Real Money, Real Experts

Kicking off 2022: Ask Us Anything

January 11, 2022 AFCPE® Season 2 Episode 1
Real Money, Real Experts
Kicking off 2022: Ask Us Anything
Show Notes Transcript

In our first episode of 2022, co-hosts Mary Bell Carlson and Rachael DeLeon give listeners a sneak peek into what’s ahead on the 2022 season of Real Money, Real Experts. We also answer all your pressing questions about the podcast, the organization, and so much more. Whether you’re already a part of the AFCPE community, or are thinking about pursuing the AFC certification, taking an Essentials course, or becoming an AFCPE Member, this episode is for you!

Show Notes:
00:23 Introduction
01:18 Welcome to Season 3
06:36 What’s new with Dr. Mary Bell Carlson
08:17 How to Apply to be a Guest on Real Money, Real Experts
11:57 AFCPE®s Career Center Page
14:54 The Difference Between Certification & Membership
18:51 Mary’s Journey into the Field of Finance
20:00 Ways to get your AFC®
25:25 Tips for AFC® Candidates
29:04 What Makes the AFC® Unique?
37:53 AFCPE®’s Essentials Courses

Show Note Links:
AFCPE Career and Resource Center
Become a Guest on Real Money, Real Experts
FINRAs List of Accredited Designations
AFCPEs Certification Programs

Intro:

Welcome everyone to Real Money, Real Experts. I'm Rachael and I'm Mary. We're glad to have you.

Rachael DeLeon:

Today, we're coming to live on YouTube. Hopefully you're joining us here to catch up after the holidays and give you a glimpse of what's in store with podcasts for 2022 . Mary it's so good to see you.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

It's good to see you. It's been a long break and we're really excited to welcome everybody that's listening out today because we're here to answer your questions as well. So feel free to put 'em in the chat. If you're on YouTube , put 'em in the chat. We'd love to hear from you. And if you are watching this recording afterwards, feel free to email any of our staff to be able to help you and follow up with whatever your questions or needs are. But we're really glad you're here today and let's get started. First of all I do wanna say welcome to Rachael. We're glad to have you. I know Rebecca's transitioning out and Rachael is now our Interim Director for AFCPE®. Congratulations and welcome, Rachael.

Rachael DeLeon:

Thank You, Mary. I'm excited to be here. I'm excited for this first season of the podcast for me. <laugh> yeah. Our third for the, for the organization and just really thrilled to have the opportunity to guide the organization through this transition and potentially into the future.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Well, we're really excited to have you and I'm glad that you're here. Well over the break, Rachael and I have been keeping tabs and kind of figure out what do we really wanna do for season three? And it really came back to a couple of ideas. So we know several of you are wanting to get into the profession or not sure where to go career wise . We have a lot of questions. So me, as a, college professor, I get this question all the time. Like, how do I do this? Or how do I get into this career field or this job? And then Rachael, from your end, I'm sure you hear this a lot of I'm looking for a career in financial counseling or coaching and how do I get started? And so we're here today to talk about some of that we're also gonna be doing our first several months of season three is going to be dedicated specifically to careers - of how people got into their careers and some career track projections and kind of where you can go to look to getting into this profession. We're excited to have this launch and a super exciting thing about this year is it's actually our 30th anniversary of the Accredited Financial Counselor® designation. So that is 30 years of the AFC®. Rachael, can you believe it?

Rachael DeLeon:

It has been a long time coming. So yeah, we're super excited. Not only for that, but you know, just to circle back even to the way we're gonna kick off the podcast next year, really is a celebration in the AFC itself. When people come to us to certified , I think they're really blown away about the different career paths that you can take with this designation. And oftentimes that can feel, because there are a lot of choices, a little overwhelming. And so we have some really great guests that we're gonna bring on to talk about, you know, what you can do with that designation. And, and so many people have even crossed over a career paths. So whether it's nonprofit or private practice or military government, you know, the list goes on and we're really excited to talk to a lot of people about their paths and how that might look for you.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Yeah. And I , I think that's a really beautiful segue into this celebration that we're gonna do for the rest of the year. And that is celebrating the history of where we came from of us being around for 30 years of having the AFC credential. And so with that segue, we're gonna bring in a lot of people that have been around for a long time, some historical knowledge, and it might answer your questions. I , I know that even as a member for many years now, I don't know who did what and how all those things came into play. And so I think it's gonna be a really nice transition and peace as we start to celebrate some of that history. And especially those that came before and we can celebrate them and what they've laid for us today. You know, Rachael, as I was thinking about the career tracks and the AFC and where we're going with it, it just reminds me that even though sometimes it feels like there are so many choices and can seem overwhelming, it's also kind of n ice because that means you can carve out your own profession in a way that is fulfilling to you.

