Where advisers can begin to battle financial illiteracy

Three nonprofits highlighted at InvestmentNews' Future of Our Business event

Jun 22, 2019 @ 6:00 am

By Brittney Grimes

Three nonprofits focused on financial literacy were highlighted at the Future of Our Business Event in May. These organizations were chosen by an 11-member InvestmentNews 40 Under 40 financial literacy task force, which grew out of the previous year's Future of Our Business event, and was chaired by Prosperity Capital Advisors CEO Jason Smith.

The task force's aim was to offer advisers a concrete way of joining the fight against financial illiteracy. It narrowed down an impressive array of groups through which advisers might volunteer to three: the Foundation for Financial Planning, Invest in Girls and Junior Achievement.

Foundation for Financial Planning

The Foundation for Financial Planning's main objective is to provide financial guidance pro bono to people who are most vulnerable and unable to afford it.

Through both grants and fundraising, the nonprofit has assisted 440,000 people since it was created in 1995. It has provided more than $6.6 million in grants to community-based nonprofits to support local programs and has worked through partners to engage more than 15,000 volunteer financial planners.

The foundation provides free financial advice to individuals and families who have experienced hard times, such as domestic violence or homelessness, and has clearly had a powerful impact on those it has assisted.

"Millions of lower-income Americans lack basic knowledge about finances, struggling to make the right decisions and to plan for their futures, while at the same time not being able to afford or access quality, ethical financial planning and advice," said Jon Dauphiné, the foundation's CEO.

The foundation, in working with various partners, provides opportunities for financial advisers to donate their time and skills to help at-risk people improve their finances and their lives.

"It's inspiring to see so many financial advisers step up to give back to members of the community who desperately need their help," Mr. Dauphiné said.

Find out more about the organization at foundationforfinancialplanning.org.

Invest in Girls

The main mission of Invest in Girls is to help young women learn about investing, both in their private and professional lives.

The nonprofit aims to show girls what they can do for themselves and others when they learn how to make the right financial choices. It also shows them the career opportunities in different areas of the financial industry.

"We do financial literacy work with high school girls and we're working to increase the pipeline of women in careers in finance and financial services," said Betsy Kelder, executive director of Invest in Girls.

She encourages financial advisers to volunteer with the group, founded in 2010, which works with about 750 girls in Boston, New York and the Washington, D.C., area.

"We have opportunities to go into the classroom and talk about your experiences in what we call role model exchange day, so you can talk about your career and how you got there and what you do and what you love about it," Ms. Kelder said.

Advisers also can be part of the group's teaching programs, and advice firms can host industry field trips.

"Girls will come to your firm for two or three hours, get a tour, meet a bunch of folks, have a panel conversation, and really start to understand what goes on in your office and what this field of finance and financial service is about," Ms. Kelder said.

Find out more about the organization at investingirls.org.

Junior Achievement

Junior Achievement of New York is a nonprofit organization that prepares students in grades K-12 for work readiness in the finance industry by teaching financial literacy and providing the necessary skills for real-world financial experiences.

The purpose of the organization is to inspire young people, using various programs at schools throughout the year.

"Junior Achievement's programs are designed to empower young people to take charge of their future in the global economy through hands-on activities centered around financial literacy, entrepreneurship and work-readiness knowledge and skills," said Joseph Peri, CEO and president of Junior Achievement of New York.

One way financial advisers can get involved with this organization is by volunteering to work directly with kids in the classroom.

Through these programs, students can learn about budgeting, saving and business, as well as gaining greater knowledge about what it takes to become successful in the financial field.

Junior Achievement of New York reached about 90,000 students in 2017-2018.

"Our whole methodology is focused on volunteers connecting with young people to bring not only the content, but the real-world skills and experience to them," Mr. Peri said.

Find out more about the organization at juniorachievement.org/web/ja-ny/home.

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