Real Money, Real Experts

Military, Banks, and Nonprofits: Career Talk with Andia Dinesen, AFC®

March 01, 2022 AFCPE® Season 2 Episode 5
Real Money, Real Experts
Military, Banks, and Nonprofits: Career Talk with Andia Dinesen, AFC®
Show Notes Transcript

This week, we are joined by Andia Dinesen, Executive Vice President for Communications and Operations for the Association of Military Banks of America (AMBA). As a military spouse, Andia shares her journey to AFC® certification through the FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship Program. She touches on the importance of perseverance and offers great advice for AFCs interested in working on a military installation or for a bank or credit union. She also shares why having trusted partners in financial services is critical to our work as financial professionals.

As a bonus, Andia catches us up on the great resources that AMBA provides – from their Veterans Banking Benefits Program (VBBP), to their collaboration with AFCPE which provides free financial counseling to Veterans, to the financial preparedness kit available to servicemembers (MilDocs) – there are lots of great resources for you to better support the military and Veteran community.

Show Notes:
02:23 How she got started, and how she found the AFC®
04:44 The funny backstory behind her being a military spouse
06:21 Advice to all aspiring Military Spouse Fellows and applicants
08:07 Tips for those interested in working at a banker credit union
10:04 Who else hires AFCs?
15:46 How being an AFCPE member has furthered her career
20:09 All about MILDOCS
22:09 Andia's final 2 cents

Show Note Links:
Andia’s LinkedIn page
FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship Program
Veterans Benefits Banking Program
Pro Bono Financial Counseling: 
For Veterans or for General Public
AMBA - Association of Military Banks of America
MILDOCS




Speaker 1:

Welcome to real money, real experts, a podcast we're leading financial counseling and coaching experts share their stories, their challenges, and their advice for helping people manage money in the real world. I'm your host, Rachel da own interim executive director of the association for financial counseling and planning education for a F C P

Speaker 2:

E . And I'm your co-host Dr. Mary Bell Carlson, an accredited financial counselor or AFC , and the CEO of Carlson consulting. Every episode, we're taking a deep dive into the topics that personal finance professionals care about helping clients, building community in your professional growth

Speaker 1:

Today. We're excited to welcome Andia di to the show. Andia is the executive vice president for communications and operations for the association of military banks of America or AMBA in her role Andia is charged with assisting the president and C O in all aspects of communications, operations, and programs with the focus on providing financial readiness support to the military and veteran community through AMBA member banks, Andia maintains and manages the veterans benefits banking program, a partnership between AMBA and the veteran benefits and administration. She is also the executive director of AMBA services, Inc, or ASI as a military spouse Andia has relocated with her family to nine installations since 2000, and has worked as the national coordinator for military saves as a personal financial counselor at law fly air force base , and has provided more than 18 years of volunteer service and supportive military families. Andy is certified as an accredited financial counselor and has a masters of science and personal financial planning from Kansas state university. Welcome Andia

Speaker 2:

Andy. I was just thinking back, I don't even know when we met, I just feel like you've always been at a F C P E every time I'm there and your warm and welcoming smile has been , uh , so appreciated so many times. So we're really excited to have you on the podcast today. And personally, I'm excited to learn more about you and your career path as a military spouse. Will you back us up and tell us how you got started and we're what led you to your career as an AFC?

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. And thanks, Mary. I feel the same about you. I love, I , I feel like we've known each other forever. It's so funny, but that's such a good point. I really couldn't put a, a year on it, but yeah, it's always wonderful to see your smiling face as well. And I look forward to, you know, seeing all humans again in person. So, you know , it was funny when I go back thinking about my start as a military spouse and how, you know, we moved the first five moves were within five years and we had two children and two of those moves were overseas. So it was just a lot at the beginning. And I kind of felt like after we made that fifth move was like, I really needed to like volunteer and give back and be more connected to my military community. And it was actually an airman and family readiness center , um , employee that said, Hey, I , you know, I noticed how much you really loved to volunteer and have you about this military spouse fellowship. And I had my undergraduate in psychology and I thought, well, I guess like financial counseling, that sounds interesting. It's kinda kinda little connected to psychology. And she encouraged me to apply and I did, and I actually was not selected the first year I applied. And so I kind of dug a little bit deeper, did some more volunteering in the financial space and then reapplied again for the military spouse fellowship through FINRA foundation. So, so, so blessed that that came into my life, that that woman, you know, provided that , um, idea to me. And that was, I just really wanted to be connected to my military community. And that seems like a really great way to sort of get this education, get on track my, with my own finances and my family. And then also, you know, really give back in a meaningful way.