Rachael DeLeon:

Absolutely.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

And specifically your career. I , you know, I think of other professions and even in financial planning, we keep trying to say, okay, here's your career track. And this is the way it's done. And I remember getting out after my master's degree, trying to get the experience requirement for my CFP®. And it was very rote . It had to be this way. And this only , and I did that trajectory and I did not enjoy it. The wealth management side was not for me. And so I've loved that the AFC , although sometimes that's hard because there isn't a step by step instruction book, it's also an opportunity for so many to jump in and be a part of an ever growing profession . Right. And create a career that is fulfilling to you and however, best suits you.

Rachael DeLeon:

Yeah. I think the world is changing a lot in that way. I think the, the idea of this linear career progression is, is a lot different than it used to be. I think people are realizing what they're passionate about early and are really able to align those passions with their career choices. And I think the AFC really allows people to do that.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Well, we're gonna wrap up this season this year with our keynote speakers and we'll highlight those kind of, as we get closer to our Symposium as we've done in prior years. And we're really excited as always, I feel like every year you guys just keep going a step higher , like knocking it outta the park, but then you knock it out even further the year after. So you've set the bar pretty high.

Rachael DeLeon:

Well thanks Mary, no pressure, but we're excited to meet that expectation again in 2022 . And for those who are planning to join us, we'll be in Orlando, Florida this year. So a little sunshine and also just really nice to be back together with a hybrid option as well, for those who aren't ready to travel or, or don't have the means, or, you know, sometimes we understand that's a lot to balance. But we're just really excited to truly meet people where they are this year and allow them to pick the way to be together that they need to be.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

That's great. And I think that's a unique thing that AFCPEs learned to do really, really well is do both a virtual option. And we've already had years of experience of in person options . So we know that that's done well, but I think that'll be great to have both for people to bring the family. Heck if you're gonna go to Orlando [inaudible]

Rachael DeLeon:

I know, right. Absolutely, stay for the week. Bring 'em up for the weekend. <laugh> there you go. For sure. Mary, I know personally and professionally, you have a lot going on right now too. We've talked a little bit about what's going on with the podcast. What do you have exciting for 2022?

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

I am always funny cuz I have more ideas than I have bandwidth. I think there's many that can relate to that. But right now, what I'm super excited about is where I've got some things in the hopper for Chief Financial Mom. But I just started over the break, a new business. It's more of a B2B side, so business to business and it's called Carlson Consulting. And one of the first things I'm gonna be rolling out is I'm working with three other academics right now who are wanting to bring financial behavior to the stage. And really be keynote speakers and make it easier for event planners and industry members to find research based speakers to be able to speak at events and really share the wealth, right. Share the information that we have as AFCs or CFPs as financial behavior experts in this field. And so I'm looking forward to it. It's still in the works . We're working on a website now, but we're hoping to have that all rolled out by the end of the first quarter and be all ready to go for the fall. So that's our big project for this year.

Rachael DeLeon:

Super exciting, Mary, I can't wait to see what comes when it comes to fruition. You know, where I think some of , of our most loved speakers from the Symposium each year are the ones that really speak about behavioral finance and, and those important topics because oftentimes we all have the knowledge, but working with those behaviors to create lasting change is really, you know, the focus of the work we do.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

The Rachael let's actually switch. I think we've kind of caught up on everything unless there's anything you wanna add? No, go ahead. Let's switch into some questions. We have some questions that were sent in before we started recording. So let me just start asking you. We had one of our listeners ask how they can apply to be a guest on our podcast.

