speaking skills. 

Finally, as always, the most important part of the program is the development of network ties with your fellow candidates and AFC®s. I have met amazing people through the program who have become a support cohort. I have been provided additional opportunities for gaining hours and people to commiserate about the challenges of honing my own skill set. This is invaluable as we all go on to become certified and work and volunteer in the field, to support each other. I would have never met my candidate cohort, otherwise, since we are all scattered to different parts of the US and International locations. 

Through my time with the Coaching Capability Experience Program, I have learned about other avenues of obtaining experience hours. I’ve been able to really get experience hours to the point that I will finish by my summer deadline, whereas before, I wasn’t sure I could do the whole 1000 hours. 

My favorite part of the experience program was the Train the Trainer day event on January 20th. This was the culmination of the Presentation skills section, in which fellow candidates taught participants about important financial topics with presentations that had been honed through the Presentations sessions. The topics were important, timely and the presentations were professional quality giving attendees continuing education hours. Amazing to see the whole cycle of learning with a quality final product for the Candidates who volunteered to teach that day. 

Manuela shared that she is grateful for entering into this experience. This measured walk of Coaching Capability is one is of learning, meeting and developing relationships with other AFC candidates, receiving valuable feedback in a supportive environment.  Importantly, she is developing confidence in being able to add value to others lives through education, counseling, coaching and making referrals that support clients’ financial goals.  

Overall, the Coaching Capability Experience Program is an invaluable program for training of the AFC® candidate to really be the best they can, while obtaining the required experience hours. 

 

Catherine Wagoner with input from Manuela Gonsalves

AFC® Candidates in the 2023 fall cohort of Coaching Capability Experience Program

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