Speaker 2:

I actually love that story. And that thought of, if you fall down the first time you picked yourself right back up and you try it again. And I think that's really important for, or many of us. I did the same thing when I went to go pass the CFP exam. I didn't pass it the first time and it took two tries. And so I would tell anybody, listening, just dust yourself off and keep going for it. Right. You never know where it'll lead you and where it'll end up. So don't let your first know stop you, let it keep going forward. Andy , you have another really fun fact though. It's something about how you and your husband met and your life as a military spouse. Would you share that with us?

Speaker 3:

I think you're talking about how I told him I would never marry him.

Speaker 2:

That's the one.

Speaker 3:

So , um, I , uh , you know, it's so funny, my husband and I met and we were just 19, it seems so long ago. And , and it was , uh , let's be honest. I know spring chicken here. Um ,

Speaker 4:

But

Speaker 3:

You know, it was so funny cause he was, you know, we were getting to know each other and we were on our first date and he was telling me how he is an RO ROTC and you know, he was going into the military and I was like, really? But I mean, that's cool for

Speaker 4:

You. I mean , sounds

Speaker 3:

Good. But I was like I said, so, so whoever marries, you will just like follow you around and just like move with you. I was like, that's dumb. I hope you don't

Speaker 4:

Think I'm ever gonna marry you .

Speaker 3:

So poor guy poor me actually

Speaker 4:

That , um,

Speaker 3:

I just did not see that falling in love, coming and

Speaker 4:

Changed

Speaker 3:

My whole life. And, and I wouldn't of course change a day of it, but , um, it's been an amazing ride with him and thank God we're also best friends. Um , cuz I don't think we could have made it through all these years together. Had we not been, but yeah, that, that was a pretty funny start to our relationship.

Speaker 1:

One of the things we always say about the fellowship program and the AFC is that it gives you sort of a transferrable career that you can take with you. I'm curious if, for someone who is in the same position as you and other military spouse, you know, who's often PCSing, what advice would you give to someone who's thinking about applying to the fellowship?

Speaker 3:

One of the things that, that excited me and also maybe maybe felt a little difficult about the AFC was the fact that there was no like really well developed career path, right? It wasn't you were going to get your education degree and then you were gonna be a teacher or you were going to law school and then you're gonna be a lawyer, you know , insert other career and career path. And, but I did kind of like that about the AFC too, because you could sort of reinvent yourself if you wanted to. Right. You could go into private practice, something I've considered multiple times. Um , currently I work for a nonprofit , my job prior to that was a nonprofit as well. I've actually never worked other than when I was an intern , um, providing , um , financial education and financial counseling to the base populace at Loughlin , but I've actually never had a government position. And so kind of funny because at the beginning I sort of thought like, oh, that's what I would do, but yet I've never done that. And I've been so successful and I've had some really great opportunities, but I, I think the biggest thing would be like, think outside the box, you don't have to, you don't have to follow a specific career path that's laid out for you. And I think that's kind of fun. Like if, I mean most mills , Carrie spouse is be really flexible cuz we have to be. And so I think that's the great part about it as well. So I guess look at it as a, as a opportunity instead of a challenge.

Speaker 2:

And that's actually part of the reason that we are doing this series right now of the career series. We've created an a F C P E we've created career tracks and we've a , and a lot of information about what type of jobs you can go into as a counselor. And one of those is working with a banker or credit union. So would you tell us what your suggestions for people that are listening right now and are interested in going to work as a financial coach or counselor at a banker credit union?

Speaker 3:

I would definitely check with the banks and credit unions that are near you , especially start on the installation. If you are near or on an installation. We have a, there's actually a , a D O D uh , financial ma management regulation where there can be one credit union and one bank on, in , on every installation. And so, you know, check with them , see if they're hiring AFCs. I do think it's a really important part of what that banker credit union actually brings to the community because they are charged as a , a part of that FMR to provide financial education to the base populace as well. And so that's really like a unique situation on a military installation and they may hire AFCs to do so. Um, and also the bigger financial institutions or even community banks and credit unions in your area. Uh , I think it's a really interesting place because not only could you get the experience of being in AFC counseling in providing education, but you also might learn a little bit about banking, which let's be honest, the more we can all learn about different things, right? The , the better we all are.