Rachael DeLeon:

Ah , great question. And we are always looking for new guests. We'll put this in the show notes as well to make it easy for you and put it in the chat. But I did wanna let you know, if you go to https://www.afcpe.org/real-money-real-experts-podcast/ on that page, you'll find a guest form all the way at the bottom. Fill that out. Tell us a little bit about yourself and then we'll get back to you. If it's a good fit. We are making some changes to our Real Money, Real Experts website, just to make it a little more accessible right now, it's a little bit of a hard find on our website. It's located under News and Publications. But as we over the next few months, you'll see that on the homepage and have a lot easier access to find That guest form.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Yeah. In fact, Rachael, that was another question we got earlier is how do you even find the podcast? Right? So if you're a podcast listener, just know you can go to any podcast subscription that you use. So if it's Buzzsprout or apple podcast or Google or Spotify, o r the whole host of t hem, right? However you get your podcast just type in real money, real experts, and you'll be able to find us. But I love that you brought up the website because that is something that I think is really important. Is that for our members who m ay occasional podcasts l isteners, or don't know how to access that, we are gonna make it not only e asier on the website, but the other thing we're really working on right now is trying to archive our episodes. Because in the past it's been kind of hard to go back and maybe listen to episodes that are prior to our most 10 recent ones. And so we're working right now to be able to release those. So you'll be able to send a URL to a friend and say, Hey, check this out or I use it in my class all the time. So any teachers out there, or if you've got students or other clients, even you could just send t hem a link and that way they can listen to that specific podcast and not have to go through all of the various podcasts that are growing by the day. < laugh>.

Rachael DeLeon:

Yeah. And I just wanna add to, I mean, we talked a little bit about our theme for the season, but we're always just looking for really interesting guests that are, you know, making an impact on the field specific for this year. If you have an interesting trajectory through a certain, you know, part of the field, whether that's nonprofit or government or military, you know, drop us a line , let us know that, but we're also looking for our AFCs out there, you know what you're doing with your AFC, that's making an impact. And so as we move into that celebration of the AFC , you know, just hearing from you all about the work that you're doing, even if we can't use it on the podcast, we do spotlights every Friday for our website. We'll be relaunching our Real Money, Real Answers segment for consumers next year. And so, you know, start with that guest form . Tell us a little bit about yourself and we'll try to find a space for you.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Yeah, absolutely. Impact Rachael, that just kind of retried my memory of Task Force. We have a lot of task force and a lot of needs on those task force. So even if you , like you , you mentioned before, we've only got a very limited number of spots, cuz this is only a biweekly podcast, but we need your voice and your experience and everything you bring , to so many of the different roles we have at AFCPE. So we'll put you to work no matter where you come, either on the podcast or somewhere else. We always appreciate those.

Rachael DeLeon:

Speaking of task forces Mary. I know that you helped with the Career Task Force and you wrote a lot of the information that is on our Career Center page. Talk to us a little bit about that.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Yeah. Well, you'll find as your in AFCPE, it's a very small world. And I remember distinctly talking to Rebecca after one Symposium, we were just kind of at a late night just sitting there chatting. And I said, you know, I get the question all the time that people need a career in financial counseling, right. They want to work in financial counseling and coaching, but I don't know what to tell 'em. Like my career has been crazy and all over the board. So the answer for usually is don't follow what I do, do what someone else does. But then I talked to , in fact that's been a theme on this show, is everyone said, well, I kinda landed into it or I fell into it. And, and so one of the things that I felt, and this is, oh, at least five, maybe six years ago, I thought we need career paths right in the profession of financial counseling and planning. And so there were three of us, Ryan Law, Thomas Duffany, and I got together and just said, let's create it. In fact, this is always funny. Cuz Rebecca looked at me I'll, I had forgot to add this part. She looked at me and said, well , go ahead, Mary we're on it . And I was like, oh , so do learn that if you want to say something, just be prepared to follow up with that. Right.

Rachael DeLeon:

That is the truth <laugh> .

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

So I did and , and the three of us really went to work and we created what's on the website now and we'll put the link to the career paths in the chat. And we'll also put in the show notes afterwards that you'll have access to that. We literally took the four big areas that most people were finding jobs in the financial counseling area and tried to carve out how to get in there and who to touch and who to contact. I will tell you, Rachael, I think the most important thing that anybody can do coming in is network, is meet people. And there's not a better place to do it than within the walls of AFCPE, because you've got so many ways to connect. But yeah, the more you network with people and find out opportunities, you'll just be amazed at how doors can open and be ready for you.

Rachael DeLeon:

Yeah. And we'll drop the link to the Career Center in the notes too, but I just wanted to call out too . You know, you guys started that the flow of that. And since then, like the Career Task Force, has continued to build those out. And we actually have some spotlights on the different pages. You can get to know, you know, somebody who's specifically in that career. And so I think that'll be something our Career Task Force continues to work on year after year. And as Mary said, next week, AFCPE members can sign up for Task Forces and Career Task Force is one of those. So stay tuned. If you're a member, look for an email coming out for the different ways you can get involved. If you're not an AFCPE member, January is the best time to join.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Well, that actually leads us into the next question, Rachael. And that is what is this difference between certification and membership?

Rachael DeLeon:

Yeah , Mary , this was a listener question. And this is a question, I think the staff is probably chuckling right now, We get this question a lot. Oftentimes people who are certified, you know, they hear their annual certification fee and membership is coming up and then they, well I'm already a member. Well, no, you're not a member you're certified. So short answer and I love the way this is put. Thank you Luisa Singletary, our Communications Manager coined this, and I just think it's brilliant. But certification is something that you do for your client. So you're getting certified to build your knowledge, but to, to have the credibility and the confidence and, you know, have a sound ethical organization behind you. So you're doing that for your client. You're getting certified to show your client that you have set those standards. Membership is something that you do for yourself. So it is providing you with continuing education, resources, community to continue to build yourself both personally and professionally. And that's sort of high level how we differentiate the two. I do wanna call out, you do not have to be certified to be a member, which I think is a really unique piece of the membership community. And I do think it's really important. It brings in people from all parts of the field. We have planners, therapists . We have people working in social work. You know, we have people that are just starting out in financial counseling that maybe are thinking about certification, but they're not sure if it's for them yet. We always say, start with membership. That's sort of that melting pot of ideas , and community,

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

And those of you that are new to AFCPE or even not a member yet, I will tell you, and , and this is not just me, but so many I've run into have said time and time again, it is the most active community that you've ever been a part of. And it's one of those that you kind of have the control of the water faucet. You can turn on and it will go fire hydrant speed. If that's what you do, <laugh> or if you need it a little more dialed back, you can do that too, but people are waiting and willing and wanting to help and listen and talk and communicate. So if you have any hesitations of whether you should join, whether you're in AFC or not , I would say jump in , and the more you jump in with both feet and just become a part of it, I think you'll find that there are not just professionals to connect with, but there's friendships. And that's the biggest thing with this community is these are lifelong friendships that go on for literally decades and decades. And I love it. I , I think that's the best part. I , I thank you for explaining that, I do appreciate that.

Rachael DeLeon:

We're also working on some website updates that we continue to do things both in our dashboard and our website to , to make that a little more clear, cause we know it's confusing AFC; AFCPE. Those are very similar, but very different pieces of our organization.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

I do have to give a shout out one of our listeners on YouTube, Debbie. Hi, Debbie. She , just said she got her job as a financial counselor with a government contracting company from the AFCPE Career section. So good. I'm glad. Oh, and good. Rachael just told us that post pandemic, she found a lot more emphasis on financial wellness. Financial coaches are perfect for this kind of work. Thank you, Rachael. That is a great point that , financial, and when we say financial and coaching and counseling, there are differences, but we work together so often. So this is a home, not just for financial counselors, but financial coaches. And I ought to even expand that out financial professionals in general, financial therapists, financial planners, anybody in that world, or even interested, we even have hobbyists, I would call them, or enthusiasts maybe. Who are in totally different professions, but really like personal finance and wanna get connected. So we welcome all of you in , into this network.

Rachael DeLeon:

So Mary you've been in AFC, since we're celebrating 30 years, you've been in AFC, not for 30 years. You would've been born an AFC, but <laugh> for a while . Tell us how you got started.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Oh , well, yes, you're right, back in the time of the dinosaurs. Just kidding. No, I had, so I found a financial planning program. I was one of the lucky ones that actually found financial planning in college. I was working on my masters and ended up doing a financial planning program and I had a wonderful mentor named Dottie Durband. And any of you that know Dottie. In fact there was kind of a little nickname for her. We were always called the Dottie disciples because we really , I remember taking financial counseling from her. So we, I got to take a , a class in financial counseling is how I found the profession, but I remember taking the class and I just felt like I was coming home. It was me, it was who I am. It's what I wanted to do. It was just kind of my calling in life. I didn't find it in investments or retirement or taxes or any other the financial planning classes, but in financial counseling, I thought this is my space. And so being a Dottie disciple, I followed her , my very first year to my first professional conference. And that was AFCPE. And so I was a student at my first conference and just fell in love with it. And because of that community, I kept coming back for years. In fact, I , I know that for a while there, I took a pause, and I couldn't get away from it because there were so many friendships. And so many people saying, Hey, when are you coming back? When are you gonna be a part of it? So I'd always, I got the AFC shortly thereafter, but it was that pull . It was really the friendships that have kept me coming back year after, after year. So although , I was one of the fortunate few that found it through an education system, I know there's other ways to do it. Rachael, will you share with us with some of the other methods of getting [your] AFC?

Rachael DeLeon:

Of course. So there are different pathways to certification and probably the most common one is self-study. So that's when you get the books and materials or you take the webinar review , and you go through that education. I say on your own, but I will say in recent years, the certification program has done such an incredible job. We have a connected community for candidates, which is an online discussion board. So candidates will reach out to one another and create sort of ad hoc study groups and things like that. So we always say lean on your peers. So self-study is one way, and it's nice because you can do it at your own pace. We have an online study guide that goes with it that helps you sort of section it out and move along. We have some people who through the whole education program, you know, in a couple months and others take a year. So, you know, it just depends. And then we also offer a Registered Education Program. So different universities throughout the country, I think around 30 universities that are affiliated with us , and also some community colleges. And so you can actually get your education while going to school at those universities by taking approved curriculum and then take your exam through us. It's kind of a , great way to sort of save some money on that education and do it right when you're , you know, in school. Some of the community colleges offered the distance learning as well, which is nice for people who have graduated. You don't have to be enrolled full time as a student. You can literally take that curriculum. And that's really nice for someone who needs a little more guidance. AFCPE does offer webinar reviews that do help. Some people like having an instructor to hold them accountable. And so along with that, we also offer challenge options. So if you have a designation like a CFP already, you do meet some of those requirements. And so you can get credit for part of that education and only have to study the other portion to be ready for the exam. And then our newest launched program is the Independent Trainer Program. So we have AFCs, who've signed up to be independent trainers. And what makes me so excited about this program is that it's really convenient maybe for an organization that wants to bring a trainer in. They can save costs on books and materials and have someone on site there, whether on site or virtual in the , in the world we live in now, to help them get ready for the exam . So, so many different options and , and our certification team is fantastic. So if you have questions, they will probably do a much better job than I do <laugh> giving all of those, but we really have put a lot of thought into meeting people where they are .

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Well, I'm just so impressed be that it is expanded so much too, cuz it used to be really two options to self-study and the education realm. And if you didn't get one of those two in self-study like you said is hard, cuz you needed the more accountability, but I will tell you is advanced so much. Even the self-study with the community and building and camaraderie . So , in fact we have a couple of viewers today, Sean just said he started his certification and he's looking forward to diving deep in the community. So thanks Sean . We appreciate it . And yes, Francis is a new member and she can't wait to learn. She does workshops for women of color. Beautiful. I love it - on how to start investing in the stock market for Novices and this will enhance my work. That's a perfect example right there. Rachael Francis just described somebody who's already in the industry, she's already doing something and I love that she has a niche, right? Because we need more of that. And we also need people, and I love that she's enhancing because yes, you can be an accountant. You can be a planner, you can be an estate planning attorney. You could have an MBA. It doesn't matter. This is helping enhance. And I will tell you as both a CFP and an AFC, there's absolutely things that I studied in the AFC curriculum and on that exam that were never covered in, in any of my CFP curriculum. So don't think that it's duplicating one another. They're actually two very different tests. And if you're really wanting to enhance , especially, I feel like now with all the sensitive issues of death or just family relationship dynamics, marriage dynamics, right? There's so many sensitive topics that come up in financial discussions that this certification helps guide you. It gives you the skills you need to help answer and even just guide, maybe be a mediator sometimes and not always have the answers. This is the place to find help in getting those skills.