Speaker 2:

And I remember my start was actually as a bank teller , uh , I worked for a coup my hometown bank, which I don't even know if it still exists anymore, but yeah, that one. And then I , throughout college, I worked for a , a much larger bank and it does, it really gives you the front edge, kind of the tip of the spear , almost of working with clients because you're having to see, you had a lot of very positive experiences, but you had some extremely hard ones. And I, at that point I hadn't become a financial counselor yet, but I had to really reach down and, and figure out how to work with individual , uh , very early on in that banking role. I think it can be a great opportunity and aid . You've talked quite a bit about military banks and credit unions. Are those the only ones that hire financial coaches or counselors?

Speaker 3:

No. No, definitely not. I think they , they might be more well educated about AFCs just because that, that is something they're used to seeing in the DOD and installation space, but , um, yeah, absolutely banks and credit unions, higher counselors. I I'm sure all over the place.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I love your idea of working through your local community. Find out what's in your area to start off with, and then go from there. Another question I have for you around this career is what are the ways that banks and credit unions can better support the counselors both on and off the installation ?

Speaker 3:

One of the things I always talk to people about when I talk about our member banks is the fact that, you know, we can give folks all the counseling and education that we possibly can give them, but unless there's a safe place for them to go a trusted provider in the industry to provide those products and services to them, then you know, you can't really take action. So that's such an important piece of the whole financial picture. And so when you're leaning on those , um, banks and credit unions in the community as a council, you know , that's so important and then they're able to, you know, support those counselors with the information from that institution as well about , um, you know, again, trusted , um, you know, F D I C and CUA insured , um , credit unions and banks,

Speaker 1:

Andy. One of the things that you're working on in your current role is a program called the veterans benefits banking program. And you have been a longtime partner of a F C P E and recently launched a new initiative that connects veterans with qualified credit and financial counselors. Would you share a little bit more about the V B B P program, how it got started and what's new right now?

Speaker 3:

Sure. Rachel, thanks for asking me about that. I know it's kind of a mouthful I'll have to, I'll have to admit to everyone that I was at the table when we decided what the, what

Speaker 5:

The name will be.

Speaker 3:

And so I'm sorry to everyone that , uh , B B , B P hard to say , um, I've been saying it for over two years, so I'm pretty good now, but yeah, it was actually really interesting. There's um , there was a large number. The original number we were given was about 250,000 veterans that the , um, veterans benefits administration had considered unbanked. Um, they were getting their monthly monetary benefits by paper check or prepaid debit card. And the VA really wanted to support an initiative to help those veterans get banked. So being a traditional banking or credit union system. And so they came to us and actually asked us to help put other program that would be sort of like a bridge between the VA and those banks and credit unions. So thus V B B P was born. So it's veterans benefits, banking.org. And , um, recently we had just crossed the threshold of banking 135,000 veterans through this program. And this is a program for direct deposit. So a lot of the program actually just encourages veterans, you know, if they already have a banker credit union to go ahead and just sign up for direct deposit, right? It's a safer way to get your benefits. It's more immediate, but if they didn't or if they needed a new banker credit union that was in their area or that they could trust, or that would offer them a free checking account, because that is one of the benefits of V B P they could go to this list of the banks and credit union on the V B P site. And so , um, with that commitment, they actually will get a free checking account with no minimum balance. Um, so some of them have requirements for a monthly direct deposit amount, but most of them are zero , um, or low, low, I guess you probably wouldn't be depositing $0. Um, and then , um, they , um, there's no fees on that account. So really great , um, opportunity to be able to get banked through the V B B P , but the best. And that that's what Rachel was talking about was our new that , um, initiative, which we're calling V B B P 2.0 , which was launched just yesterday. And that is actually including , um, three new components. One is financial counseling with an AFC credit counseling with an NCC certified counselor, and also , um, a financial program called vet sense where you can learn more about specific things like budgeting, saving, home, buying things that are important to veterans. So we encourage you again to go to veterans benefits, banking.org, and check that out and let any veteran that, you know, actually it's not just for the unbanked , um, but they could get this one free session for credit or financial counseling. And we, so thank AFC a , a F C P see , there's a , I can't say too much talking today. Um, and , uh , we , we, so thank a F C P for being a partner in that initiative.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely. And yeah , and we'll put the link to that website and the show notes, and, you know, we just encourage, if there's any AFC professional who are listening to this and wanna get involved in volunteering or veterans, you know, that would like to have a financial question answer. This is a really great program. And we're just appreciative of, of you launching V B B P 2.0 ,

Speaker 2:

So Andy, I have a question for you. How has been being a member of a F C P E helped you throughout your career?