Rachael DeLeon:

Lauren says I'm an AFC candidate, and so excited to go on this journey to take a new role where I'm employed. For experience hours with listening to this podcast, count toward those hours, excited to listen. Lauren, I wish it would. And I hope that doesn't deter you from listening to us. Right now that would not count. But if you are a member , we do offer all of our webinars. We offer two a month, one through AFCPE education and another in partnership with FPA and our FPA financial counseling community. And then all of the webinars on demand. Those do count to a percentage of your experience hours. So, and since we're to talking about experience hours, we do have a really great guide to experience hours that talks about the different ways, you know, most of your hours do need to come from one-on-one counseling and for someone already working in the field, sometimes that's really easy to, to do. And then for others who maybe work in another industry, but are, you know, taking the coursework and studying side, that could be a little more difficult. We always say, start with friends and family. That's a really great place to sort of like take the rust off, reach out to libraries, local nonprofits and others in your area. But we're also gonna be offering later this spring, an experience fair . So last year we had our first virtual job fair, which was a big success. And this year we're both holding an experience fair to offer opportunities for our candidates to find experience, volunteer or paid opportunities. And we're also putting together , an experience job board. So we'll have a board or a place you can come. And as organizations are looking for volunteers, that's something you can do as well.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Don't discount what you've done or what you are doing, especially if you're already in the financial field, whatever you may be, because what you may find is you already have an ideal setup . You just need to start using some of those counseling skills and having someone oversee 'em. So I would say, always ask before you just, I've heard a lot of my students say, oh, well, this wouldn't count. Well, you don't know. Right. And so reach out, ask and let's find out because they can work on a solution for you as you're kind of navigating it. You don't have to quit your job and go to a nonprofit or go to a for-profit or whatever. There's no , you're not stuck in a box, but , reach out if you already, especially if you're in the financial field and find out what does and does not work,

Rachael DeLeon:

That's a great suggestion. And one other thing to add that the beginning of 2020 , Wells Fargo generously gave us a large grant and we have a financial counseling initiative that is currently going on , and ongoing. And if you have passed your AFC exam, you are eligible to take part in that. And so that's a really great way to get your hours as a candidate. You're giving back to the local community, you're getting that experience and it does also include a stipend. And then starting in February, we're partnering with NFCC, AMBA and continuing with that , that grant funding from Wells Fargo. And we're gonna be serving the veteran community as well. And so, you know, if you're part of our program and you pass your exam and you still need to work on those hours, that's a great way to get involved.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

And if you don't know of all of our yet , so, Rachael was just talking about.

Rachael DeLeon:

Sorry. National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

T hank you <laugh> a nd A MBA, which is the Military Baking Association. So, those are two groups coming together for this new VA project. We're super excited about that and excited to have that roll o ut as well. You know, Rachael, there's a n important question. I think we n eed t o answer before we go though. And that is there's confusion in the field because there's a lot of certifications out there, right? A nd there's a lot of places providing certifications. So can you k ind o f help us understand what certifications we offer at AFCPE and how are those different t han of the other million certifications you can get?

Rachael DeLeon:

Well, AFCPE offers two certifications, the AFC and the AFC Canada. So I'll speak specifically to the AFC . The AFC Canada is for our Canadian, our friends on the other side of the border, but we run that certification as well.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

When we say AFC, we're so used to saying it, let me just -

Rachael DeLeon:

Accredited Financial Counselor.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

There you go.

Rachael DeLeon:

Thank you. You're gonna catch me on these acronyms today. We joke cuz we have an internal cheat sheet for all our new hires. So we need to provide that to , to everyone else. So the AFC is what we're celebrating, cuz it's been around for 30 years and it is also NCCA accredited. And so there's another acronym. But really what that says is it's, it's accredited by the same accrediting body as the CFP. And so it's a reputable accrediting body that is making sure that our exam is rigorously sound, that we're following ethical standards and that we have to submit for that reaccreditation every five years. So we are the only financial counseling certification program in the field that has this mark, this accrediting body behind us. And so that's what really sets the AFC apart from other certifications. It also is more holistic than any other certification in financial counseling. Like Mary said, when we talk about financial planning, you know, credit counseling, they're all part of a spectrum. The AFC covers everything from credit, debt management, all the way to investments , estate planning. And it doesn't go as deep as a financial planning certification would on the other side of things that, you know, investments. But we think it's really important if you're gonna work with a client that you can meet them where they are and that you can understand their financial situation. So that is in a nutshell how we're different. One thing I will say, and, and perhaps we can put, send the chat too, FINRA has a , a website that lists their accredited certifications. So as a consumer , as a professional looking into certifications , you will be able to find all the certifications in the field. I believe there are only around 14 total in the vast alphabet soup that are, are accredited and we are one of them . And as I said, the only financial counseling certification.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Great. In fact, you know what, I'm putting two links , perfect from our website, explaining the accreditation process. And Rachael, I do wanna highlight that. That is by far the biggest distinguisher from us and any other financial counseling/coaching certification out there. Working in academia, you know, this too is there's so many fly by the night shops that pop up and will give you a certificate, but require no education experience, no ongoing. In this field, there are so many things changing, constantly. Taxes obviously are just one of them , right? And so it's really important to have a designation that does encourage, not make , but encourage you to keep up with all of the changes. Because what I learned 20 years ago is not as relevant or relevant at all in today's marketplace.

Rachael DeLeon:

Absolutely.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

And so you can do more damage than good if you're using outdated information. And so that piece of being accredited , through that NCCA, we put the link in there, you can find out a lot more about the process. It was a very rigorous process. And like you said, it was the same accreditation the CFP is. That's really the gold standard in the industry. There are , are no others that meet that criteria in our industry,

Rachael DeLeon:

I joined AFCPE around the time we were going through that accrediting process. And so I learned a lot, you know, through that process as well, not even being on the certification side of the house at the time. Really anyone can call themselves a certification, which is a little scary. And , you know, there are a lot of regulations that need to be followed in order to be accredited. And there's a big difference from a certificate program and a certification program. And one of those, but not exclusive is that ongoing, continuing education requirement, ethical requirement. And so that kind of goes back to, what were talking about earlier. You you're getting that certification of course for yourself, but, but really for your clients and for the people that you serve, because it says that you, you believe in the value of upholding that knowledge and reinvesting in , in that knowledge in order to better serve them .

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Absolutely. And you know that also kind of spins me off, anyone and can call themselves a financial counselor. You don't even have to have a designation, and you can be, I'll giving advice now I wouldn't recommend it <laugh> because it can be a point of contention, but I would say that. So , whoever asked before, can you listen to our podcast and get , experience requirement, not for the experience department, but I will tell you, we've had several podcasts that have talked about registration and when you need to be registered and if you need to be registered, why you would need to be registered, all of these things are really important topics, right? And it's really important that, you know, those details, because I think there's a lot of people trying to do good out there, maybe, but don't have the information and that's why AFCPE even exist. Is because want to provide good, but we also wanna be ethical and make sure we're providing appropriate information , that's current and relevant and correct for right now. And so I think we've talked a lot about that. If you have more questions, please reach out to the staff and we will, and have put those in Gary welcome. You are a CFP and a CRPC talk about the alphabet soup. We are covering it today. With 25 years of financial planning experience, his pro bono work with gold star families and disaster recovery has led him to look more into counseling skills. Gary, welcome. And we've actually , so I kind of came from the, the military world as well. And we actually found that a lot of CFPs , that can go on bases and can help were finding that they were falling a little bit short with some of the debt, the credit, the budgeting skills that are needed, cuz that's not taught in a CFP curriculum. So we've had a lot come on board . And first of all, Gary, thank you for all you're doing. We sure appreciate , you giving up your time and services. And I think that's, what's so great about this community is you are gonna find so many people in here that are giving their heart, right. They do so much work for free, so much pro bono and so much to help other people paid and unpaid .

Rachael DeLeon:

Diana, I , I'm gonna try to answer that question, but I also may connect you back with Jarod Taylor just about best practices, but Diana had a question about presenting yourself when attempting to get experience hours without being misleading. And Mary , I don't know if you have any suggestions just from your experience going through the AFC program.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Yeah, I think , Diana, one of the things that I think I would work really carefully with is I would work with certification and make sure , they will have a process of when you can and cannot use the mark before you start putting it on business cards or talking to clients about it. And I believe Rachael, you can correct me if I'm wrong, but it also requires kind of a supervisor or someone sending off on that experience.