Speaker 3:

It's just provided me so much support and so much connection to the outside community. I mean, this really couldn't be more important right. During COVID when we all needed to connect more and faster with each other, but being a part and a member of a F C P E , going to some PO ZM every year, it's like, seriously, like circle on my calendar. And I'm like my husband every once in a while , say something about November. And I'm like, don't, don't forget the week before Thanksgiving. Like, don't plan anything like that is my week. And he's like, yeah, yeah, I got it. I got it.

Speaker 2:

So ,

Speaker 3:

So he knows the only year I missed was year that he was in Korea for a year and it was just, and our kids were really little and I could not make it work. And so that, that was so hard for me to miss that year. That's the only year I've ever missed and being a member of a F C P E , and feeling that connection to that greater community is just such a blessing. I have friends all over the world and that I can count on and really like lean into, if I have a question that I just, I don't know the answer to, and I know exactly who I can connect with.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And I think you said it, well, you call them friends. And that's what I think this community is. It's more than just a community where you share ideas and thoughts. It's, it's it's friendship, and it's fun to see thing , you know , one of the things that I think sticks out for my memories of you is that you're not just a member of a F C P E on the roles, but you're actually an active and participating member of AF F C P E . And so I would encourage anybody listening today that if you haven't found your place, not only to join, but become activated, get involved. And that's why we have a lot of small group opportunities. We have plenty of volunteer opportunities and ways to get involved and getting to know people at an individual level. Sometimes it can be overwhelming when you show up at the symposium and there's a thousand people there, and you just don't know where you're at, but it , over time, especially as you get into those smaller groups, you start meeting people and you come back year after year because of those friendships

Speaker 1:

And Andy, the military spouse fellowship program kind of offers you that close knit community right off the bat. You know, you're put with a cohort of , of different spouses that are all over the world and working together , uh , to get that certification. What would you tell any military spouses that might be listening to this podcast and what to find a career for them while they are following their spouse? What advice would you give to them?

Speaker 3:

Well, going back to what I originally said is just to, to really be flexible and not put yourself inside of a box, just really think about all the different ways that you can connect with your community. Um, when I remember when I, so I was awarded the fellowship in 2010, so I'm a 2010 fellow. And , um, I complete in 2011 and that was that lined up, right when we PCs to , um , Northern Virginia. And I just remember thinking like, Hey , I'm gonna apply for a job. I'm gonna apply for any job. And if I don't get a job, this is what I'm gonna do because I have this education and I have this experience and I have the, a certification behind me and I'm gonna be, I told my husband, I said, I'm gonna be a personal car buyer for people because they're cause people are terrible at negotiating , um , buying a car and, or, or I'm gonna go into my daughter's school and I'm gonna convince them, they need to hire me to, you know, teach classes to kids about, you know, managing money. And I had all these ideas and I ended up getting a job right away, which

Speaker 2:

Is

Speaker 3:

Shocking to me cause I had all these backup plans. But , uh, so I mean, it was a blessing for sure, but I was really just excited about the opportunity , um, to, to use my AFC and, and really I am every day excited to use it and , um, and bring that, that education and that experience to others.

Speaker 2:

Well, I know now when I go to get in new car who I will be calling,

Speaker 3:

Sure,

Speaker 2:

Sure. Give me ,

Speaker 3:

Call Mary . I'll help you

Speaker 2:

Out . I love it. No, I think that's such a good thing. And I , that is the life of military spouse else is just that flexibility. Um, but I love the flexibility that the counseling offers for that community and, and too , how you have to just kind of morph. And there's so many opportunities if you reach out and go for it. Thank you for your example for that.

Speaker 1:

And a and past conversations, you'd mentioned a product called Mel docs . I'm curious what that is . And if you could tell us a little bit more about it.