Rachael DeLeon:

We've had a few changes to the way that works . So I'll connect you directly. I would say Diana reach out directly to Jarod Taylor, but I think I would just be straightforward. I think providing some education about who AFCPE is the curriculum that you're going through. What it brings, I would say most nonprofit groups, libraries, other local groups in your community, a lot of times are looking for volunteers to do that work. And if you can show sort of the credibility behind that, that's always a good thing. But certainly if you're running in a , to any roadblocks, let us know , and Jarod could help with that as well. Shandra Parks says I'm an AFC candidate and excited to use this certification with my social work degree. That's amazing. We definitely have some social workers within our fold and there is such an overlap between the two, as we all know, money touches everything. So , I'm excited for you to use that as well.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

And Rachael, this is one thing that I have not understood yet of why all of these financial aid counselors in colleges everywhere should be certified with an AFC . It just seems like -

Rachael DeLeon:

I a hundred percent agree .

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Debbie, welcome. Welcome. She is , taking the Military Essentials course. Oh good. Would you talk a little bit about thAt, of the military Essentials and what it covers?

Rachael DeLeon:

Yeah, so Military Essentials was actually a course that we built in partnership with FINRA Foundation. And so for many years, FINRA Foundation and AFCPE have offered , PFM webinar series. And this course was built upon a lot of that education to, to house it all in one space. To kind of talk about essentials in general, those courses are offered through our Education Department. They're not certification courses, but they're really great opportunities for people to specialize their knowledge a little bit more. So, you know, the AFC or Money Management Essentials covers the breadth of the AFC , but not the depth. And it's a really great sort of starter course for someone thinking of going on for the AFC, Accredited Financial Counselor, or you might use it within your nonprofit facility with more of those volunteers. You might want them to get a Money Management Essentials, then you'd have an AFC on staff. So we built that essentials course as a capacity building , model. But we offer things like College Finance Essentials. Good friend, Ryan helped develop the course for that. Financial Inclusion Essentials, which is for working with people with disabilities. And we partnered with National Disability Institute. And coming later this year we're having , we're in the process, with the support of Chase, to develop a Diversity Equity and Inclusion Essentials. So really excited about our essentials courses. Like I said, they're not certifications, they're housed in an online learning system. They're 10 to 12 hours. You can work through 'em at your own pace. You can collect all the badges, but they're a really great way to, you know, take your education just a step further .

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

You know, I was just thinking back on my career of how I would've appreciated the Military Essentials about 10 years ago when I, I , my very first job after financial planning I was hired at the Pentagon. And I will tell you, if you think Rachael says a lot of acronyms, that place is full of acronyms. And they were thrown at me at me as fast as I could. And I had no clue. I had no dictionary, no way to look it up. And I look back and think, oh, if I'd only had that Military Essentials course, right then I could have at least probably still not caught all of them , but I could know what a GS scale was. Like I came in so new, I had no clue what I was doing. And so it reminds me of people like Gary, right, that are volunteering their time or working for a , a government contractor that maybe have spent 20 plus years in financial planning and never worked with the military. Well, if you're going into government contracting, you've kind of, everyone I guess, expects you to know these things. And so that's where these courses really come into play is it gets you up to speed very quickly. And so you'll know, and be able to help from the ground running, right? That you you've taken that course you're familiar. Cuz the military pays are different. Retirement is different, benefits are different. There was so much that I had to learn and there really was no playbook for me. And so this is your playbook , in so many areas, right? DEI there's so many different ones that you can do. And those of you that are already in the profession, this is a way for you to niche down. Just like we saw earlier, if you're ready to niche and you should be, nicheing great. Take a course and really focus in and hone in on that genre , that you're working with.

Rachael DeLeon:

Yeah. And it just helps set you apart too, from others. You know, the more, you know, the more you learn and especially with things like Financial Inclusion Essentials, you know, as a professional, you're serving so many different types of people. And so to be able to meet different people where they are and, and react and, and , and be agile to work with them and their unique experiences, it's really important.

Outro:

Well, Rachael, we've had some great conversations. I appreciate all those that joined today and all of you they're listening and that we'll catch up a little bit later. We're glad that you're here. Please remember to subscribe to our podcast, Real Money, Real Experts, wherever you get your podcast. Leave us a rating and review and then share it with a friend. We're glad to introduce new people to the AFCPE community and the value of the AFC . Thanks for joining us today. And we'll see next time .