Speaker 3:

Mailbox was actually created several years ago. We had a lot of folks come to the table and work with us on creating a product that would be like a financial preparedness kit. Um, FEMA has something that's, that's similar out there actually, but this one was created just for the military community. So like I said, we brought a lot of different organizations to the table to help us create that and make sure we were sort of hitting all the things that , um, the military community would need. And the idea behind that was that it was kind of a grab and go box or file or however you wanted to put it together. So it actually exists online. It's called mill mailbox.org , and you can go on there and just print out the info sheets. They're like little check boxes and it just helps you organize all your important documents and kind of tells you like why you should have this. And it's also great in emergency situation. I mean, not only do we have, you know, as we've talked about many times PCSing, but we have TD Ys and deployments that we're also dealing with. And then, you know, there's emergency situations, you know, hurricanes floods, wildfires, like just more and more constantly. So the more you can have this organized and it kind of as a step by step guide, per se, on helping you sort of organize all these materials that you might have sort of laying around. They could be digital, but sometimes it's good to have a actual physical, tangible thing, just grab and run out the door with. So that is mailbox . In a nutshell, I challenge you to check it out.

Speaker 2:

So a at the end of each interview, we'd like to get our guests too . Soons our biggest takeaways for our listeners. If you had one piece of advice to offer financial professionals, what would it be?

Speaker 3:

Well, okay, I'm gonna offer this piece of advice. So, and this kind of goes back to what we were talking about at the beginning where we were talking about, you know, working with banks and credit unions and financial counselors. So , um, it's interesting because I do have sort of a consumer thought process about, you know, as a consumer when I'm working with clients as a counselor, but then because I work sort of quasi banking , I've learned a lot about what the industry is doing and how they're trying to provide the correct products and services and information to their customers. So I would just, I guess, sort of challenge the entire community to see where consumers and industry can come together and work together more, not always painting one as the bad guy , um, and making sure that we're really looking at both sides and trying to come together to make those products and services work for those communities.

Speaker 1:

Well, thank you so much for joining us on the show today, tell our listeners where they can connect with you

Speaker 3:

So you can connect with me on LinkedIn. I would love to connect with anyone. If you have any questions about the AFC, the FINRA foundation fellowship, I would love to connect with you on that as well. So please check me out. Um, Andy I on LinkedIn and also you can check out amba@ambhq.org . And then of course, I've given you the veterans benefits, banking.org website, multiple times, lots of plugs for you today. So , um, so please connect with me. I would love to hear from

Speaker 2:

Folks. Thanks so much, Andy, for joining us.

Speaker 3:

Thank you both

Speaker 2:

Rachel. It's always really great to hear Andy. She's a light , she's an energy. She just makes people around her feel good and is really honest when she says she's willing to help out and be an example for others. The other thing I'd like an about Andia is she does not let walls stop her or no , stop her as we well heard in the podcast. Uh , it isn't just the fact that she didn't get the fellowship. The first time she tried. It's the fact that she's willing to take challenges. And I think that anybody who's interested in this career path has to be willing to get some, no , you know, you may go into your hometown bank and they don't have an option or something like that, but it actually may be a process of time. Maybe you start as a teller and then you can begin to create what you want to see , uh , in your local community or do it another way. You know, and that's where I think in this area, there is growing capacity within banks and credit unions, and that are hiring coaches and counselors. It's not mainstream, I wouldn't say yet, but I see more and more of it. And even if you have a different role at a bank that isn't titled financial coach or counselor, it's still the skills you're gaining as an AFC, and you're able to help others with you can use in your everyday life as you're helping others throughout their stuff.

Speaker 1:

Mary, I really couldn't agree more. It's always a joy to connect with Andia. She is such an active member of the a F C P E community. She's someone I look forward to seeing year after year at the a F C P E symposium. And she's really passionate about ensuring that military service members, veterans and their families have access to banking tools and financial education and counseling to help them with long term financial security. One of the programs that we discussed today was the FINRA foundation, military spouse fellowship program. This program, the application period, just open today. So if you are a military spouse or, you know, one in the military spouse community, please share the information with them. We will put the link to the application in the show notes. The fellowship covers the costs associated with completing the AFC training and the testing it's been around for more than 16 years and continues to be made possible through generous funding, supported by FINRA foundation. If you're passionate about personal finance, you're interested in serving the military community, or you're just interested in learning foundational skills to help your family. Make sure you get your application in today.

Speaker 2:

If you enjoy the show today, please share it with a friend. This helps others discover the podcast and become a part of our community.

Speaker 1:

Thanks for joining us. We'll see you next time.